UN2K: Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong
PERMANENT MISSION OF SINGAPORE
TO THE UNITED NATIONS
MR GOH CHOK TONG
PRIME MINISTER OF SINGAPORE
MILLENNIUM SUMMIT OF THE UNITED NATIONS
7 SEPTEMBER 2000
Mr and Madam Co-President
Our world is becoming more globalised, yet at the same time more fragmented. Technological advances have brought the world closer. But they have also opened up divides between those who are able to cope with the resultant challenges, and those who lack the capacity to do so.
2 We need to update and strengthen the United Nations, to deal with these new problems, as well as the stubborn old ones. We need to do so because no nation can tackle these challenges alone
3 I wish to highlight three areas of concern in this regard.
4 First, the nation state is being redefined. The power within states is flowing downwards and being localised in provinces and cities. At the same time, state sovereignty is being circumscribed by regional
and multilateral organisations. Furthermore, new actors for example, global corporations, some of whom have larger outputs than the GDPs of some member states, and NGOs, some of whom have more international
clout than some governments are now a prominent and integral part of international life. How do we engage these new power players in a constructive way in the United Nations? What balance can we find between the national role of sovereign states and the international mandate of multilateral organizations ?
5 Second, there is growing empowerment of the market in recent years. The financial industry holds more assets than the central banks of the world combined. The value of our national currencies is determined
everyday by the market rather than by our central banks. Three years ago, dramatic flows of volatile short-term capital destabilised economies and wiped out years of hard work in several Asian countries.
6 However, opting out of the global market is not a solution. So how can the United Nations help developing countries build the capabilities that will enable them to become part of the new world? How can we help small economies maintain control of their destiny as they liberalise and open up?
7 Third, globalisation and the knowledge revolution will widen the income gap between countries, and hence create new tensions. Our world risks being sharply divided between countries which are able to
take advantage of globalisation and others which cannot; between countries with high education levels and those which have low literacy rates; and between those which are Intemet-savvy and those which do
not have access to even the basic computer.
8 What can the United Nations do to help minimise these new inequalities?
9 I offer one simple idea for a start. The United Nations should provide the leadership within the community of multilateral organisations to help the poorer nations develop the capacity to profit from globalisation and the knowledge revolution. The United Nations, IMF, World Bank and
several other international organisations were created in a different era to deal with different challenges. They need to be updated. Furthermore, these institutions work separately, and not as a team. Today, however,
there is an imperative for them to coordinate their efforts. They need to get together to assess what competencies the poorer nations need to develop in this new era. They should then put in place coordinated programmes to build capacity for globalisation and the knowledge revolution. I call upon the Secretary General to institute regular dialogues among the multilateral organisations to bring about such coordination.
10 That said, however effective we make the United Nations, it cannot by itself solve the problems of the world