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Source: France-Diplomatie – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development

1. COVID-19 – Special session of the UN General Assembly in response to the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic – Statement by Mr. Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic (by videoconference – December 3, 2020)

United Nations Secretary-General,

Heads of State and Government,

Ladies and gentlemen,

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed our societies to multiple challenges.

The first is that of international public health cooperation. We can now draw several lessons from the current crisis in this regard.

Firstly, the only effective responses to the pandemic will be global, coordinated and inclusive. That is why I am so pleased with the collective action driven by the ACT-Accelerator initiative, which aims to make tools for fighting pandemics accessible to all countries, and to make them global public goods. A total of 10 billion dollars has already been raised for the initiative, which is considerable. But we must continue to raise funds from the entire international community.

As I said to the G20 partner countries at the Summit in Riyadh on 21 November, France proposes a donation mechanism so that a portion of the first doses of vaccines available are used to vaccinate priority groups in developing countries. These doses, whether they come from Europe, China, Russia or the United States, whether they are the fruit of donations from States or pharmaceutical companies, would thus be allocated effectively and fairly, on the basis of WHO recommendations. I invite you to build this mechanism together. I believe it to be the most adapted response.

But we know that vaccines will not be enough. Unless primary health systems are strengthened in the most vulnerable countries, they will not be used. Unless health workers everywhere are trained, our health response will remain sub-optimal: that is why France supports the World Health Organization in establishing a WHO Academy in Lyon, which will train health workers from all over the world. That is also why we invite all the powers of the G20 and beyond, to strengthen the health portion of their official development assistance, to come to the aid of the primary health systems of the main emerging and developing countries concerned.

Secondly, a lesson from this crisis is that we are not sufficiently prepared to deal with health threats. We need to strengthen the current system of international health security. France has made proposals, particularly with Germany and its other European partners more broadly. We support the strengthening of the World Health Organization, which is the sole universal health organization. That is why we have made an additional 50-million euros contribution to the WHO for 2020 and 2021.

More specifically, we would like to see an intermediate alert system established so that the WHO can warn sound the alert. We would also like to see more transparency and accountability on the part of States Parties to the International Health Regulations. An international inquiry is under way and we must learn all possible lessons from it. It will most likely be necessary to review the International Health Regulations, in order to become more effective in this respect.

The third lesson is that the public health crisis underlines the interaction between human, animal and environmental health, amid the deterioration of ecosystems.

That is why we support the creation of a One Health Council of high-level experts tasked with collecting and disseminating the scientific information available on the links between human, animal and environmental health, in order to assist public officials in managing future health crises and inform citizens about these issues. I am pleased that the WHO, OIE, FAO and UNEP are working to create this Council, in a spirt of partnership with all the major international organizations in the sectors.

Beyond health issues, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a major humanitarian impact. It has increased poverty and inequalities. According to the United Nations, 235 million people will need humanitarian assistance in 2021. The number of people in need of food aid has never been so high.

In this respect, I commend the essential action of all the United Nations agencies and programs and their staff who work every day alongside the most vulnerable people on the planet, at times risking their lives. I would also like to recall that it is more crucial than ever to ensure humanitarian workers’ access to the people they are seeking to help.

The exceptional circumstances generated by the pandemic threaten, in many countries, the achievements of the over-70-year international fight for human rights.

The pandemic must not be used a pretext for restrictions on civil society, erosion of the rule of law, attacks on the freedom of expression, or the arbitrary detention of opponents. It cannot be used as an excuse to undermine the progress made in fighting violence against women, in access to sexual and reproductive rights and services, and in protecting our children. Because we cannot tolerate such backsliding, we are organizing the Generation Equality Forum in 2021. Please join us so that we can together champion the cause of gender equality.

Lastly, our role is to prevent further excesses in the brutalization of the world during this crisis, which is far more than just a public health crisis.

The Security Council took into account of the destabilizing effect of pandemics very early. It was able to do so with HIV in 2000 and again with Ebola in 2014 and 2018. That is why, when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, we put forward Resolution 2532, with Tunisia, which was unanimously adopted by the Security Council on July 1, 2020, in support of the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire.

I would like to commend, in this regard, the men and women working in United Nations operations who continue, despite the difficulties, to defend peace, and also to combat COVID-19.

Here were some of the convictions I wanted to share with you today. I wish you much luck and progress in your work and I hope you will all come out of this pandemic more united and stronger. Thank you.


2. Brexit – Press briefing by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (excerpt) (Paris – December 3, 2020)

(…)

Q – Does France think an agreement on Brexit is close, or do you fear a no-deal is more likely at this stage?

I refer you to the Prime Minister’s statements on Brexit today.

We are in a decisive phase of the negotiations on the future of the partnership with the United Kingdom.

