France, officially known as the French Republic, is a western European nation with a long and illustrious history backed by a superb culture and language. In the contemporary international dispensation, France is among the world’s superpower nations and has massive influence and reach throughout the world. The French Republic is a founding member state of the United Nations; thus, holds a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council. In the military domain, France is an official nuclear-weapon state hence legally able to produce and develop its own nuclear weapons. The French Republic is at the center of international politics and relations and boasts of one of the best diplomatic capacities in the world buttressed by its possession of a vibrant mix of both soft and hard power.
France General Facts
The French Republic has an illustrious and wonderful history that adds to the contemporary attraction and adoration of the nation. France’s history is replete with wonderful innovations and discoveries that are still relevant in the modern world. For example, the roots of the modern-day political system of governance, democracy, can be traced to the 18th-century French Revolution, which was based on equality, liberty, and fraternity (Goda, 2019). Moreover, the guillotine, an essential modern-day office machine, was first invented in the French Republic. Apart from the numerous historical events attributed to France’s illustrious past, the nation is also dotted with ancient buildings and structures, such as the Louvre and the Notre Dame Cathedral.
The French Republic covers an expansive territory that comprises both modern-day France in Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The overseas regions and territories of France include; the French Guiana, French Polynesia, and the Islands of Guadalupe and Reunion. Moreover, the expansive territory of the French Republic can be traced to the expansionist and colonial policies of the nation during the 18th and 19th centuries. The policies resulted in France establishing overseas departments and territories not only in the Caribbean, but also in other parts of the world, such as Africa. Currently, France’s former colonies form La Francophonie organization, which is an essential part of the nation’s international relations framework.
Diplomatic Capacity, Geopolitical Position, Interests, and Goals
The French Republic has a massive, comprehensive, and pervasive diplomatic capacity that has enabled it to safeguard its position in the global order for centuries. A key component of France’s foreign relations is its diplomatic capacity framework, whose main objective is to increase the nation’s bilateral ties and relations in the world (Duclos, 2020). According to Soft Power 30, an international organization that ranks the top thirty nations globally based on their diplomatic relations, France has more than 130 diplomatic missions globally (Goda, 2019). Therefore, the nation has the greatest diplomatic outreach in the world. Moreover, according to data from both the United Nations and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the French Republic is a member of more than sixty multinational organizations (“Ministère de l’Europe et des Affaires étrangères,” n.d). The numerous bilateral ties and relations that France has signed with other nations and multinational organizations make the country the most connected and networked nation.
France’s diplomatic capacity is based on the nation’s foreign affairs policy of multilateralism. According to Institut Montaigne, an institution that plays a significant role in shaping France’s foreign policies, multilateralism is concerned with institutionalized international co-operation (Duclos, 2020). The concept is the basis of French diplomacy and is at the center of the nation’s diplomatic operations. The multilateralism policy enables the French Republic to adopt a consultative approach to international policy matters: it has developed strong bilateral ties and relations with its global allies (Duclos, 2020). It has allowed France to develop massive international relations with nations from all territorial regions of the world. France also leverages its membership of multinational organizations, such as the United Nations, EU, Eurozone, and La Francophonie, to build and strengthen its bilateral relations. Moreover, the diplomatic framework of the nation is based on an autochthonous diplomatic training regimen offered by the French Diplomatic and Consular Institute to ensure the success of French diplomacy (“Foreign Minister outlines France’s global priorities,” 2019). The Diplomatic and Consular Institute ensures that the global operations of French diplomatic capacity are harmonized through a similar training regimen of the nation’s diplomatic corps.
The current French government, headed by President Emmanuel Macron, is based on a centrist international relations framework that, compounded by the nation’s official foreign policy of multilateralism, has resulted in several diplomatic successes for France. The centrist international relations framework adopted by President Macron is a moderate political philosophy that focuses on avoiding extreme poles of global issues (Duclos, 2020). For example, the centrist framework and multilateralism diplomatic approach enabled France to strengthen its bilateral relations with Britain even after the confirmation of the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU (Goda, 2019). Moreover, the two ideological underpinnings of contemporary French diplomacy enabled France to strengthen its bilateral relations and ties with China in the wake of the Sino-American trade wars in 2018 (Goda, 2019). Thus, the incorporation of both centrism and multilateralism into the French diplomatic framework has expanded the nation’s diplomatic capacity globally and enabled France to achieve several bilateral benefits.
France is a key player in international politics and commerce, and therefore, it holds a central role and position in matters geopolitics and economics. The French Republic is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, together with China, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, which are all superpower nations. France’s permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) ensures that it is involved in all important international matters. Additionally, France has veto powers, which it uses to validate all United Nations’ resolutions, thus strengthening its position in matters of international politics. The veto powers ensure that the United Nations does not impose international resolutions that violate the French Republic’s core interests without its express consent (Nye, 2009). France’s permanent membership of the prestigious and powerful UNSC has ensured that the nation is represented in almost all major organs of the UN and other international bodies, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization. These bodies are economic behemoths that control global commerce, hence making the nation a key player in international economics.
