At UN, hope peeks through the gloom despite a global morass

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The head of the United Nations has just warned that a world has gone terribly wrong — a place where inequality is rising, wars are returning in Europe, torn apart, pandemics are spreading and technology is tearing things apart. separate as it holds them together.

“Our world is in big trouble. The divisions are deepening. Inequalities are widening. The challenges are spreading further,” Secretary-General António Guterres said Tuesday morning at the start of the general debate at the 77th United Nations General Assembly. He is, in all respects, indisputably correct.

Just an hour later, however, two UN delegates — one Asian, one African — stood grinning in the sun-dappled lobby of the UN Secretariat Building, on the spot on this particular morning, taking pictures of each other And excited, laughing along the way as they captured the moment.

Hope: It’s hard to find anywhere these days, let alone someone walking on the floor of the United Nations, where carrying the weight of the world is central to the job description. After all, the agency heard last year the president of Ukraine, a country not yet at war, describing it as “like a retired superhero who’s long forgotten how great he was.”

When world leaders try to solve some of humanity’s most intractable problems — or, frankly, sometimes stand in the way of solving those same problems — it’s easy to look at it from a distance and lose hope in a haze of negative adjectives.

Yet beneath the layers of melancholy that existed on Tuesday — a group no doubt exhausted by the pandemic, represents a world in a very bad mood From so many disturbing challenges – there are bright signs that are like the enduring clover in the cracks of the pavement.

“For each of us, the United Nations is a unique platform for dialogue and cooperation,” said Swiss President Ignazio Cassis. Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. spoke of his country as an “optimistic” nation where “the solution is within our collective grasp.”

The president of the ocean-surrounded Marshall Islands, David Kabua – a man who has had little reason for optimism these days – came to the United Nations and spoke of “this iconic hall that symbolises humanity’s commitment to world peace, prosperity and prosperity. hope and desire and international cooperation.”

“The role of the United Nations is indispensable in humanity’s efforts to defend freedom and build lasting peace,” said South Korean President Yoon Sik Yeol.

There were plenty of other moments like this on Tuesday. On the whole, they are notable: there seems to be a collective sense – echoed by leader after leader in different, sometimes indirect ways – that even if it disappoints or falters, the UN must be in the middle of cold-eyed pragmatism place of hope.

why is that? Partly due to a strong commitment to the principles of multilateralism since the inception of the United Nations, the word $10 is about getting along with each other. When your hatred is ancient, bloody, or seemingly insurmountable—even trying—it takes hope.

However, this has always been true. And something else, something unique this year, so far. In the early days of the horrific 2020 pandemic, the UN General Assembly was all virtual, with leaders stuck at home making videos. Last year, despite the theme “Building Resilience Through Hope,” leaders at the hybrid convention were mixed and there was little sense of the world coming together.

Now, despite the ongoing pandemic, the United Nations grounds are still filled with people from most backgrounds and traditions on Earth, interacting and conversing, and generally doing what the United Nations was all about – turning nations into people, as the late Sen . William Fulbright once said.

Even with nothing, they’re doing the whole outfit’s design purpose – figuring out, bit by bit, what the world should look like.

“This is the only place in an international organization that has worked hard to define what is collectively shared,” said Katie Rattikenen, Professor of Political Science and International Relations at Adelphi University, Garden City, New York, who studies the United Nations.

“They’re trying to figure out what it means to be part of the international community,” she said. “They’ve learned the language that appeals to ‘us’, and it encourages others to define ‘us’ and work on ‘us’.”

Guterres made sure to infuse that sensitivity as he began the proceedings with a doom-filled speech. He tells of a ship called the Brave Commander, laden with Ukrainian grain, sailing to the Horn of Africa with the help of warring countries Ukraine and Russia, where it could help prevent famine.

It flew under the United Nations flag, and Guterres said it and the dozens of ships that followed didn’t just carry food; they carried “one of today’s rarest commodities” — hope.

“As a whole,” he said, “we can nurture fragile buds of hope.”

So, no: the United Nations won’t be absent from hope this week. That is for sure. It is contained, it is muted, it is tentative. But it’s there, even though it might be a hairspring — even if some might find the concept naive. “Our opportunity is here and now,” said Congress President Csaba Kőrösi of Hungary.

After all, the world is not easy. ever? Dag Hammarskjöld, the second secretary-general of the United Nations, knew this. “The United Nations was not created to take us to heaven,” he said, “but to save us from hell.”


Ted Anthony, director of new storytelling and newsroom innovation at The Associated Press, has been writing about international affairs since 1995 and has overseen UN General Assembly coverage since 2017. Follow him on Twitter at, and for more AP coverage of the UN General Assembly, visit

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