The speeches delivered by Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron to the United Nations (UN) on 25th September 2018 had completely opposite messages. The two leaders have publicly declared their friendship and support for one another. From the difference in their speeches, it is however beyond clear that they hold very different views and positions on how to tackle the world pressing challenges.
Macron’s fiery speech which rebuked Trumps administration was over 30 minutes long and drew loud applause and a standing ovation from some. This passionate speech is a strong signal that Macron is ready to head the global leadership position that is often assumed by leaders of the United States.
Stressing global inequality, the responsibility of more economically dominant states to assist the global community and the dangers of nationalism, Macron criticised Donald Trump for his policies on climate change, migration, the Middle East and more.
He warned that unilateralism leads “directly to isolation and conflict … to the detriment of everyone, even in the end those who thought they were strongest,”.
Regarding migration, he admitted that he does not believe in “unconditional openness” as it leads to worry and intolerance in societies. The belief in Europe and other parts of the world that states are better off without migration is simply not true. Unavoidable migration crises need to be dealt with realistically.
Macron admitted that France has a strained history in African states that it colonised however he expressed that it is important to aid with stopping the conflicts in countries such as Niger Libya and Cameroon. France now intends to play a bigger role in Africa.
Tensions in Iran and the Middle East
Macron warned that isolationist policies such as those targeted at Iran have the potential to lead to conflict.
Macron also spoke of climate change and mentioned Trumps decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. Even those who reject agreements on climate change are equally suffering from its consequences.
Unilateral initiatives are not going to end the conflict between Israel and Palestine. For Macron, Palestinians deserve legitimate peace while the Israeli people have a right to security. The is no other solution other than a two-state solution where citizens live in peace and security with Jerusalem as the capital.
Using the word “inequality” numerous times, he stressed that collective action needs to be taken with more dominant states taking the lead to tackle global developmental challenges such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. He spoke of education being very important a pillar of equality and the importance of gender equality. Women for Macron are not victims and therefore should be encouraged and supported in order to play a key role in society.
Unaddressed inequalities in societies have led to strong nationalism in countries. With the worlds current wave on nationalism seen through Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign and the vote by British citizens to withdraw its membership from the EU,
France in the last few years has been victim to terrorist attacks. Admitting this fact, Macron stressed that his country has been strong in the face of terrorism and will not use it to discriminate against groups in society.
Shared humanity and a rule based order
Leaders should not forget our share humanity when it comes to key issues. A rule based order that takes into account the position on the most vulnerable is important. Reforming decision making mechanisms such as the UN veto power that give more dominant states a stake in key issues affecting the most vulnerable and can and have been seen to lead to inequality need to be reformed and reconsidered.
In addressing these pressing issues and more and making clear that France believes in alleviating inequalities, multilateralism and that humans are at the centre of decisions made. One can only hope that what he spoke of materialises. With increased nationalism, inequality global conflict and manmade climate challenges, global leaders now more than ever need to work together.
Featured image — President Donald J. Trump at the United Nations General Assembly | The White House | flickr
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.
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