United Nations – 71st session of the General Assembly

Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, will take part in the 71st session of the UN General Assembly in New York from September 18 to 25.

The French delegation will be led by President Hollande. Jean-Marc Ayrault will be accompanied by André Vallini, Minister of State for Development and Francophonie.


During the week, he will take part in numerous multilateral meetings and will hold bilateral meetings with several of his counterparts:

1) The work will focus on the international response to the crises.

- Syria: Jean-Marc Ayrault will take part in the high-level meeting of the Security Council on September 21. He has also taken the initiative to organize a ministerial meeting of the countries that support the peace effort on September 19, ahead of a meeting of the International Syria Support Group on September 20. The goal will be to make progress with respect to the cessation of hostilities, access to humanitarian assistance by the populations, the political transition, to reaffirm the fight against impunity and to put an end to the use of chemical weapons in Syria;

- Middle East peace initiative: The ministerial week will provide an opportunity to continue to mobilize our partners. Jean-Marc Ayrault will open the follow-up meeting to the Paris conference in June on the Middle East peace process and will take part in several high-level events on this issue;

- Libya: The minister will take part in a meeting on September 22 organized by the United States and Italy aimed at reaffirming the international community’s support for Prime Minister Fayez Serraj’s Government of National Accord;

- Africa: Jean-Marc Ayrault will take part in a meeting on Mali attended by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and a meeting on the same day on the Central African Republic attended by President Faustin-Archange Touadéra.

2) The minister will attend the summit on the refugee and migrant crisis organized by President of the UN General Assembly Peter Thomson, and will accompany President Hollande to the Leaders’ Summit on the Global Refugee Crisis organized by President Obama on September 20.

3) A renewed appeal for states to ratify the Paris Climate Agreement will be launched on September 21 during an event hosted by Ban Ki-moon in order to achieve the sustainable development goals and accelerate the fight against climate disruption. A meeting on the topic of renewable energy in Africa will also take place on September 20.

4) The minister will co-chair, together with his Tunisian and Qatari counterparts, a meeting on the reforms and investment opportunities in Tunisia on September 22.

5) A year after the signing of the Iranian nuclear deal, Jean-Marc Ayrault will take part in a follow-up meeting on the implementation of the deal with our partners in the “E3/UE+3” group and Iran on September 22.

During his visit, Jean-Marc Ayrault will meet with numerous civil society actors. He will visit the start-up Datadog, founded by French citizens, on September 23 and will meet with several NGOs to discuss human rights.

The minister will deliver a speech to students at Columbia University on September 22. He will visit the September 11 Memorial on September 18. He will take part in a meeting on the “Fieldwork: Marfa” project which focuses on French-American cooperation in the cultural and artistic spheres.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Opening of the 71st United Nations General Assembly - Press Conference by Jean-Marc Ayrault Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development - 19 September 2016

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I’m pleased to see you all here, as the 71st United Nations General Assembly begins getting under way.

I arrived on Saturday evening, and I will be in New York until Friday. President Hollande will fly in this evening. And I will offer my assessment of this General Assembly right here next Friday at 11 a.m.

This is a particularly intense ministerial week, which begins in the context of a world faced with numerous challenges, and in which the threat of terrorism weighs heavily on every continent. Yesterday morning I visited the Memorial for the victims of September 11, and I couldn’t help but look back at what led us to the situation we’re in today, in which terrorism is endangering our societies and democracies. We must step up our fight against that scourge, while at the same time sparing no effort to work for peace. Because clearly, terrorism is fueled by all these regional conflicts and the frustrations to which they give rise. Thus my priorities for the coming week here in New York, which I’m going to tell you about now.

1/ The first priority is Syria.

During the past few days, I’ve spoken with numerous partners. I will attend the Security Council meeting organized by the New Zealand presidency on Monday, which will focus mainly on the situation in Syria.

