July 18 (BP) — Prince Harry warned the world is witnessing a “global assault on democracy and freedom” Monday in a speech at the United Nations in New York on Nelson Mandela International Day.
Britain’s Duke of Sussex delivered a scathing keynote address before the U.N. General Assembly on a day marking the late South African leader’s legacy, blasting what he called the inaction of the world’s leaders in countering a wave of antidemocratic populism, fighting climate change and other urgent crises.
Harry waded into the domestic politics of his adopted home of the United States, referencing the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade, as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as examples of “the few weaponizing lies and disinformation at the expense of the many.”
“From the horrific war in Ukraine to the rolling back of constitutional rights here in the United States, we are witnessing a global assault on democracy and freedom — the cause of Mandela’s life,” he said, adding the world is at “a pivotal moment — a moment when multiple converging crises have given way to an endless string of injustices.”
Harry and his wife Meghan Markle stepped down as working British royals in 2020 and have since been living in Los Angeles after a stint in Canada.
His address also focused on climate change on a day when U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that humanity faces “collective suicide” from the impact of extreme climate events and Britain declared a national emergency in bracing for its hottest day ever on record.
“As we sit here today, our world is on fire,” he declared, adding, “We’re living through a pandemic that continues to ravage communities in every corner of the globe. Climate change [is] wreaking havoc on our planet, with the most vulnerable suffering most of all.”
Recent rounds of severe heatwaves, floods and other “historic” weather events are “no longer historic,” Harry said.
“More and more, they are part of our daily lives, and this crisis will only grow worse unless our leaders lead, unless the countries represented by the seats in this hallowed hall make the decisions — the daring, transformative decisions — that our world needs to save humanity.”
His address came during an informal gathering of the General Assembly in which the Nelson Mandela Prize was awarded to children’s rights activist Marianna Vardinoyannis of Greece and Morissanda Kouyaté of Guinea, a medical doctor and activist against female genital mutilation.