Official speeches and statements - May 18, 2021
[Check against delivery]
Thank you very much, Jacinda, for your words. Obviously, I do share what you’ve just said. Two years ago, together, we launched with leaders of governments and tech companies, the Christchurch Call to Action. We were in Paris. And I think what we delivered all together during the past two years is an extremely important step forward.
Our conviction was that in order to handle the threat, we needed to build on the support of existing fora such as the G7, of the Aqaba Process, and I want to pay tribute here to Your Majesty, kingdom of Jordan. You were one of the first to combat the dissemination of terrorist content online through the Aqaba Process initiative, and I want to thank you for your participation today.
But we wanted also to unite the strength of States, tech companies and civil societies. I do believe that our method was totally original, and all together, we demonstrated the fact that it was an extremely efficient approach. We also acknowledged that this fight against terrorism cannot be waged at the cost of our values: open societies, rule of law and free, open and secure Internet. That is why it is up to us, democracies and defenders of fundamental freedoms, to find the right solutions.
Our call has been heard. Now, we have 55 states, the European Commission, two international organizations and 10 companies now support our work. This community has been reinforced by the Christchurch Call Advisory Network, made up of 47 civil society organizations with diverse and strong expertise on these issues. I would like, tonight, to thank all the members of this community present today.
Yet, tragedy happened again. It happened in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, Nice, in France last year, but also in Vienna, in Hanau, Germany, in Glendale in the US and in a lot of other places in other different countries. For each of these, the Internet was abused by terrorists as a weapon to propagate their hateful ideologies and sometimes actually inspiring further attacks.
And I’m thinking obviously here in particular to the online course to violence that led to the killing of a French schoolteacher. His name was Samuel Paty. And this cannot and will not be forgotten. This cannot and should not happen again.
We need to refresh ambition to our collective actions within the multi-stakeholder and multi-shareholder approach which made the Christchurch Call so unique, and we need to set the bar high, and it is our duty as governments to protect our citizens against these threats. This is why I commend the recent adoption of the European regulation on preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online and the European Commission’s announcement on the Digital Services Act.
These tools are critical. The voluntary commitments that we took together are just as important, they bring us together in a demanding multi-stakeholder dialogue to find innovative mechanisms to tackle this content online while ensuring that fundamental rights are protected and they push us, governments and tech companies, to do more and better.
We are here this evening to reaffirm our willingness to continue clearly this work together. We all have responsibilities to shoulder and a role to play in continuing to implement the engagements of the Christchurch Call. This is why I would like to warn the new States providing the support to the call, which reflects the international community’s mobilization on this issue, and I’m very pleased to announce this evening that the United States, Tunisia, Peru, Estonia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia have now joined the Christchurch Call community. And we welcome you, and I know that we will be stronger together.
Jacinda mentioned some of the few tools and new dimensions of these initiatives, and I absolutely share your words and your description, especially about algorithms. This is absolutely critical if we want to progress and be efficient. We will discuss our working plan, which contains a lot of new elements. We will follow up on this methodology and on transparency algorithms and so on. We will elaborate this new approach.
Before giving you the floor, Jacinda, I would like to also thank all the supporters of the Christchurch Call for their involvement. I know that achieving this ambition and this ambitious outcome in such a short amount of time required a great deal of work in recent weeks for many of you, and especially within the Christchurch Call Advisory Network. All of the Christchurch community is grateful and we are working to build a new way of tackling these issues and intend to make sure that your commitment has not been in vain.
I want to thank you and I pass the floor to you, Jacinda. Thank you.
