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Official speeches and statements - May 11, 2021

Published on May 11, 2021

1. New Zealand - Joint Press Release - New Zealand and France to co-chair Christchurch Call Leaders’ Summit (Paris - May 8, 2021)

New Zealand and France will jointly convene the Christchurch Call Community for a leaders’ summit, to take stock of progress and develop a new shared priority work plan.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and President Emmanuel Macron will co-chair the leaders’ meeting on the 2nd anniversary of the Call, on 14 May CEST/15 May, NZT.

The summit will bring together leaders across Call supporting governments, tech companies and civil society.

"We expect the Call Community to refine its focus, redouble its efforts, and agree to a priority work plan for the year ahead. The inaugural Christchurch Call Community Consultation report provides the foundation for this work," Jacinda Ardern said.

"Among the priorities I would like to see progressed is a strengthened collective ability to manage crises related to terrorist and violent extremist content online.

"I would like to see us grow our shared understanding of algorithmic processes that have the potential to cause harm, or to radicalize or incite to acts of terrorism and violent extremism. And to develop positive interventions to address these."

"Increased transparency on methods used to moderate harmful online content, from companies and governments, will underpin our commitment to uphold fundamental internet freedoms," Emmanuel Macron said. "A strengthened Call Community is critical to our enduring success. It needs to support and empower its members to engage in direct, constructive dialogue on issues of substance, support each other to do better and, where necessary, hold each other to account on delivery of the Call."

Both leaders have also jointly welcomed the United States’ decision to formally join the Christchurch Call to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online.

They also warmly welcomed the United States’ intention to attend the Christchurch Call Second Anniversary virtual leaders’ Summit.

Both leaders said the United States’ support to the Call would send a powerful message to those who would seek to exploit the internet to promote terrorism and violent extremism.

"The US Government’s support recognizes the importance of a multi-stakeholder approach to an issue that increasingly transcends borders, ideologies and nationalities, and the ability of any one group or country to address on their own," Jacinda Ardern said. "It also recognises the importance of protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms online"

"The major US tech companies are supporters of the Call, and having the US Government on board will further strengthen actions to reduce the risk of the internet being used as a tool for terrorists.

"Many attacks since Christchurch, including in the United States, bear witness to the challenges we face," Jacinda Ardern said.

"The pervasive threat of terrorist and hateful content online continues to contribute and fuel violent extremism and terrorist actions. We believe the Call remains a cornerstone of our collective efforts against the presence online of such content," President Macron said. "It is a global issue that requires a collaborative response by governments, tech companies and civil society, all supporting a free, open and secure internet."

"The work of the Call is ongoing and it remains as important as when it was launched two years ago," Emmanuel Macron said.

"We will not waver from our shared belief there is no place online for terrorist and violent extremist content," Jacinda Ardern said.

In this context, both leaders said they were delighted to welcome like-minded partner the United States as a supporter of the Christchurch Call.

"The challenge of the Christchurch Call cannot be addressed wholly within the confines of one country’s rules and regulations," Emmanuel Macron said.

"The United States has long been a critically important ally in shared efforts against terrorism and violent extremism. Its formal support of the Christchurch Call is a welcome extension of that long-held partnership," he concluded.

Editors’ Notes:

– Jacinda Ardern and Emmanuel Macron will jointly co-chair a leaders-level virtual summit on the second anniversary of the Christchurch Call on May 14 CEST/May 15, NZT.

– New Zealand and France are hosting the virtual platform, where the leaders of Call supporting governments, tech companies and civil society network members will convene to agree a shared work programme for the year ahead.

– In the second half of 2019, the Governments of New Zealand and France carried out a survey of the Call community, to take stock of the many ways in which supporters are fulfilling their commitments to the Christchurch Call. From that survey, the Christchurch Call Community Consultation Report was produced.

– This report has provided a foundation for work to develop a shared work plan to be agreed at the Summit.


