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Official speeches and statements - December 10, 2019

Published on December 11, 2019

1. Ukraine - Paris "Normandie" Summit - Common agreed conclusions (Paris, 09/12/2019)

The President of the French Republic, the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, the President of the Russian Federation and the President of Ukraine met in Paris today.

The Minsk agreements (Minsk Protocol of 5 September 2014, Minsk Memorandum of 19 September 2014 and the Minsk Package of Measures of 12 February 2015) continue to be the basis of the work of the Normandy format whose member states are committed to their full implementation.

They underline their shared aspiration to a sustainable and comprehensive architecture of trust and security in Europe, based on the OSCE principles, for which the settlement of the conflict in Ukraine is one of several important steps.

On this basis, they decide on the following:

1. Immediate measures to stabilize the situation in the conflict area

The sides commit to a full and comprehensive implementation of the ceasefire, strengthened by the implementation of all necessary ceasefire support measures, before the end of the year 2019.

They will support the development and implementation of an updated demining plan, on the basis of the decision of the Trilateral Contact Group on demining activities, dated March 3, 2016.

They will support an agreement within the Trilateral Contact Group on three additional disengagement areas, with the aim of disengaging forces and equipment by the end of March 2020.

They encourage the Trilateral Contact Group to facilitate the release and exchange of conflict-related detainees by the end of the year, based on the principle of "all for all", starting with "all identified for all identified", with the understanding that international organisations including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) be granted full and unconditional access to all detained persons.

They will support an agreement within the Trilateral Contact Group, within 30 days, on new crossing points along the line of contact, based primarily on humanitarian criteria.

They recall that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) should be able to use all possibilities of the 21 March 2014 mandate, and have safe and secure access throughout Ukraine in order to fully implement its mandate.

2. Measures to implement the political provisions of the Minsk agreements

The sides express interest in agreeing within the Normandy format (N4) and the Trilateral Contact Group on all the legal aspects of the Special Order of Local Self-Government - special status - of Certain Areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk Regions - as outlined in the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements from 2015 - in order to ensure its functioning on a permanent basis.

They consider it necessary to incorporate the “Steinmeier formula" into the Ukrainian legislation, in accordance with the version agreed upon within the N4 and the Trilateral Contact Group.

3. Follow up

They ask their Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Political Advisors to ensure the implementation of the agreements reached and they agree to have another meeting in this format within four months on the political and security conditions, inter alia for the organization of the local elections./.

2. United Nations - Protection of the Environment during armed conflict - Statement by the Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Arria-Formula meeting of the Security Council (New York, 09/12/2019)

Mr. Chair,

For the record, I would like to register France’s regret that this meeting is being held without interpretation.

This debate is important because protecting the environment, which is a recognized priority in peacetime, must also be a priority in times of war. Our briefers stated the case in this regard very clearly.

The challenging question is what can we do to better anticipate, prevent and address damages to the environment in conflict, which are multipliers of conflict and also undermine the basis for the restoration of peace afterwards - we are still haunted by the memory of the images of the Kuwaiti oil field ablaze. To answer the question, as a way of reflecting and thinking out loud, I would like to offer a few thoughts and practical proposals.

1/ The first thing to do is anticipating the environmental stakes of the conflicts likely to arise, through the conduct of environmental evaluations of the risks of environmental damage. These assessments already exist, but if they were strengthened and systematized, they would represent a powerful tool to protect the environment during armed conflicts. And I would like to seize this opportunity to commend the remarkable work of UNEP which is one of the only organizations to do such a work.

Systematic assessments would enable us to identify the main environmental issues of the conflict to arise. At the end of the conflict, pre-existing assessments would make it easier to implement appropriate measures to restore the environment and to better identify the causes and those responsible for the damage.

Such environmental assessments would also be powerful tools as they would identify the most sensitive areas (protected areas, river basins, major industrial sites, etc.) requiring special protection as well as adequate locations for displaced people and refugees to relocate.

Acting by anticipation also means preventing the conflicts that can create environmental changes.

In this respect, France supports the idea of a report which would entrust the United Nations with a mission of analysis and early warning of the impacts of climate change for international security, through a biennial report of the Secretary General to the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council.

We know climate impacts on vulnerable territories and societies with low resilience can lead to massive migration, create socio-economic imbalances and exacerbate tensions over access to resources.

Such a tool will provide States, regional organizations, UN agencies and development actors with the information needed to develop concrete conflict prevention measures related to the consequences of climate change.

2/ Mr. Chair, beyond prevention we must also do more collectively in conflict situations.

I am particularly thinking about 4 ways of doing so:

First, it is of paramount importance to insist on compliance with international law, in particular international humanitarian law and international environmental law, as the Deputy permanent representatives of Germany and Poland have underlined. ICRC’s work in this regard must be praised and encouraged.

Second, international environmental cooperation must be strengthened, notably through the exchange of data and practical information. Exchange of data can play a positive role in armed conflicts as evidenced by several examples.

For example, in the region adjacent to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and Rwanda, conservation programs, implemented in collaboration with environmental groups and the Global Environment Facility, have protected areas to avoid looting, or even to help pacify the belligerents.

Third, in conflict situations, it is also necessary to reduce the environmental footprint of military operations, and this concerns Peacekeeping operations, as the Ambassador of Indonesia just pointed out, and particularly with regard to the high consumption of energy resources. As said, this concerns United Nations peace operations. The Department of Peace Operations and the Department of Operational Support endeavor to take it into account in the deployment and planning of such operations. We encourage these efforts.

Reducing the environmental footprint of peacekeeping operations is not only a question of ethics and accountability, it is also a matter of cost and efficiency. Often, alternatives to fossil fuels are not only less polluting but also less expensive for an operation than the establishment of heavy logistics chains.

This duty of exemplarity also applies to our national armies. As an example, with regard to its military equipment, the French armed forces use ecodesign material in order to limit their environmental impacts during their life cycle, while ensuring the best possible match between operational performance and environmental efficiency.

Fourth and final idea, it is also essential to integrate the notion of environmental protection within the humanitarian response that can be provided to support populations facing armed conflict. Meeting basic needs is crucial, but to be fully effective, conflict victim assistance should also be viewed as a long-term process. In this perspective, France will co-organize, in the framework of the first Refugee Forum, a parallel event with Norway and Jordan on the greening of humanitarian responses, particularly in contexts of forced displacement of populations.

The protection of the environment in time of war therefore requires the full investment of all because reconstruction and restoring lasting peace depend on it. France, in conjunction with its partners, intends to continue efforts in this direction.

Thank you./.