Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. (Photo: YouTube/screenshot)

As Trump Attacks Global Cooperation at UN, Rouhani Says Hits Against Multilateralism Show 'Weakness of Intellect'

While US president declared "we reject globalism," his Iranian counterpart denounced "the trampling of global rules and undermining international institutions"

Jessica Corbett

While U.S. President Donald Trump used his speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday to denigrate migrants and global cooperation, his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, declared that "confronting multilateralism is not a sign of strength, rather it is a symptom of a weakness of intellect."

"It is unfortunate that we are witnessing rulers in the world ride public sentiments and gain popular support through the fomenting of extremist nationalism and racism and through xenophobic tendencies resembling a Nazi disposition."
—Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Although Rouhani did not name Trump, there was little doubt that he was referring to the American president when he said, "It is unfortunate that we are witnessing rulers in the world ride public sentiments and gain popular support through the fomenting of extremist nationalism and racism and through xenophobic tendencies resembling a Nazi disposition, as well as through the trampling of global rules and undermining international institutions."

In recent months, the Trump administration has threatened to impose sanctions on International Criminal Court (ICC) officials who pursue probes into U.S. or Israeli war crimes; ditched the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) over what U.S. Ambassador to U.N. Nikki Haley called "disproportionate focus and unending hostility toward Israel"; and violated the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, despite warnings against doing so from the international community.

Rouhani's comments come amid heightened tensions between his nation and the United States, as Trump targets Iran with economic sanctions, and officials in both governments point fingers in the wake of a weekend terror attack that left more than two dozen Iranians dead. While Rouhani blamed U.S.-backed Gulf states for the attack, Haley dismissed his accusation, telling CNN that the Iranian president should "look in the mirror" and "look at his own home base."

During his address to the world body on Tuesday, Trump rejected the diplomatic engagement that defines the U.N. "We reject globalism and embrace the doctrine of patriotism," he said. "We will never surrender America's sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable, global bureaucracy."

Defending his administration's attacks on or withdrawals from key U.N. groups—including the ICC, HRC, U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), U.N. Reliefs and Works Agency, and Global Compact on Migration—Trump asserted, "The U.S. will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control, and domination."

"The U.S. should be building up, not tearing down, international mechanisms that hold governments accountable for their abuses."
—Margaret Huang, Amnesty International

Such moves have been widely decried by human rights advocates within and beyond the United States, as well as major U.S. allies.

Noting that under Trump, the federal government has pursued "xenophobic policies that defy international law"—such as the zero tolerance policy under which hundreds of migrant children remain forcibly separated from their parents—Maya Finoh of the ACLU's Human Rights Program wrote Monday that "the Trump administration is pitting the United States against the very system of multilateralism that our country worked so hard to create in the years after World War II."

"This system was designed to benefit the entire world—including the U.S.—by promoting peace, security, and human rights while deterring chaos and violence. That's why undermining it is harmful to everyone, including Americans," Finoh continued. "No one should stand by idly in the face of Trump's assault on human rights and the international institutions in place to defend them."

Responding to Trump's remarks to the U.N. on Tuesday, Amnesty International USA executive director Margaret Huang charged, "The U.S. should be building up, not tearing down, international mechanisms that hold governments accountable for their abuses."

"The scale and gravity of human rights concerns around the world must be addressed," she added. "That is why the multilateral institutions, like the ICC and the Human Rights Council, are more important now than ever before."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Biden Urged to Fire Covid Response Chief Over 'Damning' Failures

"Zients has failed to provide the materials necessary to improve the U.S. response, or the guidance necessary to keep the pandemic under control," argued one critic.

Jake Johnson ·


As Sinema Defends Filibuster, Progressives Say 'Vote Her the Hell Out'

"The filibuster is a meaningless Senate rule. It's a remnant of slavery used to block civil rights for generations."

Jake Johnson ·


Poor People's Campaign Readies 'Massive, Nonviolent' Effort to Save Democracy

"We are not in this for a moment, but for a movement," said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II. "Our deadline is victory."

Jake Johnson ·


Tsunami Triggered by Huge Volcanic Eruption Hits Tonga

The undersea volcano's eruption also sparked tsunami warnings for Fiji, Samoa, New Zealand, and the West Coast of the United States.

Common Dreams staff ·


Sanders Says Manchin and Sinema Are Imperiling US Democracy

"It is a sad day when two members of the Democratic Caucus are prepared to allow the Freedom to Vote Act to fail and undermine the future of American democracy."

Jake Johnson ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo