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D. de Villepin: Address to World Summit 2020

Address to World Summit 2020, Seoul, Korea, February 3-8, 2020


Ladies and gentlemen, the international order created after 1945 is no longer appropriate to the current challenges putting the world at risk.

It’s true with the United Nations, facing powerlessness and increasing distrust. It’s also true with the Bretton Woods organization, lacking efficiency and legitimacy.

Today we need to address the crisis of multilateralism by designing new tools of shared governance. But before creating a new rules-based order, it has become crucial to revive a spirit of dialogue and international consensus.

1. We should never forget that global governance is driven by the search for peace.

Today, improving cooperation requires some basic guidelines taking lessons from history:

First, we need determination. Negotiation can work only with reliable parties showing goodwill and commitment. Look at the architecture of security created in Europe in 1975 between the United States and the Soviet Union. At that time, the determination of the two leaders was decisive in setting up the Helsinki Conference.

Second, we need pragmatism. Cooperation is not only about words and commitments. It’s about achievements in favor of peace. We have seen that with the European Union driven by the reconciliation of France and Germany after the big wars of the 20th century. In 1951, the mutualization of coal and steel, two strategic resources of military and economic power, was the first step to integration.

Third, multilateral governance also needs imagination. From Afghanistan to Iraq and Libya, military intervention often highlights a lack of innovative strategy to use cooperation as an alternative to the vicious cycle of war. 

I really think the case of Korea could be the ground of an exemplary pathway to peace, thanks to a gradual and pragmatic dialogue.

In 2018, the meeting between President Trump and Kim Jung-Un, without precondition, was a big surprise, giving positive signs of openness. From this beginning, the process could initiate a momentum for a virtuous circle of dialogue:

First, cooperation requires a gradual roadmap framing the discussion about a peace treaty in line with the Panmunjom Declaration.

Second, it requires incentives in terms of growth and security, for example with the gradual lifting of sanctions and a real double-freeze of nuclear development and military exercises.

Third, it is based on mechanisms and mediators to control the advancement of talks. Not only international institutions like the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency, but also regional and global players like China, the United States, Russia and the European Union can take part in this process.

2. Today, renewing the international order is about collective reforms and cross-border initiatives.

First, the priority is to restore trust in global governance: We need more diversity and effectiveness of multilateralism. The time has come for a large reform of the United Nations:

First, by extending the permanent members of the Security Council, where neither Africa nor South America is represented.

Second, by limiting the use of the veto, which sometimes has hindered peaceful action in times of humanitarian crises, such as in Yemen.

Third, by developing expertise in nation-building to help design reliable administration and regulation in failing states and weak regions.

On the other hand, we need more imagination in renewing international action. There are plenty of potential projects to treat the current challenges, such as economic, technologic and climatic tensions.

Let’s create new, flexible structures to solve regional conflicts. In Europe and Asia, we should set up a G4 combining the voices of Paris, Berlin, Moscow and Beijing to defend climatic and commercial multilateralism, especially by reforming the Paris Climate Agreement and the World Trade Organization.

Let’s create a G3 with the central banks of the EU, China and the USA to improve the coordination of monetary policies while cooperating with central banks of key players, such as Japan, Russia and South Korea.

Let’s create adapted treaties in the new areas of risk, such as cyberspace. Today the UN should organize a set of talks to regulate the global Internet and promote digital security and sovereignty in the artificial intelligence sector.

Only through concrete partnerships can we share and spread common rules and values. That’s what I call project diplomacy, bringing together politics, business and culture as parts of a comprehensive strategy striving for win-win objectives. Such an approach implies the mobilization of various stakeholders, such as states, people, firms and NGOs, pooling economic resources and political power.

In many areas, project diplomacy could help develop economic and cultural bridges:

In Eurasia, with the expansion of connectivity as promoted by the Belt and Road Initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Such an initiative can be a game-changer, provided it is a two-way street, in the interest not only of China but also of the whole region.

In Africa, we could launch a Euro-African partnership addressing joint concerns like migration and security while developing poor regions and improving education, which is the best answer to instability.

Ladies and gentlemen, today it has become necessary to build new frameworks of cooperation, not only to save the multilateralism of the past decades but also to invent a strong architecture of peace for the 21st century.

Thank you.



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