By Roshni Majumdar
UN, Sep 20 (IPS) – French President Emmanuel Macron delivered a sombre speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 19, denouncing Myanmar’s “ethnic cleansing,” and calling for better protection of refugees around the world.While U.S. President Donald Trump’s own debut speech earlier that morning focused on national sovereignty and threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea, Macron took a more multilateral approach. He vowed to fight climate change with all other member countries and said that he would try to persuade Trump to reconsider his decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement.
Macron, a centrist who ran his recent presidential campaign on open borders, kept in line with his advocacy for protecting refugees as a “moral duty.” He addressed human trafficking along the Mediterranean route and said that greater checks and a “humanitarian infrastructure” should be put in place to stem blatant flouting of “fundamental human rights” by traffickers.
He added that migration and terrorism are political challenges, and “short-term” responses were not good enough to address critical issues of national security. He committed to contribute to developmental aid and said that the process, for him, began with investing in education.
“We must give the opportunity to young boys and girl to obtain an education to choose their own future, not the future that is imposed on them by need but the future that they should choose for themselves,” he said.
He also put emphasis on freedom of expression and called for a UN Special Representative for the protection of journalists across the world.
The U.S. president, on the other hand, touted topics that invoked a mainstream media frenzy, touching on nevertheless important national security issues. He reiterated his critical views of the 2015 deal lifting sanctions against Iran in exchange for curbing its nuclear programme, calling it an “embarrassment.”
Although Trump urged every country to put themselves first, he ultimately praised the UN body and its potential to bring deliberations at the world stage.
By Roshni Majumdar