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There Is No Alternative to the United Nations Says Chirac

There Is No Alternative to the United Nations Says Chirac

Opening of the 58th Session of the United Nations Assembly. Speech by M. Jacques Chirac, President of the French Republic. New York, September 23, 2003. Source: Embassy of France, Washington D.C. and Elysée Palace.

Your Majesty,

Heads of State and Government,

General Assembly President,

Secretary-General of the United Nations,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Sergio Vieira de Mello personified the honour of the United Nations. Murdered on 19 August along with members of his staff, we shall long remember him. Let us dedicate this session to this great servant of peace.

The United Nations has just weathered one of the gravest trials in its history. The debate turned on respect for the Charter and the use of force. The war, embarked on without Security Council approval, has undermined the multilateral system.

Having taken stock of this crisis, our Organization can now resume its onward march. For it is above all in this forum, which is the crucible of the international order, that it behoves us to exercise our responsibilities to the world of today and to future generations.

In an open world, no one can live in isolation, no one can act alone in the name of all, and no one can accept the anarchy of a society without rules. There is no alternative to the United Nations. But in the face of today's challenges, this fundamental choice, as expressed in the Charter, calls for a far-reaching reform of our Organization.

Multilateralism is the key, for it ensures the participation of all in the management of world affairs. It is a guarantee of legitimacy and democracy, especially in matters regarding the use of force or laying down universal norms.

Multilateralism works: in Monterrey and Johannesburg it has allowed us to overcome the clash between North and South and to pave the way for partnerships – with Africa notably – bearing promise for the future.

Multilateralism is the modern approach for this alone allows contemporary problems to be addressed as a whole in their complexity.

  • First, the settlement of conflicts that threaten international peace and security.

In Iraq, the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqis, who must have sole responsibility for their future, is essential for stability and reconstruction.

It is up to the United Nations to give legitimacy to this process. It is also up to the United Nations to assist with the gradual transfer of administrative and economic responsibilities to the present Iraqi institutions according to a realistic timetable and to help the Iraqis draft a constitution and hold elections.

Lastly it is up to the United Nations to give a mandate to a multinational force, commanded naturally by the main troop contributor, i.e. the United States, in order to ensure the security of Iraq and all those helping with the country's reconstruction.

In this way the international community and the Iraqi people, united around a common project, will together end the tragic decades of this great country's history.

In the Middle East, undermined by despair and hate, only firm political resolve to apply, on both sides, the law as formulated by the United Nations will pave the way to a just and lasting solution.

The international community must restore a dynamic for peace. It must be resolutely involved in the implementation of the road-map. This must be the ambition of the next ministerial meeting of the Quartet. France believes the idea of a monitoring mechanism still holds and that an international conference is an objective to be achieved as quickly as possible.

Given the present tension, France calls on the parties to resist the temptation to engage in a trial of force and fruitless radicalization.

  • The fight against international terrorism is another key challenge.

This has got off to a good start, under Security Council auspices and within the framework of our various treaties. Our determination is rooted in the horror of 11 September. The threat goes to the very heart of our democracies and societies. We are using force to combat terrorism, but that is not enough. It will return over and over again if we allow extremism and fanaticism to flourish, if we fail to realize that it uses the world's unresolved conflicts and economic and social imbalances as its justification.

  • In the face of proliferating weapons of mass destruction, we reject the fait accompli policy.

We must stand united to ensure the universality of treaties and the effectiveness of non-proliferation regimes. We must also strengthen our means of action in order to ensure compliance. France has proposed the creation of a permanent corps of inspectors under the authority of the Security Council. We need to give fresh impetus to this policy. Let us call a summit meeting of the Security Council to frame a genuine United Nations action plan against proliferation.

For the present, we must demand that North Korea dismantle her military program completely, verifiably, and irreversibly. We must demand that Iran sign and implement, unconditionally and without delay, a strengthened nuclear safeguards agreement with the IAEA.

Sustainable development poses yet another challenge, for half of humanity lives in conditions of precariousness or extreme poverty. Are we capable of nurturing a form of globalization of solidarity, as our peoples are asking for, demanding, in response to the ineluctable globalization of the economy?

