Category Archives: News

France National Day

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

On behalf of the Government of the United States of America, I extend my best wishes to the people of the French Republic as you celebrate your National Day.

France is our oldest friend and ally. The strength of our relationship is reflected in President Macron’s recent visit to the United States when we celebrated the ideals of freedom and peace that we both cherish and the historical ties that bind our countries. France has had an immeasurable influence on our culture, and our alliance benefits from the countless links between our people.

Our shared history has nurtured close cooperation. We support each other in our determination to foster democracy, to prevent the spread of global violence, and to promote prosperity worldwide. Together, we address 21st century challenges to ensure a safe and prosperous world for both our countries.

The United States looks eagerly to a future of continued friendship and close cooperation between our two great nations.

Scotland Secretary Updates Scottish Business Leaders On Brexit

Scottish Secretary David Mundell hosted an EU exit roundtable with businesses in Edinburgh

EU exit roundtable

EU exit roundtable

At an EU exit roundtable in Edinburgh today [12 July 2018] the Scottish Secretary gave an update on the UK Government’s proposals for exiting the European Union.

On the day the UK Government published The future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union, Mr Mundell met with leading figures from Scotland’s business, energy, fishing, farming, food and drink and financial services sectors. He set out how these proposals will bring significant benefits to Scotland and the whole of the UK. He listened closely to the views of those round the table.

Mr Mundell said:

We have an ambitious and comprehensive plan which respects what the UK Government has heard from businesses about how they want to trade after Brexit.

Our proposals will ensure that Scotland – and the rest of the UK – is best placed to capitalise on the opportunities of Brexit.

It is a plan which is good for jobs and prosperity and for the safety and security of people here and in Europe. We will take back control of our borders, our money and our laws, but do so in a way that protects jobs, allows us to strike new trade deals through an independent trade policy and keeps our people safe and our Union together.

It was very useful to discuss our proposals with Scottish businesses and hear their views.

The proposals, agreed at last week’s Chequers meeting, include:

  • A UK-EU free trade area that will avoid the need for customs and regulatory checks at the border. The friction-free movement of goods is the only way to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland and between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
  • A new business-friendly customs model—a facilitated customs arrangement—that would remove the need for customs checks and controls between the UK and the EU. Crucially, it would also allow the UK to pursue an independent trade policy. The UK would apply the UK’s tariffs and trade policy for goods intended for the UK and the EU’s tariffs and trade policy for goods intended for the EU.
  • The UK will have its own independent trade policy, with its own seat at the World Trade Organisation and the ability to set tariffs for its trade with the rest of the world.
  • A far-reaching security partnership that will ensure continued close co-operation with allies across Europe while enabling the UK Government to operate an independent foreign and defence policy.

The UK Government will be accelerating negotiations over the summer, securing a new relationship in the autumn, passing the withdrawal and implementation Bill and leaving the European Union on 29 March 2019.

Population, Refugees, And Migration: Framework Discussions For Cooperation Between The United States And The Office Of The United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

On June 22 in Geneva, officials from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) held an all-day senior-level review of the 2018-2019 PRM-UNHCR Framework for Cooperation. First signed in 2000, the biennial Framework for Cooperation focuses on shared goals and priorities consistent with UN humanitarian reform efforts as well as oversight, monitoring, communications, and reporting requirements at an institutional level between UNHCR and its largest single donor, the United States.

Given the unprecedented and increasing gap between needs and assistance, these Framework discussions present an opportunity to determine the best and most impactful use of U.S. taxpayer dollars.

The discussions centered on the need for UNHCR to increase burden sharing, advance data-driven reform efforts, and pursue efficiency and effectiveness. The U.S. government is seeking tangible results across the humanitarian system, including on prioritized joint needs assessments and reduced duplication and management costs.

These discussions are in line with the U.S. government’s continued UN reform and management goals. The discussions also aligned with the 2016 Grand Bargain commitments that aim to improve global aid delivery among the world’s largest donors and aid providers. UNHCR committed to undertaking steps to enhance real-time reporting on the impact of U.S. contributions and increase visibility of the United States’ leading role in supporting refugees around the world. The discussion also focused on procedures to prevent and combat fraud, corruption, or misconduct, especially regarding sexual exploitation and abuse.

The U.S. delegation emphasized the need for UNHCR and development partners to achieve coherence between humanitarian aid and development assistance, including through its work to implement the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, which is in line with the ongoing international Global Refugee Compact consultation process.

The Department of State is proud of its long-standing and robust partnership with UNHCR. Through the nearly $1.5 billion in funding provided to UNHCR in Fiscal Year 2017 and the important humanitarian diplomacy conducted by the Department of State’s diplomatic personnel worldwide, the U.S. government and UNHCR remain strong partners in our effort to protect and find durable solutions for the millions of refugees, stateless persons, internally displaced, and other persons of concern around the world.

For further information, please contact PRM Press at PRMPress@state.gov.

Speeches: Statement At Fourth Special Session Of The Conference Of The States Parties

Deputy Secretary of State, Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, The Hague, Netherlands

Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan

Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan

Director General Uzumcu, Chairperson Bellouki, it is an honor to join you today at this special session to address the current crisis resulting from the appalling rise in the use of chemical weapons. An overwhelming number of State Parties were in support of calling this special meeting, and it is heartening to see the resolve of like-minded states in solving this crisis.

For much of the Chemical Weapons Convention’s long history, the OPCW and States Parties had a singular focus of destroying legacy chemical weapons stockpiles. The use of chemical weapons was an issue for a bygone era, or so we thought. But, sadly, that is no longer the case.

State and non-State actors are challenging the international norm against chemical weapons use. Allowing chemical weapons use to continue with impunity threatens our rules-based order and all nations around the world.

