Summary of The World Today and the Future of France-U.S. Relations

France and the United States share a long history of bilateral relations.  In a world that becomes more complex every day, France-U.S. relations, as well as transatlantic relations more generally, remain valued and are especially important when it comes to addressing today’s global challenges.

Merit E. Janow, Dean of the School of International and Public Affairs, welcomed Jean-Marc Ayrault, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, to Columbia University on September 28, 2016. In his talk, titled “The World Today and the Future of France-U.S. Relations,” Minister Ayrault called for increased collaboration among nations to collectively develop solutions for complex global problems such as terrorism and rising income inequality.

“Our world is one of urgency” Minister Ayrault professed, mentioning cybercrime, lagging economic development, and ongoing conflicts in Syria and sub-Saharan Africa as salient contributors to the instability that characterizes our world.  Regarding these challenges, he encouraged nation-states to “act even when the solution is not immediately at hand.”

Minster Ayrault championed the work of multilateral institutions such as the United Nations who realize the value in collective action.  “Nations cannot do it all alone” the Minster stated—“the multilateral system can and should contribute precisely to meet [global challenges] for the protection of the people.”

As for more specific solutions, Minister Ayrault proposed restarting processes to establish lasting peace between Israel and Palestine, as well as the Middle East.  Second, he proposed strengthening solidarity between peoples for which he emphasized: “Do not confuse nationalism with patriotism.”  Promoting sustainable development, mutual understanding among cultures, increasing development aid, and moving forward with an international agenda to combat climate change were other suggestions the Minister encouraged.

Minister Ayrault also noted that he intends to maintain a very close relationship with the United States to work collaboratively on global issues—even after a new administration is ushered in following the presidential elections to take place in November 2016.  The Minister expressed that he hopes the United States will remain engaged in addressing global problems with a collective approach and continue to defend values and principles it shares with France and other democracies around the world.

Minister Ayrault concluded his talk by reminding observers that “Democracy, human rights, the benefit of an open and free society, all this remains the common aspiration of the peoples of the world.”

The talk was co-sponsored by the Center on Global Economic Governance at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, the Alliance Program at Columbia University, and the French Embassy's Cultural Services with support from the European Institute and Maison Française at Columbia University.

To learn more about the talk, co-sponsors, and other participants, please click here.

Jerrel Baker, MIA ‘17
Department Research Assistant