MIL-OSI Europe: Official speeches and statements – February 25, 2021


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

1. United Nations – Maintenance of international peace and security: climate and security – Statement by Mr. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, at the Security Council (By videoconference, 23/02/2021)

Courtesy translation from French

Distinguished Presidents,

Distinguished Prime Ministers,

Secretary General of the United Nations,

Ladies and Gentlemen and Dear Friends,

I would like to begin by thanking Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the United Kingdom for organizing, with the Secretary-General, this meeting and for hosting us this year in Glasgow for COP26. I think that we are all aware of the importance of this agenda at a time when, in a few weeks, the United States of America will be holding an important summit, on April 22. And I would also like to greet John Kerry, whom I see on the screen and who was at the forefront of the Paris Agreement and, if I may say so, was a “Resistance fighter” during the last 4 years. And so, we are all happy to see the United States of America back at the table.

I have 3 very simple messages to share with you which are in line with everything that was just said.

The first one is that we have been able to establish very clearly over the past few years that the fight against climate change and for the protection of the environment is clearly a peace and security issue. I will not go back over the whole agenda that followed the Paris agreement and what we will – no doubt – be discussing on April 22, then in Glasgow, and what our objectives are with regard to current and future generations. But very clearly, the link between climate and security, while complex, is undeniable, somehow inexorable and beyond even what has been written.

Out of the 20 countries most affected by conflict in the world, 12 are also among the countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. In the Pacific, and in the absence of resolute adaptation actions, the inhabitants of some islands will have no other choice but to leave their lands. And we have learned in recent years how the impact of desertification, the reduction of fish stocks, and opportunities to establish stable crops, can lead to conflict.

The Lake Chad Basin region is a clear example of this, which has been subject to migration and a large part of the conflict, beyond the Islamic terrorist factor, has been fueled by migrations forced by climate change. That is the case as well with the success of Boko Haram in the region and the change of use of certain lands in northeastern Nigeria. So very clearly, we see the consequences in these areas of an uncontrolled climate agenda on insecurity and somehow on the emergence of new conflicts. We can also observe it on an agenda, and I know how committed the Secretary General António Guterres is on this, related to population displacements, migration and therefore refugees.

There is a growing number of climate refugees. Climate refugees are becoming today the primary targets of the pandemic and of the food crisis. And to some extent, we can see the accumulation of all these agendas. And clearly, any failure on the climate front would undermine conflict prevention and peacebuilding efforts. That is why, I fully support the initiative of addressing these issues in the Security Council as part of its mandate to maintain international peace and security. The Council’s action must be guided by the need to mitigate the effects of climate change on populations and its consequences on the development of conflicts. This should be carried out in the framework of effective multilateral climate diplomacy, and with a wide range of tools available to us. After an extreme climate event, emergency measures that are humanitarian in nature will be needed to save lives, ensure security, and also provide the means for sustainable reconstruction. And in other cases, it will be necessary to help communities adapt to the inevitable sea level rise and land degradation.

It will also be necessary to anticipate by providing, for example, small producers with insurance mechanisms to enable them to restart economic activity. And therefore, it is clear that this is an agenda that needs to be structured, an agenda of prevention and efficiency, which justifies, on the one hand, that it needs to be brought to the Security Council, and on the other hand, that fully justifies our support for the appointment of a Special Envoy for climate security to coordinate all these efforts. I could also see only advantages in having a report from the Secretary-General every year to the Security Council on the impact of climate change on international security to anticipate, alert, make recommendations and enable us to play our role.

Secondly, given the growing role of climate as a threat multiplier, we must act effectively, take our responsibilities, each and every one of us, in particular in three regions that seem to me to be specifically vulnerable and where the multilateral agenda must be linked with the regional agenda and take a form that is better adapted. We know that the consequences of climate change are unfairly distributed and we have to take that into account in our commitments. A month ago, I asked for the France’s share of climate finance dedicated to adaptation to be increased. France will devote 2 billion per year, or 1/3 of climate finance to adaptation. And there are numerous areas upon which action must focus.