Chemical weapons have been used recently, to tragic effect, across the world – in Asia, the Middle East, and here in Europe. The Assad regime has continued to use chemical weapons to terrorize and kill Syrians civilians. In March 2018, we saw the use of an unscheduled military-grade nerve agent in a brazen assassination attempt on UK soil. Last year, the chemical agent VX was used to assassinate Kim Jong-Nam in the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Further, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has used chemical weapons repeatedly in Iraq and Syria in recent years. These barbaric acts must stop now.

The United States believes that the OPCW, State Parties, and indeed the Chemical Weapons Convention itself, are up to the task. The Chemical Weapons Convention can – and should – adapt and remain relevant to the changing security environment.

The OPCW is a Nobel Peace Prize winning organization for a reason. It has proven its ability to adapt readily to change, to respond ably and quickly to wide-ranging crises, with highly professional and dedicated experts implementing its mission.

The draft decision put forward by the United Kingdom and a number of co-sponsors, including the United States, provides a roadmap to reaffirming the international norm against the use of chemical weapons. It provides concrete actions to attribute responsibility to those who have violated this value that we all share.

Today, on behalf of the United States, I call on all State Parties to support this decision and to provide the OPCW with the tools it needs to further our shared goals of deterring, preventing, and responding to chemical weapons use.

Removing the ability to use chemical weapons with impunity is a first step towards restoring deterrence against chemical weapons use. We must first empower the OPCW so that it can ably identify those who are responsible for the confirmed instances of chemical weapons use in Syria.

The OPCW Fact-Finding Mission has been investigating credible allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria since 2014, and, relying on its cadre of chemical weapons experts, has confirmed such use many times over. Unfortunately, the fact-finding mission is limited by its mandate from following the facts to identify those responsible.

The OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (The JIM) in Syria proved that it is possible, through countless hours and dogged investigative work, to put forward a thorough, independent, and impartial analysis to determine CW attribution. There is no reason to believe that the same Organization involved in such work for the JIM is not up to the same task itself. The United States deeply regrets that Russia vetoed the JIM renewal in the UN Security Council. Russia has also been campaigning against any action in the OPCW Executive Council on Syria.

The second tool OPCW needs is the ability to build on its existing mandate to assist States Parties in the event of chemical weapons use on their territory. As we have seen in the UK and Iraq, the OPCW provides State Parties with technical assistance related to national investigations of chemical weapons use. To further provide assistance, the Director General has established the Rapid Response and Assistance Mission. The United States supports the Technical Secretariat expanding assistance options to help State Parties prevent chemical weapons use before it occurs.

Third, is the ability of the OPCW to further facilitate enhanced capacity-building. This includes tools to allow the OPCW to help Parties to implement their Chemical Weapons Convention obligations, enhance chemical security, and enable international cooperation in the field of chemical activities for those purposes not prohibited by the Convention.

Finally, the OPCW needs to be able to share information with other investigative efforts. This collaboration would allow us to feed into the work and expertise of other investigative mechanisms, such as the Commission of Inquiry and the International, Impartial, and Independent Mechanism, which support our goals of ensuring that chemical weapons cannot be used with impunity.

To conclude, I want to emphasize the United States’ determination that restoring the norm against chemical weapons use is a collective responsibility that calls for collective action. We are grateful to the diplomatic coalition of countries that are working to uphold the norms against the use of chemical weapons — the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons and the Australia Group.

We must continue to use the Partnership as an instrument to share information on chemical weapons use and counter false narratives. Through the Partnership, we can build the capacity of Participating States to coordinate our response in the face of chemical weapons use. These economic, judicial, and political arrangements exist for coordinated action. Now is the time to put them into action – to impose serious costs for those actors who make that fateful decision to use chemical weapons. It is absolutely vital that we stand united and use the tools at our collective disposal to deter the future us of CW by anyone, anywhere.

Although the drafters of the Chemical Weapons Convention did not imagine a world where chemical weapons use would increase over time, they nonetheless drafted a treaty that can be responsive to our current environment. Chemical weapons use may have created a crisis, but we as States Parties can put an end to that crisis, by taking decisive action to further enable the OPCW Technical Secretariat to address chemical weapons use and further prevent its re-emergence.

As many of you know, President Trump stated in April 2017: “it is in the vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.” We have taken this to heart and are committed to doing our utmost to stop, and hold accountable, those who use chemical weapons.

I ask that this statement be made an official document of the session and posted on both the external server and the public website. Thank you.

Human Rights Council 38: Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity, And The Right To Freedom Of Peaceful Assembly

This UK statement was delivered at the 37th session of the HRC during the Interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Special Rapporteur on the rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association, delivered Monday 18 June 2018

The Human Rights Council takes place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva

The Human Rights Council takes place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva

The United Kingdom underlines its support for the work of the Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. We welcome the first report by Mr Madrigal- Borloz to the Council on the protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The UK remains deeply concerned by the ongoing persecution of LGBT persons in Chechnya. The recent statement by the Russian Minister of Justice at Russia’s UN Universal Periodic Review, implying that investigations had been unable to find any LGBT individuals whose rights had been violated, is unacceptable.

We also support the work of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association. The ability to assemble or form associations is central to human rights and human dignity. Too often legislation or policy is used to prevent peaceful assembly or to infringe the rights of workers. This can take the form of intimidation or physical attacks. Human rights defenders protesting against government policy or commercial activity have been attacked or detained, as we have seen recently in Nicaragua and elsewhere.

Of particular concern is the use of preventative measures during election periods, stifling the democratic process.

Mr President,

We would welcome the views of the Special Rapporteur and the Independent Expert on how the United Kingdom can best support their work on these important issues.

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