First, I will meet with representatives of the countries we know as the “Friends of Syria” to examine the situation in that country, particularly within the context of the Russian-American agreement on the cessation of hostilities. At this meeting, we will also hear from the representative of the Syrian opposition, Riyad Hijab, whom I’ve invited.

So where do we stand? The Russian-American agreement is particularly fragile, as the last few hours have shown. But a glimmer of hope must remain. Indeed, it’s the only basis on which the international community can support a cessation of hostilities and civilian access to humanitarian aid. This humanitarian aid is fundamental, and it is no longer arriving, or hardly at all. I am thinking in particular of Aleppo, which suffers more and more with each passing day. As we’ve repeated non-stop, a cessation of hostilities and humanitarian aid are the two prerequisites for resuming negotiations on a political transition, one that absolutely must take place.

As I was saying, this glimmer of hope is fragile. We are well of aware of that. The American bombing of Daesh ended up affecting regime forces in Deir Ez-Zor. And as we’ve all seen, that raised tensions between the agreement’s co-sponsors. But honestly, let’s look at things as they are, without considering tactical aspects or ulterior motives. These are the facts on the ground. Cease-fire violations are the regime’s fault. There’s no doubt that it’s the regime that’s responsible for the bulk of this tragedy. This is something we must never forget. There have been more than 300,000 deaths, nearly all of them due to the war conducted by the regime against its own people, a war that has also led to the displacement of millions of refugees. That’s the reality.

The only possible path, therefore, is for everyone to join forces to ensure that the cessation of hostilities is respected. In this regard, there must be a strengthened, renewed dialogue between the Russians and Americans. But given the fact that the dialogue must not be limited to two countries, as important as they may be, we also need a collective commitment. And I want to emphasize this collective aspect. Because despite all the good will in the world, when a fragile agreement is drafted, the hard thing is to implement it. So if there’s no support from the international community, if there’s no strong commitment – and France is ready to contribute to it, as we have constantly stated and repeated, as recently as this morning - I urge everyone to shoulder their responsibilities. That is the challenge of this ministerial week with regard to the crisis in Syria.

Some have already said that it’s all over. We’re at the General Assembly, this is a unique opportunity. Let’s take advantage of the full potential it offers us.

On behalf of France, I propose we establish an effective oversight mechanism. Indeed, we must build trust, we must be capable of gathering all available information relating to the parties’ respect of the cessation of hostilities. And I repeat, we must pay particular attention to the delivery of humanitarian aid, which remains non-existent, even though the Syrian people have been deprived of everything for more than five years now. It is up to the regime, first and foremost, and to Russia to make sure this humanitarian aid arrives.

Along with the Russian-American agreement, other questions are up in the air. I am thinking, of course, of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime but also by Daesh, which has now been established by the Security Council’s Joint investigative Mechanism. This is a major threat to international peace and security that goes well beyond the Syria conflict. A strong response is therefore necessary. France will not allow the world to ignore the risks involved in the proliferation of chemical weapons. That would not only be a mistake, it would be morally wrong toward the victims of these atrocities in Syria.

2/ This brings me to our second priority at the General Assembly. I want to discuss the French initiative concerning the Middle East peace process and to follow up on the meeting I chaired on June 3 in Paris.

In addition to all the conversations I will be having this week in New York, several meetings are on my agenda concerning this topic, including a meeting following up on the Paris conference, scheduled for today.

Despite all the expressions of skepticism – views that have been repeated over and over by those who clearly don’t want to do anything and even hope to ensure that nothing is done – I am convinced that, as we had hoped, the June 3rd meeting in Paris moved the lines by making the international community more aware of the fact that something must be done to motivate the parties, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, to resume their negotiations. Actually, several countries are working to that end: Egypt, Jordan, the United States, Russia. The Quartet report published in July detailed the various threats to the two-state solution and reiterated the urgent need to revitalize the efforts of the international community. All efforts are welcome and in fact complement the French effort. That’s what I say to all those who are involved and whose initiatives in fact serve to strengthen the French initiative.