First of all, in Africa. Very clearly, it is in Africa, and the two examples I mentioned earlier are proof of that, that we see the most striking consequences of the link between climate and security. On January 11, at the One Planet Summit devoted to biodiversity, we launched an accelerator for the Great Green Wall project. The Great Green Wall is an initiative that has been existing for more than 10 years now, bringing together 11 Sahel States, and here I would like to greet all my friends from the Sahel, that I see here, with a goal of restoring 100,000,000 hectares of land for agriculture and creating 10 million jobs while sequestering 250 million tons of carbon. It would be an outstanding contribution from Africa too to combat global warming. On this agenda, we have decided to reinvest, ensuring good governance, and we are well aware of this, given what the countries of the Sahel are going through today in the face of the terrorist threat. By accelerating our responses for biodiversity and mitigating climate change in the Sahel, we have with this a very concrete instrument to protect climate and maintain peace, which are totally linked. And it is exactly the same mindset in Africa that has animated all the initiatives that have been carried out to protect tropical forests. I can see the Prime Minister of Norway, who is here with us, and who, alongside Chancellor Merkel, has played a key role in this initiative. That must continue to inspire us. And I believe that it is exactly this mindset that we must structure. And in this regard, I think that an increased dialogue between the African Union and the United Nations would be extremely conducive to better structure these instruments and articulate this debate.

I believe that this is exactly the same methodology that applies to the Indo-Pacific region. We have today in the Indo-Pacific region, therefore Pacific-Oceania, a large number of vulnerable states. We know that a lot of these nation-states today will have a great deal of difficulties adapting if we do not break the course of global warming and climate change. The answers that must be provided are the conditions for peace and stability in this entire region, and we must provide them in a multilateral framework, otherwise climate anxiety and climate change will worsen the current geopolitical situation and will, in a way, be the instruments of a “climate adaptation diplomacy” that will trigger the wars of the coming years, by proposing repopulation, by proposing adjustments at the hand of one or the other of the great sovereign States of the region.

Thirdly, the agenda in the Arctic will be one of the major challenges of the coming years and will also be a climate and geopolitical challenge, combining the responses that we will have to provide to prevent and accompany the global warming that is currently at work and to avoid the geopolitical tensions which are growing in this region.

Therefore, I wanted to focus on these three regions, which are very concrete theaters for a greater re-involvement of the international community as well as the need for the United Nations and a multilateral agenda to avoid new conflicts.

Finally, the battle against the scourges of the 21st century must also be the leaven of a rediscovered unity of the Security Council. The pandemic has demonstrated the possibility to reconcile around global health, biodiversity and the fight against climate change. I believe that the same is true, adding peace and security. We are increasingly in the process of reuniting these agendas together to protect human beings and also creating the ways and means for a kind of reconsolidation of effective multilateralism, which is a necessity for the permanent members and for all members of the Security Council, to cooperate on this concrete agenda in the years to come. It is not only a matter of regional conflicts that would inevitably worsen – something we should never accept – but what is at stake is our health, our lives, and the stability of our planet.

These are the three remarks that I wanted to share with you with one conviction, which is that the role of the United Nations and the Council is, on this particular issue, undoubtedly even more important today than it was yesterday, and that we are facing a race against time, that is actually bringing these agendas closer together. And I just wanted to tell you that France, at your side, will be fully committed to this effort./.

2. Multilateralism – Alliance for Multilateralism – Speech by M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs (Paris, 24/02/2021)


The multilateralism we’ve gradually built since 1945, the multilateralism we currently uphold, isn’t just a modus operandi, it’s a set of values. It’s a certain idea of humanity, a certain idea of dignity. And that’s why, this year, we wanted to ensure this new meeting of our alliance coincided with the opening of the Human Rights Council, as we did last year. In the space of a year, while the pandemic crisis has taken centre stage, there have been considerable setbacks. And the role of this Council therefore remains absolutely essential, and we must all support it. And France is proud to have a seat there again, alongside some of your countries. We perfectly appreciate what a major responsibility this is, and we intend to shoulder it fully by taking very concrete action worldwide to promote respect for human rights.

So today we’ll begin by discussing a few of the new threats posed to human rights.

I’m thinking, first of all, of the challenge of the digital revolution. Fighting for the universality of human rights today means, in particular, fighting to ensure that the right to privacy, freedom of expression, and the freedom to inform and be informed does not stop where cyberspace begins; and fighting all violations of these, even those committed using digital tools, is essential. The virtual world is now fully part of our reality; if there was ever a need, this meeting confirms this to us. A growing part of our existence is now played out in cyberspace. So it can’t consist of lawless areas, especially when it comes to basic rights.

This is why an effective multilateralism that serves the values bringing us together is a multilateralism that works to develop and enforce new regulations in this area – new regulations for the responsible use of artificial intelligence, in line with the recommendations made by UNESCO and the avenues opened up by the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence that we launched in June 2020; and also new regulations to ensure the media can continue playing their full role as a pillar of democracy, despite the economic and technological changes currently revolutionizing their operating model. And this is one of the challenges of the [International] Partnership on Information and Democracy that we created with our partners in the Alliance for Multilateralism, and Christophe Deloire, Secretary-General of Reporters Without Borders, will come back to this.

