Tuesday, September 28, 2010

France Also Calls for Change at the UN

France today called for a “stronger, more representative and more efficient” United Nations to promote quicker economic development, fight climate change more effectively, garner the needed resources to do so, and reform the Security Council and Human Rights Council.

“France’s ambition is to be a major player in building a more just and social world governance in greater solidarity, a world order organized and regulated around the a stronger, more representative and more efficient UN, a UN capable of resolving the great challenges of our century,” Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told the General Assembly’s main annual session in a wide-ranging address that touched on all major issues before the world body.

“To fail to act today is to resign ourselves to disorder, injustice and chaos,” he said, citing earlier examples when the Assembly took decisive action, such as its resolutions 20 years ago guaranteeing access for relief teams to enter zones afflicted by natural catastrophes and emergencies, and the 1991 Security Council resolution authorizing a military operation in Iraqi Kurdistan to protect civilians against an oppressive State.

“Those were two historic moments which laid the first markers of the right to intervene that has become the responsibility to protect, adopted by this Assembly by consensus in 2005.”

The first global responsibility is that of development and fighting climate change, “where we must go faster and further,” he declared, calling for new measures to finance the extra billions of dollars need by adopting an international tax on financial transactions of the minimal amount of 0.005 per cent, the equivalent of 1 cent for every 1,000 euros, which would raise between €30 billion to €40 billion a year, a quarter of official development aid.

“So why not take this decision in principle right away during this Assembly session?” Mr. Kouchner asked. “A declaration in favour of a levy on financial transactions which we have proposed with Japan and Belgium has received the support of Brazil, Norway and Spain and had been adopted by acclamation by the pilot group of 60 countries that we brought together. It is open for you.”

Turning to international crises, he deplored Israel’s refusal to prolong its settlement moratorium, stressing that the settlements are not only illegal but contradicts Israel’s security interests in its conflict with the Palestinians. “Palestine, this new UN member that many of us are praying for, will be the best guarantee of security for Israel,” he said, calling on the European Union and the Arab states to support current peace talks launched by United States President Barack Obama.

The Arab States have a decisive role to play by reiterating their readiness to normalize relations with Israel, he added, stressing: “If negotiations resume, it will be a question of translating these words into action.”

In other comments he said the global nuclear non-proliferation system was “gravely threatened” by Iran’s attitude and insufficient progress had been made in collectively enforcing universal human rights. “We can no longer content ourselves with counting the victims when massive crimes are committed,” he declared. “Our courage must not be less than that of those who die because we fail to take the risks (needed to protect them).”

Turning to UN bodies, he called for enacting Security Council reform by increasing the number of permanent and non-permanent members. “It is unacceptable that Africa does not have a single permanent representative,” he said. “Nor is it acceptable that powers such as Japan, Germany, India and Brazil do not have permanent seats.”

As for the Human Rights Council, he called for a lucid accounting of its actions, “which are not satisfactory,” and for ensuring the exemplary conduct of its members.

(UN Press Release)

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