AP

The United Nations is marking its 75th anniversary with a scaled-down event because of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of many challenges a deeply divided world must tackle along with poverty, inequality, discrimination and unending wars.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Friday’s virtual commemoration of the signing of the UN Charter that “global pressures are spiraling up” and “today’s realities are as forbidding as ever".

He said people continue to lose trust in political establishments and has spoken of rising populism threatening multilateralism and denounced xenophobia, racism and intolerance.

“Today’s marches against racism were preceded by widespread protests against inequality, discrimination, corruption and lack of opportunities all over the world – grievances that still need to be addressed, including with a renewed social contract,” he said in a video address.

“Meanwhile,” Guterres said, “other fundamental fragilities have only grown: the climate crisis, environmental degradation, cyberattacks, nuclear proliferation, a push-back on human rights and the risk of another pandemic.”

He stressed the urgent need for global cooperation.

“One virus...has put us on our knees, and we have not been able to fight it effectively,” Guterres told reporters Thursday. “It’s spreading now everywhere. There was no control, no effective coordination among member states. We are divided in fighting COVID‑19.”