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Official speeches and statements - December 3, 2021

Publié le December 3, 2021

1. Environment - Africa - Speech by M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, at the fourth summit of heads of State and government of the Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall (Paris - December 2, 2021)

[check against delivery]


I want to begin by thanking President Ghazouani for allowing France to speak at this conference of heads of State and government of the Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall. You know how personally committed I am to supporting this African initiative, which is why I wanted to join you all today.

We were together in Glasgow a few weeks ago with the same goal of getting movement on policies so that everyone makes a commitment to the climate and adapting to its effects. From day one of the COP, I wanted us to talk about the Great Green Wall, because I’m convinced it can make a difference, both for the Sahel and, more widely, the world; because it’s through very concrete projects and commitments like yours that we can combat climate change and improve people’s daily lives: sequestering the equivalent of 250 million tonnes of CO2 and at the same time creating 10 million jobs.

The Great Green Wall is an essential contribution from Africa to the climate agenda. It is concrete proof that battles to mitigate, adapt to and protect biodiversity can be waged simultaneously. Not “for the planet" as is clumsily said, but for the women and men who inhabit it. It demonstrates that agriculture can be a solution in the fight against desertification.

Mr Chairperson of the African Union, cher Félix, you spoke about the African continent’s expectations regarding the countries present in Glasgow and particularly your expectations about funding adaptation, because climate change is here with us; because the people suffering from it today are here with us; because, as you poignantly said, you’re “tired of waiting". The Great Green Wall is a practical response to this challenge, with $19 billion devoted to adaptation, through the rehabilitation of degraded land in particular.

Nearly half of this funding has now been committed and the international community is increasingly rallying around this great venture. Philanthropic foundations are also mobilizing, like the Bezos foundation [Bezos Earth Fund], which announced $1 billion for land restoration in Africa at the event we put on together at COP26 in Glasgow, because when concrete projects are presented, we manage to convince private investors. Yes, agriculture in the Sahel and the Great Green Wall territories holds significant economic opportunities.

There are many challenges, but there are even more expectations raised by this drive. So I welcome the holding of today’s meeting, which will help strengthen the initiative’s practical implementation in your countries at local level, but also the highest political level.

I want to pay particular tribute to the major role played by Mauritania. As holder of the presidency of the Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall, you have managed, in the space of a few months, to strengthen the political dialogue between the member States of the Great Green Wall, bringing together in July the ministers concerned, then organizing this conference of heads of State and government today.

I’d also like to thank Nigeria, which has chosen to take up the presidency’s torch. President Buhari, cher Muhammadu, you will have to continue this momentum, and you can count on France’s continued support.

I also want to thank President Issoufou, who has personally put so much energy into supporting the initiative and giving it political credibility in the region, and I think he knows how much confidence we all have in him to be this kind of permanent presidency and special representative.

The period ahead isn’t one of the easiest, with the health crisis having further aggravated food insecurity, pressures on natural resources and poverty in the region, and increased sources of instability and conflict.

We’ve now got to look to the future. Over seven years, we’ve managed to make extraordinary progress, raise more funding and commit it, and launch concrete action.

In the coming months, France will take over the European Union presidency, and together we’ll have to mobilize the Member States, in conjunction with the Africans. In this context, joint work could be done to support large-scale projects, in particular the development of strategic industries, in the framework of dialogue between the European Union and African Union.

In particular, I’d like to suggest we work together on preparing a vast initiative to produce vegetable proteins within the Great Green Wall. This project would enable us to implement our vision of an agroecology which creates jobs and skills, provides local people with high-quality food and is integrated with international value chains - without forgetting, of course, the benefits for the climate and biodiversity.

I’d like the summit between the African Union and European Union, scheduled for next February, to be a key engagement for deepening the dialogue and making progress in particular on this project, which is especially close to my heart.

The COP of the Convention on Biological Diversity, in which the African regional group is already very active, and the COP of the Convention to Combat Desertification, to be held in Abidjan, will provide additional opportunities to put into practice the commitments made collectively in support of the Great Green Wall - in a word, to turn the billions of euros announced into productive hectares, into results, into land reclaimed from the desert, into jobs created and therefore into food supplied.

Thank you for listening, and I wish you fruitful discussions, so that we collectively achieve the ambitious goals for the Great Green Wall which we sincerely hope for! You’re aware of France’s determination, the European Union’s determination, my confidence in the leaders I mentioned, in all the countries involved in the Great Green Wall, in our economic stakeholders, our stakeholders on the ground, and our voluntary organizations and entrepreneurs, because there are tens of thousands of very practical projects.

And one final word: what we’ll have to do in the coming months is also build the working method, the infrastructure to ensure all these small projects get this major finance. And so we’ll have to get down to this methodical but necessary work so that these summits, our words, our commitments, become realities.

Thank you everyone, and good luck with the work.

2. Migrants - Replies by M. Gérald Darmanin, Minister of the Interior, to questions in the National Assembly - Excerpts (Paris - November 30, 2021)

Everyone was obviously overwhelmed with emotion when we heard about the 27 deaths in the Channel: pregnant women, three children... Those people, who were fleeing misery, had sometimes been in France only a few hours or a few days. One of the two survivors, that Iraqi citizen (...), had been in France for barely six days; a fortnight earlier, he had crossed the Belarusian border. Migration is an old phenomenon, but there are new flows; what happens in Syria, Afghanistan and Belarus has repercussions on the Calais coast and, beyond that, all over the world.

So the issue is complex and we must resolve it by combating the people-smugglers but also, as you said, by working with our British friends.

