2005 : A year when we must not fail
Article published by H.E. Mr. Michel Barnier, French Minister of Foreign Affairs, in the “Les Echos” Newspaper
(Paris, 17 January 2005)
Following the presentation of the High-Level Panel report entitled "A more secure world: our shared responsibility", on 2 December last, the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, challenged the leaders of every country by "strongly urging them immediately to act on it". In this respect, 2005, a year of major challenges and many opportunities, will be decisive and deserves our full attention.
At the Millennium Summit in September 2000, the international community took formal note of the changes which have occurred since the creation of the UN in 1945, and decided to face up to the new challenges of security, disarmament, the eradication of poverty, environmental protection and human rights. It decided to strengthen the United Nations Organization in order to have a more effective instrument to address them. It also united in support of eight proactive, ambitious development goals, the first of which is to halve, by 2015, the number of people suffering from poverty and hunger.
The Summit of heads of State and government, on the eve of the sixtieth United Nations General Assembly, taking place from 14 to 16 September 2005, is to draw up a progress report five years after these pledges were made.
A third of the way to the deadline, let us be realistic: the prospects are not good. At the current rate, most of the Millennium Development Goals will not be achieved, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Given this, 2005 must see us reaffirm our pledges, in both North and South, and take the vital measures to achieve our objectives, which are ambitious but essential for everyone.
This requires us to strengthen our instruments. To achieve the goals we have set, we need a strong common tool, built on multilateral dialogue. This is the key to a safer and fairer world. A new consensus must be forged to confront the new threats which know no borders and demand a multilateral response. It is now for the States to take ownership of these measures and render them operational.
France’s position is known: enlarge the Security Council for both the permanent and non-permanent categories of membership, strengthen crisis-exit-strategy capabilities, create a political economic and social governance body, establish a genuine United Nations Environment Organization and strengthen the protection of human rights.
Strengthening our instruments also means increasing the available resources. To face up to our responsibilities, initiatives have been launched. Supported by several countries including France, the United Kingdom is proposing a mechanism for issuing loans, guaranteed by the rich countries, which would allow immediate release of the funds deemed necessary for the achievement of the MDG. In partnership with Brazil, Chile and Spain, France is proposing, in addition to this mechanism, the levying of international voluntary or compulsory contributions on the wealth engendered by globalization, capable of ensuring medium- and long-term development resources. The World Bank, International Monetary Fund and European Commission are all looking at the two initiatives. We are keen to see concrete measures taken swiftly. We could, for example, start by using them in the fight against HIV/AIDS and for vaccinations.
Finally, the improvement of the situation of the least-developed countries is not only a matter of funding. It is our duty to enhance the quality of the aid we provide and boost the absorptive capacity of our partners in the South.
Aware of these challenges, for peace, justice and the future of multilateralism, France will speak out strongly on these issues and initiatives. The third Forum on Human Development, being held in Paris this week, is the first opportunity to open this crucial year by bringing together all the players in the field of development in order to find long-term fair solutions to the issues of development.
Many projects are thus on the table. 2005 must be the year we see them implemented. The tragedy experienced by the countries of South and South-East Asia today reminds us that development can’t wait. But let us also be aware that there must be no let-up in the efforts to help other continents. The emergency in Asia does not erase that of the poorest in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. For everyone’s sake, we must today take determinedly practical and effective action. Our credibility, like that of all the governments, is at stake.”