Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna spoke today with UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths.
The minister and Mr. Griffiths discussed the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and the consequences of Russia’s war of aggression against that (…)
France has been one of the UN’s members since its founding in 1945. It holds a permanent seat on the Security Council, alongside the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia and China, thus playing a leading role on many subjects. It is also represented both within the other major UN bodies and within its subsidiary organs (e.g. it is a permanent member of the Conference on Disarmament). France is the sixth-largest contributor to the United Nations regular budget and to the peacekeeping operations budget.
It has worked to support the drafting of numerous treaties, such as the Convention on Cluster Munitions adopted in 2008. It is highly involved in efforts to ensure respect for the non-proliferation regime and has played a key role in the adoption of the various resolutions on Iran and North Korea.
France and the United Kingdom were the first two States to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1998, and France is working to bring it into force.
France was also the first State to commit to and implement the decommissioning of its fissile material production facilities for nuclear weapons. It supports the resumption of work on the negotiation of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty.
In July 2021, France was the 35th-largest contributor to contingents (the third-largest in Europe and second among the permanent members of the Security Council, behind China), with a total of 608 troops deployed across five peacekeeping operations (essentially in Lebanon for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon – UNIFIL). Several French-speaking countries, including Morocco, Senegal, Chad, Burkina Faso, Togo, Cameroon, Niger and Côte d’Ivoire, are among the largest contributors.
A peacekeeper at work
France makes significant contributions to the peacekeeping operations budget. As a permanent member of the Security Council, its assessed contribution to the Department of Peace Operations (DPO) budget stands at 5.61% (as against 4.43% for the UN regular budget).
More generally, France seeks to constantly promote an ambitious, efficient role for the United Nations, based on international law and consensus. For example, it opposed the unilateral use of force during the Iraq crisis in 2003 and advocated a central role for the United Nations.
As host and holder of the COP21 Presidency in 2015, France played a key role in the adoption of the Paris Agreement. This agreement stipulates that every five years, the Parties must submit national plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), and invites them to draw up long-term strategic plans for 2050.
To mark the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Paris Agreement, on 12 December 2020 France co-organized the Climate AmbitionSummit with the United Nations Secretary-General, where 75 leaders from around the world set out new commitments. The Summit was also co-convened by the United Kingdom, which presided over COP26, in partnership with Italy (host country of PreCOP26) and Chile (COP25 Presidency).
Between 2017 and 2019, following an initiative by a group of legal experts from 40 countries from countries of the South and North and from all legal traditions, France brought before the UN a draft Global Pact for the Environment with the aim of strengthening the core principles of international environmental law.
France has always played a particular role in the human rights field. It inspired the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed in Paris on 10 December 1948, the 70th anniversary of which was celebrated in 2018. Today, France continues to fight for human rights worldwide, both through its driving role within the UN Human Rights Council, of which it is an elected member for the 2021-2023 mandate, and through its action at the Security Council.
France is particularly committed as regards:
• universal abolition of the death penalty;
• the fight against arbitrary detention and forced disappearances;
• respect for women’s rights and the fight against recruitment of child soldiers;
• the fight against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
• supporting the media and human rights defenders.
France also supports the fight against impunity for perpetrators of human rights and international humanitarian law violations, including to prevent further atrocities, and contributed to the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC). It was one of the first States to ratify the ICC’s Rome Statute.
Official development assistance (ODA) is an essential pillar of France’s foreign policy. The President of the Republic has made ODA one of the priorities of his term of office. He has committed to it reaching 0.55% of the global national income (GNI) by 2022 in order to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). France is making powerful diplomatic efforts to promote innovative international mechanisms that could provide additional resources for development, such as a tax on airline tickets to fund UNITAID or the International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm).
The latest crises have confirmed the central importance of the UN while also highlighting the need to make the organization more efficient and more representative of current global balances.
France thus supports the vast reform programme launched by the Secretary-General, Mr António Guterres, in order to make the organization’s activities more efficient by improving coordination between UN agencies present on the ground, more transparently managed, and more responsive in the event of crises.
It is also in this context that France is calling for reform of the Security Council.France advocates for an expansion of the Security Council in negotiations on this theme at the General Assembly. It also supports permanent Security Council seats for Germany, Brazil, India and Japan, as well as a greater presence of African countries at the Security Council, including among permanent members.
Moreover, in 2013, France proposed governing veto use in the event of mass atrocities, in the form of a collective and voluntary commitment by the permanent members. As of September 2021, 105 countries had already endorsed the political declaration presented by France and Mexico on the subject.
Lastly, France supports the peacekeeping reform known as Action for Peacekeeping (A4P), initiated by the Secretary-General in 2018 to make sure Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) function better, are appropriately funded, and are more capable of achieving their objectives.
“I want a more accountable, effective and agile UN, and I fully support the project of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and his ambition and determination to lead an organization equal to the world’s challenges.”
In New York, the Permanent Representative or Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN sits on the Security Council and within all the bodies where France is represented. They speak on behalf of France and defend its positions.
For their part, the French Mission’s experts prepare and negotiate the resolutions and texts adopted by these various bodies.
In Geneva, home to the European headquarters of the United Nations, 35 international organizations and almost 400 NGOs, France is particularly active in the following fields:
• Human rights, fundamental values defended by France.
• Humanitarian action and migration, because Geneva is the seat of the main humanitarian organizations.
• Global health, thanks to the presence of the World Health Organization (WHO), which works alongside UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Unitaid and GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance.
In Vienna, France’s Permanent Representation to the United Nations Office at Vienna and international organizations in Vienna ensures that France’s positions are taken into consideration in negotiations, in cooperation with our European partners.