2. Lebanon - Introductory remarks by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, at his press conference (Beirut - May 7, 2021)

Hello ladies and gentlemen.

I’m finishing a short visit to Beirut and will be heading back to Paris in a few moments, but I’d like to give you an update, first of all to remind you that both in prosperous periods and at painful times, France has always stood by the Lebanese people. On 6 August 2020, the French President reiterated this promise to Lebanese people. I was next to him. I’ve come to emphasize it again: France remains and will remain mobilized in the long term to support the Lebanese population.

Even before the tragedy of 4 August, France was helping Lebanon face up to the crisis that was already hitting it. I’m well placed to know that, because I myself brought the international community together over Lebanon in December 2019. Since then, given the urgent nature of the situation, this mobilization on our part hasn’t weakened: quite the contrary. This mobilization has benefited all Lebanese people in a very practical way.

France is delivering on its commitments. More than €85 million has already been pledged to Lebanon. In the four priority areas we’ve identified, our promises have been kept: on reconstruction and the protection of heritage; on access to food; on support to the medical and health sector; and on support to schools and the educational sector. I was able to see this during my discussions with Lebanese people yesterday, and by observing the results of our support activities on the ground: at the Collège des Saints-Coeurs Sioufi; at a health center situation in the Bourj Hammoud district; at the Oriental Library of Saint Joseph University; and of course at the port of Beirut.

France’s action is also part of a broader collective effort. The President brought the international community together twice, on 9 August and then on 2 December, with the United Nations. €250 million in donations were announced: those announcements have been exceeded.

But after more than eight months of deadlock, it’s now clear that Lebanon needs a real modernization of its political and institutional practices. Lebanese society, in all its richness and diversity, is playing an active role to this end. To do so, it can draw on the tradition of democratic pluralism that makes this country strong.

That’s why we are also focusing on the future - and this is my second message. In the face of obstruction from the political parties, during this visit I’ve witnessed once again the vitality of Lebanese civil society. It was those committed Lebanese people that I visited: those working actively to protect Lebanon’s future, its model of society, its unity in diversity, the peaceful coexistence of its communities and cultures. That’s what creates Lebanon’s strength and special unity. In this respect, I believe our support to Lebanon’s schools is essential: that’s where this country’s future talent is formed. It’s where this country’s cohesion takes root. In 2020, we supported more than 180,000 schools and some 90,000 pupils. And we decided to maintain and increase the fund for Middle Eastern schools, which once again this year should provide assistance of some €2 million to the Lebanon’s French-speaking Christian schools.

Preparing the future also means counting on the strength and vitality of Lebanon’s democracy and the active efforts of all its citizens, particularly its young people, to enable the reaffirmation of a State capable of addressing its population’s legitimate needs and aspirations. In this regard, the elections in 2022 will be of major importance. I listened with great interest to several representatives of parties and movements intending to promote plans for different political models. Yesterday evening I also met some exceptional Lebanese women engaged in some tremendous mutually-supportive citizens’ initiatives.

And I have to tell you here that it’s for the Lebanese people and them alone, in full independence and sovereignty, to choose what they want for their country. I note that there are lots of ideas, lots of plans - an abundance. The 2022 elections must provide an opportunity for a genuine democratic debate on Lebanon’s future.

Indeed, it’s urgent to overcome the political deadlock the country is in - and that’s my third message. I clearly expressed this need during my discussions with the President, Speaker of the Parliament and Prime Minister-designate, because they are institutionally responsible for agreeing on a government.

To date, I note that the political players haven’t yet shouldered their responsibilities and haven’t yet started working seriously on the country’s swift recovery. Unless they really step up responsibly today, they’ll have to accept the consequences of this failure, and the consequences of reneging on the commitments they themselves made to the French President on 1 September 2020.

