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Official speeches and statements - March 23, 2023

Publié le March 24, 2023

1. Belarus - OSCE - Invocation of the Moscow Mechanism on serious human rights violations in Belarus linked to Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine - Statement by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (Paris, 23/03/2023)

France welcomes the invocation of the Moscow Mechanism vis-à-vis Belarus today, 23 March 2023, by 38 OSCE participating States, in the wake of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights’ publication of his report on the alarming deterioration of the human rights situation in the country. The Mechanism is aimed at investigating allegations of serious violations of the commitments made by States in the OSCE framework in the human rights field, and identifying actions to remedy them.

This mission of independent experts will be tasked with drawing up a report on violations of basic freedoms and human rights by the Belarusian authorities. The report intends to (i) emphasize developments in breach of the recommendations made in the Moscow Mechanism’s previous report on Belarus in 2020, and (ii) identify actions taken by the Belarusian Government, in the context of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, which have exacerbated the situation of human rights and basic freedoms in the country.

The group of invoking States envisages appointing a French expert as the Mechanism’s rapporteur, and France cannot therefore be among the invoking States on this occasion. In 2020, France took part in the previous invocation of the Moscow Mechanism vis-à-vis Belarus, in the context of the post-election crackdown.

France reiterates its strong condemnation of the serious human rights violations in Belarus and of the complicity of Alexander Lukashenko’s regime in the illegal and unjustified military aggression being conducted by Russia against Ukraine./.

2. Environment - France welcomes IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Cycle report on the climate (20 March 2023) - Press briefing by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (excerpt) (Paris, 21/03/2023)


France welcomes the publication on 20 March 2023 of the IPCC report that concludes its Sixth Assessment Cycle, and reaffirms the urgency of taking action to achieve the Paris Agreement targets, both in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adaptating to climate change.

The report confirms that the global temperature increase is accelerating: it will reach 1.5°C around 2030 and could then exceed 2°C if countries do not speed up their emissions reduction efforts. However, the IPCC recalls that it is still possible to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels if global greenhouse gas emissions peak before 2025 and if emissions fall rapidly thereafter. We have the necessary knowledge and resources to act collectively now.

At COP28 in Dubai, countries will have to grasp the full extent of this emergency and these scientific findings and increase their ambition when it comes to taking stock of the Paris Agreement. International funding for the ecological transition is crucial in this regard and is a central issue for France, which is one of the main contributors to international climate finance, mobilizing euro6 billion a year in developing countries. Ahead of the COP, on President Macron’s initiative, France will host a summit in Paris on 22 and 23 June on the fight against inequalities and on climate finance. (...)./.

3. United Nations - Middle East - Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, permanent representative of France to the United Nations, to the Security Council (New York, 22/03/2023)

=Translation from French=

Mr. President,

I thank Mr. Wennesland for his briefing.

I would like to highlight four points.

France is extremely concerned by the ongoing worsening of the situation on the ground and the persistent violence. This violence has reached an unprecedented level.

France strongly condemns all violence against civilians.

This violence has cost the lives of many Palestinian civilians since the beginning of January. France strongly condemns the violence committed by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians.

We strongly condemn the terrorist attacks that have cost the lives of at least 14 Israelis this year, and we reaffirm our commitment to the security of Israel and its citizens.

France has expressed its deep concern about the recent Israeli army operations in the West Bank. We call upon Israel to protect Palestinian civilians in line with its international obligations.

This cycle of violence must end. France calls upon all actors to show the greatest restraint during this period of religious holidays.

France commends the efforts of the United States, Egypt and Jordan, which made it possible to bring the parties together for the first time in many years in Aqaba and Sharm El Sheikh. We take note of the commitments made by the parties with a view to de-escalation. It is crucial that these commitments be followed by action on the ground, in the form of ending settlement building, demolitions and evictions, as well as tax transfers and the security prerogatives of the Palestinian Authority. We recall the importance of respecting the historical status quo of the Holy Places of Jerusalem and the specific role of Jordan in this regard.

France reiterates its commitment to the treaties concluded by Israel with its neighbors, including the Wadi Araba treaty with Jordan, as well as the vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, living within secure borders, recognized on the basis of the 1967 lines, with both having Jerusalem as capital.

A lasting de-escalation can only occur if the policy of settlement building ends. This is contrary to international law, as is recalled in Resolution 2334.

In this regard, we are particularly concerned by the amendment to the Israeli 2005 Disengagement Law, which could open the way for the legalization of unauthorized settlements in the northern West Bank.

Demolition of Palestinian structures continues in Jerusalem and in the West Bank, as well as evictions of Palestinian families. France calls upon the Israeli authorities to reverse their decision to expel Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan and the Old City of Jerusalem. In the Palestinian territories, as elsewhere, France will never recognize the illegal annexation of territories, nor the legalization of unauthorized settlements.

These unilateral measures, which violate international law, make the prospect of a two-state solution more remote with each passing day. They are part of a momentum of annexation and therefore of increased destabilization on the ground.

This Council has a duty to defend the two-state solution. It has a responsibility to the parties. Past agreements must be respected, particularly with regard to the provisions related to Area C. A political horizon must be restored, which is the only way to implement the two-state solution. Both Israelis and Palestinians deserve to live in peace and security.

France remains fully committed to this goal.

Thank you./.

