Official speeches and statements - July 1, 2021
1. Generation Equality Forum - Heads of States, Leaders and Activists take Bold Action to Accelerate Gender Equality and Address the Consequences of Covid-19 for Women and Girls: Generation Equality Forum to drive Major Policy Reforms and Generate over 40 Billion dollars in New Investments (Paris - June 30, 2021)
Heads of State and Government, heads of international organizations, activists from civil society and youth-led organizations, philanthropists and CEOs of private sector companies gathered today for the opening of the Generation Equality Forum held from 30 June to 2 July in Paris. The Forum launched a Global Acceleration Plan for Gender Equality, driven by six Action Coalitions, and launched a Compact on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action, with the aim to accelerate gender equality in the next five years and to face the growing risks to women’s rights caused by Covid-19. The Forum’s projected 40 billion dollars of new investments will represent the largest-ever collective infusion of resources into global gender equality.
The event marks the most significant international convening for gender equality since the 1995 Women’s Conference in Beijing. The Forum was opened by the cohosts, President of France, Emmanuel Macron and Mexico’s President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, as well as by UN Secretary General António Guterres and convener of the Forum, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women. Notable speakers at the opening event also included Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, Nobel laureate Nadia Murad, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and Tunisian feminist Aya Chebbi. The ceremony was centered on the voice of civil society activists and women’s rights defenders and featured long-term advocate for gender equality and Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an intergenerational dialogue with climate activist Julieta Martinez.
The Forum focuses on concrete commitments and has a sharp focus on implementation and financing gender equality. During the opening event, major commitments were announced by the Heads of State and Government of France, the United States of America, Kenya, Argentina, Georgia, Finland, Canada, Germany, South Africa, the European Union and from international organizations and private sector. The commitments included:
- 40 billion dollars + in new investments benefitting women and girls, with government commitments over the three days expected to total 17 billion dollars. At the Opening Ceremony, a 2.1 billion dollars commitment from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to advance women’s leadership, reproductive health, and economic empowerment was announced alongside a 420 million dollars investment from the Ford Foundation to tackle threats to women’s rights caused by COVID-19. The World Bank committed to a major investment for programmes in 12 African States to tackle gender inequalities.
- The implementations of major policy reforms and programs to advance gender equality. The President of Kenya announced a national strategy and resources to prevent and respond to Gender-Based Violence. The Prime Minister of Canada presented the country’s commitment to invest in a care system to benefit women and girls and the President of Georgia presented her commitment to lead legislative change on the legal definition of rape. The Vice President of the United States made policy and resource commitments on gender-based violence, women’s economic security, and sexual and reproductive health and rights.
- The launch of new coordination mechanisms to advance key issues for gender equality, such as a new Global Alliance on Care and an Alliance to Fund Sustainable Feminist Movements.
President Macron, speaking live from Paris underscored his commitment to confronting the gender equality crisis, saying, "Through the Generation Equality Forum, France’s objective is to state loud and clear that the rights of women and girls are universal, as are all human rights, everywhere, all the time. This model that France defends is not a negation of our differences. It is about reaffirming that no cultural or religious relativism, no regional or identity-based particularism, justifies that a woman cannot enjoy the same rights and the same opportunities as a man. Our method for achieving this result is concerted international action, what I have called multilateralism through action." The French government committed 100 million dollars to improve access to contraceptives and family planning.
UN Secretary General António Guterres, speaking live in Paris, welcomed the bold ambition of the Forum saying that the Forum was a moment "to redress a global imbalance, with activists, policymakers, and leaders across all ages shaping our world into a more just and gender-equal society."
Also speaking live in Paris, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, noted that "This is a new chapter for gender equality. Those with a world view of radical impatience are converging to create big, well-resourced changes. Together we will revitalize the unfinished Beijing agenda, united by the conviction that we must take risks and do things differently."
Over the following two days of the Forum major others financial, policy and program commitments are expected from over 1,000 diverse commitment-makers. Additional philanthropy commitments are expected from the Co-Impact Fund, CIFF, Foundation Chanel, Global Green Grants, the Women’s Funding Network and the Open Societies Foundation. Major private sector contributors will include P&G, Unilever, PayPal and Estee Lauder. A significant number of civil society and youth led commitments will be made; for example, GirlsForClimate will commit to establish over 100 local climate hubs in Uganda, Cameroon Digital Rights Campaign will announce advocacy and policy work to end digital divides and the Egyptian Feminist Union will commit to work on equal rights to divorce and guardianship of children for divorced women. Additional member states announcing commitments will include Armenia, Burkina Faso, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, Germany Iceland, Finland, North Macedonia, Malawi, the Maldives, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Mexico, Rwanda, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia, the United Kingdom and Uruguay.
The Forum includes over 110 events designed to propel action on gender equality, including a youth-led stage. Sessions aligned to the Action Coalitions - the six most catalytic actions required to accelerate gender equality, including economic justice, gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health and rights, impact of the climate emergency on women and girls, need for digital and technology inclusion and support to feminist movements and leadership - are also a key component of the event agenda, as is the Compact on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action.
The Paris Forum is expected to draw over 40,000 virtual participants. Confirmed speakers across the 3-day virtual event include President of Rwanda Paul Kagame, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Melinda French Gates, Brazilian Rapper MC Soffia and Actor and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Anne Hathaway.
