H. E. Mr. HUBERT VEDRINE
FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER
56th SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
New York, NY
Saturday, November 10, 2001
check against delivery
Heads of State and Government, Ministers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Mr. President, it is a great pleasure for me to congratulate you on your election, which is a sign of the esteem in which you and your country are held.
Mr. Secretary-General, coming after your re-election for a second term, signalling the general confidence you have earned, your Nobel Peace Prize is a well-deserved tribute to your work and, through you, to the United Nations Organisation as a whole, inspiring greater hope than ever before.
Since we are in New York - this is my third visit since the September 11 tragedy - I also want to express once again my profound emotion and pay homage to the people of New York in this time of affliction, and to their courageous mayor whose term of office has now ended.
I. The unprecedented scale and gravity of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on September 11 warranted an exceptional response. In its Resolution 1368, which was unanimously adopted, the Security Council rightly called this an act of aggression, and situated it within the logic of self-defence, and hence legitimate riposte, in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter.
In its military response, therefore, the United States is thus entirely within its legal and political rights in targeting the terrorist organisations responsible for these acts.
The military action now in progress was inevitable. And it must be pursued until its objectives have been achieved, as quickly as possible, I hope. The leaders of these terrorist networks and those who support them must be dealt with once and for all.
But this military action now should naturally form part of an overarching strategy, one that also includes immediate, long-term and sustainable humanitarian action on a very large-scale - better co-ordinated and more closely geared to the needs of distressed populations.
France has put forward several proposals on this point. These also includes a political solution, which must strive to ensure that the demise of the Taliban regime does not lead to factional infighting and chaos. It must make the Afghan people masters of their own future once more. That is the aim of the Action Plan for Afghanistan which France proposed as far back as October 1st. Other contributions have been made with the same end in view.
We await Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi's proposals with interest. These should set forth the broad outlines for action for the United Nations. On these bases, the Security Council ought to be able to adopt a framework resolution within a few days, endorsing Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi proposals and spelling out the modalities of UN support for the establishment of an Afghan Government representing the various constituents of the population. For there is no question of imposing on Afghanistan some ready-made solution concocted by outsiders. I call upon all the constituents of the Afghan nation and on all neighboring countries to heed the general interest of Afghanistan and its people. This is compatible with respect for the legitimate interests of the various parties concerned. And it is the only way to turn our backs on the past.
Over and beyond immediate military, diplomatic and humanitarian action, our common fight against terrorism needs to be pursued in all its forms, including police, judicial and others. The United Nations will have a crucial role to play in this difficult struggle, by laying down universal obligations for each State and the framework for our action. A series of conventions has been concluded already, and in particular the Terrorist Financing Convention, which I proposed in this very place in 1999. We must speed up their signature and their ratification. The General Assembly must quickly conclude the negotiations on the comprehensive convention on international terrorism. For its part, the Security Council should oversee the co-coordinated implementation by States of its (Resolution 1373.)
Action against terrorism also needs to be carried on through other organizations, in conjunction with the UN and consistent with its policies. For its part, the European Union has just taken unprecedented steps to strengthen police and judicial co-operation among its Member States, notably including the creation of a European arrest warrant. An ambitious action plan has been agreed. The 29 members of the FATF have decided to extend the fight against money laundering to the financing of terrorism. Looking beyond that, I propose the creation of a forum for dialogue to move us forward in this direction. Several other organizations too will have a role to play, so that, at the end of the day, every country will be making a contribution.
II - Leaving aside the hoped-for short-term results, obstacles notwithstanding, we will not achieve lasting victory against all forms of terrorism unless we succeed in depriving them of their breeding ground, by eliminating the pretexts from which they fallaciously draw their justification, and unless we eradicate them in the true sense of the term. That implies nothing short of changing our world. And let no one claim that this would be tantamount to justifying the terrorists! For neither my country, nor Europe, nor the United Nations, in other words all of us, waited for September 11 to discover, condemn and seek to remedy the ills of the world. Yet how many good intentions have come to naught how many resolutions have gone unimplemented how many announcements have failed to materialize - now feeding a sense of bitterness and incomprehension! It is pointless to condemn or deny the theory of a "clash of civilizations"; rather, we must fight against this risk, which is by no means wholly imaginary, and against those who would make it a reality.
1 - For all of us, this should be one more pressing reason to find a solution to the regional crises, in the Middle East first and foremost: Since 1982, France has called for the creation of a Palestinian State. Naturally, this would have to be viable, democratic 'and peaceful. It should give credible undertakings as regards the security of Israel. Guarantees will be needed, yet the Palestinian State is not a problem, it is the solution. For reasons of right, humanity, and security. Such is the European Union's common stance today. President Bush himself has made this his objective. It is the path of reason. The only path that can halt the murderous spiral of conflict between the two peoples.
Admittedly, responsibility for a lasting peace agreement lies with the protagonists, first and last. Unless they make the move, no one else will be able to overcome their fears and resentment and to put an end to the suffering of these two peoples. Yet the increasing threat that this conflict poses to world peace and security require that those who have the will and the means should join forces in a push for peace, given that the direct protagonists are evidently unable to do so unaided.
