Q: UN Secretary-General António Guterres suggested considering the possibility of holding the General Assembly session in September without the personal involvement of leaders, heads of government and ministers and of delivering prerecorded speeches. What do you think about this initiative?
France has been one of the UN’s members since its founding in 1945. It holds a permanent seat at 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 (elected to the Human Rights Council, for example), and is a permanent member of the Conference on Disarmament. France is the fifth-largest contributor to the United Nations regular budget and to the peacekeeping operations budget.
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, more transparently managed and more responsive in the event of crises.
It is also in this context that France is calling for a reform of the Security Council. France advocates 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. The question of the presence of an Arab country among the permanent members is also open.
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 2019, 102 countries had already endorsed the political declaration presented by France and Mexico on the subject.
Lastly, France supports the peacekeeping reform initiated by the Secretary-General in 2018 for Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) that function better, are better 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.”
France is particularly committed to defending human rights
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 is being celebrated in 2018.
France continues today to fight for the respect of human rights worldwide, both through its driving role within the Human Rights Council and through its action at the Security Council. It is candidate to the Human Rights Council for the period 2021-2023.
France is particularly committed as regards to:
universal abolition of the death penalty;
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.
France also supports the fight against impunity 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.
France is a spearhead in the fight for the environment and against climate change
As host of COP21, France played a driving role in the conclusion of the Paris Climate Agreement, including through the periodical presentation of “national plans” for greenhouse gas emissions reduction.
In December 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron, UN Secretary-General António Guterres and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim launched the “One Planet Summit” to speed up the implementation of the Paris Agreement and get public and private stakeholders involved in the race against global warming. Faced with the urgent task of addressing the ecological, economic and social consequences of climate change, the members of the One Planet coalition called for concrete solutions and initiatives to combat climate change, through twelve international commitments.
Moreover, 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 has decided to bring before the UN a draft “Global Pact for the Environment” consolidating the major principles of international environmental law in the face of current challenges.
France promotes innovative international mechanisms for official development assistance
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).
France plays a key role in disarmament and maintaining peace and security
When it comes to maintaining peace and security, France plays a major role in the area of disarmament.
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 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 decide 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 2019, France was the 30th-largest contributor to contingents (the second-largest in Europe and also among the permanent members of the Security Council, behind China), with a total of 743 troops deployed across eight missions (essentially in Lebanon for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon – UNIFIL). Six francophone States (France, Senegal, Morocco, Burkina Faso, Niger and Benin) are amongst the major contributors.
France makes significant contributions to the peacekeeping operations budget. As a permanent member of the Security Council, its assessed contribution to the peacekeeping operations 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.