[Mr. Macron spoke in English. Source of English text : Elysée website]
2. Israel/Palestinian Territories - Conversations between Jean-Yves Le Drian and his American and Egyptian counterparts (May 16-17) - Press briefing by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (excerpt) (Paris - May 17, 2021)
Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, spoke by phone on Sunday, May 16, during the evening, with Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, and received Sameh Shoukry, Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs, on Monday, May 17 in order to exchange views with respect to the situation in the Middle East in particular. The Minister and his counterparts shared their deep concern at the continuation of the ongoing escalation, the already very heavy human toll among the civilian populations, and the risks associated with the worsening of the conflict, its spread to the Palestinian Territories and Israel, and its regional repercussions. Together with his counterparts, the Minister examined ways to strengthen their coordination in order to help end the violence.
Jean-Yves Le Drian emphasized the need for a swift cessation of hostilities. He expressed his determination to continue to work towards that end with our American, Arab and European partners, as well as at the UN Security Council. He paid tribute to Egypt’s mediation efforts aimed at re-establishing the ceasefire, with which France’s approach is fully coordinated, in the context of President el-Sisi’s current visit to Paris. He utterly condemned the rocket attacks against population centers in Israeli territory, for which Hamas has notably claimed responsibility. He reaffirmed that the response to these unacceptable attacks must remain proportionate, in accordance with international law. He also reaffirmed that the security of journalists and all those who contribute to the freedom of information and public debate, as well as their protection in times of conflict, is a critical responsibility.
Jean-Yves Le Drian also emphasized that all actors on the ground must exercise restraint, avoid any provocation and work towards ending the violence, notably in the West Bank. He called for the continuation of measures to ease tensions in Jerusalem, while reaffirming our attachment to the status quo of 1967 in the Holy Places and our strong opposition to all forms of settlement activity, notably the evictions in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
He reaffirmed France’s determination to help restore calm in Israel and in the Palestinian Territories, in collaboration with local, regional and international actors, as well as to take action within the relevant international forums, notably the Security Council and the EU Foreign Affairs Council, which is due to meet tomorrow. (...)
On this International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, France reiterates its strong commitment to the universal decriminalization of homosexuality and to defending the rights of LGBTI+ people, who are all too often the victims of discrimination, harassment, violence, arbitrary arrest and even murder.
This is a day to pay tribute to all those who are working for the rights of LGBTI+ people in difficult circumstances, sometimes risking their freedom or their lives to do so. France stands with them wholeheartedly.
Significant progress has been made: 124 nations do not criminalize, or no longer criminalize, same-sex relations. But much remains to be done at a time when the rights of LGBT+ people are deteriorating in certain countries, including in Europe, and in nearly 70 countries where homosexuality and/or transgender identity are still criminalized. Eleven countries even prescribe the death penalty.
In accordance with its National Plan to Promote Equal Rights and Combat Anti-LGBT+ Hatred and Discrimination, France will continue to support civil society efforts in multilateral bodies.
Pride, dignity, and fundamental rights belong to all of us. This fight is the part of the same fight for universal human rights, and must be our shared struggle.
4. Foreign Trade - China/Mercosur - Interview given by Mr. Franck Riester, Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to Le Figaro (Paris - May 14, 2021)
The European Union has just suspended ratification of the investment agreement with China. Isn’t it naïve to want to sign it at a time when Beijing is violating social and human rights?
The current context of tension with China, which has imposed sanctions on some key European figures, doesn’t allow us to ratify the agreement. Nevertheless, it would provide more reciprocity so that our businesses could invest in new sectors without being forced to go into partnership with a local company or transfer their technology. Moreover, given our human rights concerns, it would include commitments from China for the first time, particularly with regard to combating forced labor.
How can we get concrete commitments from China?
China committed itself in this agreement to ratifying the fundamental conventions of the ILO (International Labor Organization), and we’ll be uncompromising about their implementation. What’s more, to ensure our partners honor their commitments the EU has created the post of European Chief Trade Enforcement Officer, held by the Frenchman Denis Redonnet.
What means of action does Europe have against China?
