Transcript of video message by PM Lee Hsien Loong at the United Nations General Assembly High Level Forum of Small States' (FOSS) Reception on 22 September 2022 in New York, United States.
Ladies and Gentlemen
The Forum of Small States (FOSS) is commemorating its 30th anniversary amidst heightened geopolitical tensions and economic uncertainty.
Small states face immense challenges. Our external environment has become more troubled and dangerous. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine flagrantly violates the UN Charter and undermines the rules-based order. Serious tensions between the US and China raise the risk of conflict between major powers. Rising food and oil prices and supply chain disruptions worsen poverty and may even cause famines. Climate change, novel pathogens, and cyber threats endanger the safety, security and well-being of billions of people around the world.
These uncertainties and threats can pose grave dangers to the economies, societies, and very existence of small states like us. We are inherently vulnerable, with very little buffer against shocks.
But small states are by no means without agency. What we lack in size, we can make up for through agility, resourcefulness, and cooperation. This is how we can be effective at the United Nations, supporting and upholding the multilateral rules-based system.
Small states depend on the multilateral system for our security and survival. This international order is imperfect, but it is by far our best bet. If we regress to a world where ‘might is right’. Small states would find it impossible to survive and even big countries will not be better off.
We must therefore participate actively to strengthen the multilateral system. Maintain as level a playing field as possible, to protect the interests of small states.
Small states need to work together on many specific interests. These include sustainable development, climate change and cybersecurity, as well as emerging issues affecting the global commons, like the governance of oceans and outer space. We can work on them through both existing and new international instruments. We should participate in shaping the international agenda. Right from the start, the concerns and interests of small states should be taken into account. Small states often lack the resources and capacity to engage effectively across the whole range of international issues. This is why FOSS is a valuable platform for informal exchange and mutual support, capacity-building and technical cooperation.
Remarkably FOSS has not only endured but thrived now for 30 years. It shows the value that small states find in working together to advance our shared interests.
Many FOSS members are making significant contributions to the UN. They are represented in important UN organs, such as the UN Security Council and ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council). We need to support each other’s candidatures for UN elections. It is vital that small states always have a voice in the key bodies making up the UN system.
Let us continue working together to further strengthen the multilateral rules-based system and advance our collective interests.
Happy 30th anniversary, FOSS!
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