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Official speeches and statements - June 15, 2021

Published on June 15, 2021

1. United Nations - High-level dialogue on desertification - Statement by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs - UN General Assembly (New York - June 14, 2021)

[translation from French]

Heads of State and Government,

Combating desertification, land degradation and drought must be one of the priorities of our new international agenda.

First, because this is a crucial part of our shared action for the climate and biodiversity.

But also because it is a major sustainable development issue, which is explicitly set out in the UN 2030 Agenda.

This is a well-known issue, yet disruptions continue to worsen. They now affect every continent without exception. And the fact is that they place all of us in danger.

Because a sick planet, with steadily deteriorating ecosystems, is a world in which emerging infectious diseases increasingly develop, spread and can become pandemics. As we know only too well.

A sick planet, with increasingly scarce land and water resources, poses an extremely serious threat to our food security.

A sick planet, with expanding arid areas and shrinking agricultural yields means, for 135 million people, the threat of forced exile, and in particularly vulnerable regions, greater risk of conflict and instability.

This is why France, in line with its pledge set out in the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, will continue to act alongside its international partners.

Last January, on the occasion of the One Planet Summit in Paris, we were behind the initiative to relaunch the Great Green Wall Initiative.

Many international donors stepped up, pledging euro16 billion over the next five years.

As a result, by 2030, 250 million hectares of degraded land can be restored, 10 million jobs created and 250 million tons of carbon sequestered.

Thanks to support from the Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall and action from the 11 countries behind this project, this momentum will continue to be built in the months ahead.

The UN Secretary-General’s Food Systems Summit and the World Conservation Congress in Marseille in September, and then the Africa-France Summit in October and COP15 on Biodiversity will be key events to make progress on this crucial issue.

We must not wait until the next crises to take action. Right now, we must learn everything we can from the current pandemic, taking action for our planet and thus for future generations.

2. United Nations - Mali - Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, permanent representative of France to the United Nations, at the Security Council (New York - June 14, 2021)

=Translation from French=

Mr. President,

I thank Mr. Wane and Ms. Maïga for their briefings.

Mali is going through a particularly critical moment.

France firmly condemned the coup d’état which led to the forced resignation of the transition President and his Prime Minister. We took note of Mali’s suspension from ECOWAS and the African Union. We support the efforts of ECOWAS and the demands it set out. The Security Council, as indicated in its press statement of May 26, will continue to closely follow the situation. The absolute priority must be the organization of the presidential election on February 27, 2022, to which the authorities in charge of the transition will not be able to participate. France has temporarily suspended its joint military operations with the Malian armed forces pending clarifications. The ECOWAS mediation has noted some progress, in particular the appointment of a civilian Prime Minister and a government. We will be attentive to the conclusions of the ECOWAS Summit on June 19.

It is because this context is fragile that MINUSMA remains an essential tool. For the renewal of its mandate, we will propose to maintain its two strategic priorities. First, supporting the implementation of the peace agreement, which remains a central issue for the stabilization of Mali. Second, supporting the stabilization of the center of the country. We will also propose to maintain the task of protecting civilians, as inter-community violence persists. In all cases, dealing with these issues will remain partial as long as the Malians do not have a clear political strategy and resolute action to respond to all of the dimensions of the crisis: political, in particular with regard to the requirements set for the end of the transition, security, but also humanitarian, human rights and sustainable development.

We will propose that the mandate take these dimensions into account, as well as the essential issues of the full participation of women and youth in political life and the effects of climate change, which are one of the causes of the crisis in the Sahel.

Mr. President,

We note that MINUSMA’s resources remain limited to deal with the situation in the Center. This priority has been was given to MINUSMA in 2019 without providing additional resources. In this region, the mission has only 2,000 peacekeepers and three helicopters available every other week. We would therefore like to seriously consider the question of increasing the resources and the troop ceiling. This would allow the mission to better protect civilians and promote reconciliation between communities, without jeopardizing its action in the rest of Mali. This reinforcement would be complementary to the implementation of the adaptation plan, which we support and call for the full implementation of.

The support mechanism for the G5 Sahel Joint Force through MINUSMA is very useful but not sufficient. Increased and predictable UN support to the Joint Force appears essential to us. This would take the form of a support office, financed by assessed contributions. This solution does not require placing the Joint Force under Chapter VII. France intends to support the efforts of African countries to achieve this objective, within the framework of a discussion that we hope to see concluded as soon as possible.

Finally, I would like to come back to the announcements made on June 10 by the French President of the Republic on the transformation of our military presence in the Sahel. This transformation had already been discussed at the N’Djamena summit in February 2021. In terms of method, we are currently conducting consultations with our Sahelian and international partners. The new framework will preserve our commitments to MINUSMA and to our international partners present on the ground alongside us.

Thank you.

3. United Kingdom - Mobility of people - Reply by the office of the Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a written question in the Senate (Paris - June 10, 2021)

Since the United Kingdom gave notice of its intention to leave the EU in 2017, the EU has consistently spoken with one voice. The French authorities have been especially involved in the follow-up to negotiations with the UK in order to achieve a balanced relationship protecting the interests of the EU and France.

With regard to the mobility of people, the UK took the decision to reduce the partnership to the minimum, rejecting all in-depth provisions in the negotiations leading to the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. However, the EU took a position of support for ambitious provisions on the movement of British and European citizens. On January 1, 2021 the British Government introduced a new migration system whose stated goal is to attract skilled immigration, particularly in the science sector, which meets the British economy’s needs, and to free itself of dependency on a European workforce.

Consequently, [EU] nationals who wish to go and work on British territory will now be subject to the demands of the points-based system, including the threefold requirement to have a job offer from an approved sponsor, obtain a job with an appropriate level of skills, and possess a certain level of proficiency in English.

However, it should be emphasized that the Trade and Cooperation Agreement signed on 29 December 2020 provides for a reciprocal exemption when it comes to short-stay visas (three months in the European Union, six months in the UK), subject to full reciprocity, and provisions on the coordination of social security systems which are favorable to the movement of British and European citizens.

Moreover, British and European citizens who moved prior to December 31, 2020 may continue to live, study and work under the same conditions as before, since their rights are guaranteed by the agreement setting out the details of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. In close coordination with their European partners, the French authorities will continue to promote an open approach to dialogue with the UK in this field and others, with due respect for the EU legal framework and certain essential rules like the reciprocity principle between British and European citizens.