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Attacks on the United Nations are no laughing matter

  • πηγή:China Plus
  • ημερομηνία έκδοσης:2018-09-29 12:28:08
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Note: The following is an edited translation of a commentary from the Chinese-language "Commentaries on International Affairs."

Over the past two days, the atmosphere at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York was fierce. On the one hand, United States President Donald Trump single-handedly pushed his "America First" policy, alongside his clear opposition to globalization. On the other hand, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and most of the other world leaders stressed the need to defend multilateralism and collective action. 

The General Debate of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly is held at the UN headquarters in New York on Sept. 25, 2018. [Photo: Xinhua]

The General Debate of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly is held at the UN headquarters in New York on Sept. 25, 2018. [Photo: Xinhua]

The international governance system that has the United Nations at its core is under threat. This is why this General Assembly was held under the banner of "Making the United Nations relevant to all people: global leadership and shared responsibilities for peaceful, equitable, and sustainable societies". Guterres has warned that "multilateralism is under fire precisely when we need it most", calling for collective, commonsense action as the only way to address the massive existential threats facing humanity and the environment. France's President Emmanuel Macron urged world leaders to reject "the law of the most powerful." Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for the establishment of a minimum level of peace and prosperity for all. South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa called on all countries to work together to protect globalism and the multilateral approach to international trade. And China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi emphasized that the United Nations was a stabilizing force in a turbulent world. 

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the General Debate of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York on Sept. 25, 2018. [Photo: Xinhua]

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the General Debate of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York on Sept. 25, 2018. [Photo: Xinhua]

President Trump was, however, singing a different tune. Reminiscent of his performance at the gathering last year, he defended the "America First" policy he has pursued since taking office. He criticized the United Nations Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court. He criticized the Iran nuclear deal. He criticized America's opponents Iran and Venezuela, and he criticized America's friend Germany. But most of all, he criticized the very idea of globalization. This was, after all, the American president who withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Paris Climate Agreement, the Iran nuclear deal, and a handful of core United Nations organizations. 

Listening to President Trump rail against the world order, you could be forgiven for forgetting that the United States was a founder and leading participant in the development of the economic world order and the global trading system following World War II. More than 70 years later, the world is now witnessing the spectacle of the American president fiercely attacking the very principles of multilateralism that underpin the United Nations Charter. In doing so, he is recklessly throwing obstacles onto the road towards the development of a prosperous and sustainable future for us all. 

The United Nations is the world's largest and arguably most important platform for the practice of multilateralism. And the General Assembly provides a forum for politicians from individual countries to come together and show leadership to the world. That President Trump's voice was the gathering's sole target of laughter and derision shows how far he and his administration have drifted from the mainstream of global leadership.