France holds a key geopolitical position in relation to its neighboring countries in Europe. Mainland France is located in West Europe and is thus surrounded by several developed nations, such as Germany, Belgium, and Italy (Goda, 2019). It also neighbors Switzerland, Monaco, Andorra, and Spain thus making the French Republic almost the nerve center of Europe (Goda, 2019). France has strong bilateral links and ties with all nations in Europe, especially with Germany, Italy, and Spain with which it shares several economic and political goals. France’s key geopolitical position in Europe is strengthened by its central roles in both the EU and the Eurozone. The French Republic is a founding member of both the EU and the Eurozone, and therefore, it holds massive influential roles in the operations of both organizations. Moreover, the French language is widely used in Europe with nations such as Luxemburg, Belgium, Switzerland, and Monaco relying on it as their official national language. This contributes extensively to France’s influential geopolitical position in Europe.
The French Republic has several bilateral treaties with several nations and regions all over the world that safeguards France’s top geopolitical position. For example, France is an influential member state of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) that combines the military apparatus of several superpower nations in Europe and America aimed at ensuring member states’ security. The French republic leverages its NATO membership to safeguard its influential and key geopolitical influence both in North and South America. Moreover, France is a founding member and patron of the La Francophonie that incorporates all French-speaking nations globally. La Francophonie currently comprises of 75 member states, which accords France massive international relevance as it can rely on the support of the organization in any geopolitical issue (Goda, 2019). France also maintains strong relations with all of its former colonies, particularly those from Africa who form the Francafrique organization (Chhor, 2018). France has also signed a number of bilateral agreements with other nations globally and joined numerous international organizations, a factor that safeguards its position as a top geopolitical actor.
France’s International Interests and Goals
The main international interests of the French Republic is international peace and stability. According to international relations experts at the Institut Montaigne, international peace is a massive interest for France as global peace is a key component of internal stability and security in the French Republic (Duclos, 2020). In recent past, France has been rocked by issues of terrorism with the deadliest being the 2015 Paris terror attacks that resulted in 130 deaths and 495 people being wounded (Erlanger, 2020). The nation has taken a tough stance against international terrorism to tackle the ever-growing terrorism that threatened France’s internal security. According to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, France has taken a proactive approach in dealing with the international terrorism menace. It is currently focused on helping various nations deal with insurgency threats to prevent the global proliferation of terrorism (“Foreign Minister outlines France’s global priorities,” 2019). For instance, the nation has deployed its soldiers in the Sahel region, Afghanistan, and Iraq to help the legitimate governments of these nations tackle threats from terrorist organizations, such as Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda, and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) (Goda, 2019). The French Republic is also closely involved in the resolution of the intractable Israel-Palestine conflict and the Ukraine dispute that has threatened European peace since its commencement in 2014.
Environmental protection is also a key interest and goal of the French Republic and is a huge pillar of its international relations and ties. France is a key proponent of environmental conservation and has taken a key role in the fight against global warming and pollution. For example, in 2015, the French government, in collaboration with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, proposed and developed an environmental accord aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, a significant contributor to air pollution and global warming (Goda, 2019). The accord, known as the Paris Agreement, was a major success as all most all nations ratified it in the world and officially adopted for implementation in 2016. According to the Institut Montaigne, France currently is the leading nation in matters of global environmental conservation as the United States under the leadership of President Donald Trump is not actively involved (Duclos, 2020). Moreover, in its bilateral engagements with its former African colonies, France has pledged massive financial support in the fight against desertification of the Sahel region.
Soft and Hard Power in France’s International Relations
Soft and hard power is an integral foundation of France’s foreign affairs and diplomacy framework. The concepts of soft and hard power and their influence in global diplomacy was framed by American international relations expert Joseph Nye in 1990. According to Nye, power is the ability to affect others to get the outcomes one desires, and this can only be achieved through a political process (Nye, 2009). Therefore, international politics is essential as it enables nations to achieve their desired goals and objectives. In international politics, there are two forms of power, hard and soft, which are based on different conceptual frameworks. Hard power is defined as the use of commands, coercion, inducements, and threats to extract desired outcomes from another state (Nye, 2009). Hard power is based on economic sanctions, coercive diplomacy, and military intervention, factors that are tangible and can be measured (Nye, 2009). On the other hand, soft power is defined as the capacity to persuade others to perform what one desires and is quite favored in the contemporary field of international relations (Nye, 2009). Soft power is buttressed by factors that cannot be measured such as the emulation of another country’s culture, ideology, language, and governance institutions (Wilson, 2008). The French diplomatic capacity is based on a balance of both soft and hard power to ensure that the nation achieves its set international goals and interests.
