This July 7, 2017 file photo provided by United Nations shows Secretary General Antonio Guterres addressing a press conference closing peace talks in the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana. (STR / UNITED NATIONS / AFP)
UNITED NATIONS - One year ago, on his first day at the helm of the United Nations, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres firmly pledged to make 2017 a year for peace. A year later, in his message for the new year of 2018, he solemnly issued a "red alert" to the world, wearing an anxious look.
Nationalism and xenophobia are on the rise, inequality is growing, climate change is accelerating and the world is seeing horrific violations of human rights, Guterres warned.
In his 2017 new year's message, the UN chief said that "one question weighs heavily on my heart. How can we help the millions of people caught up in conflict, suffering massively in wars with no end in sight?" A year later, the situation is turning even worse.
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So far, conflicts have displaced 65 million people around the world, 91 million people globally need humanitarian assistance.
At a UN Security Council meeting in 2017, the Secretary-General described the situation on the Korean Peninsula as "the most tense and dangerous peace and security issue in the world today," emphasizing that "any military action would have devastating and unpredictable consequences."
In Antonio Guterres' message for the new year of 2018, he solemnly issued a "red alert" to the world, wearing an anxious look
In his 2018 new year's message, he reiterated that "global concerns over nuclear weapons reached the highest since the Cold War."
However, he is always more than happy to welcome any positive change in the situation on the Korean Peninsula.v
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Republic of Korea (ROK) recently reopened the hotline in its truce village of Panmunjom amid rising expectations for the DPRK's participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in the ROK in February.
Guterres on Wednesday applauded the reopening of the communication channel between the two countries. "It is always a positive development to have dialogue between the two countries."
Also this year, Guterres highlighted the grave threat to human being from climate change, arguing that "climate change is moving faster than we are."
Relations between the United States and the UN time and again became headlines over the past year.
In June of 2017, the US announced its decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. In October, it declared to retreat from the the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and again in December the US informed the UN that it would no longer participate in the Global Compact on Migration.
Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the UN, announced on the Christmas eve that the US negotiated a 285-million-dollar cut in the UN's "bloated" budget for next year.
But on the other hand, an increasing number of countries and organizations have expressed explicit support to the authority of the UN and multilateralism, an ideal that helps unite all the people on earth. All this, among others, makes the UN chief delighted and contented.
The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the Paris Climate Accord, bearing the common dreams and aspirations of the mankind, are warmly and popularly received and endorsed.
Guterres, in a joyful mood, said that "member states clearly recognized this commonality when they adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, two landmark achievements all the more remarkable for coming in a period of stark division in international responses to other challenges."
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The UN Blue Helmets, which has more than 120,000 troops, is currently carrying out 15 peacekeeping missions around the world, and peacekeeping operations have been steadily advancing in all its areas.
Whenever talking about the attainments of this special force, Guterres almost always puts on a smile.
As for China's contributions, the Secretary-General also gives thumbs-up. Highlighting China's 70 plus percent contributions to global poverty reduction effort, Guterres gave a high mark, noting that "China's great success and its achievements in poverty reduction have had a positive spillover effect on the world."
Despite escalating challenges and threats, Guterres remains convinced: "we can make our world more safe and secure. We can settle conflicts, overcome hatred and defend shared values."
In this years New Year message, the UN chief also urged "leaders everywhere to make this New Year's resolution: Narrow the gaps. Bridge the divides. Rebuild trust by bringing people together around common goals."
"Unity is the path. Our future depends on it," Guterres concluded.
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