MANILA - Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Wednesday urged democracies to stand together, saying "the world is a mess" due to ultra-nationalism, terrorism and uneven growth.
Albright, who helped blaze the trail for women in government, said the world was in "desperate need" of leaders who can inspire a "common sense of purpose" even after elections.
"The simple summary of my speech is: The world is a mess," Albright told an audience of businessmen, diplomats and government officials at the ANC Leadership Forum.
"We will do best if democratic nations stand together," she said.
Albright said she thought the world was moving towards greater cooperation when she left public office. "It seems we were too optimistic," she said.
As Washington's top envoy, Albright pushed for the inclusion of former Soviet republics in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. She was also the first secretary of state to visit North Korea.
"As during the Cold War, we will do best if nations work together, combining our strength," he said.
Albright rued the humanitarian cost of the battle against Islamic State jihadists in the Middle East.
"We have to prepare for what comes next," she said.
Albright said nationalism could be "dangerous," adding, "People are feel left out, that they have to argue against the elite."
A growing wave of nationalism is creeping around the world, as shown by Britain's decision to leave the European Union and US President Donald Trump's election victory against one of Albright's successors, Hillary Clinton.
Albright said she was "very troubled" with Trump's "America First" policy, describing it as "counterproductive in so many ways, limits the aspects how we can help solve a different number of problems."
Trump's decision to abandon the Paris climate deal provides an opportunity for China to exert its influence, she said.
The former US envoy said the gap between urban and rural areas had widened as she urged governments to craft long-term economic policies.
"Macroeconomic growth does not always translate to national unity," she said.
She also expressed concern over China's actions in disputed waters and tensions in the Korean Peninsula following Pyongyang's missile tests.