UN's rights chief expresses alarm over Trump's Davos speech


DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 26 (Reuters) - The United Nations human rights chief expressed alarm after a speech by U.S. President Donald Trump in Davos on Friday, saying Trump's call for countries to pursue their own self-interest would take the world back to the eve of World War One.

"It's the script of the 20th century," Zeid Raad al-Hussein said. “He (Trump) urged all countries to pursue their own interest, almost without reference to the fact that if you do all of that, if each country is narrowly pursuing its agenda, it will clash with the agendas of others and we will take the world back to 1913 once again."

SEE ALSO: Must-know moments from Trump's Davos speech: 'America first does not mean America alone'

Prince Zeid, a former Jordanian diplomat and member of the deposed royal family of Iraq, has repeatedly criticized Trump in the past in his role as U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, the global body's top spokesman on human rights issues.

The Trump administration, for its part, has threatened to quit the U.N. Human Rights Council, which is separate from Zeid's office but works closely with it, and which Washington considers structurally hostile to its ally Israel.

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Trump administration takes Davos by storm
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
(L-R) U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security advisor Herbert Raymond McMaster, Senior Advisor Jared Kushner and assistant for economic policy Gary Cohn attend U.S. President Donald Trump's and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 25, 2018 REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he arrives for the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives for the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
U.S. President Donald Trump pose for photos as he arrives at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 25, 2018 REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump shake hands with Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 25, 2018 REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 25, 2018 REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 25, 2018 REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Hands of the U.S. President Donald Trump are seen as he meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 25, 2018 REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the WEF, during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he talks with Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the WEF, during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
U.S. President Donald Trump and Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the WEF, look on during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
US President Donald Trump watches a band leaving the stage after a ceremony and before delivering his speech during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting on January 26, 2018 in Davos, eastern Switzerland. / AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is seen during a meeting of U.S. President Donald Trump and President Alain Berset of Switzerland, as they attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
U.S. President Donald Trump attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump looks on as he meets President Paul Kagame of Rwanda (unseen) during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump meets President Alain Berset of Switzerland during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
U.S. President Donald Trump meets President Paul Kagame of Rwanda during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (C) looks on as President Donald Trump dinners with business men and CEO's during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump attends a dinner with business men and CEO's during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 25, 2018. Siemens CEO's Joe Kaeser (2nd-L) looks on. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Attendees takes pictures of U.S. President Donald Trump during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
A television screen displays U.S. President Donald Trump delivering a speech during a special address on the closing day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. World leaders, influential executives, bankers and policy makers attend the 48th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos from Jan. 23 - 26. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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Trump became the first sitting U.S. president in 18 years to address the annual summit of the world's political and business elite in the Swiss ski resort of Davos on Friday. In his speech, he courted foreign investment, saying the United States was "open for business," while also promising to take action against what he described as unfair trade deals.

Repeating his "America first" slogan, Trump said he would expect all world leaders to put the interests of their own countries first.

Prince Zeid said such a policy would lead to "it all coming apart at some stage, and people suffering grievously."

"Ethnic nationalisms, chauvinistic nationalisms, a sense that there is a supremacy within communities determined on the basis of color or ethnicity, and that others are somehow lesser people, or that certain countries are somehow morally superior to others. That’s what always seems to get us into trouble."

Zeid also said he was concerned about a new coalition government in Austria, which includes the far-right Freedom Party.

"I have to say I read the document between the two parties, and it’s worrisome, because it has within it - xenophobia is clearly there," Zeid told an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos. "There is a sense that Austria now may start to tack, following Hungary and Poland, in its anti-European stance." (Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Peter Graff)

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