Red Sea attacks could trigger WW3, warns UNGA president

President of the UN General Assembly Dennis Francis addressed a press conference at the UN House in New Delhi on Wednesday.  (Sanjay Sharma)
President of the UN General Assembly Dennis Francis addressed a press conference at the UN House in New Delhi on Wednesday. (Sanjay Sharma)


  • The veteran diplomat from Trinidad and Tobago also called for reforms to Security Council

New Delhi: UN General Assembly president Dennis Francis warned that the Red Sea conflict could trigger another World War, and buttressed the need to reform the Security Council.

Francis told reporters in New Delhi on Wednesday 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.

Yemen-based Houthi militants, who are backed by Iran, have been launching missile attacks on ships in the Red Sea in reprisal against Israeli bombing of Gaza. “The last thing you really want is the regionalization of that war. You do not want that because that would mean escalation and escalation breeds further escalation. So, a 3rd World War is not beyond the realm of possibility."

The veteran diplomat from Trinidad and Tobago also spoke about the disputes in the South China Sea and the Gaza war.

Francis met with foreign minister S. Jaishankar earlier in the day and 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 successes with digital technology.

Francis spoke of the need to reform the UN Security Council—a long-standing demand by India, which has also pitched strongly to be a permanent member.

“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 democratization," Francis said.

He said political divisions within the Security Council—its permanent members are China, France, Russia, the UK and US—had hampered the body’s ability to respond to global 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." 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 also reflected on India’s contributions to the United Nations, particularly in peacekeeping, sustainable development, and pandemic preparedness. Francis’ comments, which are very similar to India’s views on UN reforms, come a day after billionaire tech magnate Elon Musk has said it is “absurd" that India does not have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council despite being the most populous country in the world.


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