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Official speeches and statements - March 15, 2019

Published on March 15, 2019

1. New Zealand - Christchurch attack - Statement by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs (Paris - March 15, 2019)

I utterly condemn the despicable attack committed today against two mosques in Christchurch, whose casualty toll—still provisional at this stage—speaks of several dozen killed and wounded.

France extends its condolences to the victims’ families and the New Zealand people and stands alongside New Zealand in this ordeal, which strengthens our shared determination to combat terrorism all over the world.

2. Syria - Press release by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (Paris - March 15, 2019)

France has today repatriated several unaccompanied orphans aged five or under who were in camps in north-eastern Syria.

The children are under individual medical and psychological supervision and were handed over to the judicial authorities.

The family members concerned, who were in contact with the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, have been informed.

France thanks the Syrian Democratic Forces for their cooperation, which made this outcome possible.

The decision was taken in view of the situation of these very young and especially vulnerable children.

Regarding the adult French nationals who were fighters and jihadists who had followed Daesh [so-called ISIL] to the Levant, France’s position has not changed: they must be tried on the territory where they committed their crimes. It is a matter of both justice and security.

3. Syria - Eighth anniversary of the Syria conflict - Joint declaration (France, Germany, United Kingdom, United States) - Press briefing by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (Paris - March 15, 2019)

Eight years ago today, tens of thousands of Syrians took to the streets to claim the right to express themselves freely, call for reform and demand justice. The Assad regime’s brutal response, and role in the conflict that followed, resulted in the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II.

We recognize the brave men and women from across Syria’s diverse society who have worked towards a better future for all Syrians. We also remember the countless civilians who have lost their lives from torture, starvation and attacks by the regime and its backers. Over 400,000 men, women and children have been killed. Tens of thousands have been disappeared into Assad’s prison system, where many have been tortured and killed. Countless families still have no news of the relatives they have lost, and have no closure.

Whilst the Assad regime and its backers try to convince the world that the conflict is over and that life has returned to normal, the reality is that the regime’s suppression of the Syrian people has not ended. Approximately 13 million Syrians are now in need of humanitarian assistance, many of them still denied safe and unhindered humanitarian access by the regime. Over 11 million—half of Syria’s prewar population—are displaced, unable to return home. The violence in Idlib has recently increased, and airstrikes have taken the lives of civilians and humanitarian workers.

The military solution the Syrian regime hopes to achieve, with backing from Russia and Iran, will not bring peace. The only way to end the violence and economic hardship as well as to secure a lasting settlement to the conflict is a negotiated political solution. And only a political solution can provide the necessary guarantees for all components of Syrian society as well as for Syria’s neighbors.

The governments of France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States reiterate our support for the UN-led process in Geneva and UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2254 to bring about a peaceful and stable Syria, and to consolidate the gains achieved by the liberation of territory from ISIS. We will continue to pursue accountability for the crimes committed in the Syrian conflict in order to achieve justice and reconciliation for the Syrian people. We are clear that we will not consider providing or supporting any reconstruction assistance until a credible, substantive and genuine political process is irreversibly underway. Russia and Syria must respect the right of Syrian refugees to return home voluntarily and safely, end pretenses that conditions are right for reconstruction and normalization, and we call on them to engage seriously in the negotiations that alone can bring peace to Syria.

(Source of English text: UK government website.)

4. United Nations - Journalism and the Empowerment of Women: New Challenges in the Digital World - CSW63 Side Event, organized by the UN Group of Friends for the Protection of Journalists - Statement by the Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations (New York - March 14, 2019)

Thank you so much Minister,

Bonjour à tous,

Together with Lithuania and Greece, France is very proud to co-host this event and to welcome all of you today. I’m glad to see there is such a success for this event. I’d also like to thank Reporters Without Borders—with a special word of appreciation to his head Christophe Deloire who is here with us this afternoon—, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Women’s Media Foundation for co-sponsoring this important event with us.

I am especially proud because this is the first time that this topic of "women and the digital media" is being addressed at the United Nations (...). As we all know, online abuse can be very intrusive and invasive. Our distinguished panelists will speak about it. That’s why we need to promote a zero tolerance policy and to be ambitious. In this respect, I’d like to emphasize 3 points :

1) First of all, the movement that was created by the hashtags #Metoo and #balanceTonPorc in France is just a starting point, it’s just a beginning and it is unprecedented. The French hashtag #balanceTonPorc for example is almost impossible to translate but the idea is to expose on the internet those who have harassed female subordinates in the work place, and I’m sure that Sandra Müller will be able to elaborate on this later.

Our briefers are going to share their experience and discuss the consequences of this new online trend, but we know they are far-reaching. In France, the US and many other parts of the world, this discussion is triggering a change of behavior, that could translate into real social change. After the outrage that followed the disclosure of an extensive pattern of harassment against women in the media industry in France under the destructive hashtag #LigueDuLol (the #leagueOftheLOL), major French media outlets are taking action and no later than yesterday voluntarily signed a common charter, at the French Ministry of culture, in order to prevent such practices and to put an end to sexism in their companies. I think it is a very important movement that has started here.

2) Number two, and I’ll be brief on this one, there should be no impunity for violations of women’s rights. Impunity is not an option. Visibility and exposure should lead to accountability. This is key to ensuring women’s empowerment and gender equality.

3) Number three, the use of digital media in a safer environment can help improve the representation of women in the media. Let’s see things in a positive way: this can create a virtuous circle. Strengthening women’s voices in the media will promote day after day women’s empowerment in the work place everywhere, and increase awareness of women’s rights. And again new media can have a multiplier effect but in a positive way this time.

Finally, you can count on France’s commitment at the international level to promote this constructive agenda - including through the Group of Friends for the protection of journalists, but also through the Group of Friends to eliminate sexual harassment, that together with a couple of other countries we launched at the French Mission a few weeks ago. And a few minutes earlier, together with our Minister for Gender Equality, Marlène Schiappa, who is in New York today, we had another meeting of this Group of Friends to eliminate sexual harassment, the first at ministerial level. This is part of a true "feminist diplomacy" that France is proud to promote, with others of course, here in New York.

At the national level, we are also working with online platforms to eliminate online gender based violence. To give you just an example, a French law criminalizing collective cyberharassment came into force last summer.

This is why, my dear friends, it is so important to hold this discussion and I hope we will jointly propose practical guidelines for the benefit of women. In this fight, you can count on me, you can count on the French Mission here, but more importantly you can count on President Macron, on Ministers Le Drian and Schiappa, the whole French government because this is our common fight. And if we are together, we will win this battle.

Merci beaucoup.

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