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Visit to South Africa

Published on November 14, 2011
Speech by Alain Juppé, Ministre d’Etat, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, to the South African Institute of International Affairs¹

Johannesburg, November 10, 2011

Honourable Professor Links,
Honourable National Director Mrs Sidiropoulos,
Ladies and gentlemen,


It is a great honour to be speaking to you today in this distinguished venue about a very important issue: the new global governance. I intentionally chose to address this theme here in South Africa, this great, dynamic, modern country. South Africa symbolizes both the emergence of new powers and the momentum of the African continent.
Africa will soon account for one quarter of humankind. Over the past 10 years, it has become a global player. South Africa serves as the voice of Africa in the G20; there are three African members of the United Nations Security Council; and Africa’s destiny is more than ever bound up with that of Europe and the world.

Two histories are clearly being written before our eyes: the history of the Africa that is winning, democratizing, coming to terms with its past through reconciliation, and developing at an unprecedented pace; and the history of the Africa that remains a captive of war, poverty, famine and terrorism.

We must coordinate our efforts to enable Africa’s young people to take part in the development of the African continent. We must give them access to education and prospects commensurate with their dreams and their talents. And in my view our two countries must continue to show the way forward, so that Africa can join Latin America and Asia in overcoming the old inevitabilities and forging a new destiny for its peoples.

We must coordinate our efforts because we face the same challenges.
President Zuma, President Obiang and Prime Minister Meles attended the G20 summit in Cannes last week together with us. The pressing challenges we face are clear to us.


The first challenge is the economic crisis. Financial difficulties are affecting more than the most developed so-called "Western" economies. The crisis of 2008 originated in the United States, but South Africa was one of the countries that suffered the consequences.

Today the eyes of the world are on Europe. It is facing a crisis caused by excessive budget deficits that have undermined confidence in the sovereign debt of a number of countries. The European Union responded to this crisis. Thanks to action taken by Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, the EU succeeded in imposing rigorous discipline to restore the confidence of the markets. We must stay the course.

Europe and the world need the euro. And I can say with certainty that France and Germany are determined to work with their partners to ensure that Europe reduces its imbalances and returns to the growth.

But the involvement of outside players is also a good thing. China is a case in point. The European Union is now China’s leading trading partner. In today’s interdependent world, the emerging economies have an interest in contributing to the stabilization of the so-called developed economies.


The second challenge is development. This is as much a political and moral imperative as an economic one. If we are to come close to achieving the Millennium Development Goals in 2015, we must redouble our efforts.

This means focusing on education, health and poverty reduction. These are major goals for Africa, which accounts for two-thirds of the Least Developed Countries. The famine raging in the Horn of Africa is a sign of our collective failure. Beyond emergency assistance, we need international coordination and jointly defined structural solutions. France initiated action along these lines at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the G20.
We must also develop infrastructure. Infrastructure deficiencies are an obstacle to African growth. We must further integrate markets to improve Africa’s competitiveness and to speed its inclusion in the world economy. We must diversify African economies to make them less vulnerable and less volatile.

France is doing its part. Sub-Saharan Africa remains our leading official development assistance priority. We have increased our overall assistance by 41% since 2004. Today 60% of our world bilateral aid is focused on Africa. France is thus the second-largest contributor in terms of volume, after the United States.


The third common challenge is security. The threats facing Africa concern us all.

Piracy directly strikes the coasts of Africa but also affects international trade and creates a permanent, intolerable threat of hostage taking.
We must coordinate our efforts to prevent and combat these attacks and to prosecute the pirates.

Terrorism is a problem in the Sahel with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, in Somalia and Kenya with al-Shabab, and in Nigeria with Boko Haram. The recent headlines are a cruel reminder. Of course terrorism must primarily be addressed by the countries of the regions concerned. But these countries must be able to count on the support of all their partners. In this spirit, the European Union has undertaken to train security forces in Somalia and to foster development projects in the Sahel. In this spirit, France responded last month to Kenya’s request for logistical support.

Another problem is trafficking of various kinds – drugs and arms in the Sahel, diamonds and arms in the Great Lakes region and Zimbabwe and human trafficking through clandestine networks. All this illicit, mutually reinforcing activity fuels terrorism and instability in the world. Once again, we must join forces to combat it.


Lastly, internal conflict is an ongoing feature of life in Africa. Somalia, Darfur, Sudan and endemic violence in many other African countries are cases in point. We know that these difficulties are historically related to borders imposed on the continent. We have yet to find solutions to these problems. I believe that the countries that opt for democracy and respect for human rights are choosing the right way forward.