In the meantime, we ourselves are refusing to stand by in the face of obstruction - and I mean obstruction. So we’ve begun to implement restrictive measures in terms of access to French territory, on figures responsible for the political deadlock that exists and figures implicated in corruption. It’s only a start: if the stalemate persists, these measures may be toughened or extended. They may also be augmented with the means of pressure the European Union possesses, on which discussions have already begun with our European partners. Everyone must shoulder their responsibilities: we’re shouldering ours; it’s for Lebanon’s leaders to decide whether they want to overcome the stalemate they’ve been organizing for more than eight months. I’m convinced it’s possible. It’s possible if they want to. They can act. It’s up to them to do so.

To conclude, I repeat: if France is making active efforts, it’s for the Lebanese people, all Lebanese people, so that they don’t lose faith in the possibility of a just State and effective governance. It’s for all Lebanese people, to support them in building a future whose shape they must define themselves. At several moments yesterday I met Lebanese citizens who have decided to take up this challenge, with not only courage but also great dignity. It’s to them that I’ve come to send this essential message: France will be listening to them and will support their legitimate aspirations.


3. Afghanistan - Attack against a girls’ school (May 10) - Press briefing by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (excerpt) (Paris - May 10, 2021)

(...)

France strongly condemns the attack carried out in Kabul against a girls’ school.

It extends its condolences to the victims’ families and assures the Afghan authorities and people of its wholehearted solidarity in the face of this barbaric act.

By targeting schoolgirls, the terrorists wanted to kill the young people who embody the hope for a peaceful Afghanistan that respects the rights of all Afghan people, notably their right to education.

We will continue to stand with Afghanistan to combat all forms of fanaticism and work toward a lasting peace while preserving the democratic gains of the past 20 years. The stakeholders in the Afghan peace process, and particularly the Taliban, must pledge to end the violence against civilians and resume discussions as swiftly as possible. (...)


4. Israel/Palestinian Territories - Deterioration in the security situation (May 10) - Press briefing by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (excerpt) (Paris - May 10, 2021)

(...)

Once again France expresses its serious concern over the clashes and violence witnessed over the past several days in Jerusalem, which has left several hundred injured and could lead to a large-scale escalation. France strongly condemns last night’s rocket fire from the Gaza Strip targeting Israeli territory, in violation of international law.

France calls on all actors to show maximum restraint and to refrain from any kind of provocation so that calm may be restored as quickly as possible. All actions contributing to escalation on the ground must end.

In this regard, France is deeply concerned by the threat of forced evictions against residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem, which are linked to the settlement policy - which is illegal under international law - and exacerbate tensions. France also reaffirms its commitment to preserving the historic status quo on the Temple Mount.

All provocative statements and all calls for violence and hatred are unacceptable and must stop immediately.


5. United Nations - Upholding multilateralism and the un-centered international system - Statement by Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Minister of State for Tourism, French nationals abroad and Francophonie, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign affairs - Security Council (New York - May 7, 2021)

Mr. President,

Distinguished Ministers,

We thank the Chinese Presidency for having convened this meeting and we thank the President of the General Assembly for his briefing.

The multilateralism France defends is a strong multilateralism, based on the rule of law, in the service of maintaining international peace and security. It is also an effective multilateralism, which produces results to overcome the challenges of our time. This is the purpose of the Alliance for Multilateralism that France has initiated together with Germany in 2019. And there is no hidden agenda here, because for us, everything is clear, everything is on the table, it is precisely about promoting a multilateralism that is based on a solid foundation; that of international law. And this international law is not à la carte. The United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the New York Covenants of 1966 and the Geneva Conventions enshrine universal principles and values. It is their full respect that constitutes the one and only alternative to the law of the strongest.

This international law thus offers a framework for action within which the spirit of cooperation is essential in order to obtain results. It is this spirit of cooperation that allows multilateral diplomacy to achieve success. I am thinking of the Iranian nuclear agreement or the Paris climate agreement at COP21.

