UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday defended multilateralism at the UN General Assembly, saying a multilateral approach is not an option but a necessity in today's interconnected world.
The open and integrated international order that emerged after the Cold War has benefited all countries. A rules-based system imposes responsibilities on all countries and creates a stable environment for all, he told the General Debate of the UN General Assembly.
For small states like Singapore, multilateral institutions, systems and laws are critical for their survival as these give them a stake in the global commons, and a means to defend and advance their interests, he explained.
But the world is going through a complex transition and the strategic balance is shifting, Lee noted.
More countries are keen to enhance their international roles, and are competing fiercely for influence. At the same time, the global consensus on the benefits of globalization has eroded and support for multilateralism has declined. In many countries, nationalist, isolationist, and protectionist sentiments have intensified, he said.
"These sentiments have reshaped their domestic politics, and given rise to inward-looking and nativist policies. The result is a more polarised world."
But in a world where countries are more interconnected than ever, where actions by one country are having a greater and faster impact on others, and effects that may eventually rebound upon themselves, a multilateral approach is not an option but a necessity to deal with complex global problems, including poverty eradication, pandemics and climate change, said Lee.