The fourth and last common challenge is the environment.

Climate change concerns us all. But the developing countries are the most vulnerable. The COP 17 conference in Durban will be an important milestone. We expect it to make significant progress on setting common rules, adapting to climate change and financing, notably through the creation of a "Green Fund". France and the European Union are fully prepared to help South Africa make this meeting a success.

Water management is a global issue. But Africa, which suffers from desertification and soil degradation, is particularly affected. France has extensive experience in the field of water management. We would be happy to share it with you. We welcome the resumption of the Nile talks between Egypt and Ethiopia and commend the excellent discussions on the Niger Basin.

Access to energy is a major issue for all countries. France supported the construction of the Medupi coal-fired power station. But Africa must now work to overcome dependence on fossil fuels. This is the purpose of the Paris-Nairobi Initiative of April 2011, which South Africa supported. It is also the purpose of South Africa’s "Integrated Resource Plan", which includes a substantial focus on nuclear energy.

The Fukushima disaster does not call this choice into question. But it does call on all of us to increase our vigilance in nuclear safety and to embark on the path of third-generation power stations.
To meet these common challenges, global governance requires that Africa fully express its views. Progress has been made, but much remains to be done.


Africa’s broad participation in the Cannes summit shows that it now plays its full role within the G20.

The G20, which represents 85% of world GDP and two-thirds of the world’s population, is a major institution of global governance. France considers that global governance must be distributed among universal multilateral institutions, regional institutions and more informal institutions such as the G20, which do not take the place of official bodies but do have unequalled leadership and rapid response capacity. In this respect, the G20 is an improvement over the G8 because it brings together the so-called "developed" countries and the major emerging countries.

Working together in Cannes, we achieved significant results in line with the priorities of the French presidency. This progress represents a success for Africa.

First, it was a success because we ensured that the continent was represented in all its diversity: South Africa, a permanent member of the G20 and the most developed African country, which exemplifies the emerging countries; the acting presidency of the African Union, the organization fostering a strong and united Africa; and Ethiopia, which chairs the Organizing Committee of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and speaks for the poorest countries.
Second and most importantly, it was a success because we made progress on major African objectives.

I’m thinking of the reform of the international monetary system. This is particularly important for the emerging countries, which risk sudden massive withdrawals of international capital. The reform aims to reduce imbalances and increase coordination of economic policies within the G20 framework for strong, sustainable and balanced growth;

I’m also thinking of enhanced financial regulation, to strengthen the integrity and transparency of financial markets;

I’m thinking, too, of mitigation of the excessive volatility of commodity and agricultural prices. The crisis in Somalia has shown that much remains to be done.

Lastly, I’m thinking of development. Our two countries joined South Korea in chairing the G20 development group. They supported a common agenda, including the issues of infrastructure and food security, which are priorities for South Africa. They also focused on promoting the use of innovative financing, and in particular the tax on financial transactions. This last point is very important to France.


Africa must also play its full role within the United Nations Security Council, to which the United Nations Charter gives primary responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security.

Africa’s current representation in the Security Council itself justifies the call for reform. True, Africa currently has three non-permanent members – South Africa, Gabon and Nigeria. But that is not enough.

The Security Council was created in 1945 and last reformed in 1963. It must better reflect the reality of today’s world. France therefore calls for its enlargement, with special attention to the assignment of new seats to your continent in both membership categories – permanent and non-permanent.

The African Union adopted a position in 2005. We respect it. But our priority is to avoid the status quo. We need Africa if we are to achieve indispensable reform.


The Security Council played a crucial role in recent crises. Based on their excellent dialogue, our two countries were able to fully participate in these efforts.

I’m thinking, for example, of Côte d’Ivoire: we managed to enforce the sovereign choice made by the Ivorian people in their elections by combining the efforts of the African Union and the Security Council.

I’m also thinking of Libya: despite our different approaches, we were able to discuss and compare our positions. South Africa can take pride in having voted for UNSCR 1973. It enabled us to apply the responsibility to protect principle and to avoid a bloodbath. It also enabled us to support the Libyan people in its struggle for freedom of opinion, respect for human dignity and democracy. Today a new Libya has been born. We are there to help it rebuild. The African Union must be fully involved. I have consistently stressed this point and will continue to do so.

