MR. DOMINIQUE DE VILLEPIN
FOREIGN MINISTER OF FRANCE
UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
12 SEPTEMBER 2002, NEW YORK
Heads of state and government,
I would like first to pay tribute to the remarkable action of our secretary-general who, through his eminent personal qualities and sense of dialogue, gives our organization unparalleled influence. I congratulate Mr. Jan Kavan on his election as president of the 57th session of the General Assembly. I also congratulate Switzerland and East Timor on their admission to our organization.
A year ago, to consternation and horror, New York and Washington were struck in unprecedented attacks. No one, now, can disregard the dark side of the world: international terrorism combining archaism with technology; shifting underground criminal networks coupled with a growing risk of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
These formidable opponents insinuate themselves into the heart of the world's complexity. They play on frustrations and resentment, hatred and fears. They foil plans, know how to find weak spots and turn against those who wield them their own weapons. No, the world is definitely not suffering from an excess of power. On the contrary, it is suddenly discovering its extreme vulnerability.
Faced with these threats, the temptation may exist to forge blindly ahead. That would be a serious mistake. Force cannot be the sole response to these elusive adversaries that are constantly transforming. The example of Afghanistan suffices to show this. The mobilization of the international community made it possible to overthrow a backward, totalitarian regime which sheltered and supported the Al Qaeda network. It dealt a severe blow to terrorist infrastructures. That was necessary, but it is not enough. It is important now to rebuild and help the Afghan people; to maintain our efforts in the long term; to continue the work for stability and democracy, but also to dismantle the drug economy and the trafficking it fuels.
That force alone is often futile is one of the characteristics of our age. We live in a world that is interdependent, where cause and effect may be distant, indirect and unpredictable. Let us take care that our interventions do not give rise to new frustrations, do not produce new imbalances and spark fires which we cannot put out.
The case of Iraq is typical of this new situation. Here is a country that has
defied the authority of the Security Council and flouted international law for
several years. Here is a regime that is a grave threat to security, especially
the security of the peoples in the region because of the risk of proliferation
of weapons of mass destruction, and whose conduct is the direct cause of the
great suffering endured by its people.
Is the international community concerned? Of course. Can it continue to tolerate this situation? Definitely not. Should it act? Obviously, the status quo cannot go on. France's determination to obtain compliance with the law is absolute.
We must act, but do so effectively. We must act but without risking the opposite results of those we seek. Care must be taken not to exacerbate a situation that is already very disturbing. We must act, but there are many traps: intervention that is politically or legally ill-defined or poorly mounted would not garner the broad support necessary; it might galvanize public opinion in the region in favor of the regime in Baghdad which is isolated now; lastly, it might aggravate tensions in the Middle East and beyond at a time when we must, on the contrary, redouble our efforts to return to the path of dialogue and peace.
How are these traps to be avoided? How are we to succeed? There is only one way. The path, a demanding one, of collective responsibility. The world now is one of interdependence. Its stability concerns us all. We have each to contribute to it.
The necessary measures must be ordered by the international community after an in-depth and transparent examination. Any temptation to engage in unilateral preventive action would be dangerous. We must take care to avoid any suspicion of bias or injustice. This is the only way to ensure that eventual actions to enforce law and restore security do not add to insecurity. That is the best guarantee of being effective.
That is why, in the case of Iraq, France advocates a demarche made completely
legitimate through collective deliberation. It requires two successive steps.
First, we must reaffirm together the need for U.N. inspectors to return and
demand that Iraq comply at last with its obligations under the Security Council
decisions taken since 1991, and do so according to a definite timetable. That is
the objective of the international community. It is also Iraq's interest. If
Baghdad persists in its refusal to allow the inspectors to return
unconditionally, then we should draw the consequences. The Security Council
should then decide measures to be taken without excluding any option.
Responsibilities would be clarified.
The world must be capable of acting. But it also needs to be coherent and effective in a sustained way. That is where the real challenge lies today to our values, our democracies.
I recently traveled to the Middle East, the Balkans and Afghanistan. I realized the strength of the aspirations and hopes for peace. But I also saw how the efforts and energies of various parties need to be united and centered on a collective ambition.
No power today can assume responsibility by itself for world equilibrium. The
world aspires to be structured around poles of stability and progress. Aside
from the United States, the European Union is naturally destined to form one
such pole just like Russia, China, Japan and India among others. In future each
actor must accept his share of the effort. It is a common project we must
That is the ambition which inspires the European Union and France's action in it. The Union affirms its role on the world stage in the service of peace and prosperity. It is acquiring the appropriate diplomatic and defense instruments. With a view to major enlargement, the Union is also committed to genuinely re-making its design. That is the purpose of the work of the Convention, guided by the principles of democracy and effectiveness for the future Europe. In this way, the Union will contribute to the stability of the continent and beyond. The European model reconciles lastly, in a unique way, the requirements of social cohesion and economic performance to further a common project, while respecting the diversity of all. For all these reasons, Europe's voice, I am convinced, offers elements to help answer the major challenges of our time.
Today, power in all its aspects must be shared. It is essential to listen to different approaches and points of view. A dialogue of cultures is essential: This alone allows us to comprehend the main issues today by taking into account the history and aspirations of each people and country; this alone can prevent the risk of too narrow a conception of the world based on ignorance and fear of the other; this alone can guide us in putting mankind back at the center of our concerns and at the heart of our actions and common commitment.
