Paris, June 21, 2012
Excerpts from the daily press briefing by Bernard Valero, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ spokesman (Paris, 21th June 2012) :
The UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) will end tomorrow, June 22. More than 50,000 participants from 190 countries gathered around the numerous heads of state and government present.
France was represented at the conference by President Hollande, accompanied by the minister of foreign affairs, the minister of ecology, sustainable development and energy and the minister delegate for development and the minister delegate for the social and mutually-supportive economy.
As President Hollande indicated, this summit was a milestone for sustainable development and allowed us to set benchmarks in many areas :
the launch of a process to set universal sustainable development objectives,
the implementation of new financing mechanisms and the recognition of the key role of innovative financing with respect to implementing sustainable development,
the strengthening of the authority and status of the United Nations Environment Program,
greater emphasis on marine conservation,
recognition of a green and equitable economy,
the threat to biodiversity, environmental inequalities, and the fight against poverty.
This summit was also marked by a strong commitment on the part of civil society, contributing to the collective momentum.
The process initiated in Rio must continue and make progress in many other areas, such as the mobilization of resources. France, as reaffirmed by President Hollande, signaled its attachment to innovative financing mechanisms and in particular a tax on financial transactions ; a portion of the revenue from this tax would be used to promote the development and help preserve the environment of emerging countries.
World Refugee Day (June 21, 2012)
At a time when there are more than 10 million refugees around the world, the challenges we face are still immense. This World Refugee Day provides an opportunity for France to reaffirm its commitment.
In 1952, France created the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons – OFPRA – an authority that exercises its jurisdiction on an independent basis, and is responsible for determining refugee status according to the Geneva Convention. It also established a court of appeal, the National Court for the Right of Asylum, whose trial councils always include a representative from the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This system underscores the essential role played by the Geneva Convention in French law as well as the recognition of the crucial role of the UNHCR with respect to the protection of refugees.
France affirms its determination to implement the existing international principles and norms to that effect. It notably made further commitments in 2011 with respect to bringing travel documents issued to refugees and stateless persons up to date and with respect to improving the language training provided to refugees and their family members arriving in France in order to facilitate their integration into French society.
France pledges to provide active support to the efforts of the southern Mediterranean countries which are working in partnership with the EU to develop their national asylum and protection systems, notably within the framework of the EU Regional Protection Programs.
Lastly, this World Refugee Day provides an opportunity for us to reaffirm France’s commitment alongside the UNHCR. The 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees serves as a legal basis for the UNHCR which is a UN agency. During its 60-year history the UNHCR has helped around 50 million people. Today, the agency operates in more than 123 countries. 61 years after its creation, the Office of the High Commissioner is unfortunately still necessary.