Because our goal remains the same. It is to hold an international conference before the end of 2016 that will present Israelis and Palestinians with a unique contribution by the international community in the form of a comprehensive package of incentives. This package will concretely illustrate the support we are prepared to provide in the event of a peace agreement between the parties. The General Assembly must generate the kind of political momentum that allows us to achieve this goal.

3/ My third priority is the refugee crisis

Two high-level meetings are scheduled: one organized by the president of the general assembly today, in which I will take part, and the other by President Obama tomorrow, in which President Hollande will speak on behalf of France.

President Hollande and I want to convey a three-fold message:

- first of all, we must address the fundamental causes of the refugee flows and more generally, migration: war, persecution, poverty, climate disruption;

- secondly, we must strengthen our aid, notably for those countries that are especially affected. I am of course thinking of Lebanon, which has received more than a million refugees, of Jordan and Turkey.

France will provide almost €100 million in donations to the refugee crisis in 2016. This is twice as much as in 2014. Without taking into consideration the more than €900 million in loans to Jordan. The increase in our official development assistance should also help to strengthen our humanitarian assistance. We have committed ourselves to this unprecedented effort until 2018. I will make sure that these commitments are implemented, despite our budgetary constraints;

- with respect to receiving refugees, France has pledged to receive 30,000 people from Turkey under the EU resettlement and relocation mechanism. These refugees are on top of the 80,000 or so who lodged asylum applications in France in 2015. These commitments must be upheld and France will uphold them.

4/ I will now turn to the 4th priority: the consolidation of peace all over the world, whether in Libya, Mali or the Central African Republic

Throughout this week, high-level meetings will focus on the crises. France has taken the initiative to organize several of these meetings in order to ensure that the international community remains mobilized. In our view, there are no conflicts that are of lesser importance, and no crisis should be forgotten – I am thinking of Burundi; we managed to get the Security Council to send a police force to this country to conduct an on-site investigation.

With respect to Libya, I will take part in a ministerial meeting on Thursday. It’s true, it has to be said, that the situation is troubling and has significantly deteriorated over the last few days. The offensive led by General Haftar aimed at taking control of the oil crescent is obviously not a step in the right direction. There is a real risk of setbacks, after several months of efforts to strengthen – albeit at a slow but steady pace – the Government of National Accord that resulted from the Skhirat agreement. We must therefore jointly signal our support for this government and its prime minister, Fayez Serraj. That is why France has invited him – as President Hollande announced a few days ago – to come to Paris in the very near future.

With respect to Mali, I will also deliver a speech on Friday, September 23, within the framework of a ministerial meeting to be attended by Malian president, Ibrahim Boubakar Keita. This meeting will provide an opportunity to take stock of the implementation of the peace agreements as well as to discuss Mali’s development; France came to its rescue in 2013. I saw for myself in May during my visit, together with my counterpart, Franck Walter Steinmeier, that significant progress had been made in the region. Although tensions and asymmetric attacks persist, as we have noted over the last few days, the security situation is generally improving. The international community’s commitment, notably on the part of the countries that contribute troops to MINUSMA, is ongoing. This effort must be maintained. On France’s initiative, the Security Council authorized the deployment of 2,500 additional peacekeepers in June, as well as the strengthening of the mission’s mandate.

Lastly, the parties must be encouraged to effectively implement the peace agreement signed in Algiers last year. This will notably be the purpose of the meeting to be attended by the Malian president.

With respect to the Central African Republic, I will take part in a meeting on Friday with President Touadera. Remarkable progress has been made in this country: firstly, the political transition has been completed in accordance with democratic rules, constitutional order has been restored, a government has been put in place and this government is at work. However, huge challenges remain: the commitment to reconciliation is not sufficiently shared; some people are deliberately standing in the way of this process. Violence has again erupted over the last few days and there have been deaths. The development projects critically needed by this country, which has high expectations, have still not been launched. Our meeting will provide an opportunity to encourage the government to give new impetus to this process, notably in preparation for the donors’ conference scheduled to be organized by the EU in the fall.