In the contemporary international order, France mainly utilizes its hard power framework, particularly its advanced military capability, in the nation’s war against terrorism. According to the Institut Montaigne, the Paris terrorist attack left France with only one course of action in matters of international security and fight against terrorism; the use of its hard power resources, particularly its formidable military (Duclos, 2020). France, in the recent past, has utilized its military prowess both solely and in collaboration with its international allies to deal with threats to both global peace and its internal security, such as terrorism. From 2001 to 2014, France had a military presence in Afghanistan aimed at combating Islamic insurgents, such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda, that pose a massive terrorism threat throughout the world, particularly in Europe (“Foreign Minister outlines France’s global priorities,” 2019). Through both military and financial aid, the French Republic also participates in the fight against Boko Haram in Western Africa. Since 2012, France’s military has been involved in direct military combat in Mali and the wider Sahel region to suppress Islamist insurgents, such as the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad and Boko Haram (Chhor, 2018). The Islamist insurgents aim to make the wider Sahel region ungovernable, thereby posing a huge threat to France’s national interests, with the latter having colonized the territory in the 19th century.
As part of its hard power framework, the French Republic has also utilized coercive diplomacy and economic prowess to achieve its international interests. France, which holds several key positions in the international global order, has utilized its immense financial ability to employ and enforce coercive diplomacy on several nations to achieve its security interests. For example, in January 2020, the French Republic, together with Britain and Germany, issued economic sanctions on Iran for violating a 2015 agreement that limited its nuclear program (Erlanger, 2020). France imposed the economic embargo on Iran as it, together with other nations in Europe and America, holds that the possession of a nuclear weapon by Iran is a major threat to peace in the Middle East and the world in extension. Moreover, as a response to Russia’s constant engagement in both the Ukraine and Syria conflicts, France imposed economic sanctions on the nation (Erlanger, 2020). The sanctions on Russia and Iran are examples of coercive diplomacy that France has used in the recent past more so to achieve its interests and goals of international peace.
France possesses soft power that it effectively leverages in its international relations. According to the latest rankings by The Soft Power 30, France is the world’s leading nation in the reliance on persuasion as an essential tool of its diplomatic framework (Goda, 2019). Its position as the leading nation in soft power matters is mainly influenced by its governance institutions, which are deemed to be among the most effective and efficient in the world. Based on the theory of secularism and massive respect for human rights and freedoms, France’s governance structure is deemed legitimate by divergent individuals in the world (Goda, 2019). This endeavor has increased the nation’s appeal and capacity to persuade others to achieve its interests. The hallmark of France’s top-notch governance was the 2017 election of then forty-year-old President Emmanuel Macron (Goda, 2019). The election of President Macron came at a time when both Britain and the United States were and are currently ruled by elected leaders who hold nationalistic ideologies in the form of Boris Johnson and Donald Trump, respectively. Moreover, Macron’s centrist political underpinnings have won France numerous admirers and thus further strengthened the nation’s soft power capabilities.
In the contemporary international relations domain, France has utilized its massive soft power to achieve its national interests. It has used this influence in the field of international relations to achieve its interests in environmental conservation. In 2016, France persuaded more than a hundred members of the international state of communities to ratify and adopt an implementation framework for the Paris Agreement (Goda, 2019). The ratification of the Paris Agreement was a massive achievement for France since global environmental conservation is a major goal for the nation. France has also utilized its soft power abilities to encourage the use of the French language in several nations globally, more so in the developing world. This has resulted in a massive increase in the number of members of the La Francophonie organization, further increasing the nation’s soft power resources and persuasive power in the international community.
The French Republic has a massive territorial area under its influence as the nation is made up of several overseas regions and territories thanks to its colonial past. France has one of the most pervasive and fascinating cultures globally, a fact that makes the nation a top tourist destination. The nation’s culture and language ensure that it has abundant soft power resources for its diplomatic purposes. The country is a huge player in international politics matters thanks to its permanent membership of the UNSC, which makes it veto power. The veto power enables France to oppose and to disapprove of any United Nations resolutions which threaten its national interests. A massive economic prowess bolsters the political supremacy of France in the realm of global politics. France has massive support and influence in both the IMF and World Bank, making the nation an economic superpower. Its top military status is assured by its official nuclear-weapon states and the several military ordinances it has signed globally. The military and economic astuteness of France backs the nation’s hard power needs immensely.
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Erlanger, S. (2020, January 14). France, Germany, and U.K. Serve Notice on Iran Under Nuclear Deal. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/14/world/europe/iran-nuclear-deal.html
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