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tv   Antonio Guterres - UN Secretary...  BBC News  September 3, 2020 12:30am-1:00am BST

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this is bbc news, the headlines... russia is facing demands for a full investigation into what happened to the outspoken kremlin critic, alexei navalny. germany says it has proven he was poisoned with a novichok nerve agent — the same type of substance used in an attack in salisbury in 2018. 1a people have gone on trial in paris, charged with helping the gunmen who carried out attacks on french satirical magazine, charlie hebdo, and a jewish supermarket five years ago. three men killed 17 people across a three—day period before being shot dead by police. scientists have discovered a black hole so large that it challenges current theories of physics. it's more than 100 times the mass of the sun, and will change our understanding of how black holes are created. those are the headlines on bbc news. mike will be here at the top of
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the hour. now on bbc news, hardtalk. zeinab badawi speaks to the secretary general of the un, antonio guterres. welcome to hardtalk with me, zeinab badawi. the un general assembly gets under way this month and it will be one like no other. it will be mostly a virtual summit because of covid—19. my guest is the secretary general of the united nations, antonio guterres. in a year that the un marks its 75th anniversary, why does he believe that coronavirus has unleashed a pandemic of hate and is also undermining multilateralism? and does he have the power to do anything about this?
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secretary—general antonio guterres at un headquarters in new york, welcome to hardtalk. in may, you said that covid—19 has unleashed a tsunami of hate, scapegoating and scaremongering. why do you think it's brought out the worst in humanity? well, first of all, it's a pleasure to be back on hardtalk. i think covid—19 has demonstrated the enormous fragility of our world. we are on our knees with a microscopic virus, and, in my opinion, the main reason is because countries were not able to come together and face covid—19 in close coordination. we have seen each country going its own way. the world health organization can advise, but they cannot force countries to do anything, and so we see the virus moving from east to west, now from north to south. it can come back with a second wave, and the lack of effective coordination among member states — the fact that we are so divided — with the fragility that we have
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— made this a devastating disease with devastating economic and social impacts, and the only way to fight back is with solidarity and unity. but that isn't really addressing why you decided to say it had unleashed a tsunami of xenophobia and hate and scaremongering. we have one enemy — the covid—19 — and either we unite ourselves against this enemy and either we respect each other — understanding our differences but come together — or we might be defeated, making this a cycle that could go for five to seven years and a huge depression around the world. we need to avoid it. we are still on time to avoid it. to make things relatively under control in the next 2—3 years to make sure that we can come to a new normality and take profit also of the covid—19, to rebuild our economies
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and societies in a much more sustainable and inclusive way. so, antonio guterres, i mean, iappreciate, as a secretary general of the united nations, you can't really point the finger very specifically at countries, but when somebody in your position makes a statement such as we've seen examples of populism and xenophobia being stirred up, you must have some specific examples in mind. are you able to share any of those with us? well, it is clear that we have had in the last months several eruptions of, i would say, forms of nationalism that, in my opinion, do not help to solve problems. if we would have the united states and china united — instead of criticising each other, if you would have the capacity of countries of the north to express their solidarity with the south in a much more effective way. in the north, trillions of dollars were mobilised to relaunch the economies, but developing countries cannot do it, and they have had very little support —
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both financial support and in debt relief — so it's time to end this kind of division and nationalism. it's time to come together. so, when you say you're concerned about relations, for instance, between the united states and china, and we've also got a lot of criticism about another world power, russia, with its actions in belarus and so on, how worried are you about potential rivalries between the world's centres of power really getting out of hand 7 i believe that we should move into a multi—polar world with multi—lateral forms of governance, but instead what we might have is the two largest economies — the united states and china — shaping two separate worlds with two separate economies, with different trade rules, with different internets, with different strategies and artificial intelligence and with different geopolitical and military strategies, and this would be an enormous
