Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson
(excerpts)

(Paris, February 1, 2007)

[Please note that only the original French text issued by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs may be considered official.]


CONVENTION ON ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE

France will host the signing ceremony of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance on February 6, 2007 at 3 p.m. Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy will preside.

The Convention was adopted by consensus on December 20, 2006 by the UN General Assembly. The signing ceremony, which will be held under the high patronage of President Chirac and United Nations auspices, culminates over 25 years of efforts by the families of the disappeared, non-governmental organizations, the United Nations and France.

France was instrumental in particular in 1979 in the first resolution presented to the UN General Assembly on enforced disappearance and chaired the working group that drafted the Convention.

The signing of the Convention marks a real step forward: the text fills a legal void by criminalizing the practice of enforced disappearance—that is, the fact of a state kidnapping a person directly or indirectly without his loved ones ever being informed of his fate--in peacetime and wartime. In 2005 there were 535 new enforced disappearances recorded in the world, and 41,000 case since 1981 have never been cleared up.

This new legally binding international instrument will satisfy the demands of prevention by specifically prohibiting secret places of detention, and justice by recognizing the right to reparation and truth for victims and their families.

Over 25 ministers from five continents and some 30 representatives of other countries have confirmed they will attend the ceremony. Other prominent individuals such as High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno-Ocampo, ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger and Marta Vasquez Ocampo, President of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, will also take part along with many NGOs from around the world.

This strong international commitment, which France hails, should lead to a large number of signatures right away and to the entry into force of the Convention at an early date, for which 20 ratifications are necessary.

The event will be followed by a press conference at 4 p.m. at the Quai d’Orsay.

IRAN/NUCLEAR ISSUE

Q - Mr. Douste-Blazy said this morning that IAEA inspectors “were not accepted” by Iran 48 hours ago. Can you tell us what he was referring to exactly?

Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy was referring to Tehran’s decision not to authorize the entry into its territory of 38 IAEA inspectors, a decision you know about.

We have said that this announcement in our view was incompatible with the demands made in resolution 1737 whereby the Security Council decided that “Iran shall provide such access and cooperation as the IAEA requests to be able to verify suspension and to resolve all outstanding issues as identified in IAEA reports.”

It is up to the IAEA to draw the consequences.

Q - Iranian President Ahmadinejad said Thursday his country would not be affected by the UN sanctions. Your comment?

I would remind you that the sanctions imposed on Iran in resolution 1737 are proportional, progressive and reversible measures. They are measures which have a direct affect on Iran’s nuclear, ballistic and proliferating activities.

Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy pointed out in an article in Le Monde that certain recent developments might “push Tehran to consider,” especially the already perceptible impact of sanctions.

Iran is facing more than ever the choice between cooperation with the international community and growing isolation.

Q - Has France received requests for clarifications of its position on Iran from foreign governments in the wake of President Chirac’s comments in the interview published today?

The Elysée issued a clarification this morning following certain articles of a polemical nature.

We also have continual dialogue with our partners on the Iranian question./..

Embassy of France, February 1, 2007