Global North must start listening to Global South, former Slovenian President Danilo Turk tells Arab News at UNGA

New York City: As the world grapples with challenges from sustainable development to climate change and conflict, the global conversation is increasingly dominated by an increasingly multilateral landscape, the role of emerging powers and the need to cooperate on issues such as migration. and human rights.

On the sidelines of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly, Danilo Turk, former president of Slovenia and current president of the Club de Madrid, shared his insights with Arab News, an organization comprising former heads of state or government from around the world. Some of the burning issues of the day.

His country’s first UN The UN is the old home of Turk, who was the ambassador. There is, and this latest visit is under the chairmanship of Club de Madrid.

Representing 126 former heads of state from 73 countries, the organization maintains deep-rooted ties to the UN, with many of its members serving at the UN. They are working as Special Envoys of the Secretary General.

According to Turk, the UN is in a state of transformation, growing larger and more diverse, involving not only member states but also an array of global actors. He said today’s visit to the UN demonstrates a complex world coming together to address global challenges.

One of the key priorities Turk and the Club de Madrid bring to the UNGA is a focus on the Sustainable Development Goals, with special emphasis on social development.

„The Sustainable Development Goals are not just about the environment, if I put it very crudely. It is about the complete transformation of societies, new social development models. And we need to start seriously discussing this,” he said.

A strong SDG political declaration adopted by member states last week emphasized the need to intensify efforts for next year’s Future Summit and the World Community Summit in 2025.

Conceptualized and promoted by the Club de Madrid, of which UN President Antonio Guterres is a member, these meetings serve as key platforms for affirming strategies and approaches to development models that „measure social development in more comprehensive ways, give women an appropriate place. Play a full role in the social development process and other priorities.” Define more clearly.”

Turk described the upcoming conference in Brazil in November as an important step in shaping this approach. Funding these initiatives is a challenge, which is why Turkey underscores the need to align financial resources with social-development priorities.

„Public and private funds must be combined in new ways,” he said. “The greater capacity of private finance should be brought into the picture. But, on the other hand, public finance has to take more risks than ever before.

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The main theme of this year’s UNGA is diversity, which has fueled debates about its authenticity and relevance. In some diplomatic circles at the UN, its advocates continue to defend its relevance as the multilateral system has become dysfunctional, if not completely defunct, as conflicts mount and inequality widens.

The conclusion of the BBNJ Treaty is an important addition to the international architecture of the Law of the Sea, and includes the Loss and Damage Agreement in the COP27 Agreement, which aims to provide financial assistance to poorer countries as they deal with negative impacts. Arising from the risks of climate change, two examples of success demonstrate that multilateralism, according to its proponents, can indeed deliver results.

Turk acknowledged „very radical shifts and changes” in the global landscape. He observed that the world was no longer unipolar. As the liberal unipolar era comes to an end, a new multipolar world is taking shape, introducing complications into global dynamics.

He said: “The world is no longer (no longer) dominated by a liberal, unipolar era. This has changed. Now, a new multipolar world is emerging, and it is still not entirely clear what the relations between the new power centers in the world will look like. Those new hubs, of course, have always existed, but, for example, in the context of the BRICS, they did not play the important role they now assume.

As relations between these new power centers evolve, Turk said, patient diplomacy is key to avoiding crises.

He added: “We have to be (very) patient because it’s not going to happen overnight. But (we must also) be careful; Things can get out of hand.”

In this context, Turk said, multilateral structures, including the UN, continue to be valuable because they provide an important gathering place for people around the world.

„If nothing else, the United Nations is a wonderful meeting place, a place where everyone comes, a place where everyone meets, a place where the United Nations building and elsewhere can be clarified in a variety of informal, sensible ways. . . and that’s what the Charter of the United Nations asks of the United Nations. That’s what the United Nations is.” Functioning of the Council.

„So, I’m not overly pessimistic. I’m worried, but I’m not a pessimist.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development marked a significant milestone as a fully negotiated, inclusive global development strategy formally adopted by the Global South and developed countries. It was widely celebrated as the dawn of a new era in development cooperation.