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risk for humankind. of course, there are enormous differences. of course, those differences need to be seriously discussed. there are grievances that need to be addressed. we must have a rules—based international system, one only global economy and one global set of rules that everybody respects — and everybody needs to make an effort to make that happen — but it is absolutely essential to avoid a big disruption, a big rupture that will divide the world and that will not create the conditions for us to be able to address the huge challenges we face. we face the pandemic, we face climate change. we face lawlessness in the cyberspace. we have enormous fragilities, and if we go on in a movement that would tend to divide the world into two, to move into a g2 that would then lead to a g0, we would be doomed. so, i mean, it's not just a rivalry, is it, secretary general, about the economy, technology and so on? zhang bo, who's a professor at
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tsinghua university in china, says, "the relationship between china and the united states is in freefall. that specific rivalry could be dangerous. " so when, for example, we've seen in recent days naval exercises being undertaken by both china and the united states in the south china sea, a potentialflash point there, when we see the criticisms that have been made about china over its security laws in hong kong, its treatment of the uighurs and so on, are you worried that we could see perhaps some kind of escalation between the united states and china? i don't expect... a military one. ..any confrontation in the short term, but when you have an economic and technological divide that becomes completely so deep — that separates the world into two — then the risks in the long term of a military and geostrategic confrontation of course increase. we need to avoid the new cold war. i don't think the cold
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war was a good thing. we need to avoid a new cold war, and the fragilities we have and the challenges that we face in common require that we look into the real things that divide us. of course, we have different political systems, we have different trade systems. we have many things that need to be adjusted, need to be negotiated, but it's absolutely essential to make an effort in order to have a common response of humankind to the common challenges humankind is facing. so, when you talk about the rivalry, there are those who say that, in terms of the united states and china, china has already won. former singaporean diplomat kishore mahbubani, who's now one of asia's most influential thinkers, told me on hardtalk last month that, "covid—i9 is only going to accelerate the shift of power to asia which was already happening before." do you agree with his assessment? i don't think that nobody is winning. division doesn't make anybody win. division makes everybody lose.
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it is obvious that there has been a progressive change in power relations in the world. it is obvious that there has been a transfer from east and west of economic dynamism from the west to east — of economic dynamism — but i do believe we are on time to build a multipolar world with the united states, with china, with european union, with india, with several other... japan, several other key actors, and that that multipolar world can create common rules and can have forms of governance that are multilateral in which the differences that exist can be solved and in which we all can benefit. the idea that we should divide and that based on that division someone would win is, in my opinion, a total disaster and doesn't make any sense. it may be, in your opinion, a total disaster, secretary—general, but do you think that it's already happened ? when you look at how the chinese foreign minister, wang yi, has been touring western europe this week, and we all know that china has weathered the global recession
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much better than other economies in the world, and it's seeing some growth — albeit, of course, not at the levels it had seen in the past — do you think it's already using its economic clout to win favour amongst countries in the west? it is clear that there is a competition in relation to that. it is clear, in my opinion, that we need to avoid this kind of competition, which is a competition that divides and we need to find ways in which people compete but in a common set of rules, in a global economy, that is a global economy shared by everybody, and in which, as i said, different poles can cooperate and compete better, respecting the common rules and creating the conditions for global governance to address the global challenges that we face. there is no way to address climate change if we don't come together. if everyone tries to win the battle of climate change alone, it will be a disaster for us all.