Europe is beefing up its arsenal to assert its sovereignty. We have solid anti-dumping tools, of course. In France and the European Union we’ve also strengthened the foreign-investment screening mechanism to protect our strategic flagships. And we’re working on an anti-coercion tool to respond quickly to the economic attacks we undergo. For example, when the United States wants to apply unilateral and illegal customs duties to counter the French digital tax, we don’t currently have a legal instrument to retaliate, and that must change.
There are two other instruments in addition to that: one to restore fair competition conditions in Europe in the face of subsidized foreign businesses, for example by preventing them buying up European companies, and the other to demand reciprocity in access to procurement contracts. That’s how we’re building the European trade policy of the 21st century, which will be less naïve, fairer and more sustainable.
You recently met the new director-general of the WTO (World Trade Organization), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. What progress are you expecting from her?
We’re delighted with Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment, which will inject fresh momentum. One of her priorities is to get the Dispute Settlement Body’s Appellate Body - blocked for months by the United States - working again. We also need results on negotiations under way, in particular on fisheries subsidies: we fully support the Director-General in her desire to reach a conclusion by the end of the year. The WTO has a role to play on many issues: regulating industrial subsidies, access to vaccines, but also sustainable development and, for example, the fight against plastic pollution. To that end, countries like China must no longer be able to declare themselves developing countries in order to secure exemptions.
Tension with the United States has eased since the arrival of Joe Biden. are you hoping for an agreement between now and July on the funding of Boeing and Airbus?
This four-month moratorium announced at the beginning of March on tariffs, particularly on aerospace and wines and spirits, was a very positive signal. It’s no accident: it results from the assertion of European sovereignty. By deciding in November to apply customs duties to Boeing and American agrifood products, Europe demonstrated that it’s capable of making itself respected under international law. The new American administration says it wants to place its relationship with Europe on a new footing. The Airbus-Boeing dispute must now be resolved permanently and in a positive way by reaching agreement on aircraft financing. Clearly we won’t relinquish our support for Airbus, which is vital to our economy. We’ve made proposals to find solutions and end this needless trade war with the United States.
Should there be a free-trade agreement with the United States like the TAFTA, which was abandoned?
We’ve got to strengthen our relationship with the United States, but a major free-trade agreement isn’t on the agenda. Above all, we’ve got to resolve the various disputes polluting our relationship, such as the steel and aluminum dispute, and the one concerning America’s extraterritorial practices. We can’t let an ally keep on telling us who we’re allowed to trade with and interfering directly in our sovereign choices. To respond to this, we’ve also got to make the euro play a greater role in international trade.
The agreement with Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay) is very controversial. Should it be purely and simply rejected?
We’ve said and we repeat that we don’t want the draft EU-Mercosur agreement as it stands, because conditions aren’t being met on three points: deforestation, compliance with the Paris Agreement and with our sanitary and phytosanitary standards. We won’t make do with a verbal commitment; we want proof. Yet we see that Brazil’s environmental commitments are less ambitious than in 2015 and they’ve given in on the fight against illegal deforestation, which increased by a further 10% last year. Some EU countries want to go faster but we aren’t alone: the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Luxembourg are on the same page.
EU CARBON BORDER TAX
Doesn’t the European Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, often called the "carbon border tax", risk being rejected by Europe’s partners?
This tool is part of the arsenal which puts trade policy at the service of global objectives. We’re going to speed up the decarbonization of production in Europe; without the mechanism there would be more "carbon leaks": companies would be prompted to relocate their production in less strict countries, emitting more CO2 before exporting their products to the EU. This is why we need the instrument, which isn’t protectionist; above all, the coherence of our climate policy is at stake. More broadly, in future European trade agreements compliance with the Paris climate agreement will have to be an essential clause, which will make it possible to suspend the advantages we grant our partners if they don’t adhere to their climate commitments. France is promoting this very powerful measure, which is currently being discussed with our European partners.