Time is short, because EU law will stop applying to UK territory on 31 December, the date when the transition period ends. So there is very little time left to achieve an agreement allowing us to define the practicalities of the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom, on trade but also in many other areas like security and access to the waters by our fishermen.

But the outcome of the negotiations remain uncertain. The EU has made the necessary gestures to reach a compromise. It’s up to the British to make sufficient movement to achieve an agreement on the main sticking points, especially fisheries and conditions for fair competition.

We’d like an agreement with the British, but we won’t give way on our demands, because we want an agreement that respects the EU’s principles and our interests, and those of our businesses and citizens. (…)


3. United Nations – Security Sector Reform – Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, permanent representative of France to the United Nations, at the Security Council (New York – December 3, 2020)

[translation from French]

Madam President,

I too wish you every success for your presidency of the Security Council and congratulate you and your country on your commitment to a theme that is dear to us. Indeed, everywhere, the confidence of our citizens in their government depends on the ability to guarantee security. This is even more true in the aftermath of a conflict, where populations traumatized by cycles of violence need strong security institutions, staffed by competent personnel, acting within the framework of the law and respecting human rights, to project themselves into the future and rebuild it. With resolution 2151, the Security Council recognized the importance of helping States improve their performance in security sector reform to consolidate peace. We welcome South Africa’s initiative to present a new draft resolution that would enable us to further clarify the issues at stake in this process and to achieve further concrete progress.

I would like to emphasize three points:

First of all, peacekeeping and special political missions often contribute to the long-term stabilization of host States, a stabilization that enables them to strengthen their autonomy and thus to contribute directly to the exit strategy of peace operations. However, these peace operations need to be mandated for this purpose. France has a strong ambition in this area with regard to MONUSCO, MINUSMA and MINUSCA.

In this regard, the difficult task of the security sector reform services within the Missions, under the authority of the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General, deserves to be actively supported. I commend the work of the organizations that assist these missions in connection with the United Nations, such as the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance, which operates in 80 countries and which France supports.

Secondly, France advocates a vision of security sector reform that takes the greatest possible account of the specific characteristics of each country, based on the political will of the host State and the coordination of international actors. It is the combination of these wills that makes it possible to provide a solid foundation for security sector reform. I am thinking, for example, of the model of the “instance de coordination au Mali”, which provides the link between the national armed forces and international partner forces.

Thirdly, France considers that one of the factors of success is initiatives conducted at the country and mission levels, so that the reform can be perfectly aligned with the needs identified on the ground. It is essential to be able to rely on indicators adapted to each mission, allowing, on the basis of regular reports, a reliable synthesis of progress made, both in capacity building and in the implementation of structural reforms. The benchmarks relating to the establishment of a reconstituted Malian army, in MINUSMA’s mandate, illustrate how this mechanism can be used as a lever for coordinating efforts between political guidance by the Security Council and the efforts of peace operations on the ground, as well as the international community’s monitoring work with the host state.

Thank you.


4. United Nations – Meeting of the group of friends on climate change – Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, permanent representative of France to the United Nations (New York – December 4, 2020)

OPENING REMARKS

Dear colleagues and dear friends,

Thank you all for joining this meeting of the Group of Friends of Climate. I would like to thank my colleague from Morocco, Ambassador Hilale, who co-chairs this group with me.

On behalf of all of us, I also would like to warmly thank Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, for being with us today. For four years now, Patricia has been leading the UN Climate Change Convention, and we would like to express our full appreciation for your amazing work.

As you know, next Saturday will be a special day. On December 12th, we will commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement.

On this occasion, a climate ambition summit will gather leaders from governments, business and civil society. This summit will be a key step towards an historical COP26 in Glasgow next year.

Indisputably, 2021 will be a pivotal moment for climate and our planet.

As we enter a new decade of action, these very important deadlines will have to deliver concrete and transformative solutions. As we all know, current commitments do not put us on track to achieve the goals we set five years ago.

In this respect, today’s discussion will identify and explore new ways to move faster in the right direction.

With no further ado, I would like to give the floor to Executive Secretary of UNFCCC Patricia Espinosa.

CONCLUSIVE REMARKS

Thank you Omar, thank you all for your contributions, thank you very much Patricia [Espinosa] for your remarks and presentation.

I believe now we have a very clear picture of what lies ahead of us.

2021 will be is a pivotal year for this issue for the international community. Covid-19 is turning the world upside down but this is an additional reason to remain focus on this climate change priority.

I just want to say hi to Barbara [Woodward, Permanent Representative of the UK to the UN] and tell her that this Group will remain available on a regular basis to contribute to the success of COP26 in Glasgow because it will be our success. We need this success in a year from now, so we need to keep ambitious targets

And France of course will remain more than ever committed to the implementation of the Paris agreement, and, if possible, go beyond the agreement.

Thank you all.

MIL OSI Europe News