Uni­lat­er­al­ism ver­sus Mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism at the United Na­tions

People's Review - - LEADER - BY PRABASI NEPALI

UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral's Ad­dress to the 72nd Gen­eral Assem­bly

In his first state-of-the-world re­port since tak­ing up the stew­ard­ship of the United Na­tions on Jan­uary 1 of this year, Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res put “nu­clear peril” as the lead­ing threat, warn­ing that “we must not sleep­walk our way into war.” In a ma­jor speech to the 72nd ses­sion of the Gen­eral Assem­bly, he ex­horted the world's lead­ers (monar­chs, pres­i­dents, prime min­is­ters and for­eign min­is­ters, among oth­ers) this week Tues­day that the threat of a nu­clear at­tack is at its high­est level since the end of the Cold War, nearly three decades back, and that “fiery talk can lead to fa­tal mis­un­der­stand­ings.” This clearly pointed to the ‘ war of words' ex­changed be­tween the lead­ers of the US, the only su­per­power to­day, and the com­pa­ra­bly small, but nu­cle­arized North Korea. At the open­ing of the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly's high­est level meet­ing, the UN chief said un­mis­tak­enly that mil­lions of peo­ple are liv­ing in fear “un­der a shadow of dread cast by the provoca­tive nu­clear and mis­sile tests” of North Korea. Pre­vi­ously, Guter­res had al­ready demon­strated that he does not mince words by call­ing on Aung San Su­uKyi to take res­o­lute ac­tion to stop the mur­der­ous blood­let­ting in Rakhine State, west­ern Myan­mar. At the same time, he did not favour mil­i­tary ac­tion. He said a so­lu­tion to North Korea must be po­lit­i­cal and stressed to the as­sem­bled lead­ers: “This is a time for states­man­ship.” Be­yond the nu­clear threat, Gur­erres painted a de­press­ing pic­ture of a world fac­ing mul­ti­ple press­ing chal­lenges with many peo­ple “hurt­ing and an­gry” be­cause they “see in­se­cu­rity ris­ing, in­equal­ity grow­ing, con­flict spread­ing and cli­mate chang­ing.” Even a few years back, such words would have been di­rected solely at the ‘least de­vel­oped' and ‘de­vel­op­ing' na­tions of the world. To­day, they are all-en­com­pass­ing, en­velop­ing the planet earth. The Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral went on to add: “So­ci­eties are frag­mented” and “Po­lit­i­cal dis­course is po­lar­ized. Trust within and among coun­tries is be­ing driven down by those who de­mo­nize and di­vide. “We are a world in pieces”, he said, and “We need to be a world at peace.” Again, these words were di­rected not only at the so-called ‘Third World', but also at the ‘West­ern World', and Rus­sia and China. Con­tem­plat­ing the mess the world is in, and the ut­ter in­ca­pac­ity of the so-called ‘de­vel­oped' world to pro­vide the nec­es­sary lead­er­ship, one could al­most say that the last ‘states­man' still stand­ing is Guter­res him­self! Guter­res also chalked out the seven threats and tests of the mod­ern world that have to faced, in or­der to ful­fill the aims and pur­poses of the United Na­tions in gen­eral, and “to unite our strength to main­tain in­ter­na­tional peace and se­cu­rity” (Pre­am­ble of the Char­ter of the United Na­tions): 1. Nu­clear peril 2. Do­mes­tic & In­ter­na­tional Ter­ror­ism 3. Un­re­solved con­flicts and sys­tem­atic vi­o­la­tions of in­ter­na­tional hu­man­i­tar­ian law 4. Cli­mate change 5. Ris­ing in­equal­ity (within and among na­tions) 6. Un­in­tended con­se­quences of tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion 7. Peo­ple on the move (vol­un­tary and in­vol­un­tary mi­gra­tion). Can we ex­pect the dis­tin­guished del­e­gates as­sem­bled in New York to dis­cuss these is­sues, or will they pur­sue their own nar­row in­ter­ests, at the cost of mul­ti­lat­eral so­lu­tions? Guter­res clearly in­cor­po­rates the mul­ti­lat­eral ap­proach – the only pos­si­ble, and in the best tra­di­tions of the world body – to mas­ter the prob­lems and crises plagu­ing the world. Trump Ex­udes Ar­ro­gance of Amer­i­can