It must be noted that this spirit of cooperation has sometimes been lacking in the Security Council in recent years. Too often, the use of the veto has paralyzed our action. We can be honest to each other. How can we justify our collective inability to act in the face of the appalling conflict in Syria?

This is why France, along with Mexico, has taken this initiative that set out a voluntary and collective framework to refrain from the use of the veto by the permanent members of the Security Council in case of mass atrocities. I am pleased that one hundred and five Member States have already given their support to this initiative. We call on all members of the Council, and in particular the other four permanent members of the Council, to join the initiative.

This foundation that structures multilateralism is also the good governance of international organizations. As we know, the organizations are faced with organizational, logistical and financial challenges, which are exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis. All too often, these organizations are criticized or used to promote national interests. This is not the spirit in which we wish to work.

These international organizations must be recognized for their true value and must be able to carry out their work in a transparent, rigorous and open fashion. Once again, the law and respect for best practices within the UN system are indispensable.

Secondly, to be effective this multilateralism must also be inclusive.

Inclusivity is not a moral imperative, but a guarantee of sustainable solutions. When women fully and actively participate in political processes, agreements reached are more sustainable. When youth and civil society are heard, everyone’s rights are better defended.

When we work hand in hand with regional organizations under the conditions of Chapter VIII of the Charter, we can propose more appropriate solutions. I am thinking of the international community’s action in the Sahel. I am also thinking of the European Union’s IRINI operation, which is contributing to the implementation of the arms embargo in Libya.

Effective multilateralism, Mr. President, is also a multilateralism that focuses on finding concrete solutions to collective challenges.

The COVID-19 is a tragedy for too many people. It is also a test for our international community, for the United Nations. France promotes cooperative solutions to overcome this pandemic because they are the only ones that work.

I am thinking of the ACT-A initiative, which France initiated: we were among the first to donate to COVAX, doses of vaccine bought for our own use. I am also thinking of this Council’s efforts to call for a ceasefire in all conflicts to allow humanitarian access and the delivery of vaccines. I commend here the Tunisian counterpart that was at work with us.

The Security Council must not stand still in the face of the consequences of climate change either. That is why we have proposed that the Secretary-General report regularly to the Council on this very subject, so that we can set up the necessary preventive measures. I invite the members of this Council to follow up on this proposal.

Lastly, Mr. President, Ministers, dear friends, multilateralism can only be effective if it is able to reform itself.

France supports the reforms implemented by the Secretary-General, and we commend his efforts in this area. We strongly support the "action for peacekeeping" initiative, which increases the performance and safety of peacekeeping operations.

The Security Council, as it has already been said, must also be reformed to be more representative of today’s world. Our position is well known: France is in favor of an enlargement of the Security Council in both categories of members, permanent and non-permanent. France supports the G4 members in obtaining a permanent seat and an increased presence of Africa, including among permanent members.

France is particularly committed, alongside its European partners, to promoting a reform of the multilateral health architecture, with the WHO at its chore, which will make it possible for a better response to current and future health crises. The resolution on preparedness and response to health emergencies, which the European Union will bring to the next World Health Assembly in a few days, will be an essential step in this reform.

To conclude, Mr. President, in the face of these many challenges, France wishes to be a constructive force at the service of a multilateralism that produces results. We know that our success in the face of the changes of our time will not come from turning inward, but from strengthened cooperation.

Thank you.


6. Brexit - System governing the movement and settlement of British nationals - Reply by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs to several written questions in the National Assembly (Paris - May 4, 2021)

European Union (EU) citizens living in the United Kingdom and UK nationals living in one of the 27 EU Member States at the end of the transition period are protected by the withdrawal agreement signed by the EU and the United Kingdom.

Among other things, the agreement provides for rights linked to residence, based on conditions identical to those set out in the directive on free movement in the EU (Directive 2004/38/EC). In accordance with the withdrawal agreement, France pledged to maintain the rights of British nationals currently living on its territory or wishing to settle here prior to the end of the transition period. Depending on their situation, those nationals may obtain either a permanent residence permit (if they settled in France prior to December 31, 2020 and can prove they have lived legally on French territory for five years) or a permit for between one and five years (if they settled in France prior to December 31, 2020 but have been on French territory for less than five years).

