The construction of the strategic partnership between France and India is taking place not only in Paris and Delhi, but also in New York, at the table of the United Nations Security Council, where our two countries are currently seated side by side. And indeed, over the summer, France and India will be at the forefront of UN efforts by chairing the Security Council in July and August respectively.
Defending the rules-based multilateral system against the many crises of the 21st century is our common priority. Faced with conventional rivalries and transnational threats – such as terrorism, new forms of insecurity triggered by climate change or pandemics, the contestation of the universal principles of international law – our countries are convinced that only coordinated responses focused on l human can ensure peace and stability.
To this end, the United Nations must be prepared to evolve. Thus, the call of Foreign Minister S Jaishankar for a “reformed multilateralism” is dear to my country and echoes France’s long-standing efforts to make the UN more representative and effective.
This requires reform of the Security Council, which bears primary responsibility for international peace and security under the United Nations Charter. We recommend that the board reflect on the emergence of new skills likely to make a significant contribution to its action. France is in favor of expanding the council in both categories of members, permanent and non-permanent. We support the candidatures of India and the three other members of the G4 (Germany, Japan, Brazil) for permanent seats. Indeed, we see India as a major and responsible power whose permanent presence at the council table would be a force for good. Like India, we also want a stronger presence of Africa among the permanent members as well as the non-permanent members. Thus, an enlarged board could have up to 25 members. It would make the Security Council more representative of today’s world and strengthen its authority, while preserving its executive and operational character.
It is high time we moved forward with this reform. This is why France, with India, calls for negotiations to start without further delay, and on the basis of a draft text, of a single document.
In addition and in parallel, we must ensure that the Security Council fully assumes its responsibilities and acts, in particular to put an end to mass atrocities. Deadlocks within the Council fuel impunity, radicalization and erode universal principles of international law. This leads us to consider the sense of responsibility intrinsically attached to the use of the veto by permanent members. In this regard, France has proposed a collective and voluntary agreement between the current permanent members of the Security Council so that they refrain from using the veto in the event of mass atrocities, such as crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes against a large scale. We are pleased that this initiative has garnered broad support. To date, 105 countries from all continents, including several members of the G4, officially support this endeavor, the objective of which is to make multilateralism more effective. We hope India will join us as well.
In addition to working for UN reform, France and India are proactive on key issues on the Security Council’s agenda. Our successive Council presidencies in July and August provide a welcome opportunity to join forces on common priorities, such as the active protection of civilians in conflict zones, for example in Africa or West Asia, the rigorous implementation of arms embargoes, the strengthening of humanitarian space as well as the modernization of peacekeeping missions, to which India and France are both major contributors of troops.
To prepare for a productive summer of multilateralism, the daily contacts between our permanent missions in New York and the trust at all levels of work between our capitals will be a valuable asset. And I am confident that our open and results-oriented diplomatic practice will help forge consensus and achieve concrete results in the Security Council. It will be another example of how our bilateral strategic partnership acts as a multilateral force for good.
This column first appeared in the paper edition on July 1, 2021 under the title “A multilateral force for good”. The writer is French Ambassador to India