Power at UN Gen­eral Assem­bly In stark con­trast, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump rep­re­sented the uni­lat­eral modus operandi. It seems that he was only in­ter­ested in per­se­cut­ing his own nar­row and self­ish in­ter­ests when he ad­dressed the world lead­ers. His speech was dis­jointed, dis­qui­et­ing and bom­bas­tic, not in any case ‘states­man-like'. He had not both­ered to hear An­to­nio Guter­res, nor, it seems, had he been briefed by his aides or rep­re­sen­ta­tives at the UN about the far-reach­ing ‘state of the world' speech. Trump ar­ro­gantly pro­pounded his own “Amer­ica First” doc­trine, which his ad­min­is­tra­tion er­ro­neously de­picts as “prin­ci­pled re­al­ism”, but which is noth­ing more, and noth­ing less than “Amer­i­can Ex­cep­tion­al­ism/ Ex­clu­siv­ity/ Uni­lat­er­al­ism” – the pur­suit of per­ceived Amer­i­can in­ter­ests, to the detri­ment of other na­tions and with a devil-may-care at­ti­tude. His com­ments rat­tled the in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence, both in the hall and the wider world. In his speech which had most lead­ers and com­men­ta­tors shak­ing their heads, Trump threat­ened all of Amer­ica's foes. He thus boasted: “The United States has great strength and pa­tience, but if it is forced to de­fend it­self or its al­lies, we will have no choice but to to­tally de­stroy North Korea.” As loud, star­tled mur­murs filled the hall, Trump con­tin­ued in an acid tone and dis­par­aged the North Korean leader Kim: “Rocket man is on a sui­cide mis­sion for him­self and his regime.” North Korea's for­eign min­is­ter, Ri Yong-ho dis­missed Trump's speech as “the sound of a bark­ing dog”, in spite of which “the pa­rade goes on”. He con­tin­ued con­temp­tu­ously: “I feel sorry for his aides.” Kim Jong-Un him­self has now re­acted an­grily to Trump's re­marks and ac­tions (im­pos­ing new sanc­tions), call­ing Trump a “men­tally de­ranged US dotard [weak, se­nile old man]” and his UNGA speech “un­prece­dented rude non­sense.” Fur­ther­more: “I will make the man hold­ing the pre­rog­a­tive of the supreme com­mand in the US pay dearly for his speech.” Hope­fully, the ex­change of un­nec­es­sary ‘ ver­bal niceties' will not es­ca­late into un­war­ranted hot ac­tion. Trump also took aim at Iran's nu­clear am­bi­tions and re­gional in­flu­ence and des­ig­nated the in­ter­na­tional nu­clear deal ne­go­ti­ated by his pre­de­ces­sor, Barack Obama and other world pow­ers (Rus­sia, China, UK, France and Ger­many) with Iran as an em­bar­rass­ment and hinted that he may not re­cer­tify the agree­ment when it comes up for a mid-Oc­to­ber dead­line – as if it was his de­ci­sion alone. He called Iran an “eco­nom­i­cally de­pleted rogue state” that ex­ports vi­o­lence. Iran's Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani, also speak­ing at UNGA, said his coun­try would re­spond “de­ci­sively and res­o­lutely” if the agree­ment is vi­o­lated by any party. In a care­fully crafted speech, Rouhani also warned: “By vi­o­lat­ing its in­ter­na­tional com­mit­ments the new US ad­min­is­tra­tion only de­stroys its own cred­i­bil­ity.” Af­ter all, the Iran deal was en­dorsed in a UN Se­cu­rity res­o­lu­tion. He also called Trump's re­marks an “ig­no­rant, ab­surd and hate­ful rhetoric filled with ridicu­lously base­less al­le­ga­tions.” Among oth­ers, he also took aim at Venezuela's col­laps­ing democ­racy and crit­i­cized the Cuban gov­ern­ment. More­over: “Ma­jor por­tions of the world are in con­flict and some in fact are go­ing to hell.” How­ever, he re­jected any col­lec­tive re­spon­si­bil­ity and failed to men­tion other ar­eas of crises, like the Ro­hingya geno­cide in Myan­mar and cli­mate change, not­with­stand­ing the re­cent havoc caused by sev­eral cli­mate-in­duced hur­ri­canes in his own coun­try. With Trump's cock-eyed view of the world, how can one trust a man to un­der­stand in­ter­na­tional crises and prob­lems (let alone find so­lu­tions), when he doesn't even com­pre­hend his own coun­try?!

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