FILE PHOTO: United Nation's Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the audience during a joint press conference with Jamaica's Prime Minister Andrew Holness (not pictured), in Kingston, Jamaica May 15, 2023. REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy

The UN Security Council reflects the power relations of 1945 and there is a growing need to redistribute power with the realities of contemporary times, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Sunday, as he asserted that it was “time to reform” the global body.

Guterres, while speaking to reporters in Hiroshima at the G7 meeting, said the crushing economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, unsustainable levels of debt, rising interest rates and spiralling inflation are devastating developing and emerging economies.

He stressed that among the reasons for problems being faced by developing countries are power-related dimensions.

“The Bretton Woods system and the Security Council reflect the power relations of 1945. And many things have changed since then. The global financial architecture became outdated, dysfunctional and unfair,” Guterres said.

Bretton Woods is an international monetary system that was forged by delegates from 44 nations in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, in July 1944 as the Second World War raged in Europe and the Pacific.

Delegates to the conference agreed to establish the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and what became the World Bank Group.

The Bretton Woods was meant to be a system of economic order and international cooperation that would help countries recover from the devastation of the war and foster long-term global growth.

Guterres said in the face of the economic shocks from the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, these systems and institutions in place have “failed to fulfil its core function as a global safety net.” “It’s time to reform both the Security Council and the Bretton Woods institutions. This is essentially a question of redistributing power in line with the realities of today’s world,” Guterres said.

The UN chief’s latest remarks in Hiroshima come as a strong endorsement of the need to reform the 15-nation powerful UN organ.

India has been at the forefront of efforts calling for urgent reform of the Security Council, which has remained deeply divisive in dealing with current challenges.

In an address at a G7 session in Hiroshima, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wondered why different forums have had to deliberate on issues relating to peace and stability when the UN was formed to deal with these challenges.

The United Nations and the Security Council will remain just a “talk shop” if they do not reflect the realities of the present world, said on Sunday, as he strongly pitched for reform of the global body.

India has asserted that the Council, in its current form, does not reflect today’s geo-political realities and its credibility is at risk if nations such as developing powers like India do not have a permanent seat at the horse-shoe table.

Guterres had said last year that a majority of UN member countries now acknowledge that the Security Council should be reformed to reflect today’s geopolitical realities.

“I hope regional groups & countries can work together to achieve greater consensus on the way forward and the modalities of reform,” he said then.

Last month, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj had said that India is a founding signatory to the UN Charter when it was signed on June 26, 1945 in San Francisco.

“Seventy-seven years later, when we see the world’s largest democracy, along with entire continents of Africa and Latin America, being kept out of global decision-making, we rightly call for a major course correction,” Kamboj had said.

In response to a question at the press meet, Guterres said the Bretton Woods system and the Security Council are supposed to do what they were created for.

“What I believe is clear. It’s that there is a growing conscience in developed countries – and I felt it in the G7 – that not enough is being done, both to reform outdated institutions and at the same time, to I would say remove the frustration of the Global South by an effective policy of solidarity with the Global South,” Guterres added.

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