UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Friday that “there is a growing deficit of trust between people and political establishments” across the world, urging governments “to uphold the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly.”
“We are witnessing a wave of demonstrations around the world, from the Middle East to Latin America and the Caribbean … from Europe to Africa and Asia,” Guterres told correspondents at the UN headquarters in New York.
“Disquiet in peoples’ lives is leading to anything but quiet in streets and city squares.”
While saying that “every situation is unique,” he told the journalists that “some protests are triggered by economic issues – including rising prices, persistent inequality or financial systems that benefit elites.”
“Others stem from political demands.”
“And in some cases, people are reacting to corruption or different forms of discrimination,” he added.
Asked about the situation in Lebanon and his main message to President Michel Aoun, Guterres said that the UN mission in Beirut has been active in dialogue with all parties.
“It's a message that the country must solve its problems with dialogue,” he added.
The UN chief urged maximum restraint and no use of violence, both from the government and protesters.
Guterres was also asked about violence used by the Iraqi authorities and Iran-backed militias.
He said: “We have, of course, been systematically appealing for non violence and for restraint in relation to the authorities and the other actors that are involved.”
He expressed deep regret at the large number of people killed in the protests in Iraq.
“According to our preliminary findings, there were, indeed, substantial violations of human rights that took place and need to be clearly denounced and condemned,” Guterres added.