What the Government is calling for is work on an equal basis, and equanimity, in talks with our British friends. The President expressed regret - and I’m doing the same now - about the very profound difference that exists between our private discussions with the British Government and our public discussions, in the House of Commons or in the press.

So following the Defense Council convened by the President, the Prime Minister is going to propose a new, constructive phase. (...) In the Brexit negotiation agreement the issue of migration wasn’t provided for; so it’s our responsibility to do that work now. It deserves clarity, and it must provide for equal treatment, because Britain must do its bit: 150,000 asylum applications in France, 30,000 in Britain. (...)

Our work builds on the work done by the previous government. In this regard, let me remind you that it was the brave [former interior] minister Bernard Cazeneuve who largely enabled this problem to be resolved. (...)

We’ve continued that action, given that there are currently 15 times fewer migrants in Calais, Dunkirk and Grande-Synthe than five years ago.

Regarding the Le Touquet agreement, which is sometimes condemned, (...) it has nothing to do with the situation we’re in, and banging on about it won’t resolve the problem.

The Le Touquet agreement was the result of negotiation in the fields of legal immigration and tourism and was reached at a time when migrants were travelling to the UK via the tunnel and the port. We now find virtually no more migrants in those two places. (...)

This is why they’re taking to small boats. So you can renegotiate the agreement all you like, it won’t change a thing: migrants on the coast, at Bray-Dunes, Dunkirk or Calais aren’t finding out about the international agreement allowing tourists to travel by Eurostar or the tunnel, before they cross the Channel!

As the President said, what we need is a negotiation with a view to an agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom. (...)

These people don’t want to stay in France or consider a future for themselves in our country: they want to go to the UK! Why? Because 60% of them are eligible for asylum in that country, whereas only 3% make an application on our territory. (...)

3. United Nations - UNITAD - Statement by Ms. Diarra Dime-Labille, legal advisor of France to the United Nations, to the Security Council (New York - December 2, 2021)

[translation from French]

Mr. President,

I would like to begin by congratulating Mr. Christian Ritscher on his appointment as Special Advisor and new head of the United Nations Investigative Team to hold Daesh accountable for its crimes in Iraq (UNITAD).

I thank him for the presentation of the 7th report of the mechanism in charge of collecting evidence on acts that may constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity or crimes of genocide and, above all, congratulate the team for the work accomplished in recent months. France welcomes the dialogue initiated by UNITAD with all components of Iraqi society: it is essential that the families of those who were victims of the atrocities committed by Daesh be involved in the work of the investigators.

I welcome the presence of the Iraqi Ambassador, who once again expresses Iraq’s commitment to work closely with the international community and with UNITAD to ensure that justice is done to all victims of the crimes committed by Daesh on its territory.

With regard to the report, we note the significant progress made since the last report was submitted. I would like to note in particular:

- The completion of a third case related to the investigation of the massacre of predominantly Shiite prisoners at Badush prison on June 10, 2014,

- The progress made in the open investigation into the development and use of chemical and biological weapons by Daesh against civilian populations in Iraq between 2014 and 2016,

- As well as the implementation of the joint mass grave excavation strategy. In this regard, the work that allowed the start of the excavation near Badush prison and the upcoming ceremony to return the remains of the victims of the massacres in the village of Kocho are important milestones.

Despite the challenges associated with COVID-19, the mechanism has empowered itself to achieve results by implementing creative and innovative solutions. The pandemic has given new relevance to the team’s strategy of integrating technological tools, such as artificial intelligence, into the characterization of charges, with a view to optimizing future prosecutions of members of Daesh.

The progress and success of the mechanism is a result of the very good cooperation with Iraq, as evidenced by the sharing of information on the financing of the crimes committed by Daesh, which has allowed UNITAD to uncover evidence detailing the internal administrative workings of Daesh’s central treasury and how it directly supported its ability to commit its crimes.

Furthermore, we believe it is important for UNITAD to continue to raise awareness among Iraqi judicial authorities about the mandate of the mechanism set forth in Resolution 2379 of September 21, 2017, including through training Iraqi investigative judges in international criminal law and in the development of case files for the indictment and prosecution of members of Daech for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

It is important to recall the consistent position of the United Nations not to hand over evidence in judicial proceedings involving the possibility of the death penalty anywhere. The legislative framework to bring members of Daesh to justice in accordance with the highest human rights standards and principles must be finalized. We encourage the Iraqi authorities to continue their efforts in this regard, especially as the context is favorable, with the election of a new Parliament.

The situation of victims is a fundamental element. We welcome the efforts of the Special Advisor and the team to provide psychological support to both surviving victims and witnesses.

In conclusion, I would like to reaffirm France’s commitment to the Iraqis in the fight against terrorism, including within the international coalition against Daesh. Iraq is one of our key partners in the region and can continue to count on our support.

More broadly, our commitment to the country and its sovereignty was illustrated by the Baghdad Conference for Cooperation and Partnership, organized on August 28, 2021 by Iraq in close cooperation with France. The holding of this event initiated a positive dynamic that was continued at the follow-up ministerial meeting held on 21 September on the sidelines of the UNGA.

The fight against impunity for all perpetrators is an imperative for the stabilization, reconstruction and reconciliation of the Iraqi people as a whole.

This Council must remain mobilized to prevent the resurgence of Daesh in all its forms. This requires both a renewed commitment by UNITAD to investigate the chains of command of Daesh and continued support for the counterterrorism efforts of the Iraqi authorities.

I thank you.