Chirac was speaking after being presented with the inaugural Kuala Lumpur World Peace Award by the Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, for his opposition to the United States-led invasion of Iraq. 

  

"We can't agree any longer on the law of the strongest, on the law of the jungle," Chirac said, adding "What we need is an international structure, an international mechanism, that can do away with unilateralism and bring about multilateralism."

  

All countries should be able to make their voices heard so that none felt sidelined, marginalised or humiliated, he said. "That undoubtedly is going to be the foundation of peace in the world," Chirac added.

 

Pleased

 

Chirac said the United Nations "may not be a perfect organisation. It could be better structured, modernised, brought up to date, but it is an unavoidable organisation."

  

He said he was pleased to receive the award, a pewter trophy of a pair of clasped hands and a dove, which has been launched by a non-governmental organisation called the Malaysian World Peace Foundation. 

  

Both leaders have called for the United Nations to take a leading role in Iraq, with Chirac last week saying France would only join a peacekeeping force in Iraq if it were formed under a UN mandate.

 

PM Mohamad, too, has been a strident critic of the US-led invasion of Iraq.

 

Chirac's brief visit to Malaysia, en route to the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia, is the first by a French head of state.