15 February 2007
It may be that President Jacques Chirac is to body language what Shakespeare is to English literature. His enthusiasm
comes out and passes through. And why not. The President of France is not just overseeing the affairs of its citizens;
he represents a distinct cultural heritage and is a symbol of "l'exclusivite Francaise" and a leader of one of the five
Permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.
That is why leadership action displayed by President Chirac during January deserves special thanks. He actively
hosted a crucial conference on climate change, an issue usually delegated to expert ministers but now gaining crucial
relevance in every life across the globe. Not only did he highlight the most pressing aspects but he mobilized official
and grass root support. His realistic call to build a strengthened dynamic U.N. Environment mechanism was complimented
by a proposal to enshrine an international declaration of human environmental rights. It is worth noting in that
regard that it was in Paris also, in 1945, where the pioneering Declaration of Human Rights was announced.
With an equal display of compassion and international leadership, President Chirac chaired an important gathering
to reaffirm a commitment of support for the reconstruction of Lebanon. "Paris 3" was a landmark step aimed at helping
all the Lebanese, not just one group or party. Several key countries, including the United States represented by
Dr. Rice, the U.K. and Saudi Arabia reviewed practical presentations by a team led by Prime Minister Siniora on varied
areas of urgent need. Over $7 billion was pledged. On another issue related to Lebanon but of concern to the rest of
the world, President Chirac has been an unflinching force behind the quest for justice in the terrorist murder of
Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Two years have passed since 14 February 2005 as the investigation proceeds slowly and the
formation of a court of an international nature remains under discussion. As Mr. Hariri's grieving wife awaits; as his
country edges closer to conflict; as his absence is felt in Lebanon and the Arab world; it should be recognized that
President Chirac has offered every possible support, explored every avenue and firmly stood like a rock against attempts
to defy justice.
As the Presidential campaign in France starts warming up, it is only fair to note the special leadership displayed
by a compassionate leader of a crucial country with a unique international heritage. For that, we say: Merci, Monsieur