The Forum in Paris marks the launch of a 5-year journey designed to accelerate gender equality and a turning point in the international community commitment for women’s rights.
2. Sudan - Launch of the process to provide Sudan with debt relief - Joint communiqué issued by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Economy, Finance and the Recovery (Paris - June 30, 2021)
France welcomes the launch of the process to provide Sudan with foreign debt relief in the framework of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. This decisive stage was enabled, inter alia, by the clearance of Sudan’s arrears to the IMF, secured at the International Conference to Support the Sudanese Transition in Paris on 17 May 2021, and thanks to the 1.5-billion dollars bridging loan provided by France. This result rewards the efforts of the Sudanese Government and people. It paves the way for the Sudanese economy’s recovery.
The Paris Club envisages providing Sudan with foreign debt relief in mid-July. France calls on all Sudan’s official bilateral creditors, whether or not they are in the Paris Club, to join this collective effort.
Succeeding with this process to provide Sudan with foreign debt relief is essential to the success of the democratic transition under way, which France fully supports.
France reiterates its commitment under the HIPC initiative and, in this regard, reaffirms its readiness to ultimately cancel all Sudan’s debt to it, in accordance with the commitment made by the President at the conference of May 17, 2021.
France will hold the monthly presidency of the UN Security Council from 1 July 2021. Following the presidency of Estonia, whose achievements it commends and preceding that of Ireland which will start on 1 September, the French presidency is part of a European sequence at the Security Council.
Under the UN Charter, the Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of peace and international security. As a permanent member, France has a special responsibility in those areas.
While the international community is facing multiple challenges, France intends to promote, together with its partners, an ambitious Security Council vision; the Security Council plays a key role in responding to crises, notably through the peaceful resolution of disputes.
For the first time since the start of the crisis linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Security Council meetings scheduled for July will take place in person. During its presidency, France will continue to work to ensure respect for multilingualism, a fundamental United Nations principle.
On this occasion, France will organize several important meetings to be chaired by Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian:
- On July 15, the Minister will preside over a ministerial-level meeting of the Security Council focusing on the situation in Libya
- On July 16, he will preside over a ministerial-level meeting on protecting the humanitarian space.
The French Security Council Presidency will also be punctuated by regular deadlines such as the renewal of mandates for peacekeeping operations, speeches by the UN Secretariat and open debates. It will continue to monitor the situation in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, the Middle East, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, West Africa, Cyprus, Colombia and Central Asia.
I thank the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, the Head of the European Union Delegation and the Facilitator for the implementation of resolution 2231 for their briefings.
Since the last Security Council meeting on the implementation of resolution 2231 in December 2020, we have noted both a constructive dynamic towards a return to the Iranian nuclear agreement and a series of worrying developments.
France echoes the support expressed for the negotiation process underway in Vienna on the return of the United States and Iran to the implementation of all their commitments under the Iranian nuclear agreement and resolution 2231. France is actively involved in these negotiations, in particular with its E3 partners, in a demanding manner, particularly in terms of preserving the non-proliferation benefits of the agreement, and in a pragmatic manner too, given that the priority is a rapid stabilization of the nuclear situation in Iran. After six negotiating sessions, the parameters of this return to the agreement are clearly identified and the most difficult questions remain pending. It is now crucial that the necessary courageous decisions be taken to conclude the negotiations and allow for a swift return of all the parties to the agreement. We will continue to mobilize all efforts to expedite the conclusion of the negotiations. This process cannot go on indefinitely, because the parameters and benefits of a return to the Agreement will not be the same if too much time goes by.
Despite the launch of this process three months ago, the nuclear situation in Iran has continued to deteriorate. Iran is developing particularly sensitive nuclear activities in violation of the provisions of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action: research and development on uranium metal production; uranium enrichment at 20% since the beginning of the year and now up to 60%, without any civilian need in Iran for such enrichment rates; accumulation of advanced centrifuges in enrichment facilities, etc. As a result, Iran has never before been so close to a threshold capability today.
In addition, Iran has suspended for more than four months the implementation of the voluntary verification and transparency measures under the Vienna Agreement, including the Additional Protocol. The Agency has informed the Council that its activities have been "affected" by this decision. A mechanism was put in place to preserve the possibility for the IAEA to recover continuity of knowledge of the nuclear program in the future, in the context of a return to the Agreement. However, this mechanism expired on 24 June and Iran has not yet confirmed to the IAEA that it intends to continue implementing these provisions. It is of great concern that the IAEA is no longer able to fully carry out the verification and monitoring mission for which the Security Council mandated it under Resolution 2231. We therefore call on Iran to resume cooperation with the IAEA and restore full access without delay.
Nuclear developments in Iran are also worrying in view of the continuation of ballistic activities during the last six months contrary to Resolution 2231. France is particularly concerned regarding the proliferation of missile activities and technologies in the region, especially ballistic missiles, which have a particularly destabilizing effect.
For France, the full implementation of the Iranian nuclear agreement and of Resolution 2231 is an imperative both for non-proliferation and for the stability of the Middle East. Our priority is to seek a rapid conclusion of the current negotiations on the return to the agreement in order to resume full implementation as soon as possible. We cannot stop here: beyond this nuclear agreement, we have other areas of concern for regional and international security, which must be addressed with our partners and the states of the region.