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Despite significant growth gains worldwide, which have lifted millions of people out of absolute poverty, the UN says that inequality between the world’s richest and poorest countries is widening, a fact that was particularly highlighted at this year’s UNGA, which has become evident. Global South and Global North approach the issues from completely opposite positions.

Reflecting on the dynamics between the developed and developing worlds, Turk said: „The problem, as it always is, is the whole problem of understanding development.”

He added: “You know, there are disparities between states and they are growing. The financial gap is narrowing in most developing countries. There is also the problem of uncontrolled migration. And none of these problems are new. All of them are former. What is needed now is some kind of renewed effort. The United Nations provides (not only) a good institutional framework, but also a platform for seeking solutions.

Referring to the grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, Turk said: “BRICS is becoming more and more – I shouldn’t say definitively – certainly more imaginative as the initiatives evolve. … a group of countries that stay together in the BRICS and so on.

„In short, the agenda is not new. There is a structure of power and energy of new actors that must be reflected in the solutions.


• Danilo Turk praised Saudi Arabia’s awareness of 'growing responsibility and global responsibility’ as 'good for the world’.

• Club de Madrid has 126 members from 73 countries.

„In the old days we had the G77, which was kind of like a bloc, a North-South dialogue. It’s now more diverse, more imaginative, more, I would say, reassuring. And the North needs to listen. It’s not used to hearing (hearing) messages from the South. I think the problem is the North should start listening.

In this evolving global political landscape, Turk highlighted the transformative role of emerging powers, including Saudi Arabia.

He observed that the Kingdom is playing an increasingly important role not only in the Middle East but also on the international stage, especially in the context of climate change.

Saudi Arabia (Saudi Arabia) is developing new policies and new activities on a global scale. Now, it’s new, and it’s not easy to create a new format based on diversity,” he said.

Elaborating on the matter, Turk said, „Saudi Arabia has always been an important player in the Middle East environment, but is now an important player in the global environment, and that’s different.”

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He added: „For example, when it comes to climate, I think countries that have benefited from high energy prices in the past have the opportunity to invest the proceeds in ways that will actually help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. To save the planet. So, we see that Saudi Arabia’s responsibility is now very big, because Power is great.

„It’s fortunate that Saudi Arabia is on the path to taking on this big responsibility. That’s great. Of course, I can’t speak for Saudi Arabia and I can’t speak for Saudi Arabia’s developing priorities, but clearly, there is an awareness of its growing responsibility and global responsibility. It’s good for the world.” said.

Beyond the Gulf region, the Middle East is rife with complex, protracted conflicts, from Syria and Yemen to Sudan and the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Addressing these conflicts is „a question of commitment,” Turk said. He praised efforts such as the readmission of Syria to the Arab League, which for him indicated a positive approach through diplomatic engagement, saying the Arab League was „now taking a proactive approach”.

He added: “Again, Saudi Arabia has a very important role to play in that regard. So are other countries, including Egypt. Therefore, there are solutions that can be built on what has already been done.

Turk also praised efforts to end the war in Yemen. „For example, there are very effective efforts (indirectly) with the help of China, which has created a new political environment,” he said.

„I believe that the countries with influence in the region, especially Saudi Arabia, will take advantage of that opportunity to bring peace to Yemen.”

Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Turk said: “Palestine is a very sad situation, very sad indeed. I say this deliberately because we should have moved more seriously and much earlier towards a two-state solution. I don’t think the real solution is to ignore the Palestinian people’s legitimate needs for survival. It should really be placed in the center.

“The international community must unite. We have seen a diversity of views on Palestine, and that is not good. Now we have to figure it out. The two-state solution is the only framework, known since 1948, which (it) can create a stable, lasting, just peace in the region.

„Now, how to get there? It’s not clear. Maybe it’s harder now than it was 20 years ago. But still, I think, realizing it – and efforts in that direction – is very welcome.

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