UNITED NATIONS, United States, Sept 25, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Pope Francis
warned world leaders on Friday against a growing breakdown of
multilateralism, appealing in a speech to the United Nations for an
end to what he called a global “climate of distrust.”
“At present we are witnessing an erosion of multilateralism, which
is all the more serious in light of the development of new forms of
military technology,” the Argentine pope said in a video address to
the UN General Assembly in New York.
“We need to break with the present climate of distrust,” said the
pontiff, who called for relaxing international sanctions as harmful to
civilian populations, without citing specific countries.
Francis’ sharply worded rebuke to the UN did not call out any one
nation or leader.
But the spiritual head of 1.3 billion Catholics worldwide reproached
the international community for what he characterized as a lax and
disjointed response to a host of pressing social issues, including
human rights, refugees and humanitarian crises, destruction of the
environment, economic inequality and nuclear proliferation.
He contrasted his comments before the body to his last address in
person in 2015, a time “marked by truly dynamic multilateralism,” he
“It was a moment of great hope and promise for the international
community,” coming just ahead of the adoption of the UN’s 2030 Agenda
for Sustainable Development, a pledge to end poverty and hunger, and
the subsequent adoption of the Paris climate accord to fight climate
“We must honestly admit that, even though some progress has been
made, the international community has shown itself largely incapable
of honoring the promises made five years ago,” Francis said.
President Donald Trump has pulled the United States out of the Paris
climate agreement, whose future will be partly determined by the
outcome of the November 3 US election — with Trump’s rival Joe Biden
pledging to return to the accords.
– ‘Detrimental to all’ –
Francis, who has made defense of the poor and of the environment a
central theme of his papacy, said the world faced a choice between
“multilateralism as the expression of a renewed sense of global
co-responsibility” or, on the other hand, a path towards nationalism,
protectionism and isolation.
“It excludes the poor, the vulnerable, and those dwelling on the
peripheries of life,” Francis said, warning that such a path would be
“detrimental to the whole community.”
“We must also admit that humanitarian crises have become the status
quo,” he added, saying that efforts to tackle such global crises,
often failed because “individual states shirk their responsibilities
The pope also made a lengthy appeal for nuclear disarmament and
against militarization in all its forms.
“We need to dismantle the perverse logic that links personal and
national security to the possession of weaponry,” said the pope,
charging that military spending “continues to squander precious
resources that could better be used to benefit the integral
development of peoples and protect the natural environment.”