The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday he fears the world was heading for a "wider war" as the potential for escalation of the Ukraine war continues.
"The Russian invasion of Ukraine is inflicting untold suffering on the Ukrainian people, with profound global implications. I fear the world is not sleepwalking into a wider war, but doing so with eyes wide open. We need peace - in line with the @UN Charter & international law," tweeted Guterres.
In a speech to the 193-member UN General Assembly on Monday presenting his 2023 priorities, Guterres decried the Russian invasion of Ukraine, reported Al Jazeera.
The nearly year-long conflict has been intensifying in recent weeks with fierce battles between Ukrainian and Russian forces for control of towns in eastern Ukraine.
He pointed to the war in Ukraine, "runaway climate catastrophe, rising nuclear threats," the widening gulf between the world's haves and have-nots, and the "epic geopolitical divisions" undermining "global solidarity and trust."
Guterres said the transformation needed today must start with peace, beginning in Ukraine -- where, unfortunately, he said, peace prospects "keep diminishing" and "the chances of further escalation and bloodshed keep growing."
He said this year's 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights should serve as a reminder that the foundation of the inalienable rights of all people is "freedom, justice and peace," reported ABC News.
The world must work harder for peace, Guterres said, not only in Ukraine but in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict "where the two-state solution is growing more distant by the day," in Afghanistan where the rights of women and girls "are being trampled and deadly terrorist attacks continue" and in Africa's Sahel region where security is deteriorating "at an alarming rate."
He also called for stepped-up peace efforts in military-ruled Myanmar which is facing new violence and repression, in Haiti where gangs are holding the country hostage, "and elsewhere around the world for the two billion people who live in countries affected by conflict and humanitarian crises."
The secretary-general said it is time for all countries to recommit to the UN Charter, which calls for peaceful settlement of disputes, and for a new focus on conflict prevention and reconciliation.