We agree on the goals. And we are bound by our Millennium Goals. But we still need a strong political impetus in order to achieve them and I propose that Heads of State and Government meet in New York in 2005 for a preliminary review of progress. And I hope that this General Assembly will confirm our governments' resolve to overcome the failure at Cancún in order to ensure the success of the Doha round, which is first and foremost a "development round".

In order to fulfil the missions entrusted to it and remedy some of its blatant shortcomings, the United Nations must change. Democracy, authority, and efficacy must be our three watchwords. Progress has been made, thanks to the Secretary-General, and new avenues are being proposed to us. It is now up to the member States to take matters forward without delay, and to put an end to the damage caused by the stalemate over reforms.

  • The United Nations suffers from the current weakness of the General Assembly.

Yet that is where debate on solutions to the world's great problems should take place and consensus be forged. A culture of confrontation must give way to a culture of action, in order to achieve the common goals which we must together set ourselves.

Chief responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security lies with the Security Council. It is therefore essential to its legitimacy that its membership reflect the state of the world. It must be enlarged to include new permanent members, for it needs the presence of major countries. France is thinking, naturally, of Germany and Japan, but also of some leading countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America. It will need additional elected countries as well, in order to make the Council more representative still. Under the resolute impetus of the five permanent members, each of us must take up this discussion with the general interest in mind.

This reform should be accompanied by a strengthening of the Council's authority. It is the role of the Council to set the bounds to the use of force. No one is entitled to assume the right to utilize it unilaterally and preventively. Conversely, in the face of mounting threats, States must have an assurance that the Council has appropriate means of evaluation and collective action at its disposal, and that it has the will to act.

  • We all place a high premium on national sovereignty.

But its scope can and must be limited in cases of gross violations of human rights and humanitarian law. The Security Council is taking steps in that direction, and France supports this development.

Meanwhile, crimes against humanity are being punished more effectively with the establishment of the International Criminal Court, whose jurisdiction is universal. This historic step forward must be accompanied by a strengthening of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, under a Commission equipped to discharge its duties and mission in full.

We now realize that globalization demands stronger economic, social and environmental governance. To that end, France proposes the creation of a new political body representative of the present state of the world economy in all its diversity. This council would be entrusted with the responsibility for providing the necessary impetus to the international institutions, for improving their coordination, and for anticipating and tackling global problems more effectively.

Effectiveness also depends on the vital increase in the UN's financial resources.

  • France calls for two changes.

First, a reversal of the trend toward raising voluntary contributions at the expense of mandatory contributions. Failing that, we would end up with a pick-and-choose United Nations, an outdated vision, and a harmful one.

Second, we need to make progress in harnessing funds for development. France wants to meet the official development assistance target of 0.7% of gross national income by 2012. But this effort, together with that of the European Union, will not suffice to generate the funds needed to finance the Millennium Goals each year. France therefore supports the innovative concept of an International Financial Facility. I would also like us to give pragmatic and expeditious consideration to the idea of international solidarity levies, a kind of tax on the wealth generated by globalization and allocated to development.

To advance on these issues, I approve the Secretary-General's intention to gather around him a committee of independent wise men and women entrusted with making proposals.

Ladies and gentlemen,

  • Against the risk of a world without order delivered up to violence, let us work to establish one governed by the rule of law.
  • Against the injustice and suffering of a world of ever-widening inequalities – even though it has never been as rich as it is today – let us choose solidarity.
  • Against the chaos of a world shaken by ecological disaster, let us call for a sharing of responsibility, around a United Nations Environment Organization.
  • Against the barbarity of a world in which fundamental rights are too often trampled on, where the integrity of mankind is under threat, where native peoples – guardians of an irreplaceable heritage – vanish amid silence and indifference, let us uphold the demands of ethics.
  • Against the perils of a clash of civilizations, finally, let us insist on the equal dignity of all cultures, respect for diversity, and the importance of dialogue.

With the Charter adopted in the name of the peoples of the United Nations, our founders proclaimed their faith in these ideals. It is up to us to be worthy of them, to place the United Nations at the heart of this worldwide democracy so vital in our day and age.

Thank you./.

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).