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Official speeches and statements - February 10, 2022

Published on February 10, 2022

1. French presidency of the Council of the European Union - Joint Ministerial Conference of Foreign Ministers and Health Ministers - Joint Statement by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry for Solidarity and Health (Lyon - February 10, 2022)

On February 9, the Foreign Ministers and the Health Ministers of the European Union met together in Lyon under the auspices of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union and at the invitation of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, and the Minister for Solidarity and Health, Olivier Véran.

Working in close collaboration with the European Commission, the French Presidency will continue preparing the revisions to the European global health strategy together with the Member States.

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Today’s meeting allowed participants to discuss the European Union’s response to current and future global health challenges in the presence of the Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of "promoting our European way of life," Margaritis Schinas, the Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, the European Member of Parliament, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, the WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, and the WHO Regional Director for Europe, Dr. Hans Kluge.

The European Union and its Member States play a major role in global health. They are the primary supporters of organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Gavi and Unitaid. They are also the primary source of health-related public development aid. This leadership role has only grown more prominent with the Covid-19 health crisis, which put global health and governance back at the top of the list of concerns of the European Union and its Member States. Today, Europe has become a key player and driver in the international response to the pandemic.

More specifically, today’s meeting has allowed us to take stock of the work that has been accomplished by the European Union and its Member States and to reflect together on four priorities:

  • Strengthening the European global health strategy by incorporating the lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic and with the goal of securing a position for the EU that is in line with its financial contributions to this architecture;
  • Reiterating the commitment made by the European Union and its Member States as "Team Europe" to supporting low- and middle-income countries in their response to the Covid-19 pandemic, via financial contributions, vaccine donations and political leadership, all of which have sped up fair access to health products worldwide;
  • Recalling the EU’s support and key role in the strengthening of the multilateral health architecture, with the WHO at its center, by more systematically integrating the "One Health" approach, including via the contributions of international initiatives such as the One Health High Level Expert Panel (OHHLEP) and PREZODE, and;
  • Hailing and leveraging the dynamism and influence of the Member States, which are home to many organizations involved in global health, a fact that demonstrates the European Union’s expertise and attractiveness in this field. That is the case of Lyon, which is home to a unique global health expertise in the form of the WHO’s Academy, International Health Regulations office and International Agency for Research on Cancer. This was the first time that Lyon has hosted a joint meeting bringing together the Foreign Ministers and the Health Ministers of the European Union to discuss these essential topics.

2. Madagascar - Cyclone Batsirai - French emergency aid to Madagascar - Joint communiqué issued by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Interior (Paris - February 9, 2022)

France stands alongside the Malagasy people in the face of the damage caused by Cyclone Batsirai, which has left several people dead and displaced tens of thousands. The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Interior are making active efforts to address the most urgent needs and support the Malagasy authorities’ action, at the latter’s request.

On 8 February, the Interior Ministry dispatched a team of 60 rescue workers from the armed forces’ emergency services, who will work with their Malagasy counterparts: among other things, their mission will consist in setting up a water purification unit with the capacity to produce 250,000 liters of drinking water a day, to support the disaster victims. The detachment will also be capable of carrying out air reconnaissance using drones. The team was deployed under the Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM).

The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, through its Crisis and Support Centre, is also subsidizing the deployment of 75 tons of emergency aid by the French Red Cross, to help 3,000 families (more than 15,000 people). This support will make it possible to deploy equipment prepositioned by the French Red Cross’s Indian Ocean Regional Intervention Platform (PIROI), to build emergency shelters for the people most affected.


3. Human Rights - Jurisdiction of French courts over crimes against humanity - Joint communiqué issued by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice (Paris - February 9, 2022)

France is fully mobilized in the fight against impunity for the perpetrators of international crimes committed in Syria and throughout the world.

The Government has presented a bill to authorize the approval of the international judicial cooperation agreement between the French Government and the United Nations Organization, represented by the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) for Syria. It has just been passed by the National Assembly and must now be examined by the Senate. Among other things, the agreement will allow information to be transmitted from French courts to the Mechanism (MIII), which is not possible under current law. It is thus in keeping with the priority France attaches to the fight against impunity for the perpetrators of international crimes.

In 2015, the Foreign Ministry reported to the Paris State Prosecutor, on the basis of Article 40 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, atrocities likely to have been committed by the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. The documents passed on enabled the Paris Prosecutor’s Office to open a preliminary investigation into "crimes against humanity", relying in particular on photographs taken in military hospitals between 2011 and 2013 by "César", a Syrian former military photographer. More than 40 investigations and judicial inquiries on Syria are currently under way in France.

In a ruling of 24 November 2021, the Court of Cassation deemed it necessary for the definition of an offence comparable to that in French law (evidence of "an attack against a civilian population in fulfilment of a concerted plan") to exist in Syrian law in order to recognize French courts’ extraterritorial competence with regard to international crimes. This decision is, however, likely to be re-examined. Our ministries will therefore closely monitor forthcoming judicial decisions. Depending on those decisions, our ministries stand ready to swiftly set out the changes, including legislative changes, that should be made to enable France to continue resolutely fulfilling its steadfast commitment against impunity for the perpetrators of international crimes.

In addition to its support for the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism and the 40 or so proceedings under way in French courts to prosecute the most serious crimes committed in Syria, France is acting within the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to condemn the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons against its people, and it secured the suspension of some of Syria’s rights and privileges at the OPCW in April 2021. France also launched and chairs the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons, which today brings together 40 States and the European Union.


