Statements made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (Paris, January 22, 2013)

 

Meeting in support of the Syrian coalition
International treaty on mercury
Executions in Iran
Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Twitter account

 

Meeting in support of the Syrian coalition

France will host on Monday, January 28, a working meeting in support of the Syrian National Coalition. This meeting, which will be opened by the minister of foreign affairs, will take place in the presence of the coalition leaders. Around 50 countries, regional and international organizations will participate in this exercise at the senior official level.

 

This meeting aims to put into practice the commitments made during the meeting of the Friends of the Syrian People group in Marrakesh on December 12, which recognized the Coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people and urged the international community to provide all necessary support for the democratic aspirations of the Syrian population and to provide assistance to the civilian populations.

 

On this occasion, France will reaffirm its full support for the Syrian National Coalition, which it recognized as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

 

This meeting will take place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the Convention Center, from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. There will be a photo shoot at the beginning of the meeting and a stake-out by the minister around 9:30 am.

 

 

International treaty on mercury

 

On January 19, 2013, after 4 years of negotiations under the auspices of the UN Environment Program, more than 140 countries reached an agreement on the text of a legally-binding international treaty on mercury.

 

This unprecedented agreement will make it possible to control and reduce mercury emissions in order to protect human health and the environment. As a reminder, exposure to mercury, even in small amounts, can cause serious damage to the nervous, digestive and immune systems, as well as to the lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes.

 

This agreement represents considerable progress: all aspects of the mercury lifecycle (from mining to storage) are taken into account, it includes a progressive ban on the mining of mercury and a ban on products and processes using mercury by 2020.  

 

This international treaty shall be open for signature by the states at a diplomatic conference that will take place from October 7 to 11, 2013, in Minamata, in order to honor the victims of the worst mercury contamination incident which took place in 1950 in Japan.

 

France and the EU advanced especially ambitious positions during this negotiation. France has supported this process since 2010 by making a French expert available to the UN Environment Program and by supporting the participation of developing countries in the negotiation sessions.

 

 

Executions in Iran

 

France condemns the two executions by hanging carried out in public on January 20 in Iran. Iran is thereby violating its international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which it freely subscribed. More than 350 executions are known to have been carried out in Iran in 2012, making it a country with one of the highest death penalty rates.

 

France is campaigning for the universal abolition of the death penalty. It lends its support to the abolitionists in Iran and urges the Iranian authorities to immediately establish a moratorium on the death penalty with a view toward its abolition. As Mr. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, reaffirmed, France expresses its firm and constant opposition to the death penalty everywhere and under all circumstances.

 

 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Twitter account

 

The number of followers on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Twitter account, @francediplo, surpassed the 200,000 mark on January 11, 2013. It’s the leading French government account, far ahead of all the other departments. In addition, there are Arabic and English-language accounts.

 

The Quai d’Orsay is also very active on other social networks such as Facebook, where it has more than 30,000 fans, as well as on Google+, Storify, Foursquare, Youtube, Dailymotion and Flickr.

 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website, diplomatie.gouv.fr, receives nearly 1.7 million visitors per month.

 

This strong presence is the result of a deliberate decision. Digital diplomacy is one of the ministry’s priorities. It allows the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to strengthen dialogue with civil society, explain French foreign policy, contribute to promoting France's influence around the world and improve the service provided to the public.

 

The Quai d’Orsay also provides a whole range of convenient services available online, for mobile devices and tablets. I’d like to point out that with respect to the “Travel Advisory” app, we’ve switched over to smartphones and tablets. This is one of the most popular apps.

 

Find us on these social networks:

 

https://twitter.com/francediplo

https://www.facebook.com/france.diplomatie

http://www.youtube.com/francediplotv

http://www.flickr.com/photos/francediplomatie/

http://www.dailymotion.com/francediplotv

https://plus.google.com/+francediplomatie 

http://storify.com/francediplo