Official speeches and statements - August 5, 2021
[check against delivery]
A year ago to the day, a terrible explosion devastated the port of Beirut, and I think we all remember the city disfigured, and above all the traumatized lives. We’ve forgotten nothing. Nothing about the victims, their families, those who lost their lives, their loved ones, and those whose lives were profoundly shaken, turned upside down by that terrible blast.
For my part, I visited Beirut on August 6, 2020, then the following September 1, and I haven’t forgotten those who suffered and are still suffering the consequences of the tragedy. So obviously my thoughts today go out above all to the people of Lebanon.
In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, we provided a massive initial humanitarian response, and we held a conference similar to this one in the days afterwards.
In the hours that followed, we established an air and sea bridge. The promises of donations that we made together have been honored and even exceeded. They enabled us to address the emergency in terms of health, education, housing and food aid.
Since then, aid has been delivered continuously. I know you’re all still making active efforts, and I thank you very much indeed for it.
France is still doing so too, more than ever; the State but also regions, towns and cities, businesses and individual citizens, driven by a very strong surge of solidarity. To take just one example, a new ship loaded with 51 tons of medical equipment provided by France arrived in Beirut last week, chartered by CMA CGMr. A new cargo of medicines will arrive tomorrow.
But all this is not enough. It’s not enough because the situation has deteriorated further. As you know, the explosion in the port basically only aggravated a multifaceted economic, financial and social crisis, which has now become a food crisis.
In order to address it, the United Nations Secretary-General and I took the initiative, once again, of bringing you together today. And this conference today is a conference of concrete gestures, actions aimed at Lebanese people.
Indeed, we must continue getting involved in a practical way, based on the real needs identified by the United Nations. And I know the Lebanese people can count on you, just as they can count on France.
Today I’m in a position to announce to you that in the coming 12 months, we’re going to put in place nearly 100 million euros of new commitments to directly support Lebanon’s population, as far as France is concerned. This aid will focus on education, with exceptional support for families, pupils and students. It will focus on food aid, and additionally we’re going to increase our support for agriculture in that framework.
Health will remain an absolute priority as well. I also want to announce here the delivery of 500,000 COVID vaccines in the coming weeks and therefore during August.
France will also help rebuild the port, the real lungs of Lebanon. I want to pay tribute here to CMA CGM’s announcement of emergency assistance to maintain the port’s activity.
As I pledged, we’ll continue to ensure that our support directly benefits Lebanon’s population, transparently and traceably. We’re exercising the utmost vigilance on the follow-up mechanisms for this aid, with the essential support of the United Nations.
So this aid will go directly to the voluntary organizations and NGOs on the ground - and once again I want to pay tribute here to the voluntary organizations on the ground that are playing an essential role and very often compensating for the State’s failures. Our international aid is being and will be directly passed on to those voluntary organizations, also through the United Nations, whose role I commend - transparently and with regular reports.
I also want to pay tribute here once again to the essential role of the Lebanese Armed Forces, the FAL, which since the beginning of the crisis have also been playing a role of stabilization, transparency and support of the population.
Our commitment and vigilance must also be translated into multilateral action tools to benefit the Lebanese people. I’m thinking of the World Bank loan of more than 246 million dollars, which, in the absence of a welfare State, should make it possible to build an initial social safety net, also under satisfactory conditions of transparency and impartiality. I’m also thinking of the International Monetary Fund’s special drawing rights, which must be used transparently, responsibly and with reporting mechanisms, in line with the guidelines of the G7 and G20.
I’d now like to speak directly to President Aoun and the whole Lebanese political class. President Aoun, who is with us today, knows how much esteem and respect I have for him, for him as a person, for the freedom fighter he was, and for the Lebanese people’s elected representative he is.
Nevertheless, I continue to think that the crisis Lebanon is going through isn’t a stroke of bad luck or something inevitable. It stems from individual and collective failures and unjustifiable malfunctions. It results from all the weaknesses in a model which has turned away from the public good and the general interest. And the whole Lebanese political class, the entire Lebanese political class has consistently made it worse by putting its individual and partisan interests before the interests of the Lebanese people.
