At a joint press conference on 2nd April 2019 in New York France and Germany announced that they will officially launch an Alliance for Multilateralism at the opening of the 74th United Nations General Assembly in September.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that the goal of the alliance is ”to show that the states that support multilateralism and the United Nations remain the majority,” adding that ”it is a majority that has been silent for a long time” because they considered the benefits of international cooperation to be self-evident. ”However, this is no longer the case today, and states committed to multilateralism must make themselves known, and join forces and voices.”
According to Le Drian, the alliance will be ”a flexible and agile network of states, ready to support initiatives for enhanced international cooperation, build coalitions and consensus, in a constructive and open spirit.”
The project has been pursued by German foreign minister Heiko Maas since last year. According to reports, a meeting on the new alliance hosted in New York by France and Germany was attended by representatives of Argentina, Australia, Canada, the European Union, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Norway, South Africa, South Korea and the United Kingdom.
”We see multilateralism is under threat … and all of those who want to join such an initiative (should) also declare themselves to be multilateralists,” Maas said according to a report by Deutsche Welle.
Democracy Without Borders commented that France and Germany should clarify in more detail what the alliance will be about. ”We call on them to make it clear that support of democracy will be part of their agenda. The crisis of multilateralism is also a crisis of democracy,” the organization’s Executive Director, Andreas Bummel, said. He noted that the democratic character of the UN needs to be strengthened, too. ”There is a democratic deficit at the UN and global institutions that helps feed nationalist populism,” he said.
Recently, an international group of parliamentarians, among them Germany’s former foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel, said in a joint statement that the creation of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly should be part of the response to the current threat to the multilateral order and democracy.
Image: Heiko Maas, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany and President of the Security Council for the month of April, and (at left) Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, at a press conference on 1st April 2019. Source: UN Photo/Mark Garten