Beyond these four priorities:

- I will meet with Nadia Murad, the young Yezidi woman who suffered at the hands of Daesh and is now a UN goodwill ambassador, in order to discuss how to follow up on the remarkable work of the Pinheiro Commission of Inquiry, which is investigating all of the massacres, and how to combat impunity. This is what I stated on February 29 in my speech to the Human Rights Council in Geneva;

- I will also speak at a meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum co-chaired by Morocco and the Netherlands and will present France’s strategy to combat radicalization;

- with respect to monitoring the Iranian nuclear deal, I will take part in a ministerial meeting of the E3+3;

- I will co-chair, together with my Qatari and Tunisian counterparts, a meeting on the economic and investment opportunities in Tunisia in conjunction with the Tunisia 2020 Conference due to take place in Tunisia from November 29 to 30;

- As I did on the sidelines of the Security Council meeting, I will meet with human rights NGOs.

III – And I will of course take advantage of my presence in New York to nurture our bilateral relations with the United States:

As I told you, I visited the September 11 Memorial yesterday.

On Thursday morning I will address the students and professors of Columbia University. This event will provide an opportunity to exchange views on the importance of transatlantic cooperation to jointly address all of the challenges facing our world today. On Thursday at noon, I will then meet with France’s foreign trade advisors in order to discuss our economic relations and how to strengthen them. I will also visit the start-up, DataDog, which specializes in innovative services for managing information networks. This start-up was founded by French nationals, demonstrating that innovation is at the heart of what France and the United States can achieve together.

Lastly, I will participate in an event devoted to cooperation in Marfa between the École des Beaux-Arts in Nantes, the University of Houston and the Geneva University of Art and Design. I will launch the France Alumni USA platform, aimed at facilitating networking between former American students in France; this will also provide an opportunity for me to tell Americans who wish to study in France that they will be very welcome.

I wanted to include all of these elements in my program because I believe that culture and education are bridges between France and the United States that remain extremely relevant today.

Ladies and gentlemen, these are the priorities and a summary of the schedule, which as you can imagine is very busy this week.

Tuesday, September 20

71st session of the United Nations General Assembly – Speech by Mr. François Hollande, President of the Republic – General debate of the United Nations General Assembly - 20 September 2016

It’s always an honour to speak to the United Nations General Assembly. Yet it’s also a responsibility, particularly given the serious, worrying situation the world is experiencing.

I stand before you on behalf of France to issue several appeals : the first is to ask you to do everything in your power to implement the historic agreement signed in Paris on 12 December 2015. The agreement was historic because the conference was being held when France – Paris, its capital – had been struck by terrorist attacks. The agreement was historic because, for the first time, the assembled international community agreed to make a commitment to reducing global warming and mobilizing finance allowing the most vulnerable countries to ensure the energy transition.

And yet, standing before you, let me state once again that despite the momentous nature of the agreement, there’s no time to lose. The past two years have been the hottest known to mankind since records began. Admittedly, in April 2016, right here with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, an agreement was signed with 175 countries. But everyone here knows that it won’t come into force unless it’s ratified by 55% of countries representing 55% of greenhouse gas emissions. The United States and China have announced their decision to ratify – that was very important, and nothing would have been possible without the participation, the commitment of those two countries, which are the biggest emitters of CO2. France itself will notify the United Nations tomorrow that its [ratification] procedure has ended, but I call on every country which is a member of the United Nations to speed up their ratification procedure so that everything is concluded by the end of the year.