France and the international community have shouldered their responsibilities. Those of a close partner and, as far as France is concerned, a benevolent friend. Our action was reflected in April 2018 in the mobilization of the international community at the CEDRE conference, in the framework of which we raised major investment - over 11 billion dollars in spring 2018 - in return for governance and modernization reforms.
None of these reforms has happened. Every opportunity has been wasted since. No commitment has been honored. Lebanon definitely deserves better.
With its dynamic, active population endowed with many skills recognized in the region and worldwide; with its culture and its educational tradition, Lebanon deserves better than existing on international solidarity, and this depends on you. Form a government, find the necessary compromises, implement the road map decided nearly a year ago.
This is why - let me repeat once again - the uppermost priority is still the formation of a government tasked with beginning the implementation of the most urgent reforms to benefit the population. This will allow the international community to lend Lebanon even more support.
Today’s conference is a humanitarian conference in support of the population, so it’s unconditional, but Lebanon’s political system won’t be given any blank checks, because since the outset of the crisis and even before, it has been failing.
I talked about France’s benevolence towards Lebanon. It also has a duty to be demanding. It is, it will remain so and I’m making sure of this. Lebanon’s leaders seem to be gambling on a deteriorating situation. I regret this. I think it’s a historic, moral mistake. As far as the international community is concerned, it continues to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people. We’ve been able, several of us on screen today, to take restrictive measures against figures involved in corruption or the political deadlock, and we accept responsibility for these.
We and all our European partners created a special sanctions regime on Lebanon. So Lebanon’s leaders mustn’t doubt our determination for a second in this regard. This applies to the government and its formation and the implementation of reforms, but also the port investigation, long-awaited by all Lebanese people.
A year ago now, the investigation was launched. France and several others cooperated, provided all the information we had. Once again, we’re ready to provide any technical cooperation. And I think - I’m even positive - that the Lebanese leaders owe their people the truth and transparency. The same applies to the holding of elections next spring.
Everyone must now shoulder their responsibilities. I for one will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Lebanese women and men.
We’re fostering a genuine dialogue with civil society. And I also called for representatives to be with us again today of those acting daily to compensate for the leaders’ shortcomings and build tomorrow’s Lebanon.
I want to reiterate to you here my determination, that of the international community. It will not fail. We’ll continue responding to the population’s needs as effectively and directly as possible.
I want to thank all the international leaders here today for this international conference; they’ve once again given up their time. Thank you for being here.
Our mobilization today is a demonstration, if any was needed, of our determination to continue standing alongside the people of Lebanon, in all circumstances. In the past year, Lebanon’s leaders cannot be said to have been equal to the serious crisis their country is suffering. But we have been, we remain and we will continue to be.
I would like to thank you most sincerely for your participation and for the new announcements made today. I would like to extend all my thanks to the United Nations - particularly humanitarian coordinator Najat Rochdi - which is playing a central role on the ground in identifying, coordinating and monitoring aid, to ensure it goes directly and in full transparency to the population. The United Nations has been closely involved in preparing this conference, organized at the initiative of France’s president. Lastly, I would like to thank the Lebanese civil society organizations here with us. Every day, they carry out remarkable work to support the Lebanese people, embodying hope and the future of Lebanon. And they must know that they can continue counting on us.
We answered the call a year ago, urgently, to respond to the immediate consequences of the explosion. Then, on 2 December, we met again in support of the country’s recovery, and observed that the amounts pledged on August 9, last year, had been delivered and even exceeded. Today, one year to the day after the tragedy of August 4, 2020, and as the crisis now affects the whole country, becoming a humanitarian disaster, we have together responded to the new emergency appeal by the United Nations for 357 million dollars, announcing contributions that go beyond the needs that had been identified. A total amount of more than 370 million dollars has been announced for the coming year, in addition to considerable contributions in kind announced today. This outcome is remarkable and I would like to strongly commend it as this conference comes to a close.
