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France’s role at the UN

1. United Nations reform

2. Human Rights

3. Environment and climate change

4. Financing of development

5. Peace and security

6. Contribution to the UN budget

7. Permanent Mission of France to the UN

“France trusts the United Nations. She knows that no state, no matter how powerful, can solve urgent problems, fight for development and bring an end to all crises. No one state can do this, but if we stand together, we will be able to live up to our responsibilities. France wants the UN to be the centre of global governance. ”

François Hollande, President of the French Republic,
Opening debate of the 67th General Assembly of the United Nations, 25 September 2012

France was one of the founding members of the UN when it was created in 1945. It is a member of the Security Council and, like the United States, Great Britain, Russia and China, holds a permanent seat there. As such, it plays a key role in many issues. It is also represented in the other main organs of the UN (in ECOSOC where it has been a continuously re-elected member since its creation; in the Trusteeship Council where it has a permanent seat) as well as in the subsidiary organs (elected to the Human Rights Council and permanent member of the Conference on Disarmament, for example).

Within the United Nations, France plays an active role in all areas.

It is very involved in United Nations reform. The recent crises confirmed the central role that the UN plays, but they also emphasized the need to make the organization more efficient, and more representative of current global indicators. This is why France is resolutely striving for Security Council reform. Just as it promotes transforming the G8 into the G13, it now supports the expansion of the Security Council within the framework of the negotiations relating to this issue that were initiated at the General Assembly on February 19, 2009. It thus supports the accession by Germany, Brazil, India and Japan to a permanent seat as well as the increased presence of African countries in the Security Council, particularly among the permanent members. There is also the question of the presence of an Arab State as part of the permanent members of the Security Council. France would also like a review of Peacekeeping Operations (PKOs) to be carried out, with the aim of making them more efficient and more able to achieve their objectives. France, together with the United Kingdom, suggested to its partners in the Council that this issue should be debated.

France has always played a special role with regard to Human Rights. It inspired the Universal Declaration of 1948 and, today, continues to fight to ensure these rights are respected throughout the world through its pivotal role within the Human Rights Council as well as through its actions in the Security Council. During the 1980s France initiated the right of humanitarian intervention, introduced by Bernard Kouchner and Mario Bettati, and promotes the notion of "Responsibility to Protect," reaffirmed in the 2005 World Summit Outcome. It also supports actions to combat impunity to prevent further abuses of power and helped establish the International Criminal Court; it was one of the first States to ratify the statute of this court.

With regard to the environment and climate change, France’s actions come within the framework of the European Union, which plays a leading role in mobilizing efforts and defining solutions. The European Union and France thus worked with the major CO2 emitters to ratify the Kyoto Protocol which was signed in 1997 and came into effect in 2005. This protocol aims to implement the Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted at the Rio Summit in 1992 and demands that developed countries reduce their CO2 emissions: by 8% for the period 2008-2012 compared to 1990 for the European Union. It was the first to introduce an emissions trading scheme for greenhouse gases in order to achieve this goal. The Brussels European Council meeting which took place on December 11 and 12, 2008, under the French presidency, adopted an action plan known as the "climate and energy package," which sets even more ambitious objectives for the countries of the European Union, to be achieved by 2020: a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a 20% improvement in energy efficiency and 20% of the European Union’s energy consumption to be based on renewable energy. In addition, the 27 stated that if the other signatory countries of the Climate Convention increased their efforts to reduce emissions, then the European Union would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30%.

Official Development Assistance (ODA) is an essential component of French foreign policy. France made a commitment in Monterey, in 2002, to increase its ODA in order help achieve the Millennium Goals. These ambitious goals aim in particular, by 2015, to reduce by half the proportion of the world’s population living in extreme poverty, achieve universal primary education, and to reduce infant mortality by two thirds. The French government has therefore set itself the objective of increasing the total amount of its ODA to 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) by 2015, with an intermediate goal of 0.51% by 2010. In 2008 French assistance increased by almost 3% in total compared with 2007, and by more than 11% exclusive of debt cancellations. In 2008 it represented 0.39% of GNI, making France the second largest G8 donor, and the leading contributor to the European Development Fund. In addition, France carries out intense diplomatic efforts to promote innovative international mechanisms capable of generating additional resources to fund development: tax on airline tickets to finance UNITAID (international fund for the purchase of medications to combat major pandemics) or the International Finance Facility for Immunization which needs to raise $4 billion over the next few years to fund vaccination programs.

In the area of peace and security, France plays a key role in terms of disarmament. It has worked on the development of numerous treaties, most recently for the Convention on the Prohibition of Cluster Munitions adopted in 2008. It is very involved in actions to enforce the non-proliferation regime and played a key role in adopting the various resolutions on Iran and North Korea. France and the United Kingdom were the first two States to ratify the CTBT (Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty) in 1998 and France is striving for its entry into force. France was also the first State to decide and then take steps to dismantle its installations devoted to the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. It supports the resumption of efforts relating to the negotiation of a Treaty Banning the Production of Fissile Material for Nuclear Weapons. More generally, it tries to consistently endorse an ambitious and effective role for the United Nations based on international law and consensus. During the Iraqi crisis in 2003, it therefore opposed the unilateral use of force and advocated a central role for the United Nations. Its military and police forces are strongly represented beyond its borders: in 2013 it took part in 8 of the 16 United Nations PKOs, with more than 952 UN blue helmets deployed on the ground. It also has a presence within the UNIFL (Lebanon), the UNOCI (Côte d’Ivoire), and MINURCAT (Chad). In addition to this direct contribution, it makes a major commitment in terms of UN authorized forces that are not blue helmets, with more than 6500 French soldiers involved in these operations. France has been present in Côte d’Ivoire since 2002 (Operation Licorne) in this capacity, in Mali since january 2013 (operation Serval) and in the Central African Republic since December 2013 (operation Sangaris). It also contributes to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and to the European Union forces in Bosnia (EUFOR- Althea) and in Kosovo (EULEX).

France is one of the leading contributors to the UN. It is the 5th largest contributor, after the United States, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom, providing a 6.1% share of the regular UN budget in 2013. As a permanent member of the Security Council, France’s contribution to the Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) budget amounts to 7.21%.

In order to ensure that its actions in these different areas are successful, the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations consists of approximately 80 people, including around 30 diplomats and representatives from other ministries (in particular Economy and Finance and Defense). The Permanent Representative or the Deputy Permanent Representative holds a seat in Security Council and in all of the organs where France is represented (in particular the General Assembly and its different committees and ECOSOC) where they speak on behalf of France and defend its positions. For their part, specialists at the French mission prepare and negotiate the resolutions and texts adopted by these different organs.

(January 2014)

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