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there is no way we can put order in the cyberspace if we are divided and we might face the risk of cyber wars in the future. so, let me ask you this, then, you've made a very persuasive case there for the need for common rules, so how frustrated do you get when you see major powers really violating those rules? and i'm thinking in particular of one situation that's creating a lot of concern at the moment, and that's belarus. so, you have alexander lukashenko, who — there was an election on august 9th and he was declared the winner, and there were many who said this election was not free or fair. the european union have said, "no, we don't accept that it was," so russia, his big ally, is supporting him. so, how frustrated do you feel when you see countries like that not playing by these rules that you so eloquently defend? well, when i see a situation like the belarus situation it is clear that there
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is a deep internal crisis. it's clear that there is a deep internal divide, and it is obvious that you don't solve this kind of crisis by arresting people or by oppressing the demonstrations. belarus is a case in point where i believe a deep national dialogue needs to be put in place and my appeal to the president is to understand that need and my appeal to the opposition is if the president moves in that direction to accept that dialogue. dialogue among belarussians, independently of others that, of course, are not belarussians. dialogue among belarussians to find a way to come out of this crisis with something that unites the country, and, as i said, it's not arresting people that the problem will be solved. so, you want to... it's time to recognise that there is in the 21st century no room for prisoners of conscience. nobody should be arrested based on political opinions. and you said just there that
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you want to ensure that this is a dialogue that takes place between forces in belarus itself. so do you reject the kind of interference that president vladimir putin of russia is undertaking? he told russian television at the end of last week that president lukashenko had asked him to set up, and i quote, "a certain police reserve, and i, putin, have done so. and we have agreed that it won't be used until the situation gets out of control." that's something presumably you would repudiate. as i said, i don't think this problem will be solved by police measures or by arrests. this problem needs to be solved by dialogue, dialogue among the bela russians. but can you categorically repudiate, then, that kind of interference that president putin is signalling? many would like to interfere in the situation in belarus. i don't want any interference in belarus. i want the belarussians to solve their problem and to solve their problem based on dialogue. all right. if you express those
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words which have been expressed by others, don't you think that you need them underpinned by some kind of measure or actions? so the baltic states, lithuania, estonia and latvia, have now imposed sanctions on 30 belarus officials, including president lukashenko himself, because they feel that the european union is kind of dragging its feet a bit. would you be in favour of some kind of sanctions against leaders in belarus? i've always many questions about unilateral sanctions. we believe that sanctions should be decided at un level, as you know. but what matters here is my deep belief that we need to create the conditions for a democratic solution in belarus based on dialogue and any effort in this, that action will be welcome. but as i said, it should be the belarussians themselves to be able to solve their problem. all right. so when you make this plea for multilateralism, secretary—general, you know,
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you see that the polarisation that you've been warning has already really taken place. i'll tell you what the influential us think tank, the carnegie endowment for international peace, has just said — it's worried that severe political polarisation has already been tearing apart many democracies from india and poland to turkey and the united states. and it's posing the question that the virus is exacerbating intolerance. would you say that's true? and i'd like to ask you how you see that intolerance playing out within the context of the black lives matter debate? well, we are witnessing, unfortunately, in the world, i would say a crisis of the enlightenment values, a crisis of irrationality, the emergence or the strengthening of populist, xenophobic, nationalistic, racist expressions.
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and racism is particularly abhorrent. i mean, racism is the denial of humanity. and i must say, ifound myself even surprised with the level of intensity racism still has around the world and even within the united nations. and i'm trying to launch a very serious internal reflection on how to fight racism within our own organisation, because this is something that must be a full priority everywhere. but to this question of hatred, this question of discrimination is something we need to be able to fight. we need to strengthen the democratic values that are based on social cohesion. we need to understand that diversity is a richness, not a threat, but for diversity to be a success, there must be a huge investment in social cohesion to make each community feel that their identity is respected but at the same time that they belong to the society as a whole without discrimination.
