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Official article from France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs |
According to Foreign Minister Fabius, France has to be free to commit "mass crimes" with full impunity
... so as to "make the protection of human life an effective priority" !
Published 11 November 2014
At a time when France is commemorating the carnage of 1914-1918, when the President is planning budget cuts everywhere except on nuclear weaponry, when some 150 nations (including for the first time the USA and perhaps Russia) are expected to be in Vienna on December 8-9 – Vienna, at the heart of the Europe ravaged by two World Wars – for the 3rd Intergovernmental Conference on « the hamanitarian impact of nuclear weapons » i.e. their catastrophic and inhuman effects, what do France’s leaders propose?
They propose authorising the five nuclear states with permanent seats on the Security Council (France being one) to prepare for mass crimes and to commit them with impunity.
That is what emerges from an official article published by Laurent Fabius on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
What the Minister of Foreign Affairs does is to follow up the "simple yet ambitious proposition" made by President Hollande at the UN General Assembly on 24 September 2013 that "when the Security Council needed to pronounce on a case of a mass crime, the permanent members would undertake to suspend their veto powers", and to declare in his article that "realistically, this code of conduct should exclude cases where the vital national interests of a permanent member state were in jeopardy."
Thus, for Laurent Fabius, mass massacres must be condemned unanimously and combatted when perpetrated by chemical means or by a state without nuclear arms, but not when perpetrated by a nuclear-armed stated with a permanent seat on the S.C.
Implicitly, Fabius is admitting that nuclear weapons are instruments of « mass crime ». But France, justifying her weapons as always as necessary to defend her « vital interests » (no other state voices this argument) has to be able, « realistically » to use them with impunity. She must have the possibility, in such a case, of invoking her « vital interests » and vetoing any sanction by the international community. At the same time, France would be authorising her colleagues in the « Club of Five » to use the same excuse for massacring her own population.
Crimes against humanity are thus forbidden, except by the five nuclear states with permanent seats … including (key point) the French Republic. « The homeland of Human Rights », as we keep hearing.
His article is over a year old. It dates from October 2013. Its logical implications were mentioned by nobody at the time (except ACDN, which denounced them immediately in a resolution sent to « Sortir du nucléaire » [the Nuclear Phase-Out Network]). The piece is still online today on the Ministry’s website, and so it still inspires policy. Anyone can look it up and note the Minister’s startling admissions:
Namely, we may recall that the UN General Assembly "considering that the use of nuclear and thermo-nuclear weapons would bring about indiscriminate suffering and destruction to mankind and civilization to an even greater extent than the use of those weapons declared by […] international declarations and agreements to be contrary to the laws of humanity and a crime under international law" has formally declared that "Any state using nuclear and thermo-nuclear weapons is considered as violating the Charter of the United nations, as acting contrary to the laws of humanity and as committing a crime against mankind and civilization" (Resolution 1653, XVI of 24 November 1961)
Under such circumstances, one can understand why France doesn’t wish to be represented in Vienna, just as she declined to attend the two preceding conferences on the « humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons » in Norway (Oslo, 3-4 March 2013) and Mexico (Nayarit, 13-14 February 2014). She would have to face a large assembly of indignant governments and NGOs and defend her so-called « nuclear deterrence » strategy. Her policy is militarily absurd, financially ruinous, politically unacceptable, criminal in human terms, indeed aberrant… and also cowardly and hypocritical.
But for how much longer with French diplomacy continue this attitude? Will France not end up by recognising that banning mass crimes implies abolishing nuclear weapons, including her own? It would demonstrate logic, lucidity, « realism » and even courage for France to overturn her policy, which defies humanism and commonsense.
To paraphrase an eminent author (he merits full quotation, see below) : « such an evolution, easy to implement, would preserve the essential point, the credibility of that pillar of peace and stability which the Security Council ought to be. It would express the international community’s wish to make protection of human life an effective priority. It would restore the primacy of discussion and contructive negotiation. It would prevent States from becoming the prisoners of their own positions. »
So come to Vienna, Monsieur Fabius, and tell the world the great news that France is again becoming the « homeland of human Rights. » (And of Descartes, insofar as that philosopher was cartesian.)
As you said a year ago, Monsieur le ministre : to put an end to mass crimes « there is now a window of opportunity. Let us seize it. »
11 November 2014
LA TRIBUNE DE LAURENT FABIUS
Suspendre le droit de veto en cas de crimes de masse - Tribune de Laurent Fabius (4 octobre 2013)
Suspend the right of veto in cases of mass crimes - Laurent Fabius article (October 4, 2013)
It took over 2 years and 120,000 dead in Syria before the Security Council of the United Nations finally ceased to be paralysed by the use of the veto.
France is committed to multilateralism and its heart, the United Nations, which is the primary tool of global political regulation in the service of peace and security. But the paralysis of the UN for two years, with its dramatic human consequences, cannot be accepted by human conscience.
Certainly, the 68th General Assembly of the United Nations recently met has made progress. We have agreed about chemical weapons in Syria and opened the prospect of a political solution. The Iran nuclear discussions have restarted. France has participated in these advances, specifying the conditions for an acceptable resolution in the former case and having the will to dialogue with Iranian authorities in the other.
We have also sounded an indispensable alarm about the Central African Republic, mobilized the international community for the stability and security of the Sahel, and worked on multilateral issues such as long-term climate disruption or the universal abolition of capital punishment.
All these positive results do nothing to remove the reality that the Security Council has long remained powerless against the Syrian tragedy, blocked by the use of the veto. Populations were massacred, and the massive use of chemical weapons by the regime has done its worst against children, women and civilians. For all those who expect the United Nations to assume its responsibility to protect populations, this is wrong.
France is in favour of a more representative UN - including a widening of the Security Council - but we are still far from an agreement that would allow such progress. Either we must accept a loss of legitimacy, or we must draw lessons from past blockages so as to prevent similar dysfunctions in future.
To achieve this, the French President has submitted to the General Assembly of the United Nations a proposal that is both ambitious and simple.
This is for the five permanent members of the Security Council to make a voluntary restriction of the veto. This change would take place without altering the Charter, by a mutual commitment of the permanent members. Specifically, when the Security Council needed to decide on a situation of mass murder, the permanent members would agree to withdraw their veto. The criteria for implementation would be simple: the Secretary General of the UN, at the request of at least fifty Member States, would be required to decide on the nature of the crime. Once his opinion is given, the code of conduct would apply immediately. Realistically, this code would exclude any case where the vital national interests of a permanent member of the Council were in jeopardy.
I know of the many objections that can be made to this proposal. I oppose a powerful argument: such a development, easy to implement, would preserve the essential point, the credibility of that pillar of peace and stability that the Security Council must be. It expresses the will of the international community to make the protection of human life an effective priority. It would restore the primacy of discussion and constructive negotiations. It would prevent the states from becoming prisoners of their own positions of principle.
What other fast, simple and effective way forward is there? I do not see any. There is now a window of opportunity. Let us seize it.
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