At UN, France’s Macron says more ‘political courage’ is needed to face global challenges

UN Photo/Cia Pak Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic of France, addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly’s General Debate. (24 September 2019)

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


Addressing world leaders at the UN General Assembly‘s annual high-level debate on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron called for courage, and for politicians to take the risks needed to achieve real solutions to contemporary challenges.

“Impatience is everywhere,” said the French President, who noted that UN Member States are not at making headway on the goals they themselves had set, whether it be climate action or protecting biodiversity.

He also noted the “multiple tensions at unprecedented levels” in some parts of the world, such as in the Persian Gulf, the challenges faced by a region like Africa’s Sahel, increasing trade tensions and growing concerns over technological advances and their consequences.

“We have everything to meet these challenges,” said Mr. Macron, citing the quality of science, funding, unmatched innovation, the mobilization of youth on climate and the protection of freedoms, and a framework for States to work for the common good.

What is missing, he said, “is courage; a lot, and often”. He called for “the return of courage,” the “courage to build peace and the courage of responsibility”.

“In all regions of the world, building peace is taking the risk, the risk of dialogue, compromise, rebuilding trust,” he said, taking the example of the Middle East as an example and the Gulf region.

Referring to the Iranian crisis in this regard, he said he was convinced that tightening sanctions could only aggravate tensions in the Gulf and beyond. The recent attacks against Saudi Arabia have “changed the game,” with risks of a flashpoint at any time.

More than ever, said Mr. Macron, the time has come for the resumption of negotiations between the United States, Iran, the other countries signatories to the Joint Global Action Plan (JCPOA) and the countries of the region. We must ensure, he continued, that Iran never adopts nuclear weapons, that regional security is guaranteed, including for maritime and economic flows.

“I am not naive at all and I don’t believe in miracles. I believe in the courage to build peace,” said Mr. Macron.

He went on to note other crises, including in Syria, Libya, and the Sahel. Regarding the Sahel where France is involved, he said that the future is in the construction of a sustainable cooperation between the five G5 Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad) and deemed necessary to change the mandate of the UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

In general, Mr.Macron said that “the crises we are experiencing are not resolved by nationalist withdrawal.”

Indeed, “we must reinvent a strong, pragmatic multilateralism. There are no solutions without cooperation … but this cooperation must produce concrete results, engage new actors,” he said.           

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