ROME — Pope Francis told the U.N. General Assembly Friday that the world stands at a crossroads between multilateralism and a dangerous resurgence of nationalism.
In an apparent swipe at U.S. President Donald Trump and his “America First” motto prior to the upcoming presidential elections, the pope said that the world should embark on a path to enhance “multilateralism” and “globally co-responsibility” in order to build on the values of justice, peace, and the unity of the human family.
“The other option gives priority to self-sufficiency, nationalism, protectionism, individualism, and isolation,” the pontiff declared in a live-streamed message delivered from the Vatican, “which leaves out the poorest, the most vulnerable, and the inhabitants of the existential peripheries.”
“That path would certainly be detrimental to the whole community, causing self-inflicted wounds on everyone. It must not prevail,” he added.
The pope said that the role of the United Nations is fundamental to building up this multilateral response, highlighting in particular the mission of the U.N. Security Council.
“Our world in conflict needs the U.N. to become an increasingly effective laboratory for peace,” the pope said, “which requires that the members of the Security Council, especially the permanent ones, act with greater unity and determination.”
“In this regard, the recent adoption of the global ceasefire during the current crisis is a very noble measure, which requires the good will of all for its continued application,” he stated.
The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council are China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
In his address, Francis warned that the erosion of multilateralism poses a graver risk because of the development of new forms of military technology, such as lethal autonomous weapons that he said have “irreversibly changing the nature of war, separating it even further from human action.”
“The perverse logic that links the possession of weapons to human and personal security must be dismantled,” Francis said. “This logic only serves to increase the profits of the industry of war, it fosters a climate of mistrust and fear.”
Speaking about migrants and refugees, the pope lamented that many “suffer alone without any prospects of improving their lot in life, and even worse, thousands are intercepted at sea and forcibly returned to detention camps where they suffer torture and abuse.”
“Many are victims of trafficking, sexual slavery or forced labor, exploited in humiliating tasks, without a fair wage,” he said. “All this is intolerable, but today it is a reality that many intentionally ignore!”
Conspicuous for its absence was any mention of the internment of over a million Uighur Muslims in re-education camps by the Chinese Communist Party in the Xinjiang region.
The BBC reported Thursday that China has “expanded its network of detention centres for its Uighur minority despite insisting the ‘re-education’ system was being scaled back.”
There are some 380 facilities in the Xinjiang region, about 40 percent more than previous estimates, according to a report released by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
The report “identifies 100 more detention sites than previous investigations have shown, based on analysis of satellite imagery, interviews with eyewitnesses, media reports and official documents,” the BBC declared.