Third World War not beyond realm of possibility: UN General Assembly President

Dennis Francis also said there was a need for reform in the UN Security Council, and that political divisions had hampered its ability to respond to international security challenges

Shashank Mattoo, Vaageesh Thirumalai
Published24 Jan 2024, 05:13 PM IST
Dennis Francis, president of the UN General Assembly, addressing a briefing in New Delhi on Wednesday. (PTI)
Dennis Francis, president of the UN General Assembly, addressing a briefing in New Delhi on Wednesday. (PTI)

UN General Assembly president Dennis Francis warned that the ongoing conflict in the Red Sea posed an extremely disturbing situation that could trigger another mass war on a global level.

Speaking at a press briefing in New Delhi on Wednesday, Francis said the possibility of escalation and regionalization of the conflict in the Red Sea had created a dangerous situation.

“That is an extremely disturbing situation. It would appear that third parties are facilitating this action being taken by the Houthis in the Red Sea—very damaging and dangerous,” said Francis, who took over as president of the UNGA in September. 

“The last thing you really want is the regionalisation of that war. You do not want that because that would mean escalation and escalation breeds further escalation. So, a Third World War is not beyond the realm of possibility.”

The veteran diplomat from Trinidad and Tobago also warned that the devastating capabilities of modern weapons would make such a conflict far worse than previous wars. Francis also spoke about the disputes in the South China Sea and the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Francis met with Indian foreign minister S. Jaishankar earlier in the day. They discussed the state of the multilateral system as well as the humanitarian situation in Gaza and Ukraine. They also discussed India’s G20 presidency, UN Security Council reforms, and India’s digitalisation successes.

Francis also spoke of the need for reform in the UN Security Council.

“The Security Council of the United Nations, as it currently exists, harks back to a period in world history which no longer exists. It was formed, as you know, in the immediate post-1945 era. Since then, the world has changed radically. The geopolitical realities of today are not reflected in the council, and there are those who claim that the council is in urgent need of democratisation,” Francis told reporters.

He also stated that political divisions within the Security Council had hampered the body’s ability to respond to international security challenges.

“Reform of the council is absolutely necessary. I don’t think that there is any member of the United Nations that would deny that,” he said. But “there are those who are less anxious to engage substantively in the process of reform because if you are in a privileged position, you are not necessarily in a hurry to lose privilege.”

Francis said numerous reforms proposals have been discussed.

Francis also reflected on India’s contributions to the United Nations, particularly in fields such as peacekeeping, sustainable development, and pandemic preparedness.

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First Published:24 Jan 2024, 05:13 PM IST
HomeNewsThird World War not beyond realm of possibility: UN General Assembly President

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