COP21 was a conference of decisions. COP22, which will be held in Marrakesh, must be one of solutions. We need to implement the International Solar Alliance, combat desertification, protect the oceans and set a carbon price. But the appeal I want to issue to you here, following this climate agreement, is an appeal for Africa. Africa is a continent full of promise, but its development may be hindered by climate change, migration, conflict, war and terrorism. That continent, which has a bright future, may also be the one which causes growing insecurity – of which, incidentally, Africans would be the first victims. So on France’s behalf I’m proposing a 2020 agenda for Africa. This plan must allow all Africans to gain access to electricity. Two thirds of Africans today are deprived of it ; it’s an injustice, but above it hinders sustainable growth in Africa. The challenge, therefore, is to respond to the needs of 15% of the world’s population. The challenge is to enable African countries to benefit from huge potential for development. The challenge is to reduce population displacements, i.e. migration, which is destabilizing both countries of origin and also host countries. So in Paris, during that conference, I launched an African Renewable Energy Initiative. Ten donors – and I want thank them here – pledged to pay $10 billion by 2020. France will foot 20%, i.e. €2 billion. Europe has decided on an external action plan which could reach – this is still with a view to providing Africans with electricity – nearly €40 billion, which may be doubled if EU member states contribute as well. So my appeal still stands for all the countries represented here, an appeal to join this momentum. It’s not solidarity I’m asking for, it’s a mutual investment benefiting the whole world that I’m calling for here to be achieved as soon as possible.

But there will be no development in Africa without its security being guaranteed. France was conscious of its responsibility when I committed it to Mali. Terrorist organizations had to be prevented from taking control of a whole country and destabilizing a whole region. Today, that threat has been contained. Mali has had its territorial integrity restored. But other organizations are emerging – Boko Haram, al-Qaeda – which, once again, are undermining the security of many countries of West Africa, the Sahel and Lake Chad. So, here too, France is there to support the armed forces concerned in order to train them, exchange information and support them in the fight against terrorism ; this is what we’re doing for Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Benin and Cameroon, and we must take this action even further with the United Nations and the African Union.

But let’s be crystal clear : Africans’ security must come from Africans themselves, if we want to avoid external meddling and interfering. And the appeal I’m issuing for development and renewable energy is also an appeal for Africans’ security, so that we can equip their armed forces and give them the means to take action, and so that these African nations can organize their development freely and in a sovereign way.


The final and perhaps most moving appeal I want to issue here concerns Syria. The Syria tragedy will go down in history as a disgrace for the international community if we don’t end it quickly. Aleppo today is a martyred city, which nations will always remember as a martyred city. Thousands of children have been pounded by bombs. Whole populations starved. Humanitarian convoys attacked. Chemical weapons used. Well, I’ve only one thing to say : enough is enough. As in February, the ceasefire held only a few days. It shattered right after it was announced – without us, moreover, knowing what it contained. The regime is responsible for its failure and it can’t exonerate itself because of mistakes that may have been made by others. And I say to its foreign supporters, whom everyone here knows, that they must push for peace, otherwise they will bear responsibility with the regime for partition and chaos in Syria. The Security Council must convene as soon as possible and not be a “fools’ theatre”, i.e. a place where everyone passes the buck and where some people hinder the Security Council’s work supposedly to protect a regime, even though they should be seeking a solution with us.

France has four demands. First of all the ceasefire, in line with the decisions taken. That’s the precondition. Secondly, to ensure the immediate delivery of humanitarian aid to Aleppo and the other martyred towns and cities. That’s the urgent thing. To enable political negotiations to resume according to the principles of the transition that were established back in 2012. That’s the solution. Finally, to sanction the use of chemical weapons. That’s justice.


Ladies and gentlemen, to resolve nothing, to take a laissez-faire attitude and let things happen, is to play into the hands of the forces that want to destabilize the world, and particularly the terrorists. France never gives up, even if it’s difficult – especially if it’s difficult. And that’s why it has taken the initiative of contributing to the search for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Admittedly, no one can impose a solution on the parties. But there too, making do with the status quo means taking the risk, letting settlement activity take place once again. It means providing an intolerable, unjust, unacceptable basis for certain acts of violence. So the aim is to convene a conference by the end of the year, to give the Israelis and Palestinians the ability and the responsibility to negotiate.