As you said a moment ago, Heiko, climate disruption is also a new threat to human rights. It’s unfortunately an environmental reality; but this environmental reality is all the more formidable because it will be combined – and sometimes already is being combined – with social realities. At the same time, the battle for the climate must always be a battle for humanity: not only for future generations but also, right now, for the most vulnerable people in our societies; that’s the purpose of the Feminist Action for Climate Justice Action Coalition, formed in the run-up to the Generation Equality Forum to be held this year; we’ll be returning to that in a moment.

In the second part of this meeting, we’ll also be taking stock of our collective response to the health crisis. We’ll be discussing not only the short-term challenges, in particular the issue of universal access to the global public goods that vaccines must be, but also the battle we’re fighting to achieve this in the framework of the ACT-A initiative. Heiko has already laid this out fully, just now. And we also need to think and act together on reforming the multilateral health architecture, which involves several very concrete areas: strengthening the role of the WHO, in particular by improving its alert system; having available the scientific expertise needed to take action, in particular through the One Health High-Level Expert Council, whose creation was approved at our last meeting in November; and sending on-site verification missions.

These are three initiatives, three very concrete projects where we must make active efforts. They’re the issues on which we must act together to find avenues to more effective collective action. (…)./.

3. United Nations – CAR – Statement by Mr Nicolas de Rivière, permanent representative of France at the Security Council (New York, 24/02/2021)

Translation from French

Mr. President,

Mr. Assistant Secretary General,

I would like to thank the various speakers for their briefings and I would like to emphasize three points.

Firstly, I would like to stress that only a political solution can lead to an exit from the current crisis.

I want to call on the Government and all Central African stakeholders to do everything possible to put an end to hostilities and to take the path of reconciliation.

This is a message that is addressed unanimously by this Council and by the Peace and Security Council of the African Union. This is the core of the initiatives taken by ECCAS and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, to which France gives its full support.

However, we are not seeing any concrete progress. France urges the Central African authorities and all Central African political actors to engage without delay in an inclusive political dialogue under the aegis of the region. It calls on MINUSCA and partners in the region to use all their influence to support these efforts. It is important that the legislative and local elections be organized in a peaceful manner, while drawing lessons from the security challenges that marked the December 27 elections.

At the same time, the peace process must be revived. France supports the adoption of sanctions against those who have tried to derail this process and do not rally to the path of peace and dialogue. We have taken due note of the position expressed to that effect by the Peace and Security Council of the African Union.

Secondly, I would like to commend MINUSCA’s response to the crisis, sometimes at the ultimate sacrifice. Once again, I bow before the memory of the seven peacekeepers who have fallen since December.

France has taken note of the Secretary-General’s request to strengthen the Mission’s means to enable it to fulfil its mandate, a request supported by the Central African authorities, as reflected in President Touadéra’s letter to the Secretary-General of 22 February. We support that request and will shortly submit a resolution to that effect to the Security Council.

Protection of civilians and humanitarian access must remain absolute priorities: France calls on all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law. This is all the more essential given the increasing number of displaced persons and the worsening food insecurity. The number of attacks against humanitarian personnel has never been so high, which is unacceptable. The perpetrators of these crimes must be brought to justice.

In this regard, France is very concerned by reports on the recapture of the city of Bambari. It calls on the authorities of the Central African Republic and MINUSCA to establish the truth of the facts and, if violations have been committed, perpetrators must not go unpunished.

Furthermore, serious violations against children continue. France therefore calls for the implementation of the conclusions of the Council working group adopted in July 2020.

In conclusion, I would like to recall, as I did on 21 January, that the arms embargo was not created to hinder the strengthening of the Central African armed forces, a strengthening which France fully supports.

We are listening to the concerns of the Central African authorities and we have taken note of their requests, as well as those of ECCAS and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region on this subject.

In this regard, we are in favor of a Security Council meeting soon in the presence of representatives of these two organizations, as their Presidents have requested.

It is clear that evolutions of the arms embargo, to which we are ready, must be part of an overall strategy that takes into account regional efforts, political progress in the Central African Republic and progress in achieving the objectives set by our Council in the area of arms control.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, I express the hope that the Security Council, through its unity, will support the efforts of MINUSCA and those of the region to stabilize the situation in the Central African Republic, which must return to the path of peace.

Thank you./.

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