Sharing presupposes responding to the requirement of solidarity. For extreme poverty, famine, epidemics and financial crises are also factors contributing to disorder and fomenting instability. Terrorism feeds on these things. Generosity must be the corollary to power. It is our political and moral duty. It is also in our own interest.
France has accordingly pledged to augment its development assistance which will increase by 50% over the next five years.
Owing to its geographic proximity and historical and cultural ties, my country has a deep friendship for Africa. It feels a special responsibility. That continent, more than others, needs the solidarity of the international community in its present harsh trials: the many conflicts which persist; the renewed specter of famine; the economic difficulties; the tragedy of AIDS which now affects nearly 30 million Africans.
Yet Africa is rich in enormous potential: the enthusiasm of its young people and the energy of its civil society; rich in memory and traditions, in its treasures of wisdom from which we all have much to learn. Considerable efforts are underway to advance human rights and democracy, to act against corruption and develop economic and social policies to bring strong and balanced growth. The establishment of the New Partnership for African Development-NEPAD-reflects the determination of the continent to take its development in hand, in the framework of a revamped partnership with the industrial countries. Let us recognize and support these efforts.
In particular we must help Africa move forward in the resolution of
conflicts, in Sierra Leone and Liberia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan. These
tragedies concern us all because nowadays there are no longer any localized
crises. Instability spreads. The international community has to
In the Great Lakes region, the accords signed in Lusaka, Pretoria and Luanda must be implemented. They must lead to the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the disarmament of foreign armed groups, and to reconciliation and the return to peace in the region.
With regard to Western Sahara, it is good that the Security Council in its latest resolution gave Mr. James Baker time to work to bring the parties closer together. We must take advantage of this to press forward.
Our commitment has to be maintained in the Balkans where the gains made this year must be consolidated in Kosovo, in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and in BosniaHerzegovina. Anchoring the Balkans to Europe by the rule of law and democracy is more than ever our common objective.
In the Middle East, the deadlock must be broken and hope restored. The situation will deteriorate as long as the parties remain prisoners of the logic of violence. Action is urgently needed.
The Palestinian Authority must use all available means to prevent and curb terrorist actions. With a view to the establishment of an independent, viable and democratic Palestinian state, based on the 1967 borders, it must also pursue its reforms, in particular in the institutional domain.
While it is legitimate to wish to defend oneself against terrorism, the State of Israel for its part must do so in compliance with international law. The imperative for security cannot by itself replace policy. There must be an end to settlements, and Israeli armed forces must withdraw from the occupied territories as demanded by the Security Council. Measures have to be taken quickly to improve the humanitarian and social situation of the Palestinian people which is now alarming.
The political process, based on Security Council resolutions 242, 338 and 1397 and the "land-forpeace" principle, which all the Arab countries meeting in Beirut agreed to recognize at Saudi Arabia's initiative, must be re-started with the aid of the Quartet. We would like to see an international conference at an early date. Its objective must be a just, comprehensive and lasting peace; a peace founded on the co-existence of two states within secure and recognized borders, guaranteeing security to the Israelis and offering the Palestinians a normal life with dignity; a peace founded on the settlement of the whole regional conflict between Israel and its neighbours.
Attention to regional crises must not divert us from the responsibility we
also have to meet world challenges. The United Nations is playing its full role
in the fight against terrorism. Let us make sure that the same is true in the
other main challenges of our age.
Let us keep up our action against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. The President of the Republic of France has proposed that the Security Council meet at the highest level in 2003, on the sidelines of the General Assembly, for two purposes: to review nonproliferation policy and give it new impetus.
Let us mobilize all the actors in sustainable development for a renewed partnership in accordance with the commitments made at Doha, Monterrey and Johannesburg. The time has come to intensify concrete cooperation to enable all to have access to basic resources such as water and energy, elementary social services such as education and health, and food safety. Let us also call for the ratification and full implementation of the Kyoto Protocol.
Let us establish real world governance of sustainable development and give it the requisite coherence. France is proposing the establishing of an "economic and social security council" and a world environment organization to give all countries, especially those of the South, the possibility of making their voices heard on these issues.
Lastly, let us exercise all our responsibilities to uphold and promote human rights. They are universal. Progress, often precarious, must be encouraged. Violations, too numerous, must be punished.
Let us strengthen the authority and universality of the International Criminal Court. It will mean that the most serious crimes at world level do not go unpunished. This new instrument is essential to build a fairer and more democratic world where the principle of liability will be fully assumed.
Let us provide through ambitious conventions, as we did for children, better protection for the handicapped, the victims of forced disappearances and torture. Let us take action against corruption. Let us begin negotiating a world convention against human cloning for reproductive purposes as France and Germany have proposed.
Yes, the principle of collective responsibility lies at the heart of the international system. It lies at the heart of United Nations action. In order to play its full role, the organization must continue its reforms. We must in particular strengthen the representativeness of the Security Council by enlarging the two categories of members. France supports the aspirations of Germany, Japan and India in particular.
The United Nations is the keystone of world order. The noble and strong ideas present at its founding, after a world war in which barbarity went beyond all bounds to the indescribable, are still current today. The contemporary world is complex, confusing and unpredictable. In the urgency, nations must forge a new alliance, a shared destiny. That is our future; that is our chance. Let us meet the expectations of the world's peoples through our actions.