70th annual United Nations General Assembly

Officials from over the world have gather at the 70th annual United Nations General Assembly in New York from September 25 to October 2, where they are discussing essential issues for the international community, including gender equality, climate change, the refugee crisis and the ongoing conflict in Syria. Find statements from President François Hollande below. Check back for updates and statements from other French officials in attendance, including Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development Laurent Fabius.

French air force engagement in Syria

Statement from the President of the Republic, François Hollande
New York, September 27, 2015

Ladies and gentlemen,

In Syria this morning, France launched a strike on a training camp belonging to the terrorist group Daesh [ISIL], which was threatening our country’s security.

The strike on the camp was carried out close to Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria. The operation was in the framework of the decision I took on 7 September to send reconnaissance flights to identify targets corresponding to the very intention we wanted to signal: to protect our territory, prevent terrorist actions and act in self-defence.

The targets were identified thanks to these reconnaissance flights, but also thanks to the coalition, which also provided us with information. Our forces achieved their goals: the camp was totally destroyed. Six planes were used, including five Rafales. And we were able to be sure our operation had no consequences on civilians.

Other strikes may take place in the coming weeks if necessary, always with the same goal: to identify the targets corresponding to training camps or places [from] where we know the terrorist group Daesh may threaten our country’s security or conduct terrorist actions.

There’s what we are doing at military level, which we’re also doing autonomously, even though we’re working with the coalition. And there’s also what we are doing at political and diplomatic level. I’m here in New York and – together with the Foreign Minister – I’m going to meet all the partners, the protagonists in what’s called “the Syria conflict”, a conflict which has claimed 250,000 lives and for which Bashar al-Assad is chiefly responsible, even though the group Daesh is now committing and for several months has been committing unspeakable atrocities.

This political solution means integrating all the parties involved – and I mean all the parties involved. And France is talking to them all and excluding no one. On the other hand, France believes that Syria’s future cannot involve Bashar al-Assad.

So throughout this period we must bring to a successful conclusion this search for a political solution while protecting our interests, through targeted military actions which must, each time, enable us to prevent a number of acts that could be committed in our country or actions which could have terrible consequences on civilians.

France is acting in the name of principles, France is acting to find a solution in Syria, and France is also acting to protect itself. Thank you./.

Meeting on gender equality

Speech by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic
New York, September 27, 2015

Mr President of the People’s Republic of China,

Madam Representative of the UN Commission on the Status of Women,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would first of all like to welcome the initiative taken by President Xi Jinping and the Secretary-General to organize this summit. Twenty years ago, a conference in Beijing sparked renewed enthusiasm around the world. Considerable progress has been made and you’ve provided numerous examples of this progress here. And yet 20 years later, 65 million girls still do not attend school, 80% of the victims of human trafficking are women and one out of every three women around the world is a victim of physical or sexual violence. This is the reality that weighs heavily upon us and which justifies this new initiative.

What do we need to do? What goals do we need to set ourselves? The first goal involves promoting the status of women because this presents an opportunity for development. Promoting the status of women is included in the post-2015 sustainable development agenda. The aim is to enable all girls around the world to freely attend school, to have access to work, to be able to become entrepreneurs and therefore to be self-sufficient and live independent lives. Having more trained, economically active women who are capable of succeeding represents an opportunity for global development.

The second goal is to promote the status of women in support of peace. Fifteen years ago, the Security Council adopted a resolution, UNSCR 1325, which recognized the disproportionate impact of armed conflict on women. Unfortunately, the last few months have been a terrible illustration of this. In Syria, women suffer the worst atrocities committed by the regime and Daesh [ISIL]: rape, forced marriage and prostitution are an everyday reality in the regions notably controlled by Daesh. In West Africa, Boko Haram kidnaps girls and uses sexual violence as a weapon of war, and even in the refugee camps we see that women and children are especially vulnerable. We must therefore mobilize our efforts and that’s what we are going to do during this General Assembly, in order to strengthen the capacity of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to find a solution to what’s happening in Syria and help the countries of West Africa to combat terrorism, because stopping war means putting an end to the suffering of women.

Promoting the status of women also means acting on behalf of the planet. You know that Paris will be hosting the Climate Conference, and we have already observed that climate injustices further strengthen inequality and create displacement, exile, refugees. We have also seen that it is women who can be the most capable of working to find solutions to the fight against climate change and for the protection of the environment. That is why, in the funding we disburse at the Paris Conference, I will ask that women’s projects be considered on a priority basis.

The final goal is to promote the status of women because it also means promoting the dignity of men and women. I therefore call for the universal ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. More than 200 million women today are deprived of access to contraception. A very large number are also victims of genital mutilation. I am not saying this to interfere in cultural or religious issues. I am saying it because allowing women to freely choose the number of their children is a fundamental right.

But if we want these goals to truly become watchwords for the international community, if we want them to be achieved, there is a way to do it: by giving many more women access to positions of responsibility in the countries that comprise the international community, ensuring parity at every level of the government and the political system. To offer an example: in France, the government I appointed has more women than men.

Thank you./.

Last modified on 29/09/2015

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