The urgency of the situation in the Near East obviously should not blind us to Iraq. Regional security still needs to be secured, by restoring an international monitoring capability, and where the suffering of the Iraqi people needs to be alleviated by lifting the embargo on civilian goods. I hope the discussions now in progress at the Security Council will finally bring this about.
- Nor should we forget the Caucasus, where ancient quarrels live on, and where new ones are rising to the fore. Yet, here again, there is no other way than to seek negotiated political solutions.
- In the Balkans, we realized that international involvement would of necessity be a sustain one . Yet thanks to it, and thanks to new Leaders, noteworthy progress has been achieved towards democracy, reconciliation and regional co-operation over the last two years. We must make sure these positive changes are not challenged by outmoded patterns of behaviors. We must maintain and' pursue the Europeanisation of the Balkans.
- Turning to the African Great Lakes region, we know that a sustainable solution is called for to solve a conflict involving over eight countries. This solution will have to restore the sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as containing safeguard clauses to protect the security of each of the States. The Lusaka Agreement and the relevant Security Council resolutions provide the framework for ending this crisis. They should be applied, as quickly as possible. The illegal use of the DRC's resources, which is often occurring in association with forced child labor, should be halted.
In all the cases I have just referred to briefly, the problem we have to solve is one of the coexistence of peoples who are at once close and antagonistic, deeply affected and divided by history, separated by fear and the spirit of revenge. We will achieve this only by steadfastness and through a clear understanding of each particular situation in within the framework of UN principles.
2 - Even if we managed to solve all these regional crises and more besides, our task still would not be over. For on a more global level, many peoples are finding the gulf between the stated intentions for the world in international meetings and actual reality increasingly intolerable. We must redouble our efforts to create a globalization with a human face. We saw this in Seattle, we saw it in Genoa, and even more so in Durban. We can see it in the reactions to the Afghan crisis and to many other issues: despite the UN and our good resolutions, there is still no real universal consensus. What we call "the international community" has yet to be built. Is this any reason to throw in the towel? Absolutely not! Quite the reverse! France has long been determined to add its stone to this edifice, with ever greater conviction. We have put forward numerous proposals to that end.
Need I remind you of our major objectives, namely:
- to achieve a fairer distribution of wealth; 3 billion people currently live on less than 2 dollars per day and the global income gap between the richest and the poorest has doubled over the last forty years.
- Ending impunity.
- Finally: guaranteeing development everywhere, - -- and sustainable development. Sustainable, that little word that makes all the difference. The World Summit in Johannesburg in September 2002 will provide an opportunity to affirm a vision and a benchmark of development based on three intimately linked pillars, namely economic, social and environment.
- Helping refugees and fully respecting the right of asylum.
- Managing population movements in a humanitarian manner.
- Democratically framing international standards to ensure their 'total legitimacy, so that everyone is consequently bound to comply with them.
- Ceasing to tolerate situations of human distress. State sovereignty, which remains an essential feature of the international system, cannot, in extreme emergencies, be regarded as an absolute principle serving as a pretext for inaction. The Security Council must be able to assume its responsibilities to the full in cases of gross human rights violations, for these also pose a threat to international peace and security.
- Promoting balanced and negotiated disarmament, for this will contribute to security and strategic stability.
- Allowing all languages, cultures and civilizations to exist and dialogue with each other.
- Improving the state of health world-wide, which notably presupposes devoting more resources to combating HIV/AIDS. I would like to see the new Global AIDS and Health Fund made operational by the beginning of 2002.
But we probably now more clearly aware than in recent
years that these ambitious objectives call for different rules and different
Starting with the long overdue reform and enlargement of the Security Council; respect for the role of the General Assembly; ratification of the major multilateral instruments (such as the International Criminal Court and the Kyoto Protocol); a more appropriate and less indiscriminate use of sanctions when they are needed; a clarification of the respective and legitimate roles of governments and civil society; agreement on the modalities of interference to deal with large-scale and extreme emergency situations; a regulation and development round at the WTO; closer cooperation and greater consistency between the WTO and the ILO; the creation of a world environmental organization; and reform of the International Financial Institutions.
All of us, as members of the United Nations, must deal with this challenge. However, I have no hesitation in saying that greater burden of responsibilities lies on the 1.135 billion men and women who live in the rich countries or, if you prefer, the West and a handful of OECD countries. Now the illusions of the last ten years have been dispelled, the choice before is harsh, but clear: either a world of conflict with no foreseeable end, because the injustice is too great. Or an international community of the United Nations at last worthy of the name, in which we work to solve together humanity's common problems and ensure its future. Yet for some of us, building this community instead of just talking about it or yearning for it, will mean giving up privileges, sharing wealth and power in new ways, and rewriting certain rules hitherto held to be inviolable. As the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz has written: free trade was designed by Western countries for the Western countries. None of this will happen without sacrifices, among the rich countries first of all.
At this very moment, the diplomatic cards are being reshuffled on a
grand scale, as between the United States, Russia, China, Europe, the Arab-Muslim
world, the other coalition partners, the rest of the world and the UN.
I hope, I truly hope that this will help to bring about the vital awakening;
that my country, Europe and the UN will strike out down new avenues --
in deeds and not just words. I hope that all of us together will successfully
prolong the necessary coalition against terrorism to turn into a coalition
for an equitable world, and that this will lay the groundwork for renewing
the international system.