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Kazakh President warns of threat to the very foundation of world order

The President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, has warned that divisions within states and tensions between them are threatening to bring down the world order that has existed since the foundation of the United Nations. In his keynote speech to the Astana International Forum, the President called for nations to recognise the strong imperative to come together, even as geopolitical pressures are pushing them apart, writes Political Editor Nick Powell.

Welcoming representatives of every continent and from the worlds of government, diplomacy, business, and academia to the Astana International Forum, President Tokayev said it was a dialogue platform with a mission, to candidly review the global situation, identify the leading challenges and crises and to tackle those challenges through dialogue in a spirit of mutual cooperation. Also to renew and rebuild a common culture of multilateralism and to amplify voices for peace, progress and solidarity. 

He said that the Forum explicitly promotes greater engagement at a time when it is needed more than ever, in a period of unprecedented geopolitical tension. The President warned that for the global system to survive, it must work for everyone, promoting peace and prosperity for the many rather than for the few.

“We are witnessing the process of eroding of very foundation of the world order that has been built since the creation of the United Nations.  The UN remains to be the only universal global organization which unites all together”, he continued. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who served for two years as Director-General of the United Nations at Geneva, said tackling these challenges required comprehensive reform of the Security Council. “The voices of Middle Powers in the Council need to be amplified and clearly heard”, he added.      


“A handful of recent ‘new crises’ – from Covid-19 to armed conflicts – threaten our fragile international ecosystem. Yet the roots of this dislocation run deeper into our past. We are also witnessing the return of earlier divisive ‘bloc’ mentalities unseen for 30 years. The forces of division are not purely geopolitical, they are also motivated by economic undercurrents; economic policy itself is openly weaponized.

“These confrontations include sanctions and trade wars, targeted debt policies, reduced access or exclusion from financing, and investment screening. Together these factors are gradually undermining the foundation upon which rests the global peace and prosperity of recent decades: free trade, global investment, innovation, and fair competition.

“This in turn fuels social unrest and division within states and tensions between them. Rising inequality, social divides, widening gaps in culture and values: all these trends have become existential threats. Efforts to reverse this tide are more difficult because of widespread disinformation, which is now becoming even more advanced and dangerous. In parallel, new technologies, from Artificial Intelligence to biotechnologies, have global implications but are being addressed only along narrow, national lines. Together, these pressures are pushing the globalised world order to a breaking point”.


President Tokayev said the result is growing mistrust which negatively impacts the functioning of important frameworks such as international forums, security regimes and non-proliferation mechanisms. This had led to uncertainty, greater instability and conflict, resulting in greater defence spending on advance weaponry, which he observed, ultimately guarantees nothing. “The proof: for the first time in a half century, we have faced the prospect of the use of nuclear weapons. All this comes at precisely the moment when we urgently need to be focusing on the existential threat of climate change”.

He explained that Central Asia is one of the front lines of climate change. Even if the global temperature rise is limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050 – which looks increasingly unlikely – there will be a rise of between 2 and 2.5 degrees in Central Asia. “This will transform or, more precisely, desertify and dehydrate our local environments. We must be prepared for greater difficulties.  We are really concerned about the scarcity of water resources. Droughts and floods in Central Asia will cause damage of 1.3 percent of GDP per annum, while crop yields are expected to decrease by 30 percent, leading to around 5 million internal climate migrants by 2050. Our glacier surface has already decreased by 30 percent”.

The region’s great rivers were on course to shrink by 15% by 2050. President Tokayev called for more resources for the International Fund to Save the Aral Sea and he proposed joint action on water security with neighbouring states, with a Regional Climate Summit in Kazakhstan in 2026 under UN and other international organisations’ auspices.

“Our planet’s climate emergency is the clearest example of our interdependence and shared destiny. Whether we like it or not, we are bound together”, the President concluded. “Given that reality, those who figure out how to work together will succeed, and those who don’t will fail.  Multilateralism, centred  in the UN’s principles and values, is not merely the most effective way to address this challenge, it is the only path”.

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