New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called for more “collective” action in her address to the U.N. General Assembly on Friday, especially on the issues of climate change, nuclear non-proliferation, pandemic response, and opposing wars of aggression such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ardern’s authoritarian impulses were on display in her call for tighter regulations on Internet speech, although she insisted she values free speech and merely wishes to cleanse “disinformation” from international discourse.
Ardern portrayed the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, which New Zealand addressed with some of the heaviest lockdowns to be found outside of communist China, as a painful lesson that “schooled” mankind in the importance of “collective action.”
“It forced us to acknowledge how interconnected, and therefore how reliant we are on one another,” she said of the pandemic. “We move between one another’s countries with increasing ease. We trade our goods and services. And when one link in our supply chain is impacted, we all are.”
Ardern explicitly called for the collectivist “lessons” of the pandemic to be applied to climate change.
“The next pandemic will not be prevented by one country’s efforts, but by all of ours. Climate action will only ever be as successful as the least committed country, as they pull down the ambition of the collective,” she said.
Ardern called for stronger, more lavishly-funded “multilateral” institutions, expressing strong support for the World Health Organization, World Trade Organization, and Paris climate change agreement. She then somewhat paradoxically presented Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine as an example of an authoritarian regime simply ignoring global institutions to fulfill selfish ambitions.
“Let us all be clear: Russia’s war is illegal. It is immoral. It is a direct attack on the U.N. Charter and the international rules-based system and everything that this community should stand for,” she said.