Utnämnandet av Aleksander Gabelic till Riddare av Ordre National du Mérite (3 mars 2015) [fr]
Ambassadör Jacques Lapouges tal på engelska vid ceremonin på franska residenset den 3 mars 2015 då Aleksander Gabelic utnämndes till Riddare av Ordre National du Mérite.
"Mr. Speaker of the Parliament, Minister, Members of the Parliament, Dear guests,
It is a great pleasure and a privilege to welcome you all tonight at the Residence on this very special occasion, to honor Aleksander Gabelic, a great professional, one of the most distinguished friends of the UN in Sweden, and also a great friend of France and …of Roland Garros.
I would like to extend a warm welcome to Alexander’s family and friends who have joined us to express their support and admiration.
Before proceeding with the ceremony itself, let me just say that the Ordre National du Mérite was founded by General de Gaulle in 1963 to acknowledge “distinguished services” to the French nation. It is certainly one of France’s highest awards.
Cher Aleksander, you were born in 1965, close to Malmö, and you pursued your studies in the prestigious University of Lund, where you earned your Law and International Relations Master of Arts. After graduating from Lund, you worked as a public affairs consultant, firstly on your own and then for Gambit and Knowlton. In 2006 you were elected to the Swedish Parliament, where you have been very active, in particular, on climate issues, which are close to my heart, and took part to two important UN Climate Change conferences, COPs, in Bali and Poznan.
Since 2000 you have been the President of the UN Association of Sweden and I must say, very frankly, that your achievements at the head of this Association are very impressive. Not only because you have developed a network of a hundred local associations, with more than 5.500 individual members, but also because huge organizations, like LO, TCO or the Church of Sweden, are also official members. Which makes you, in reality, the most popular man in Sweden. Please don’t tell all the other Swedes who think they are!
More seriously, your Association is a leading source of independent analysis on the UN, working with the belief that a strong, credible and effective UN is essential if we are to build a safer, fairer and more sustainable world. You also advocate strong government support for the UN and demonstrate why the UN matters to people everywhere.
When it comes to your mission of raising awareness about the UN, I have to confess that I am impressed by how you achieved this goal in a modern way : for example, your app « World matters.org » is really interactive and didactic ; you have contributed to launching a UN certified school label, which gives you a high visibility among young Swedes all around the country; you also organize regular and enriching field visits in various places where UN challenges are huge – for instance you were recently in Bangladesh, leading a delegation of Swedish MPs and local politicians.
Your other key mission is to influence decision-makers. You do this, together with Linda, with unrelentless energy, and with a strong presence in the Swedish media. In the past two years you have been in particular very active on Mali, raising awareness on the importance to step up the efforts of the international community and prevent the North of Mali from becoming a hub for terrorists.
You also contributed to explaining in Sweden what was at stake in Central African Republic, a big but poor and remote country that was on the verge of collapsing and urgently needed international support. Together with the French Embassy and UNICEF, we organized last year the projection of a movie dedicated to child soldiers in CAR, in presence of a local journalist who fled his country. We were honored to have the participation of Margot Wallström at this event.
And let me seize this opportunity to thank the Swedish authorities for the major role they play in Mali, where 250 Swedish troops participate in a key UN mission; and also for Sweden’s contribution to peace and development in CAR.
On a more general note Sweden’s long-standing commitment to the UN – in terms of peacekeeping, conflict prevention, mediation, peacebuilding, but also promotion for the respect of human rights, women’s rights, gender equality, and of course development cooperation – is both very impressive and important to us. France and Sweden are, on a wide range of issues, very close partners and we know the importance attached by your government to the candidacy for the Security Council for the period 2017-2018
As we are celebrating this year the 70th anniversary of the UN, let me also take the opportunity to highlight two of the current priorities of France.
The first one is very well known and it’s the meeting of the COP21 in December 2015 in Paris. The stakes are high and the conference needs to result in the adoption of a universal agreement, respectful of the principle of differentiation and ambitious enough to trigger all the transformations needed to meet the +2°C goal.
France also promotes an “Agenda of Solutions”, aimed at inciting businesses and local authorities to take concrete initiatives to combat climate disruption ahead of the Conference. Because we want Paris 2015 to embody a paradigm shift: combating climate disruption does not mean only a “burden-sharing” of mitigation, but also – and above all – an opportunity to create jobs and wealth and to invent new modes of production and consumption.
So, I look forward, dear Aleksander, to working closely with you and your Association in the run-up to the Paris Climate conference.
The other issue, probably less known for the moment, is the French initiative to regulate the use of the veto in the United Nations Security Council. We all know that the UN has achieved many successes, not least in the humanitarian and social fields. In some respects, the UN has accomplished more than its founders believed possible. As for its most important mandate, however, preventing war and ensuring peace, the UN did not completely become what its supporters had hoped for. For instance, the Security Council, constrained by vetoes, has been powerless in the face of the Syrian tragedy.
Our suggestion is that the five permanent members of the Council could voluntarily regulate their right to exercise their veto. The UN Charter would not be amended and the change would be implemented through a mutual commitment from the permanent members. In concrete terms, if the Security Council were required to make a decision with regard to a mass crime, the permanent members would agree to suspend their right of veto.
France will continue to work together to keep up momentum on this initiative, with both UN Members States and international civil society. I am convinced, dear Aleksander, that this is also an idea you could support.
On all these issues we share the same vision. This is why the relationship between the Embassy and your Association is so important and special. And I appreciate even more the fact that we have always worked with you in a true spirit of friendship.
Let me finish by mentioning that you’ve always nurtured an unflagging passion for France, French gastronomy and French tennis in particular; I also know that when you don’t lend your talents as a UN expert, you spend as much time as you can with your wife and your kids on the tennis courts, which makes you a very good father and a highly motivating coach. Too bad that Björn Borg could not come tonight but I hope that your sons, Tom and John, will take over soon.
Cher Aleksander, On behalf of the President of France, and in recognition of your personal commitment to French-Swedish cooperation in the UN field, it is a great privilege for me to now bestow upon you the insignia of Chevalier in the Order of Merit."