Alliance for Multilateralism - Address by Jean-Yves Le Drian (26 Sept. 2019)

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Address by Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs - New York – 26 September 2019

Firstly, Mr Chair and Moderator, I would like to thank you for your tribute to Jacques Chirac, who was a great statesman and a staunch advocate of multilateralism.

Dear friends,

I would like to begin by thanking you for being here today. For several months now, with my friend Heiko Maas, as well as our other partners, we have been considering how best to address the tendency to question multilateralism. That is why this Alliance was formed.

Over the last few years, it has been no longer just the operation of international institutions and the United Nations which has been criticized, but the very relevance of these multilateral tools which has been challenged and questioned. This backtracking takes on several forms. Some seek to go back on the achievements of multilateralism and international law, others believe that international commitments are too costly, while others again say that issues such as global warming, trade imbalances and cyber space instability should be dealt with at national level, or solely via bilateral relationships. It was for this reason that we took the initiative to create the Alliance for Multilateralism.

For us, multilateralism is neither a dogma nor ideology, it is a method, a method which works, and we want to focus on what I call evidence-based multilateralism. And today, by presenting concrete thematic initiatives, we intend to show that this new multilateral method remains the most effective one because it produces tangible results and consensus.

We wanted this Alliance to be like an informal coalition, a project incubator, an aggregator of goodwill, so that we could work together to tackle our shared challenges.

The concrete initiatives to be introduced meet the agenda priorities, and with my friend Heiko Mass, we also wanted to introduce to you today the Humanitarian Call for Action which could be one of the Alliance’s leading initiatives.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the 1949 Geneva Conventions. These conventions lay down the basic rules for humanity, which are regularly flouted in conflicts. There are many examples of this. Civilian populations and infrastructures, particularly hospitals, are targeted. Famine and sexual violence are used as weapons. And our Call contains simple, concrete measures to which all States can commit, such as training all stakeholders in international humanitarian law or exchanging best practices, but Heiko will discuss that later.
We want many people to join this Call, because even war has rules which must be observed. This concludes my opening remarks, and later Heiko Maas will make some of his own.