Spotlight: World leaders uphold multilateralism, Paris Agreement in chorus

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-23 05:36:23|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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By Xinhua writer Wang Jiangang

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- World leaders attending the UN General Assembly here have reached an unseen degree of unity and solidarity on two major things: firmly protecting and upholding multilateralism and the Paris Agreement on climate change as they believe only by pooling efforts of all countries can they tackle the unprecedented challenges and threats facing the human beings.


Multilateralism was a major theme of the speech delivered by French President Emmanuel Macron when he addressed the General Debate of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly.

He noted that the world's greatest problems, from climate change to the problems of "unregulated capitalism," could only be solved by nations working together.

"We can only try and address those challenges through multilateralism, not through the law of the survival of the fittest," he said.

Macron's perspective and determination were echoed by almost all presidents, prime ministers and other senior national representatives gathering at the UN's annual most important event discussing ways and solutions to thorny problems facing the world.

President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, said Thursday that multilateralism is "the only way to preserve the planet."

Anastasiades spoke extensively about multilateralism in his speech, stressing that sticking to the path of multilateralism is the only way "to preserve the planet; peacefully resolve conflicts; end terrorism and extremism; prevent natural disasters and alleviate humanitarian crises around the world."

Romanian President Klaus Werner Iohannis mirrored his views, noting that multilateralism is "the only clear path" in tackling today's challenges.

Lohannis said that "rising tensions over cultural identity and faith along with terrorist attacks" are deepening insecurity.

"People across the globe suffer from war, poverty, inequality and injustice," he said, adding that "no other path serves us better than multilateralism in finding viable solutions for the current global challenges."

Not only leaders from small and less developed countries hold the stance, those from the West exhibited similar perspective.

Germany warned the United Nations not to be lured by the siren song of "our country first," calling it a recipe for more conflict and less prosperity that must be eschewed in favor more international cooperation and the strengthening of the UN.

"A world view which puts one's own national interests first and is no longer engaged in a balancing of interests between the nations and countries of this world is gaining ever more ground," German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told the debate.

The motto "our country first not only leads to more national confrontations and less prosperity. In the end, there will only be losers," said Gabriel.

Looking over the General Assembly Hall packed with world leaders and other senior officials anxious to search for solutions to common threats and challenges, UN chief Antonio Guterres said "multilateralism is more important than ever" when there are competing interests and even open conflict.

"We call ourselves the international community; we must act as one," he said.

China, one of the five permanent member of the UN Security Council, has always been a staunch supporter of multilateralism.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the country will bring more dividends of peace, of development and of governance to the world, noting that China is "a propeller for multilateralism."

China is willing to work with other countries to build a better future for mankind, he said.

Multilateralism, international cooperation, unity and other words calling for collective action against common challenges and threats are like air filling every inch of the UN headquarters these days, while almost all hate to talk about unilateralism which has become a taboo at the ongoing high-level meeting.


"As small island Pacific countries, we are no longer protected by our isolation," said Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi. "Climate change, like other global challenges, cross borders seamlessly. It has no respect for sovereignty and does not discriminate countries between rich or poor."

Joining the Pacific leaders expressing concern over the threat posed by climate change, Enele Sosene Sopoaga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, also underscored the importance of the Paris Agreement, especially for the tens of millions living in low-lying islands and coastal areas around the world.

"The Paris Agreement is our common hope of a decent life on a sustainable planet. For Tuvalu, it is our hope of security and survival," said the prime minister.

However, the hope is "dimmed with the announcement by the United States that it will abandon the Agreement," Sopoaga said.

Catastrophes such as the most recent devastating earthquake in Mexico and the successive hurricanes that have hit the Latin American and Caribbean region "remind us that we are at a key moment in human history in which the notion of development that has prevailed until now has been shaken by the relentless reality of climate change," President of Chile Michelle Bachelet warned in her speech.

"We can close our eyes and deny a reality whose devastating effects will become more frequent and intense, or assume our responsibility," Bachelet said, reiterating the need to join the fight against climate change, because in fact: "there is no space for denial."

Devastating hurricanes and other extreme weather events are worrying almost all world leaders, but fortifying their determination to join hands.

Prime Minister of Fiji, Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, said his people share a special sense of solidarity with those affected by the recent hurricanes and earthquakes, recalling that Fiji lost a third of its economy last year when struck by the biggest cyclone ever to make landfall in the southern hemisphere.

As the incoming president of the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) to the UN Convention on Climate Change, Bainimarama is deeply conscious of the need to lead a global response to the underlying causes of these events.

"The appalling suffering in the Caribbean and the United States reminds us all that there is no time to waste," he said.

"Unless we tackle the underlying causes of climate change, we already know that some places will become unlivable and others will disappear altogether," he stressed, saying that Fiji has offered refuge to the people of Kiribati and Tuvalu, its neighbors at risk.

Climate change affects Fijian lives, whether it is entire villages being moved away from rising seas; the loss of ancestral burial grounds; salinity affecting crops; or the constant threat of destruction to homes and infrastructure.

Climate is changing and has changed. Extreme weather events as showcased by recent deadly and frequent hurricanes, floods and droughts have made world leaders, especially those from countries severely inflicted by the climate change-caused disasters, firmly believe: we the peoples are in the same boat.

"Act now!""Let's waste no time!"

All firmly believe that urgent action must be taken to keep the earth a paradise for human being, which might be the best legacy for future generations.