Upholding inclusive, rules-based multilateral system is 'only way forward': Vivian Balakrishnan

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SINGAPORE: Upholding the inclusive and rules-based multilateral system that has underwritten peace and progress since World War II is "the only way forward", Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan told the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Saturday (Sep 24).

"It is in the world's interest and in our own national long-term interest to set aside our differences, to address the challenges of the global commons, and to harvest the emerging opportunities provided by new technologies," he said.

Delivering Singapore's statement to the UNGA in New York, Dr Balakrishnan said the post-World War II era of relative stability and prosperity had come to an end.

"A new world order is being born and ... the moment of delivery is actually the most dangerous. So, will we have a more divided, less prosperous and less peaceful world?

"Or instead, can we strengthen multilateralism and the UN to deal with the challenges of the future, to uphold and to strengthen the rules-based international system, and to jointly harness the opportunities offered by new technologies – including digital technology, synthetic biology and customised healthcare, and of course renewable energy?

"If we can do this, we can then create a new era of peace and prosperity for everyone."

He highlighted three areas where there is an urgent need to build resilience.


One is climate change, which remains "the most pressing challenge confronting humanity today", said Dr Balakrishnan.

"We need a sustained and ambitious global response. Continued commitment by all countries to the Paris Agreement and the Glasgow Climate Pact – that's absolutely critical. We also need to step up cooperation in the transition to net zero."

This will require considerable economic restructuring, technological breakthroughs, investments and behavioural changes, with the UN-led multilateral system key in pulling everyone together to move in the same direction without leaving any behind, he said.

He highlighted Singapore's moves to raise climate ambition to achieve net-zero emissions "by or around mid-century" and progressively raise carbon taxes, which were announced at Budget 2022.

A related issue is food security, the threat to whi...

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