5. United Nations - The situation in Libya (Icc referral pursuant to resolution 1970) - Join stake out by Estonia, France, Ireland, Niger, Norway, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia, the United Kingdom, and Mexico (New York - May 17, 2021)
I would like to make the following statement today on behalf of the following Members of the Security Council that are States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC): Estonia, France, Ireland, Niger, Norway, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia, the United Kingdom, and my own country, Mexico.
We thank the ICC Prosecutor, Ms. Fatou Bensouda, for the presentation of the 21st report to the United Nations Security Council on the situation in Libya, in accordance with resolution 1970. We echo her call for the Council, States and the international community more broadly, to intensify efforts to secure the arrest and surrender to the Court of all ICC suspects-at-large.
Moreover, we as States Parties to the Rome Statute would like to use the opportunity of today’s briefing of the ICC Prosecutor to reconfirm our unwavering support for the Court as an independent and impartial judicial institution.
The ICC, as the world’s first and only permanent international criminal court, is an integral part of the multilateral architecture upholding the rule-of-law. It is a central institution in the fight against impunity and the pursuit of justice, which are essential components of sustainable peace, security and reconciliation.
In this regard, we express our appreciation for the decision adopted last month by the Government of the United States to revoke Executive Order 13928 and to lift the sanctions against the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and a senior staff member in her office, as well as the termination of the separate 2019 policy on visa restrictions on certain ICC personnel.
We will continue to respect our cooperation obligations under the Rome Statute and encourage all States to fully support the Court in carrying out its important mandate of ensuring justice for the victims of the most serious crimes under international law. We recall that the ICC is a court of last resort, which anchors a system of justice for serious international crimes rooted in national courts. National authorities have the primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute Rome Statute crimes. The ICC only steps in when States are unwilling or unable to genuinely carry out national proceedings.
The ICC embodies our collective commitment to fight impunity for the most serious crimes under international law. By giving our full support to the Court and promoting its universal membership, we defend the progress we have made together towards an international rules-based order, of which international justice is an indispensable pillar.
[translation from French]
I thank the speakers for their briefings. In particular, I welcome here the presence of the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Chad and General Namata, who commands the G5 Sahel Joint Force.
The situation in the Sahel remains of great concern. Terrorist groups, although hard hit, continue with their acts of violence and are attempting to extend their control. The threat now extends to southern Mali, but also to Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and Benin. The effects of poverty and climate change are exacerbating these tensions. Despite our efforts, the humanitarian crisis is worsening. 29 million people are in need of emergency assistance, that’s 5 million more than last year and 10,000 extra people per day since January. The number of internally displaced and refugees as well as food insecurity have increased. Close to 5,000 schools are closed or are not operational.
This situation calls for a simultaneous action to address all aspects of the issue: fighting against terrorism, strengthening the Sahelian States’ military capabilities, supporting the restoration of State authority throughout the territory, and bolstering development and humanitarian assistance.
The fight against terrorism, first of all, remains an imperative. The Barkhane force has continued its actions over the last six months, in close coordination with its partners, making it possible to maintain pressure on terrorist groups and to reduce their capacities. The G5 Sahel Joint Force is pursuing its planning and conduct of its operations, including "Sama 3", which is underway in the tri-border area. The deployment of the eighth Chadian battalion was a decisive progress. And I would like to commend the Chadian authorities for having maintained this commitment. We also see a more robust response to human rights violations thanks to the implementation of the compliance framework, with the support of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Takuba Task Force is now operational. Its initial results are very encouraging. We welcome the contribution of Estonia, the Czech Republic and Sweden, who will soon be joined by other European partners.
It is essential more than ever that the United Nations accompany these regional efforts and strengthen their support to the G5 Sahel Joint Force. The G5 Sahel countries took significant commitments at the N’Djamena Summit on February 15 and 16, 2021. The Joint Force has made progress in terms of organization and operational results. But it is still not logistically autonomous. We believe it is essential to grant this force with increased and sustained support. This would take the form of a support office, financed by assessed contributions. The Secretary-General has stated several times his support for such a solution, which is also supported by the African Union and the European Union. The creation of such a mechanism would make it possible for this Council to better supervise the actions of the G5 Sahel. We could also provide this office with a human rights division, which would strengthen the Joint Force’s ability to deal with human rights.
