"It is only through strong multilateralism that we will together overcome the new challenges". [fr]
PANDEMICS AND SECURITY
STATEMENT BY MR. JEAN-YVES LE DRIAN
MINISTER FOR EUROPE AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC
AT THE SECURITY COUNCIL
== Translation from French ==
New York, 2 July 2020
Thank you Heiko, thank you Mr President,
Mr President of the International Committee of the Red Cross,
Madam Commissioner of the African Union,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I first would like to thank my friend, Heiko Maas, for initiating this meeting at the start of the German Presidency of the UN Security Council.
I would also like to commend and thank the UN Secretary-General, the ICRC President and the African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs for the outstanding work their respective organizations have done to collectively tackle this unprecedented public health crisis.
The Security Council, which under the United Nations Charter – whose 75th anniversary has just been celebrated – has the main responsibility of keeping international peace and security, must address the destabilizing effect of pandemics. It was able to do so with HIV/AIDS in 2000 and with Ebola in 2014 and 2018. And that’s good.
I am pleased that on the initiative of Tunisia – and I would like to greet Minister Nourredine Erray – and France, the Security Council has effectively addressed the threat to international peace and security caused by the COVID-19 pandemic through the resolution it unanimously adopted yesterday. We now need to redouble our efforts together to implement this resolution.
France supports the UN Secretary-General’s call for a ceasefire, backed by nearly 180 countries and more than 20 armed groups as well as many regional and civil society organizations. This call must also be put into action. In Syria, Yemen, Libya, the Sahel and Afghanistan, the situation remains extremely unstable and civilian populations continue to suffer the consequences.
I would also like to commend the outstanding work of the blue helmets at times conducted in very difficult conditions. We must collectively support peacekeeping operations so that they can fully implement their mandates. France has recently deployed a decontamination team within UNIFIL to Lebanon to provide expertise and technical support in fighting the pandemic, and we are ready to treat foreign soldiers, working in peacekeeping operations, who have COVID-19 and are in need of urgent care, in our military hospitals.
On a humanitarian level, I would like to pay tribute to the work conducted by humanitarian and medical personnel, especially ICRC workers. France, both through its bilateral support and its work in multilateral bodies, has contributed to humanitarian action regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue working to meet needs in the weeks and months ahead.
Together we must continue to support the full implementation of the entire COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan, including by providing support to internally displaced persons and refugees and defending the sexual and reproductive health rights of women, who are on the frontlines of the response to pandemics, and whose rights must be preserved and reinforced. This will be one of the objectives of the Generation Equality Forum, which will be held in France in the first half of 2021 in partnership with Mexico and UN Women, and will be another important step in promoting women’s rights.
Everything must also be done to facilitate humanitarian access to vulnerable populations and to ensure that humanitarian and medical personnel and their infrastructures are not targeted in attacks. We therefore must continue working to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law. That is the reason behind the Call for Humanitarian Action led by France and Germany within the framework of the Alliance for Multilateralism, with the ICRC’s support, and this call has been backed by 45 States.
We must also strengthen access to reliable information and fight more effectively to stop the spread of false rumours, infodemics and hate speech that can feed on collective fear in today’s extremely fragile context.
We cannot ignore the considerable socio-economic impact of this crisis. The root causes of conflicts will only be worsened by the crisis resulting in growing inequalities, loss of confidence in institutions, tensions regarding the distribution of natural resources, disorganization or disruption of supply chains, and the climate crisis. It is our collective responsibility to rethink the post-COVID-19 world and mitigate the economic and social consequences of this crisis to the greatest extent possible. To do so, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement must guide our action. This crisis has confirmed – if there were need for confirmation – the relevance of the Sustainable Development Goals, by highlighting how interaction can be strong between health and environmental issues such as biodiversity and the climate.
We also need a multilateral health architecture that is better adapted to today’s challenges. That means strengthening our collective alert capacity within the WHO, the only universal public health organization, so that we can respond very swiftly to global crises. This also means that States must fully shoulder their responsibilities to ensure the effective implementation of the international health regulations that is still too often lacking. We must also work to strengthen national health systems and their resilience. We need to continue our efforts to make universal health coverage a reality. These are all projects we need to get working on, drawing on all the lessons learned from the crisis we are going through.
At the Alliance for Multilateralism meeting on 26 June, we stressed with Heiko Maas that it is only through strong multilateralism that we will together overcome these new challenges. Being a multilateralist does not mean being dogmatic or idealistic. It means advocating the only effective method because there is no alternative to a united front and cooperation in dealing with our common problems. France is determined to continue working in this direction.