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G7/G8 Summit Meetings


G8 meeting on food security
New York, 5 March 03

Speech by M. Pierre-André Wiltzer, Minister Delegate for Cooperation and Francophony

France is fully aware of the seriousness of the crisis rampant in Africa today.  It is why we are very happy to jointly chair, as the current G8 president, the American initiative that has made this meeting possible.  The question before us is:  what can we do, and what do we have to do, to put an end to this cruel scourge?  Without claiming to give any definitive answer to these extremely difficult questions, I want to offer you a few lines of thought for consideration.

I think that we must first of all encourage and promote the action already initiated to combat the food crisis in Africa.  I am thinking inter alia of the World Food Programme's (WFP) "Africa Hunger Alert", and of the mobilization of non-governmental organizations, in particular the signatories of the "Baltimore Declaration" on this subject.

Beyond this, our concern must be to think about ways of ensuring the success of our fight against famine.  For me, three of these stand out as essential :

Firstly, food aid must be the instrument of last resort.  Its usefulness is obvious:  it must allow the worst to be avoided.  Today, efforts by the international community as a whole, (governments, international institutions, NGOs and private bodies), are without doubt needed to relieve the enormous crisis in subsistence crop production threatening Africa.

We must concert our efforts so as to be more effective.  We believe it is important, in particular, to support the relevant international organizations' work in this area.  Within this framework, our efforts must be based on an accurate evaluation of the extent and nature of the needs of the affected, and so suffering, countries and populations.  I therefore welcome wholeheartedly the European Commission's initiative, in conjunction with EU members, to support the WFP's needs assessment, next week, in Rome.

Secondly, in order for food aid objectives to be met, certain rules must be followed.  In particular, it must be provided in a way which does not destabilize local production in recipient countries.

Common rules have been laid down under the 1999 London Food Aid Convention, in which France participates, with, from the G8 members, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan and the European Commission.  This no doubt needs to be revised.  We should like this work to be carried out in conjunction with the WFP and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Amongst the principles of this Convention, which France supports, I would quote the following three rules :

Within the context of the negotiations in progress at the World Trade Organization and looking ahead to the renegotiation of the London Convention, France and the European Union are calling for some new rules :

To be effective and strengthen the agricultural potential of the countries in crisis, action must be taken in a number of crucial areas.  French cooperation is giving priority to the strengthening of agricultural and food policies at national and regional level in Africa, by providing support for :

Thirdly, we must combat the structural causes of food crises, in order to create long-term food and agricultural security for the African continent.

France recently proposed a gesture of solidarity and generosity towards Africa, through a commercial initiative.  We hope that this initiative will receive the support of our partners, among the industrialized countries.
It consists of :

The stabilization and future of the African continent - we are convinced - rest on the success of the NEPAD initiative and of its agricultural and food security programmes.  NEPAD, as you know, is moreover the top priority of the French G8 Presidency.

At the forthcoming summit, in Evian, it is essential for us to speak with a single voice and be able to demonstrate to the international community, above all to the Africans, but also all our societies, that the problem of famine and food security is being addressed with the requisite seriousness, determination and efficiency by developed countries anxious to ensure the stability of today's world./.

Source: Official G8 Evian Summit website

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