In the meantime, the tripartite UN-EU-G5 Sahel mechanism should be maintained and fully implemented. We call upon the European Union and the United Nations to finalize their discussions with regard with the use of contractors.
Military actions must be accompanied in parallel by increased efforts in the areas of governance, development and humanitarian assistance. I call upon the United Nations to mobilize the agencies, funds and programs to join in the "civilian surge" objective agreed at the Ndjamena Summit. France welcomes the willingness of the Special Representative for West Africa, Mr. Annadif, and the Coordinator for Development in the Sahel, Mr. Mar Dieye, to revitalize the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel. France is playing and will play its part in these efforts. The French Development Agency has supported the G5 Sahel countries with 480 million euros in 2020.
[translation from French]
I thank Prosecutor Bensouda for her report and her briefing.
France reaffirms its full support for the International Criminal Court, which must be able to act fully independently and impartially within the framework defined by the Rome Statute. The Office of the Prosecutor must be able to exercise its mandate without hindrance nor obstruction. In this regard, we welcome the recent announcement by the U.S. authorities to lift the sanctions opposed on Ms. Bensouda and Mr. Mochochoko. This decision is excellent news for all those committed to the fight against impunity, for multilateralism and for an international order based on the rule of law. It should pave the way to a new chapter in the cooperation between the United States and the Court.
With regard to the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1970, France recalls that the fight against impunity is one of the key elements of conflict resolution and reconciliation between the parties in Libya. The Transitional Government of National Unity has an essential role to play. We count on its full cooperation with the Court as well as with UNSMIL.
Access to the whole Libyan territory must be guaranteed and safe to ensure that independent, impartial and credible investigations can take place. In this regard, we note with satisfaction the recent missions carried out by the Office of the Prosecutor, including to Tarhuna, where light must be shed fully on the atrocities that were committed there.
However, France remains deeply concerned by the non-implementation of the arrest warrants issued by the Court. The death of alleged perpetrators of the gravest crimes cannot be considered as justice for the victims. France urges all States, whether they are Parties or not to the Rome Statute, to fully cooperate with the Court and the Prosecutor. Wanted individuals must be brought to justice without further delay. When the death of a wanted individual is reported, States concerned must provide evidence.
The gravest crimes committed in Libya since 2011 must all be investigated and prosecuted, including crimes committed by Daesh and crimes against migrants and refugees. We are also deeply concerned about cases of arbitrary detentions and inhumane detention conditions. Enforced disappearances and sexual violence reported by the Office are equally unacceptable. There should be no doubt that anyone inciting or committing such crimes today is liable for prosecution.
The assistance provided in this field to the Office of the Prosecutor by international and regional organizations, as well as by representatives of civil society, is precious. Increase in cooperation between the Court and the Libyan jurisdiction, in accordance with the principle of complementarity, must be supported. We also count on the full cooperation of the Fact-Finding Mission established by the Human Rights Council with the Office of the Prosecutor. While prevention efforts cannot replace the work done by the justice system, we recall that several proposals for sanctions listing have been put to the committee established by Resolution 1970.
The effectiveness of the fight against impunity will also depend on progress on the political process in Libya. To this end, respect for the ceasefire, the holding of elections on December 24, and the swift deployment of the monitoring mechanism decided by the Libyans and by this Council are crucial. In parallel, we call for the withdrawal of foreign forces and mercenaries and for strict compliance with the arms embargo.
France will continue to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Court and to mobilize the Security Council to this end. France will also remain committed to the seek a political solution in Libya, alongside our European partners and Libya’s neighboring countries.