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and these, of course, need the work of governments, the work of local authorities, the work of civil society, the work of youth. and my hope in these is to see the youth much more cosmopolitan, much more open, much less racist than my own generation. i hope that the youth drive that we have seen in so many areas, we have seen in so many movements about gender equality, fighting against violence against women, against racism for climate action, i see in this dynamic of the social, the civil society led by youth, the main reason for me to be optimistic in the future, even when i see, unfortunately, our democratic societies being undermined by this irrationality, this denial of the enlightenment that i've mentioned. 0k — you said that you want to see people of different backgrounds feeling at ease wherever they may be living in the world, to paraphrase what you've just said. if you were an african—american male, would you feel at ease
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in the united states? when you look up, say, just one statistic commonly cited — african—america ns form 14% of the population of the united states, and yet they form a third of its prison population — would you, if you were a black american, feel at ease in american society today? well, it is clear that the united states have a history, have a legacy. there was, of course, the weight of slavery and the impact of slavery. we all remember the questions of the kind of apartheid and separation and the civil rights struggle, martin luther king and everything else. so there is a tremendous legacy that requires a huge investment exactly to allow african—americans to feel that they entirely belong to society... sure, but... but when you see what's going on today, the protests... i have to recognise that the united states has made a big effort in affirmative action in relation to this. but the problem is not only
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in the united states. even my own society, portugal, that had a colonial past, and in which we have an afro—portuguese community, sometimes we feel... but the focus is very much, isn't it, secretary, on the united states? we need to make sure there is a possibility for everybody to live together and to feel that they belong to the society, and that they are respected in their values and identity. sure, but i have to just ask you particularly about the united states. that's where you're based. you've seen all the protests because of george floyd's killing and also now because of jacob blake in wisconsin and the kind of anger it's unleashed on the street. so it's not peculiar to the united states, but do you think america has a race problem? all countries have and, of course, the us also has. it's a vibrant democracy, but with a very dramatic legacy from the point of view... 0k, you've said about the legacy. all right. you're not going to... ..which, of course, creates the difficulties that we all recognise and that is why the investment, the investment in social cohesion, the investment in addressing discrimination... you've made that point.
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..is so important. very quickly, you said there's even racism in the united nations. what do you mean by that? well, the united nations, we have people from all over the world and sometimes we see in the way people work, in the way people relate, racist attitudes, racist forms of discrimination, in the way, for instance, they make proposals for promotions or things of these sorts. and we need to recognise that this exists and we need to take the measures necessary to overcome this problem and to make sure that united nations in itself becomes an example of respect, mutual respect of all different ethnic and religious groups. do you know of specific cases, then, secretary—general, of somebody being passed over for promotion at the united nations because of their colour? i've had many people complaining. we have had work done by our different bodies, ethics office, office of investigation. there are problems that need to be addressed. there are complaints that need to be addressed. and we need to be able to recognise that the problem exists to be able to solve it.
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all right. the problem is in relation to racism, many people does not recognise that racism exists. all right. many people are in a state of denial. and that is why it's sometimes so difficult to fight it effectively. all right. your underlying theme constantly is multilateralism, play by the rules and so on. but when you look at the united states retreating from multilateralism and we're seeing, you know, the use of the veto by the superpowers on the permanent members of the un security council wielding their veto, and embargoes against libya, for example, being ignored and so on, and deals like the one between the united arab emirates and israel being struck really with the united states simply as a power broker, not including multilateral efforts, you're just really arguing for something which doesn't exist and it's really dead, isn't it? well, i don't think it's dead. it's alive in many things.
