Votre Excellence Monsieur Saad Hariri, Premier Ministre du Liban,
Votre Excellence Monsieur Jean-Yves Le Drian, Ministre des Affaires Etrangères de la France
Mesdames et Messieurs
Il me fait grand plaisir d’être ici parmi vous aujourd’hui comme représentant personnel du Secrétaire Général de l’ONU. Comme vous le savez, Monsieur Guterres est un grand ami du Liban, pour lequel il a toujours oeuvré pour le maintien de sa stabilité.
It has only been four brief months since we last convened in Paris to express our collective support to the security, stability and territorial integrity of Lebanon. At that time, the International Support Group underscored its commitment to Lebanon’s political and economic stability, its security and sovereignty, as well as to the strengthening of its state institutions. The International Support Group laid out an ambitious roadmap to galvanize international assistance to support the stability of Lebanon. Just a few weeks ago, the Rome II conference confirmed support from the international community for Lebanon’s security forces and supported conducive conditions for today’s CEDRE conference.
Please allow me to set out three key points:
1. Today’s conference is taking place at a critical juncture for Lebanon. Exactly one month from now, the Lebanese will go to the polls for the first time in nearly a decade. Lebanon’s 6 May parliamentary elections mark a critical step towards stronger governance and a stronger functioning of state institutions. I encourage the incoming government to sustain this momentum of reform and progress that brought us together today and to make today’s plans an integral part of the key priorities that will guide its work. Today’s meeting is not the culmination. It is the starting point of a process and partnership between Lebanon and the international community to revitalize Lebanon’s economy. The success of this process will depend on the incoming Government’s continued commitment to implement this economic reform agenda.
2. The Capital Investment Plan, along with the economic vision of Lebanon, presents an ambitious agenda to put the country firmly back on the path of economic growth and create employment opportunities – for Lebanese citizens and Syrian refugees alike. For this aspirational plan to succeed, investment and reforms must go hand-in-hand. And timely implementation will be critical for the investments to have their desired impact on the economy.
To ensure timely implementation – and as part of a partnership - a strong and transparent follow-up mechanism will be crucial. A mechanism that will allow for transparency and serve as a type of compact where donor and government partners hold each other mutually accountable. At the Senior Official Meeting, the UN presented an initial concept for such a mechanism. We stand ready to continue working with the Government and international partners in defining and implementing it.
In addition, civil society must be given a meaningful platform to contribute towards the process and to strengthen the dialogue between the government and its population. Civil society can help in serving as a check to ensure this mutual accountability.
3. Finally, the objective of today’s conference is part of one of the most remarkable global commitments of our time: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Indeed, achieving economic growth is not an end in itself, but it is part of a broader national vision for the sustainable development of Lebanon – its institutions and economy. A vision, where no one is left behind. A vision where the population is at the core, where the most vulnerable, children and youth can see and achieve a prosperous future. A vision that will help deliver trust of the people in their Government. To achieve this, it will be crucial that the Government fights corruption, ensures transparency and strengthens its accountability to the people.
In a few weeks, the EU and UN will co-chair the Brussel II conference. Whereas today’s conference is an important first step towards promoting economic stability, the Brussels II conference will aim at promoting regional stability. In addition, it will also be crucial to mobilise continued international support to address the needs of the most vulnerable, Syrian refugees and Lebanese host communities alike. The two conferences thus are complementary and mutually reinforcing. I personally saw the importance of reaching these visions during my recent visit to Lebanon.
Allow me to conclude by echoing Secretary General Guterres’ words: “To support the Lebanese unity and stability is to support the stability in the whole region and to contribute to diminish the dramatic stress in relation to peace that we are facing today in the world”.
That, we can only achieve by working together. Only together can we preserve the stability of Lebanon in a region of instability and at times of great uncertainty.
I thank France and President Macron for hosting this important conference – and I want to ensure Prime Minister Hariri that United Nations and Secretary-General Guterres stands with Lebanon.