Multilateralism or alliances such as that of the United Nations are predicted to be on the way out and in their place would come strong governments that get things done, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), as he defended the war on drugs from criticisms coming mainly from Western country members of the UN.
As the Philippine representative at the general debate on the 74th Session of the UNGA, Locsin pointed out that as the UN approaches its 75th anniversary, some foresee the demise of multilateralism with the rise of “strong governments that talk tough and brush aside UN demands.”
Locsin, however, said the body can always bounce back.
“The United Nations is the core of the multilateral global order. As long as the UN exists, none can trumpet the end of multilateralism. But it must be a United Nations strengthened and capacitated in its every member, so that all collectively may achieve its aim of peace and safety,” he noted.
“A strong government is better, and governments are built to get things done” as long as it is consistent with their respective Constitutions, he underlined.
He stressed that President Rodrigo Duterte, who is among the rising symbol of strong government in the world, has a powerful mandate from the Filipino nation.
“Some in the rest of the world may not like the electoral result but the people back home are happy with their choice. It is theirs to make and regret, but it is not the UN’s to decide,” Locsin indicated.
He defended the government saying the UN is “not free” in inhibiting the government from protecting its citizens.
“The next election may change it more to one’s liking… or not. Still, we are warned of states eroding multilateralism by each one asserting ‘too much sovereignty.’ But in what respect? Perhaps by insisting on carrying out a state’s defining duty: to protect its population against harm by any means efficient to achieve that purpose,” the top diplomat noted.
Locsin emphasized that some measures might “dismay” some critics who are, nonetheless, not given approval by the people through an election.
He challenged the members of so-called “civil society” to run for government posts to put their concerns on the table within government and for them to act on their complaints.
“Civil society is free to complain. Better yet, they should run for public office to gain legitimacy and be able to do something about it. But the UN is not free to interfere with the state in its defining function of protecting its citizens and stamping out threats,” he pointed out.
The country’s top diplomat told the assembly that the UN should not be used as a platform to threaten others with accountability “for taking a tough approach to crime” contrary to what Western countries do, which confront crime through legalizing it, apparently referring to narcotics dependence.
He also reminded the UN that the Philippines has always engaged the multinational body based on the “realities of times.”
“Only then can the UN stay relevant and become effective. The aspiration of the vast majority of my people today — call them shortsighted or just plain wrong — is to be free of drugs and safe from crime. Is that so hard to understand? It seems impossible for some to accept. But the cartel can be persuasive in kind, if not in reason,” Locsin said.
Recently, 18 out of 32 members of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has adopted an Iceland-initiated resolution that sought a probe on the administration’s drug war.
In retaliation, a memorandum dated 27 August was issued by the Office of the President ordering the suspension of all negotiations or signing of loan and grant deals with the countries who voted in favor of the said resolution.
The 18 countries who voted in favor of the Iceland resolution were Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Uruguay.
“The UN is a collection of sovereign states, not a sovereign collective itself. It is only as effective as its members make it. It harnesses sovereignties, not for some against others, but to common purposes of peace and productive cooperation,” Locsin continued.
“The United Nations is the core of the multilateral global order. As long as the UN exists, none can trumpet the end of multilateralism. But it must be a United Nations strengthened and capacitated in its every member, so that all collectively may achieve its aim of peace and safety,” he added.