Understanding the Paris conference on the victims of ethnic and religious violence in the Middle East

1. What are the aims of the Paris Conference?

Daesh’s deliberate strategy to eliminate whole communities on the basis of their ethnicity or religion, and its desire to systematically destroy all forms of cultural diversity in the Middle East, require a response. The survival of whole communities, and that of cultural, religious and ethnic diversity in the Middle East, is at stake. It is a question of civilization.
The international community has a duty to protect this invaluable heritage. Beyond raising the alarm – as France already did at the Security Council in March – we now need to take action to prevent certain communities from disappearing.
The aim of the conference is to identify concrete measures to address all aspects of the situation of the victims of religious and ethnic violence in the Middle East:

  • Humanitarian aspect: Fulfilling the needs of endangered populations. Preparing for, and facilitating, the voluntary, lasting return of displaced persons in satisfactory conditions of safety.
  • Political aspect: Promoting inclusive political solutions which respect human rights for all individuals, irrespective of religion or ethnicity, and preserve the cultural and religious diversity of the Middle East.
  • Judicial aspect: Putting an end to the impunity of perpetrators of ethnic, religious or sectarian crimes, some of which may constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity or even, for certain communities, genocide.

2. What is the Paris Action Plan?

The Paris Action Plan is a non-binding document that identifies concrete measures to be implemented in order to assist and protect persecuted populations in the Middle East. It was drawn up by France and Jordan, under their responsibility, based on the proposals made by the Conference participants. It will be annexed to the conclusions of the Conference Co-Chairs.

It aims to provide a roadmap for the international community. The Paris Action Plan is split into three components, which were the focus of three round tables chaired by Italy, Lebanon and Iraq during the Conference:

  • humanitarian support to enable the return of displaced persons and refugees;
    -* combating the impunity of the perpetrators of these crimes;
  • and, lastly, promoting a political framework that is needed for stabilization, reconciliation and the long-term preservation of this diversity.

It sets out a course of action, with concrete measures and principles aimed at inspiring the international community to take action to address the threat facing the peoples of the Middle East. It is our toolbox.

3. Which populations are concerned by the proposed actions?

Daesh’s violence is extreme, and generally indiscriminate. By their very number, Muslims are the first victims of the jihadi terrorists.

Our duty of solidarity with the victims needs to be expressed irrespective of religion or ethnicity. Both our indignation and our assistance are universal.

But what sets Daesh’s violence apart is perhaps the precision with which it targets certain communities on ethnic or religious grounds: the Eastern Christians, the Yazidis, the Turkmens, the Kurds, the Shabak and all those, be they Shia or Sunni, who refuse to submit, are threatened by a horrific choice between forced exile, servitude or death.

These communities are particularly vulnerable and threatened. They are targeted for who they are. They embody the diversity that the terrorists want to eliminate. It is in this sense that the atrocities committed against them by Daesh constitute crimes against humanity.

What is at stake in Paris is the survival of whole communities, and that of cultural, religious and ethnic diversity in the Middle East.
The Paris Conference seeks to identify concrete measures in order to assist and protect the victims of ethnic and religious violence in the Middle East.

4. What concrete action will governments in the region take?

The Paris Action Plan sets out a course of action, with concrete measures and principles aimed at inspiring the international community to take action to address the threat facing the peoples of the Middle East. Governments in the region, like other participants, are encouraged to draw on it. We will have the opportunity next year to review the concrete actions that have been taken, as Spain has proposed to organize a follow-up conference.

5. What will happen after the Conference?

The Paris Action Plan is our common toolbox for concrete action to support persecuted populations in the Middle East. We must act urgently. We now have a time frame for action, with the follow-up conference that will be held next year in Spain. It will be an opportunity to review the progress made with regard to the Paris Action Plan.

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