France focuses on responsibility and solidarity in the face of global challenges
New York: In his address to the UN General Assembly on Monday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian upheld multilateralism as the key to overcoming global challenges including conflict, the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.
“We have a collective responsibility in maintaining international peace and security. We have a shared responsibility in tackling today’s major challenges and we have a responsibility to individually each uphold the values that unite us,” he said in a pre-recorded message.
“For France, this is what this historic period of turbulence that we're experiencing calls for. We must all rise to the challenge.”
Summit for Security Council ‘P5’
Despite recent attacks, the foundations of the multilateral system have stood sound, he said, though warning against rising risks such as “more intense” power games and the reemergence of “bloc mentalities”.
France is one of five permanent members of the UN Security Council, alongside China, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Mr. Le Drian said his country is calling for a “P5 summit” to establish a joint action programme “to enable the Security Council to fully exercise its mandate and to embark upon a dialogue on the key issues of arms control and our collective security.”
Humanitarian duty in Afghanistan
Turning to some of the world’s hotspots, he underlined the duty to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.
“And it is in our common interest to have clear political and security requirements with regard to the regime in Kabul: all ties with terrorist organizations must be severed,” he said, speaking through an interpreter.
Furthermore, the fight against the terrorism threat in Western Asia and the Sahel region in Africa must also continue, while the international community “must be absolutely unequivocal” on Iran’s nuclear programme.
“Iran cannot be allowed to think any longer that time is on its side because the more dangerous its nuclear program becomes, the greater the risk of a major crisis,” said Mr. Le Drian.
“France will do everything it possibly can to encourage dialogue, but the only possible way forward remains an agreement, making it possible to establish that Iran is once again upholding its obligations. It is therefore essential that negotiations resume very quickly.”
Close the ‘vaccine divide’
On the pandemic, Mr. Le Drian stressed that the “vaccine divide” cannot be allowed to widen further. He added that France will continue to work with partners, especially those in Africa, noting that “our commitment to provide 60 million doses will be achieved by the end of the year.”
He also highlighted the need for international solidarity, including on the issue of economic recovery.
While G20 nations have established a debt service suspension initiative, they must go further, he said. This includes ensuring swift allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), a type of foreign reserve asset developed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to countries that need them most. He said France is ready to transfer 20 per cent of its SDR allocation to African countries.
‘Moment of truth’ on climate
The Foreign Minister also called for urgent action on climate change and the environment, with the upcoming COP26 climate change conference serving as “a moment of truth”.
He encouraged countries to “rally around the goal of climate neutrality by 2050”, noting that human lives, as well as international civility and future generations, are at stake.
“Here again, France will show its solidarity by providing €6 billion a year and devoting more than a third of its financing to climate adaptation,” he added.