UN secretary general in Spain to receive prestigious Charles V award
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has argued today that the world needs “diplomatic arsenals” to ensure peace and that Europe must reform itself to defend all fundamental rights and values “unstintingly”.
“Never since the creation of the UN and the European Union have these values been so threatened”, he told his audience on Europe Day in Cuacos de Yuste, Spain, where he received the Carlos V award, from the King of Spain, Felipe VI, in a ceremony attended by the president and prime minister of Portugal.
“We must therefore raise our voices and reaffirm these values. And above all, we need peace,” insisted Mr Guterres, who described violence today “in too many corners of the planet”, in wars such as the one in Ukraine, but also in other wars and humanitarian crises that are often “far from media focus”.
“Peace should never be underestimated or taken for granted. We must work for it, every day, without rest. In a world that is tearing itself apart, we must heal the divisions, prevent escalation, listen to grievances. Instead of bullets, we need diplomatic arsenals“.
For the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), it is necessary to reaffirm the primacy of peace “between people”, but also “peace with nature”.
Guterres stressed that “climate chaos” is “endangering the very survival of humanity” and causes phenomena such as fires, floods and droughts that displace millions of people and “exacerbate tensions and inflame conflicts”
For “peace to be sustainable, it must be based on the respect and protection of human rights as a whole”, he said – underlining that the European Union (EU) and the United Nations were created at one of humanity’s “difficult moments” following World War II, “around universal values” and that “both have lifted millions of people out of poverty and forged peace in troubled lands.
“Now is the time to once again rise to the occasion. We need unity and courage. We must reinvent multilateralism. In this sense, Europe must renew itself in order to remain in the vanguard, but it must not renounce its identity”.
For Guterres, “only a united Europe can face the enormous challenges of the present and the future” and “the world needs a strong Europe which looks outwards, not a Europe which is closed in on itself.
“Let us not forget that Europe is a border, not an island. We need a Europe that relentlessly defends universal values and fundamental rights for all, that contributes fully to a multipolar world, with international relations based on justice and help for the most vulnerable”.
The former Portuguese prime minister recalled that the EU has been “a symbol of international solidarity and cooperation” and considers that it has today “the historical responsibility to reaffirm the meaning of multilateralism and work in solidarity with those who aspire to pursue the same development and well-being.
“On this Europe Day, let us reaffirm the ideals of peace, justice and international cooperation. Let us relentlessly defend together dignity and human rights, dialogue and mutual respect. And let us build a more just, inclusive and dignified world that leaves no one behind,” he said, having referred to the “expansion of hate speech, racism and xenophobia.
“Now is the time to demand the right to life, to liberty, to security, to freedom of expression, to the right to seek asylum,” (…) “the time has also come to place equality at the centre.”
“Equality between communities, equality between citizens, equality between genders”.
The two-term UN boss stressed that the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted “scandalous fractures that exist” in the world, fuelled “by a deeply unfair international financial system”, with “the poorest countries choked by debt, while the richest have been able to invest in a strong economic recovery”.
What is at stake is an “economic and social division that risks producing political fractures”, an “injustice that is a threat to peace” and “once again, it is urgent to rebuild trust, based on justice and solidarity.
“Today, more than ever, in our fractured world, building bridges is the only option,” he said.
The Carlos V European Award bestowed on Mr Guterres recognises the work of “people, organisations, projects or initiatives that have contributed to the general knowledge and enhancement of the cultural, social, scientific and historical values of Europe, as well as to the process of European construction and integration”, according to the Foundation of the European and Ibero-American Academy of Yuste, which awards the prize.