World Has No Alternative to a Reformed United Nations

By Chirac, Jacques | Canadian Speeches, September-October 2003 | Go to article overview

World Has No Alternative to a Reformed United Nations


Chirac, Jacques, Canadian Speeches


The world has no alternative to the United Nations, but far-reaching reform is needed to meet today's global threats. Speech to the United Nations General Assembly, New York, September 23, 2003.

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The United Nations has just weathered one of its most serious trials in its history: respect for the Charter, the use of force, were at the heart of the debate. The war, which was started without the authorization of the Security Council, has shaken the multilateral system. Having taken stock of this crisis, our organization is now resuming its onward march, for it is primarily within this forum, the crucible of international law, that we must exercise our responsibilities to the world and to future generations.

In an open world, no one can live in isolation; no one can act in the name of everyone; no one can accept the anarchy of a society without rules. There is no alternative to the United Nations. But in order to meet today's challenges, this fundamental choice, expressed by the Charter, requires a far-reaching reform of our organization. Multilateralism is crucial because it ensures the participation by all in managing the affairs of the world. It guarantees the legitimacy and democracy, in particular, when it is a question of deciding on the use of force or of laying down universal norms.

Multilateralism is effective because it allowed us in Monterrey and in Johannesburg to transcend North-South confrontation and to open the way to promising partnerships, in particular with the African continent. Multilateralism is modern because it alone makes it possible to apprehend contemporary problems globally and in all of their complexity.

First, the settlement of conflicts that threaten international peace and security. In Iraq, the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqis, who must have sole responsibility for their destiny, is essential for stability and reconstruction. It is up to the United Nations to lend its legitimacy to that process. It is also up to the United Nations to assist with the gradual transfer of administrative and economic responsibilities to the Iraqi institutions, according to a realistic timetable, to help the Iraqis draft a constitution, to hold general elections.

Finally, it is up to the United Nations to give a mandate to an international force, naturally commanded by the main troop-contributor, that is the United States, in order to ensure the security of Iraq and of all those that are helping to rebuild that country. Thus, the international community and the Iraqi people, united around a common project, will together put an end to the tragic decades of that great country's history.

In the Middle East, ravaged by despair and hatred, a strong political will alone, on both sides, to implement the law, as stipulated by the United Nations, will pave the way to a just and lasting solution. The international community must re store a dynamic for peace. It must involve itself in the implementation of the road map. That should be the objective of the upcoming meeting of the Quartet to be held at the ministerial level.

France believes that the idea of a monitoring mechanism is as relevant as ever, and that the convening of the international conference is a goal to be attained as soon as possible. Given the present tension, France calls upon the parties not to succumb to the temptation of a trial of strength and of futile radicalization.

Another great challenge is the fight against international terrorism, and this fight is well underway under the aegis of the Security Council and within the context of the treaties. The horror of the 11th of September cemented our common resolve. This threat goes to the very heart of our democracies and our societies. We are using force to combat terrorism, but that is not enough. It will reemerge again and again if we allow extremism and fanaticism to flourish; if we fail to realize that it seeks justification in unresolved conflicts and economic and social imbalances in the world. …

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