The contributions you have announced will help continue delivering crucial aid for the Lebanese people in the priority sectors identified by the United Nations. France has fully played its part, today announcing further contributions totaling 100 million euros for the next 12 months, in sectors including education, health, food security and nutrition. Our commitments will be fulfilled, as they have been over the past year, and we will continue to act in transparency and coordination.
The direct support we provide together to the people of Lebanon is in no way a substitute for the responsibilities of the Lebanese authorities. It is incumbent on them to take the decisions needed to bring an end to this crisis. Before anything else can happen, that means the immediate formation of a competent government, followed by the urgent launch of credible talks with a view to an IMF program. In parallel, the first essential reforms need to be implemented, in the areas everyone knows: the resolution of the banking sector crisis, the regulation of capital flows, the electricity sector and the fight against corruption. That is the commitment that the Lebanese leaders have made to their people. Nobody can fulfil it for them. France and the European Union, for their part, intend to remind them of their commitments and increase pressure so that they are fulfilled.
Lastly, above and beyond the initial urgent reforms, which are a condition for any structural economic and financial support, the Lebanese authorities need to enable the people to express their aspirations, in a pluralistic and democratic framework, with an eye on the elections planned for 2022. The next government will therefore be responsible for organizing the elections transparently and impartially, in accordance with the planned schedule.
Our commitments to the Lebanese people speak for themselves. It is up to the Lebanese leaders, and I say that in the presence of the Lebanese President, to be equal to their historic responsibilities, as the stability and future of their country are at stake.
The [International] Conference in Support of the Population of Lebanon took place on August 4, 2021 by video conference, at the joint invitation of the President of the French Republic and the United Nations Secretary-General. Thirty-three States, 13 international organizations and five representatives of Lebanese civil society took part in the discussions.
A year ago today, a terrible explosion devastated the port of Beirut and the surrounding areas. The international community expressed its solidarity. A support conference, convened on August 9, 2020, organized an initial emergency humanitarian response. A second conference was held on December 2, 2020, to generate additional support and foster the beginning of a medium-term recovery effort.
A year after the explosion, the participants in the Conference, and the Lebanese people, have commemorated this tragic anniversary, seen a major deterioration of the living conditions of Lebanon’s whole population and called for accountability from the Lebanese political class to ensure full light is shed on the explosion.
Today, the crisis is affecting all of Lebanon and all its inhabitants. This crisis is economic and financial, and is one of the three worst in the world since the mid-19th century according to the World Bank. This is also a social crisis, as essential needs and supplies of basic services are no longer being delivered to a large part of the population. It is also a food crisis, and is turning into a humanitarian crisis. It is a political crisis, whose responsibility lies on the political leaders, marked by the stalemate in the formation of a government capable of implementing the most urgent reforms. Lastly, this is a crisis of confidence, both between the people of Lebanon and its leaders, and between those leaders and the international community.
In this particularly difficult context, the Conference has welcomed the fact that the totality of the aid promised a year ago has been disbursed. The participants have responded to a further UN humanitarian appeal for $357 million for the coming 12 months, pledging support in finance of a total in the order of $370 million, to which should be added substantial in-kind assistance. The aim in particular is to address the most urgent food security, water and sanitation, and health and education needs.
The participants highlighted that this additional support aims to save lives and is in no way a lasting solution to the difficulties Lebanon is confronted with. These require first and foremost the formation of a government that implements the reforms promised since the CEDRE conference in 2018, which were recalled on September 1, 2020 in the road map agreed by all Lebanon’s political forces. The participants underlined that the implementation of these decisions remains critical for any structural financial support on their part.
The Conference’s participants welcomed the designation of Mr. Najib Mikati as Prime Minister and called for a government that would be dedicated to the country’s rescue.
As soon as it is formed, the new government would need to dedicate itself to swiftly launching, conducting and concluding negotiations in good faith with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It will also have to prepare the 2022 elections, which must be transparent and impartial and be held according to the planned schedule.
The Conference discussed the measures required by the worsening of the crisis.
The gradual lifting of subsidies for essential products should take place alongside the creation of social protection safety nets, including through the immediate implementation of the World Bank’s Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) loan. The distribution of pre-paid cards and the preparation of the lists of beneficiaries it requires should be delivered in full transparency.