4. European Union - Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian participates in the Joint Ministerial Conference of Foreign Ministers and Health Ministers of the European Union (Lyon - February 9, 2022) - Press briefing given by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (Paris - February 9, 2022)

Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian and Minister for Solidarity and Health Olivier Véran travelled to Lyon today to take part in the Joint Conference of Foreign Ministers and Health Ministers of the European Union.

This joint ministerial conference is being held in an unprecedented format initiated under the French presidency of the Council of the European Union and marks a new step towards building a Europe of Health. The conference will give the ministers the chance to learn from the way that the European Union structured its pandemic crisis response, especially with regards to vaccine purchasing and donations, treatments, diagnoses, production capacities and the strengthening of healthcare systems.

Over the course of their exchanges, the ministers will highlight Europe’s increased support for low- and middle-income countries facing the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular in the lead-up to the European Union-African Union summit, which will be held this coming 17 and 18 February. With Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), in attendance, they will underscore the European Union’s leadership role in the multilateral health architecture. Jean-Yves Le Drian will express France’s support for negotiations on a new international treaty on pandemics that would complement the revised version of the International Health Regulations.

Jean-Yves Le Drian will take this opportunity to commend Lyon on its dynamic health ecosystem. The city of Lyon is home to WHO’s International Health Regulations office, International Agency for Research on Cancer and Academy.


5. United Nations - Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts - Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, permanent representative of France to the United Nations, to the Security Council (New York - February 9, 2022)

[translation from French]

Mr. President.

I would like to thank Mr. Voronkov and Mr. Chen for their presentations.

First, I would like to pay a heartfelt tribute to all the victims of terrorism; the negation of humanity that terrorist acts constitute and the suffering endured by the victims require strong collective action.

This is why the fight against Daesh will continue until this organization is defeated. France condemned in the strongest terms the attack carried out by Daesh on 20 January against the Hassakeh detention center in north-eastern Syria. On that occasion, we praised the action of the Syrian Democratic Forces and the International Coalition, which contributed to put a stop to this offensive.

Daesh has suffered some setbacks. I am thinking in particular of the neutralization of Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurachi, also known as Hajji Abdallah, but also of the capture by the Iraqi authorities of Hajji Hamid. This arrest, we hope, will allow us to shed light on the organization’s finances and, therefore, to better fight against them. This financing plays a major role for Daesh, as it does for its affiliates: it allows it to expand its recruitment, with a view to a hoped-for resurgence, which we are fighting with unfailing determination. To eradicate terrorism in the region, a solution to the Syrian crisis is essential. This solution can only be political. We know the roadmap, Resolution 2254.

In Iraq, we continue to support the Iraqi authorities in their fight against Daesh, alongside our partners in the international coalition.

France is also committed to the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan. Indeed, in addition to the challenges posed by humanitarian and human rights issues, the security threat in Afghanistan is one of our main concerns. On the one hand, since August we have seen an increase in the number of attacks by the Islamic State - Khorassan Province (IS-K), the local Afghan branch of Daesh, and their deployment in new provinces. Nor have the Taliban severed their ties with al Qaeda. On the contrary, they have integrated several of their members into their interim government. The Taliban have thus failed to keep their promise to provide no support, direct or indirect, to terrorists and to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for these groups. In accordance with Security Council Resolution 2593, we will continue to hold the Taliban accountable of this commitment. Beyond Afghanistan, this terrorist risk could have significant repercussions in the region and around the world.

In the Sahel, France is militarily engaged and has, as such, dealt serious blows to the local branch of Daesh, neutralizing its leaders, such as Adnan Abu Walid al-Saharawi. Terrorism has socio-economic roots, and for this reason we will continue to pursue military actions in parrallel with necessary development programs, in line with the overall approach and objectives of the Sahel Coalition. To this end, we are working in close cooperation with the international community, including our African and European partners, several of whom are also deployed in the Sahel.

The expansion of Daesh into Nigeria, Central Africa and Southern Africa is a major concern. I am thinking in particular of the situation in northern Mozambique, which has spread from the province of Cabo Delgado to neighboring provinces in Mozambique, and which may also have repercussions for the entire region. A coordinated approach by regional and international actors is essential. At the request of the Mozambican authorities, the European Union has therefore established a Peace and Security Mission to train and equip the Mozambican armed forces to protect the civilian population and restore safety and security in northern Mozambique.

In this global fight, beyond our commitments according to a global approach, we identify three areas of action. The first is that the fight against terrorism must remain ambitious, but must never be used as a pretext for the oppression of people belonging to minorities or for violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The second is the fight against the financing of terrorism.

The action that we began in 2019 with the adoption of Resolution 2462 must continue, and we are ready to work with a privileged partner in this area, India, to prepare for the third No Money for Terror conference that we hope to see held in New Delhi in 2022, when the health situation allows. We also expect the full implementation of Resolution 2462, and the strengthening of our collective capacity to deal with the emergence of new financial technologies that represent new challenges in the fight against the financing of terrorism. Finally, the third priority is the fight against the misuse of the Internet for terrorist purposes. On the Internet, as elsewhere, we must fight relentlessly against terrorists. To be effective, our fight must be collective, and I would like to remind you of the essential role of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate, which enables us to evaluate our collective response, but also to ensure that the means are adequate, everywhere, and that they are always respectful of human rights and international law.

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate our determined commitment to fight terrorism, and more specifically Daesh, wherever it may be found. We owe it to the people who are, unjustly, the first victims.

Thank you for your attention.