'No alternative to multilateralism,' in tackling global issues, Singapore tells UN Assembly

Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore, addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-second session. UN Photo/Cia Pak

23 September 2017 – Noting that no one country can solve complex issues that transcend national boundaries, Singapore highlighted in an address to the United Nations General Assembly the need for a universal and rules-based multilateral system to confront the global challenges.

“The recent adoption of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development showed that multilateralism can respond to new challenges, especially when there is political will and collective commitment,” said Vivian Balakrishnan, the country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, adding: “When dealing with global issues like climate change, there is no alternative to multilateralism.”

In his address at the Assembly’s 72nd annual general debate, he said that model for the global architecture, which his country believes in, is one in which the world is open and interdependent, and characterized by enlightened national interests, win-win collaboration and sustainable development.

“But most of all, we need inclusive economic growth to empower all our people to lead a good and meaningful life,” he noted.

Further, highlighting that the transformation caused by the digital revolution would be positive only if ways are found to share the benefits widely and reduce inequality, the Minister noted Singapore’s efforts, including heavy investments in education and skills training for its people and to give everyone an opportunity to build a meaningful life.

“We want every Singaporean to have a stake in our growth and success as a nation,” he said.

Saleumxay Kommasith, Minister for Foreign Affairs for Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR), joined a chorus of other speakers addressing the Assembly in extending his nation’s “deep sympathy” to the people of Latin America and the Caribbean who have been affected by the recent natural disasters.

Underscoring the importance of the 2030 Agenda, he called for greater collaboration to attain peace and security, and to make progress on UN reform.

He expressed hope of creating a world without nuclear arms and weapons of mass destruction, reiterating his country’s support for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, saying “settling disputes by peaceful means and through diplomatic solutions is the best way as it is more durable and causes no loss of lives and properties of the people.”

The Foreign Minister called “the most remarkable achievement of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)” the maintenance of peace, security and stability in the region, primarily crediting partnerships and cooperation. He announced that his country will participate in the 2018 Voluntary National Review of the High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development – demonstrating its aim to graduate from the list of least developed countries by 2020.

Mr. Kommasith said that despite the challenges of being a least developed and landlocked country, Lao PDR nonetheless seeks to become a high middle-income country by 2030, underscoring that it has pursued greater connectivity with the region to enhance its infrastructure, transport networks, and construction of the North-South and East-West economic corridors. He concluded by calling on the international community increase efforts to ensure that development brings equal benefits to all countries, ensuring that his country is strongly committed to realizing the 2030 Agenda.


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Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore, addresses the general debate

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