In a recorded message sent out on the very last day of 2017, the United Nations Secretary General issued a "red alert" for the next year. The United Nations shared Antonio Guterres' message on Sunday. Guterres said that a year ago, when he joined the international organization, he made an appeal for peace and world stability. But things, according to him, "went in reverse" — and it doesn't look great. The secretary general said,
When I took office one year ago, I appealed for 2017 to be a year for peace. Unfortunately, in fundamental ways, the world has gone in reverse. On New Year's Day 2018, I am not issuing an appeal. I am issuing an alert, a red alert, for our world.
The video shared short clips from different and disturbing world events throughout the year. From the refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe, climate change, and the human rights violations of Rohingya Muslims, to the increasing lack of unity in the United Nations, the organization's recording placed a strong emphasis on bringing an increasingly-divided world together.
Guterres went on to say, "Conflicts have deepened and new dangers have emerged. Global anxieties about nuclear weapons are the highest since the Cold War. Climate change is moving faster than we are. Inequalities are growing. And we see horrific violations of human rights."
The United Nations Secretary General also warned, "Nationalism and xenophobia are on the rise." Perhaps Guterres was referring to the rise of nationalism in Europe where, according to BBC's comprehensive analysis, nationalist parties recently increased their public appearances.
In a poll carried out in 2016, the BBC revealed that nationalism had gone up by 21 percent in Denmark, 35 percent in Austria, 29 percent in Switzerland, 21 percent in Hungary, and similarly high percents for other countries. Most of this rise was explained through electoral wins for the far-right and ultra-nationalist parties. In November alone, nearly 60,000 Neo-Nazis gathered in Warsaw, Poland, to celebrate the country's independence day.
Going forward, however, Guterres said that the world needs unity to address its issues of conflict and discord. He noted that although he does believe change is achievable, he knew it was virtually impossible without the help of people around the world. "As we begin 2018," he said, "I call for unity. I truly believe we can make our world more safe and secure. We can settle conflicts, overcome hatred, and defend shared values. But we can only do that together."
Although the United Nations Secretary General did not name names or point specific leaders out for their part in global conflict, it can be assumed that Guterres was pointing to the biggest developments of 2017, including increased hostility between North Korea and the United States of America, Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord, the ongoing human rights violations of the Rohingya Muslim minority group, and more. Perhaps without naming anyone in specific, the secretary general allowed his audience to infer who he was pointing at. And where, most importantly, change needed to happen.
Like any ending note or video on the old year, the secretary general did have a vision and plan for the year of 2018. And that's vital considering the fact that many people watching him speak might be wondering what they can personally do to create a better and safer world. For the leaders of countries and communities and concerned citizens of the world, Guterres said, "I urge leaders everywhere to make this New Year's resolution: narrow the gaps. Bridge the divides. Rebuild trust by bringing people together around common goals. Unity is the path. Our future depends on it."