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if you look at the multilateral humanitarian aid in the world, it's a remarkable success. and i believe the un is in the very centre of it. on the other hand, if one looks at what peacekeepers do in so many parts of the world and how many lives have been saved, if one see, how it has been possible to use the un as a platform to discuss, for instance, in recent times, the questions of digital cooperation, how we see that in the end, the un is the platform where everybody can come together, not only governments, but the business community, civil society, cities. i believe multilateralism is not dead. so when you say we need it, here's the united nations celebrating its 75th anniversary. that will be the underlying theme of the general assembly when it meets. but when you look at the way countries have reacted to getting a vaccine, you have warned against vaccine nationalism — you say either we will be free of covid—i9 or nobody will be free, but every country trying to get its own vaccine for its own people — you must despair about your efforts
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to build multilateralism. i do not despair. but i am worried and sometimes angry. we launched an initiative with the world health organization, with gavi, with a number of other institutions, the world bank, named covax, and that initiative is still there and aiming at the creation of a vaccine that could be a global public good that could be indeed a people's vaccine. and i believe that we need it, the world needs it, and unfortunately is underfunded. at the same time, i see that many countries are trying to guarantee their own vaccines without understanding that nobody will be safe unless everybody will be safe. my strong appeal is against the vaccine nationalism. my strong appeal, understanding that countries need to take the precautions in relation to their own population, but that this needs to be done in a way that allows them to share whatever is needed for the developing world to have the same access
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to vaccines that the developed countries will be able to eventually provide to themselves. but let's also be clear — we don't even know when the vaccine will exist. we don't even know how effective it will be. and one reason more to understand that without much more solidarity at global level, covid—i9 will not be defeated. just very quickly, who emergencies expert mike ryan says it's important to put this on the table — the virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities and the virus may never go away. briefly, do you think we're just going to have to learn to live with covid—i9? i hope it will not happen, but i recognise that this is a real possible thing. but this is one reason more for us to move from one going — each one going its own way, one reason more to understand that we can only eradicate it if we act in a coordinated way. antonio guterres, secretary—general of
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the united nations, at your headquarters in new york, thank you very much indeed for coming on hardtalk. it was a pleasure. hello. it'll be a much milder end to the night. that's because we've picked up atlantic weather fronts with more cloud around. although that is clearing away for many, we will still have quite a cool and brisk breeze with showers coming in on that atlantic wind. these are the weather fronts that i've talked about, some heavy thundery rain for a time through the night. this cold weather front is bringing some more persistent rain southwards, and to the south of
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that it is very misty. low cloud is shrouded the hills in fog. it was 3—4 degrees on wednesday morning in some areas in suffolk. so, it will be a milder start, but a grey one for some. already, though, the brighter skies with us for scotland, for northern ireland, for northern england, filtering through wales in the morning, into the midlands in the afternoon. but the more appreciable rain could just linger into the second part of the afternoon further south and the cloud towards evening as well. but we will still see temperatures in the high teens and low 20s. obviously, with some sunshine in northeastern areas of both scotland and northeast england, feeling pleasant enough. but there will be a near gale force wind in the far northwest of scotland, and most will have a breezier day than wednesday. that breeze will blow the cloud and rain away from the south on friday, continue to push showers into the north and west, but, actually, through into friday morning, it will be chillier to start. so, much milder this morning, but a chilly one again on friday morning. now, there is some uncertainty on the detail for friday regarding the rain. still sunny spells, showers, possibly more in the north on friday, but this area
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of rain may push in across sourthern parts of england and wales through the second half, or during through the day, and it'sjust uncertain as to how much we're going to get — more details with time. as that then clears away, the weekend to set up with low pressure to the north and a brisk northwesterly wind — high—pressure starting to build into the southwest. but, again, it's a chilly direction, so if anything, temperatures will be suppressed a little bit more this weekend — just mid—high teens for most. showers continuing, possibly something a little wetter later in the day in northern ireland, but at this stage, the devil's in the detail. but if that does develope, it could well — with that northwesterly wind — push further southwards during saturday night and into sunday, bringing more showers across england and wales, potentially, by that stage. either side of that some drier, brighterweather, still quite cool in that brisk northwesterly wind. highs still into the high teens. as ever, more online, including the warnings.
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this is bbc news. i'm mike embley with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. demands for moscow to explain what happened to alexei navalny, as german doctors say he was poisoned with a nerve agent. this is directly leading to the russians. they are the only ones who have ever made this off, they are the only ones who have been known to use it before. fourteen go on trial in france over the deadly attack on the satirical magazine charlie hebdo, five years ago. what happens when two black holes collide? scientists may have found the answer and it's challenging the laws of physics. and the bbc‘s mishal husein tells the story of her grandfather and the indian army's contribution in the second world war.

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