Five minutes is all it takes for us to go from the 44th floor of One Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza, where France’s Permanent Mission is based, to our British counterparts on the 28th floor of the same building. Whether at their Mission or ours, or a few blocks away at the UN itself, constant contact between the two teams helps us to coordinate our negotiating position on a draft resolution, exchange views on this or that UN report, start drafting a text for adoption by the Security Council or simply go out for lunch nearby.
Our two countries share the same vision of the Security Council’s role and our respective responsibilities within it. We are committed to its smooth operation as the body which legitimises the use of force in order to maintain international peace and security. We are in favour of a reform which would give new members a seat at the table, making the Security Council more representative and giving it greater legitimacy.
As a service to the Security Council, France and the UK are “penholders” for more than half of the crises that it deals with. As such, we establish the first draft of texts which will then be the subject of negotiations. We are joint penholders for Syria. We are working together to reform the Council’s working methods, seeking greater transparency in discussions while making the Council more efficient. We are also committed to optimising the use of the (increasing) resources devoted to peacekeeping at a time when both our countries are making efforts to control public spending.
However, our friendship is not exclusive: we work closely with our American counterparts and with our Russian and Chinese colleagues, with whom we make up the P5, and of course with the other Security Council members.
The Franco-British partnership is also at work in the UN’s other main areas of action, such as human rights and development, where the EU often speaks for us both.
If there is one issue on which our two Missions do compete with each other, however, it is the number of followers on Twitter. Why not take a look at the accounts @franceonu and @UKUN_NewYork and see for yourselves?