4. United Nations - Protection of civilians: achieving a better protection of water-related essential services and infrastructure for the civilian population during armed conflicts - Statement by Mrs. Nathalie Broadhurst, Deputy permanent representative of France to the United Nations, to the Security Council, Arria-formula meeting (New York, 22/03/2023)

=Translation from French=

Mr. President,

I wish to thank Switzerland and Mozambique for convening this meeting, as well as the representatives of UNICEF, the ICRC, UNHCR and Oxfam for their briefings.

I would like to focus my statement on a few key messages.

First of all, water supply and sanitation systems are a vital need for populations. They determine the quality of many other services, as previously mentioned, such as health services. The cholera epidemic affecting Haiti since last summer is just one of many tragic examples.

However, in violation of international humanitarian law, these facilities continue to be targets of attacks in armed conflicts. This is why France has joined the Political Declaration on Strengthening the Protection of Civilians from the Humanitarian Consequences Arising from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas. We encourage all States to sign this declaration.

In Syria, where the regime carries full responsibility for the humanitarian tragedy the Syrian people are facing, 50% of water and sanitation facilities have been destroyed. In Ukraine, Russia’s war of aggression is deliberately targeting the civilian population and infrastructure, depriving thousands of Ukrainians of safe drinking water and restricting access to water for millions of Ukrainians.

Mr. President,

Restrictions on access to safe drinking water primarily affect vulnerable populations, including children. The facts are alarming: far too many children who are surviving in conflict zones do not have access to safe water sources. As the Executive Director of UNICEF reminded us and as several speakers pointed out, these children are three times more likely to die from thirst or a water-transmitted disease than from violence. Yet, this is a right enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and in the Geneva Conventions.

We are responsible for finding collective solutions to protect future generations and to avoid tomorrow’s humanitarian disasters.

This is the second message I would like to convey today: protecting civilian populations requires us to build a virtuous circle between our actions in favor of climate, of water preservation and of biodiversity. We know that many conflicts are caused by difficult access to resources and water. And, climate change increases the scarcity of natural and water resources. These links between climate change, conflicts and humanitarian crises are now widely documented.

In Somalia, combined effects of the conflict and the climate crisis have worsened the humanitarian crisis. Confronted with droughts, populations are now facing famine. I could also mention many other cases, such as Yemen or the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mr. President,

Last July, the General Assembly recognized the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. This was a historic first step to which France contributed, but we must continue our efforts.

On this year’s World Water Day, at the opening of the United Nations Water Conference, I wish to recall three proposals made by France.

First, strengthening cooperation on transboundary waters as a tool for peace and security. In this regard, France is proud to contribute to the European "Team Europe" initiative for cooperation on transboundary waters in Africa.

Secondly, accelerating our efforts to implement SDG6 on the right to water and sanitation. Our commitment to the full implementation of this SDG will remain a priority.

Third, the appointment of a Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for water, in order to coordinate the international community’s action.

Mr. President,

France and its partners have launched several initiatives to combat the effects of climate change, with the participation of local populations. I would like to mention one in particular: the Great Green Wall of the Sahel, a region facing a multidimensional crisis. In the long term, this major program, which stretches from Senegal to Djibouti, will allow us to fight against desertification, but also against food insecurity and poverty.

In conclusion, Mr. President, I would like to stress the importance of ensuring access to drinking water and not attacking infrastructures that are essential to populations’ survival. In this regard, we call for the full implementation of the Security Council resolutions, in particular resolution 2417, adopted in 2018, and resolution 2573, adopted in 2021.

The Security Council must remain fully mobilized towards this goal. You can count on the active support of France, which will continue to play its full part in this regard.

Thank you./.

5. Council of Ministers - Francophonie - Statement (Paris, 22/03/2023)

The Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Minister of State for Development, Francophonie and International Partnerships, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, made a statement about Francophonie.

International Francophonie Day on 20 March was an opportunity to celebrate the French language and promote the French-speaking world’s values of peace and solidarity.

Around the world, 321 million French speakers celebrated their membership of a single linguistic community, rich in the diversity of its cultures, exchanges and opportunities. By 2050, the number of French speakers could double, totalling 750 million people.

This year, Francophone cultural creation was given pride of place. From writing competitions to slam tournaments, from calligraphy workshops to story readings, from French-language concerts to theatre performances, all artistic disciplines were showcased in French on all five continents.

Francophonie is a priority of France’s foreign policy. The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, in close coordination with the Ministry of Culture - which is responsible for efforts to disseminate, make use of and enrich the French language - is implementing, among other things, the action plan to promote the French language and multilingualism announced by President Macron on 20 March 2018, to support education systems, raise the French language’s profile and improve the quality of teaching of and in French around the world.

This action will be able to draw on the Cité internationale de la langue française, which will open its doors before the end of summer 2023 at the Château de Villers-Cotterêts, where Francis I issued the ordinance making the French language a focus of State policy and a matter of social cohesion in 1539. This major project by President Macron will be a place of celebration, research, innovation and creativity, and a cultural and technological meeting-place.

Thirty years after the last summit it organized, France is preparing to host the 19th Francophonie summit in 2024.

The summit will be a chance to raise French people’s awareness of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie [OIF] and the cultural and economic opportunities the French-speaking world provides, promote the teaching and use of the French language, support the development of digital tools in French, strengthen the link between education and job opportunities, and promote women’s rights and young people’s mobility.

The summit will provide an opportunity to welcome new countries into the Francophone family, for the first time in six years. In conjunction with its partners, France will be keen to ensure that the traditional consensus between the members of the OIF definitively balances the coherence of its identity and its influence on a global scale./.