The Conference’s participants noted that the Reform, Recovery and Reconstruction Framework (3RF) has been implemented and allows better donor coordination and a major role for civil society. The Lebanon Financing Facility (LFF), a World Bank multi-donor trust fund, should begin disbursements without bureaucratic obstacles in the days following this Conference, paying the first donations to SMEs. Current contributors encourage other donors to join them.
At a time when the Lebanese economy is in a deep recession, the banking and financial sector needs to play its normal role of financing the real economy. Addressing the financial crisis needs to start immediately, under a plan and a Banking Resolution Act based on fair, transparent rules that ensure the actors of this financial crisis contribute.
The participants noted that Lebanon will soon receive its share (around $900 million) of the universal and unconditional allocation of IMF special drawing rights, with the key aim of addressing the recession and the consequences of the global public health crisis. They recommended that the use of these resources be decided in a fully transparent manner, in liaison with civil society, be subject to monitoring in real-time and ex-post evaluation, and, lastly, contribute to the preparation of appropriate public policies. They agreed to follow attentively and come back to this subject.
The participants considered that, in accordance with the expectations of the Lebanese people, the country’s development model needs to be overhauled to ensure the country gets back into a sustainable and people-centered development process. Humanitarian assistance cannot be a long-term solution and the development of a program with the IMF must be linked to the prospect of a renewed governance and of a new development model anchored in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The participants were concerned about delays to the inquiry into the August 4 explosion. They also noted with concern the operational situation of the port of Beirut. They called on the Lebanese authorities to immediately take the measures required for adequate maintenance and for the reconstruction of the parts of the port that were destroyed. Lebanon’s greatest asset is its people. The crisis and the effects of the political stalemate are leading increasing numbers of Lebanese people to leave their country. That is a major risk for the country’s future, and is already undermining Lebanon’s sectors of excellence, particularly education and health.
The Conference’s participants highlighted that the formation of a government to immediately implement the indispensable reforms is the first step in a sustained effort to address the challenges faced by Lebanon. The participants stand alongside the Lebanese people on this path and intend to continue their dialogue with Lebanon’s national institutions and civil society. They confirmed their determination to make use of all available instruments to provide direct support to the population. However, structural economic and financial assistance will require profound changes expected from Lebanon’s leaders.
[source of English text: OCHA’s ReliefWeb website]
4. United Nations - Syria - Chemical weapons - Statement by Ms. Nathalie Broadhurst, deputy permanent representative of France to the United Nations, chargée d’affaires a.i., to the Security Council (New York - August 4, 2021)
Thank you, Mr. President, and I join all my colleagues in wishing you every success in your Presidency of the Security Council in August. You will have our full support, as you know. And I thank all the members of the Council for the support given to the French Presidency in July.
I would also like to thank Mr. Markram for his presentation, and I would like, for my part, to raise three points.
First, I note from the report that the Syrian regime continues to evade its international obligations. The 20 outstanding issues related to the Syrian regime’s initial declaration have not been answered. As we all know, additional questions continue to accumulate. The unauthorized movement and destruction of two chlorine cylinders related to the Duma attacks is of great concern. And the regime must quickly provide the Technical Secretariat with accurate information on this incident.
Secondly, I would like to recall that the decision taken in April by the OPCW Conference of States Parties is not irreversible, as Mr. Markram reminded us. It is up to the regime to act if it wishes to recover its rights and privileges. Without its cooperation, the measures taken will remain in force.
In this regard, I note that the last two requests for the deployment of the declaration assessment team have not been answered. The Syrian regime is expected to issue visas for the next request for deployment by the Director General. We hope that the upcoming meeting between the Director General and the Syrian Foreign Minister will resolve this difficulty and restore dialogue.
Finally, Mr. President, and this is my last point, the use of these shocking weapons cannot go unpunished. Legal proceedings will take place, including before national courts. Evidence continues to be collected and will be used. It is a matter of respect for the victims, for whom justice must be done. This is the message we are defending with our partners, in particular within the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons.
Thank you for your attention.