Their family members may also have access to residence permits. Applications for residence permits can be made online, on the Interior Ministry website, until July 1, 2021.

British citizens who settled in France prior to January 1, 2021 are not covered by the withdrawal agreement unless they are members of a family whose ties to a British national holding a residence permit were established prior to January 1, 2021 or are children of such a national who were born after December 31, 2020.

The residence situation of British citizens who settled from January 1 onwards is thus considered under the national common-law rules applicable to third-country nationals.

Under these conditions, British nationals who wish to make long visits to France following the transition period (or visits of more than 90 days in any 180-day period) must apply for residence permits or long-stay visas issued by the national authorities. This is a result of the British people’s decision to leave the EU. For visits lasting three to six months, those nationals must apply for a temporary long-stay visitor’s visa (VLS-T) to stay at their second home. For visits lasting more than six months, they must apply for a long-stay visitor’s visa equivalent to a residence permit (VLS-TS), because their second home becomes their de-facto main residence, at least for the year concerned. The VLS-TS is equivalent to a residence permit (lasting a maximum of 12 months) and enables them to apply for a residence permit at a prefecture two months prior to its expiry, in order to extend their period in France.

However, visa exemptions exist for short stays: since the end of the transition period, British nationals have been able to continue paying visits to France not lasting more than 90 days each in a 180-day period allocated for a given year, without having to apply for either a visa or a residence permit.


7. United Nations - Impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on violations against children in situations of armed conflict - Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, permanent representative of France to the United Nations - UN Security council Arria formula meeting (New York - May 7, 2021)

Mr. Chair,

Like colleagues before me, I wish to thank Estonia and our briefers. I also want to thank SRSG Gamba and her teams for her report and its valuable recommendations.

We share the concerns regarding the impact of the Covid pandemic on children.

First, Covid-related restrictions have limited our capacity to monitor and respond to grave violations. The only thing worse than violations against children, are violations occurring in silence and impunity. We express our deep gratitude to all child protection actors that have ensured the continuation of the monitoring and reporting mechanism. We also pay tribute to the important role of civil society.

Second, socio-economic consequences of the pandemic and school closures put children further at risk of domestic violence, rape and other forms of sexual violence, hunger and either not enrolling or dropping out of school. School closures can increase the risk of recruitment and use as well as child labor. Girls also have specific vulnerabilities, in particular to early and forced marriage. Inequalities between children increase in every part of the world. In this regard, we look forward to the Coalition to support school feeding worldwide, spearheaded by the World Food Program.

We are also concerned by growing impunity. Violators must be held accountable and we welcome in this regard the role of the International Criminal Court.

The pandemic reminds us we must do more to implement the framework created by Resolution 1612. MRM actors must receive political and financial support to operate safely and securely. We must also continue to make the best use of our tools. I am mainly referring to:

  • the adoption of Action plans and their swift implementation by parties ;
  • the importance of the "list of shame", whose integrity we must defend;

the adoption of conclusions by the working group, that must be robust and up to date. In this regard, we pay tribute to Sweden and Belgium as previous chairs and to the work of Norway since January.

For its part, France will continue to play an active role:

  • Promoting the universal endorsement of the Paris Principles and Commitments ;
  • And on the ground, supporting projects that ensure access to education in emergency situations, including the Education Cannot Wait Fund. For example, through the Global Partnership for Education, France is financing an 11 million dollar project in Niger to mitigate the impact of the epidemic on the education system.

This Council must remain mobilized, not only through its working group but also in all its actions. Finally, I commend the efforts of the Secretary-General, his Special Envoys and SRSG Gamba to ensure that the issue of child protection continues to be addressed with parties to conflict.

Thank you.