Guterres in the European Parliament

António Guterres that took office just before Trump is now facing the consequences and difficulties of having a US administration that is trying to approve cuts in humanitarian aid. Trump’s new radical ideas to "make America great again" through protectionism and less spending in official development assistance, put the United Nations under alert as the USA is the biggest donor for many of the UN agencies. Less resources available means also less aid for people helped by the UN.

To achieve the goals of the Agenda 2030, the United Nations needs funding, but this is not the only challenge that the UN have to face nowadays. The world is living the worst humanitarian crisis since the UN creation, this is an importantissue of concern to the UN, because UN agencies need urgent extra funding to help more than 20 million people in need of aid assistance. EU can play an important role, Europe have the resources and the will that can help those persons affected by the extreme drought.EU has also concrete priorities established by the Rome Declaration that are related to a sustainable globalisation with focus in the people.

As a Portuguese who knows very well the European Institutions and despite his new job, Guterres keeps a pro-Europe feeling. It was during one of his mandates as Prime Minister that Portugal had the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, during which the Lisbon Agenda was adopted and the first EU-Africa summit was held (the fifth EU-Africa summit will take place later this year).

The European Union has been facing some internal problems, first the Euro crisis, then the rising of far-right movements due the refugees crisis and now the upcoming Brexit negotiations, but Europe is committed to help its partner countries through a development cooperation policy. It was with this background that Guterres went to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, in an attempt to captivate Europe’s attention to the current needs of the humanitarian aid, to balance the lack of American interest in the world’s problems.

As expected, the former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees referred to the issue of migration and asylum seekers, which is a world challenge but it has strong effects in Europe. Guterres asked for more cooperation with the UN, in order to reestablish the aid system for refugees according to international laws. He also noted that this challenge could be easily solved if EU is able to face it with full solidarity between its members.

The UN’s top job is an apologist of prevention as modus operandi for UN and have made it clear during the speech, pointed that the new priority is “to strengthen the capacity of the United Nations both in conflict resolution, in preventing (conflict) and in sustaining peace”. Using resources to prevent humanitarian crisis is more effective and less expensive than to use resources to rebuilt a country affected by a crisis. Many crisis can be prevented by using resources to improve living conditions, people will not have to sacrifice their lives to look for better places to live if they see their rights protected in their home countries.

As with the EU, the UN also needs reforms. António Guterres is committed to carry out reforms, in order to make the UN more effective and to rebuild the lost trust in the organisation and better answer to people’s aspirations. With common challenges and with an important role in the globalised world “a strong and united Europe is an absolutely fundamental pillar of a strong and effective United Nations”, said Guterres. 

Both organisations were created after the WWII “to ensure peace and prosperity through a multilateral cooperation” as said by the EU Parliament President Antonio Tajani in the welcoming speech to Guterres in Strasburg. The President also referred that both organisations “have to find political solutions to the conflicts in Syria, Libya and Yemen, and to address ISIS” together in order to “defend the dignity and freedom of people”, also giving a better future to the new generations and complete the Agenda 2030.

In his short visit to the European Parliament, Guterres also spoke about the cultural diversity, the violation of human rights and climate change (asking Europe to take the lead in this last issue), and the capacity to build a world more tolerant, fair, peaceful and prosperous.

As Guterres said at the end of his visit to the European democracy house, “we live in a world with global challenges that need a global answer, a world in which there is not only two global powers or only one”, our world now is a chaotic multipolar order, turning necessary a EU united and strong in order to support the UN projects.Guterres left the European Parliament with the guarantee that the institution is ready for a strong cooperation and support of UN causes.