February 13, 2013

Former U.N. Official Encourages West To Rethink Policies

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Talking about the changing balance of power between Eastern and Western nations, Kishore Mahbubani, former president of the United Nations Security Council, called on the Western world to rethink its policies.

In his speech, Mahbubani said it is in the best interests of Western nations to immediately adjust their foreign policies in light of what he called the “inevitable rise” of Eastern powers such as China and India.

“Today, in a world that is changing so fast, when the West is increasingly becoming a smaller and smaller minority in the world, it is time for the West to rethink what its policies should be,” Mahbubani said.

However, he expressed confidence that, in time, people will recognize that his suggestions are correct, explaining that “with each passing year, each passing decade, every prediction I have made has come true.”

After Mahbubani’s address, Provost Kent Fuchs led a question-and-answer session, during which one student challenged Mahbubani’s optimism that his opinion would be taken into consideration on the “political level of decision-making,” stating that world powers have shown “no interest in being rational.”

Mikayla Koval ’16, who attended a reception after the lecture, said he was thankful that the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies chose such an “insightful and relevant speaker.”

“I’ve learned about the recent rise of China and other Asian countries in my classes this year. It was really interesting to hear the opinion of a diplomat who is so closely related to the situation,” Koval said.

Mahbubani, as the 33rd Bartel Fellow, joins an esteemed group of global figures who have lectured at Cornell, including South African social rights activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama.

Mahbubani worked in the Singapore Foreign Service for 33 years, during which time he held various positions in Cambodia, Malaysia, Washington D.C. and New York, according to a release from the Einaudi Center. He also served two terms as Singapore’s ambassador to the U.N. and as president of the U.N. Security Council in January 2001 and May 2002, respectively.

Mahbubani is the author of three books, which concentrate on the relationship between the West and East, in addition to articles that have appeared in a wide range of publications, including Time magazine and The New York Times.

The Einaudi Center, which invites a distinguished international leader to Cornell every year in hopes of fostering a broadened world view among students, according to the Center’s website.

Original Author: Alexa Davis