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UN General Assembly Swiss president warns against nationalism in UN speech


Berset said the UN had to be strong to be able to fulfill its role


In his speech at the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York, Swiss President Alain Berset called for better cooperation between countries. He warned against nationalism, selfishness and isolationism. 

"We must see this return to nationalism as part of a trend of seeking answers to these problems," Berset said in his speech on Tuesday. 

"A policy based on trade protectionism and selfishness is currently on the rise. Yet, yesterday as today, withdrawal, protectionism, threats and violence will not provide answers to the dysfunctions and imbalances of the world in which we live."

+ Berset's full speech to the UN General Assemblyexternal link

Without naming names, the president warned that a nationalist policy could only lead to a reduction in trade and, consequently, a decline in prosperity. According to him, it increases mistrust and isolation, which hinders the exchange of ideas and innovations. 

"Our world will emerge spiritually and culturally impoverished. We will have fewer ideas to face future challenges. We will no longer be able to benefit from the positive experiences of others. And we try to find solutions on our own for problems that can only be solved together," he said. 

He also had something to say about the role of the UN. 

"The United Nations is essential and ideally placed to confront contemporary struggles, including the fight against inequality. But to be able to fulfill its role, the UN must be strong,” he said. 

He specifically mentioned the need for the international community to "accelerate at all costs efforts to find a political solution to the ongoing conflicts in both Syria and Yemen". 

Globalisation and migration

Berset did not share American President Donald Trump’s view on globalisation, as outlined in the latter’s speech on Tuesday to the UN General Assembly in New York. 

"When we look at the current world, connected by technology, it is difficult to conclude that globalisation is coming to an end," Berset told reporters in New York after Trump's speech. On the first day of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly, the US President had said that the world was seeing the end of globalisation. 

The Swiss president also disagreed with his American counterpart on the UN Global Compact on Migration. Trump believes that the migration issue should not be left to an international organisation that is not accountable to citizens. He confirmed that the US would not participate in this pact adopted in September 2016. 

Berset on the other hand considered it necessary that migration should also be discussed in an international context. He also noted that migratory movements are a cross-border issue.


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