Unfortunately, due to the opposition of Russia and China, the Security Council has not been able to take action on Syria or even to put political pressure on Bashar al-Assad’s regime. As I have said many times, this silence in unconscionable. We cannot stand idly by. The South African people represent the legacy of the African National Congress, which called on the international community to impose sanctions against the acts of the small minority flouting fundamental human rights. How could the South Africans turn a blind eye to the distress of the Syrians? How could they remain impassive in the face of the crimes against humanity that are being committed in Syria? The Syrian people also have a right to freedom and democracy.


Lastly, Africa must play its full role in the new global environmental governance that we are calling for. The "Rio + 20" conference in 2012 will be a milestone in the effort to set up a World Environment Organization.

This project offers Africa an opportunity to welcome its first international organization headquarters, in Nairobi.

The African Union officially stated its support for the project in late October. Africa is thus the first continent to have taken a strong position on the issue. This confirms its status as a major player in sustainable development and the "Rio + 20" process. France welcomes this move and the fact that South Africa played a major role in achieving it. Together with the European Union, my country will unreservedly support Africa’s call for the creation of this organization.

But global governance also requires strong and well-organized regional groupings, which interact and build on vibrant bilateral relations.


Africa has set up the instruments of its own governance. These are, first and foremost, the African Union and its institutions, especially the Commission and the Peace and Security Council. They also include the Court of Justice, the Panel of the Wise, the Pan-African Parliament, with headquarters here in South Africa, and the African Standby Force, which is building momentum and is based on the standby forces of the Regional Economic Communities.

Much has been accomplished. In less than 10 years, the African Union has become an indispensable player. It has reasserted the principles of law and helped restore democracy. It has condemned takeovers by force of arms, as in Niger, and fostered the return to democracy in Guinea. It has supported the action taken by the regional communities, such as that of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Anjouan and in Madagascar. Despite all the difficulties, the AMIS and then the UNAMID forces saved many lives in Darfur. The African Union’s AMISOM peacekeeping mission is doing outstanding work in Somalia, with recent successes.

The African Union would do well to improve the speed of its decision-making. We saw in the Libyan crisis how difficult it is to get 53 countries to adopt a common position. We have had ample experience with such problems in Europe. It would also do well to build a force able to take robust action. The day will come when the forces of the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities will intervene, probably alone, to resolve the continent’s most serious crises and respond to its humanitarian emergencies. We want Africa to be able to achieve its goals and we believe in the objectives that the African Union has adopted. France has therefore decided to adjust its military presence in Africa and to review all its defence agreements there. President Sarkozy addressed this point in his speech in Cape Town on 28 February 2008.

The strategic partnership between the African Union and the European Union can help us to make progress along these lines. I refer to the Peace and Security partnership and in particular to the first African Standby Force training in the planning and conduct of operations, carried out between November 2008 and November 2010. States must now become more involved. They should not leave the entire task to the European Union and African Union commissions. We are counting on South Africa to mobilize its partners in the African Union, just as we are mobilizing our partners in Europe.


I believe that the dialogue between France and South Africa is a major asset.

Our relationship is based first and foremost on political determination and a forward-looking dialogue. The "Strategic Partnership" reinforced in March 2011 during President Zuma’s state visit exemplifies this relationship. It is based on the certainty that effective action for Africa requires that our two countries work together. We do this in the Security Council, where our discussions have always been excellent even when our views differed. We do this in the G20. We also do this within UNESCO, where France and South Africa have both voted for Palestine’s accession.

But our friendship is also a relationship between our two peoples, our two cultures and our two economies. We must strengthen it. The French-South African Crossed Seasons [cultural exchange programme], which will be held in 2012 and 2013, will give us many opportunities to develop our cultural, academic and business exchanges. I also understand that you are planning to set up a South African Development Partnership Agency in 2012. The French Development Agency, which has worked in partnership with your country since its transition, stands ready to support you in this project.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I last visited South Africa just a few months before the elections that made Nelson Mandela your president and put an end to the sombre years of apartheid. Since that unforgettable visit, many things have changed. The Rainbow Nation has been profoundly transformed. It has successfully navigated a peaceful transition to democracy and met major social and economic challenges.

Today South Africa has a major role to play in shaping our future world. I say this to you, the young students of Willowridge High School, the winners of the Model United Nations competition, who will be writing the future history of your country. I know you can be counted on to help forge the governance we call for. I know you can be counted on to make Africa’s voice heard in the concert of nations.
Thank you./.

¹ M. Juppé spoke in English.

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