It’s this same spirit which has driven Chancellor Merkel and me to find a solution for Ukraine. It was the invention of the so-called Normandy format that enabled an agreement to be reached in Minsk. Today we must do everything to implement that agreement, otherwise there will be violence again, and the war may even resume. Let me remind you that it has claimed more than 6,000 lives. So the German Chancellor and I have taken the initiative of bringing together the Russian and Ukrainian presidents in the coming weeks to make progress and implement the Minsk agreements. We won’t abandon that goal ; we’ll give up on no initiative if it may be useful.


Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve mentioned terrorism. It threatens every country in the world. Moreover, the list of all those hit is long. In Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe. And I’m not forgetting even Oceania. No country can say it will be forearmed against this scourge : Islamist terrorism, fundamentalism, fanaticism, which have taken hold of individuals lost in our societies and radicalized them. No sea, no wall will be able to protect a country from this dramatic situation, from this tragedy, from this scourge of bombings, attacks and aggression. This terrorism thrives on conflicts which have been started and have remained unresolved for too long. It sparks waves of refugees ; it drastically alters the international situation, borders, which we thought were established, the law, which we thought we could enforce, and collective security, which was the very principle of the United Nations. In the face of these perils, France turns once again to the United Nations.


It [the UN] showed its effectiveness through the adoption of Agenda 2030 on development and the Paris Agreement, which many people thought impossible. The United Nations has been engaged in an unprecedented number of peacekeeping operations. But if we want to eradicate terrorism, if we want to act, we must take decisions and not merely speak the language of solidarity when an attack is carried out against a friendly country, or compassion towards the victims. We must shoulder responsibilities whenever it’s effective. That’s what France does. Not because it’s attacked – as I’ve said, today every country is the target of terrorism. No, France does it because it’s a permanent member of the Security Council and because its role isn’t to block but to act. France does it because it has an idea, a great idea for the world, the one it’s upheld throughout its history : freedom, democracy and justice. Because France puts its policy at the service of a single goal : peace. And because France talks to all those involved. Because France is an independent nation that respects the law. Because France has no other enemies than the forces of hatred and intolerance which use a betrayed religion to speak fear. Because we must fight the populists who exploit distress to divide, separate, stigmatize, and pit religions against one another, risking a confrontation that would be terrible for our societies’’ cohesion. France is a laïc [secular] (1) country, which proclaims itself as such but which speaks to every religion and ensures freedom of worship on its soil, because France has no other interest in the world than stability, development and the future of the planet.
That’s why France is as committed to the United Nations as it demonstrates every day. I want to pay tribute to the President of the General Assembly ; I want to pay tribute to all those who dedicate themselves to the United Nations, beginning with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon , who for 10 years has led this difficult mission on everyone’s behalf and enabled us to make progress. And that’s also why I expect the United Nations, and particularly the Security Council – in the face of the major challenges I’ve mentioned, especially those of Syria and the fight against terrorism – to shoulder its responsibilities. There’s a time for every generation, every public leader, [when] the only valid question is : have we taken decisions ? Have we taken the right decisions ? There are countries here of different sizes, different levels of development, different sensitivities and beliefs, but which must have only one goal, only one demand. The world must rise to the challenges of the planet.
That’s why I wanted to issue these appeals. An appeal for us to implement the Paris Agreement on the climate. An appeal for Africa, so that all Africans can have electricity and a level of development. An appeal for peace in Syria, because it’s a matter of urgency. That’s why I believe in the United Nations, and that’s why France and I are sending a universal message.

Thank you./.

Last modified on 30/09/2016

top of the page