New York - United Nations Secretary-General Antonio
Guterres on Saturday accused world powers of ignoring inequality
in global institutions, but said the coronavirus pandemic has
created a "generational opportunity" to build a more equal,
Delivering the annual lecture for the Nelson Mandela
Foundation via internet, Guterres pushed for a so-called New
Global Deal to ensure power, wealth and opportunity are shared
more broadly and fairly at the international level.
"The nations that came out on top more than seven decades
ago have refused to contemplate the reforms needed to change
power relations in international institutions," Guterres said.
"The composition and voting rights in the United Nations
Security Council and the boards of the Bretton Woods system are
a case in point."
"Inequality starts at the top: in global institutions.
Addressing inequality must start by reforming them," he added.
The Bretton Woods system includes the International Monetary
Fund and the World Bank.
He said the pandemic has revealed, like an x-ray, "fractures
in the fragile skeleton of the societies we have built."
"It is exposing fallacies and falsehoods everywhere: the lie
that free markets can deliver healthcare for all; the fiction
that unpaid care work is not work; the delusion that we live in
a post-racist world; the myth that we are all in the same boat,"
said Guterres during the virtual lecture.
"Because while we are all floating on the same sea, it's
clear that some are in superyachts while others are clinging to
the floating debris," said Guterres, a former Socialist prime
minister of Portugal.
The coronavirus has infected more than 14 million people and
there have been nearly 600 000 known deaths worldwide, according
to a Reuters tally. The UN has appealed for $10.3
billion to help poor states, but has received only $1.7 billion.
Guterres said rich countries have "failed to deliver the
support needed to help the developing world" and that the
pandemic has "brought home the tragic disconnect between
self-interest and the common interest; and the huge gaps in
governance structures and ethical frameworks."
He said a changing world needs new social protection
policies with safety nets including universal health coverage
and the possibility of a universal basic income.
Guterres concluded: "Now is the time for global leaders to
decide: Will we succumb to chaos, division and inequality? Or
will we right the wrongs of the past and move forward together,
for the good of all?"