2nd LD Writethru: Multilateralism a necessity in interconnected world, says Singaporean PM

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, September 28, 2019
Adjust font size:

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday defended multilateralism at the UN General Assembly, saying a multilateral approach is not an option but a necessity in today's interconnected world.

The open and integrated international order that emerged after the Cold War has benefited all countries. A rules-based system imposes responsibilities on all countries and creates a stable environment for all, he told the General Debate of the UN General Assembly.

For small states like Singapore, multilateral institutions, systems and laws are critical for their survival as these give them a stake in the global commons, and a means to defend and advance their interests, he explained.

But the world is going through a complex transition and the strategic balance is shifting, Lee noted.

More countries are keen to enhance their international roles, and are competing fiercely for influence. At the same time, the global consensus on the benefits of globalization has eroded and support for multilateralism has declined. In many countries, nationalist, isolationist, and protectionist sentiments have intensified, he said.

"These sentiments have reshaped their domestic politics, and given rise to inward-looking and nativist policies. The result is a more polarised world."

But in a world where countries are more interconnected than ever, where actions by one country are having a greater and faster impact on others, and effects that may eventually rebound upon themselves, a multilateral approach is not an option but a necessity to deal with complex global problems, including poverty eradication, pandemics and climate change, said Lee.

Sustainable development has become a priority for all countries. But it is very difficult for any country to develop and progress on its own, he said. "Growth requires trade, investments, and technology. All these activities depend on working with others, within an open and orderly international framework of rules."

If global markets become less open, and conditions for trade and investment become more uncertain and disorderly, developing countries in Africa and Latin America will find it much harder to make progress, he warned.

Today, there is a strong pushback against an open, integrated global economy. The view that globalization and free trade have worsened inequality has grown, said Lee. "But in truth globalization and free trade have improved the lives of billions of people around the world, and not only those living in poor countries."

"Indeed, within each country, there have been winners and losers. Not all countries have succeeded in squaring off the benefits and costs of globalization domestically. Then the international system often becomes the scapegoat. But a fragmented world with less growth and prosperity will create fewer jobs, and make everyone's prospects even dimmer. Worse, closed global markets will create tension and instability in the international system."

Multilateral cooperation is also essential to deal with "wicked" global problems -- problems that no single country can solve alone, but which, if not tackled, will have disastrous consequences for all countries. "One salient example is climate change," he said.

He concluded that a rules-based multilateral system is still far preferable to any other way to secure peace and prosperity, and to solve global problems. "I call on fellow UN member states to support the multilateral approach, to push harder against the tide, and demonstrate leadership in this endeavor." Enditem

Follow China.org.cn on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from China.org.cnMobileRSSNewsletter