War in Syria: Understanding France’s position

“France’s priorities in Syria have been constant: finishing the fight against Daesh, enabling humanitarian assistance to civilian populations, and triggering collective momentum to bring about a peaceful settlement of the conflict so that peace can return to Syria and to ensure the region’s stability”
Emmanuel Macron, 14 April 2018

France is continuing its efforts to fight terrorism

The terrorist group Daesh has suffered major defeats from a military perspective, both in Syria and Iraq. However, the terrorist organization remains a threat. This is why France is continuing to work resolutely to fight terrorism in Syria alongside its partners from the Global Coalition Against Daesh. This work includes first and foremost a military component, developed under Operation Chammal which is contributing to the international effort to retake territories held by Daesh.

France is also working to ensure that it ensures long-term stability for the zones freed from Daesh in order to avoid any resurgence from terrorist groups. It is therefore supporting several NGOs as well as multilateral bodies that are active on the ground.

France is committed to protecting civilian populations

The humanitarian situation in Syria remains critical: over 13 million Syrians, including 6 million children, require humanitarian assistance. Over half of the Syrian population has been forced to leave their homes: 6.1 million are internally displaced and 5.6 million are refugees in neighbouring countries (Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt). The transportation of humanitarian assistance continues to be subject to unacceptable hindrances, particularly from the regime.

Improving the humanitarian situation in Syria is a priority for France.

During the Brussels II conference on the future of Syria and the region on 25 April 2018, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Minister of State attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, announced that the French contribution for 2018-2020 would total over €1 billion for the Syrian people and host communities in countries receiving refugees: over €250 million in grants and €850 million in loans.

This undertaking includes the emergency response programme for Syria of €50 million which was announced on 16 April 2018 by the French President.

Since the beginning of the crisis, France has encouraged its United Nations partners within international forums to achieve decisive resolutions to ensure humanitarian access in Syria which is vital for millions of individuals. Protecting humanitarian and medical workers is also a key component of France’s work in this context.

France is committed to fighting impunity for all war crimes

Those responsible for such crimes must be held accountable. France is therefore providing full support for the efforts made in the relevant international fora whose role it is to document these crimes and identify those responsible. In this context, the work of the independent International Commission of Inquiry for Syria and the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for Syria (IIIM) are essential for peace and reconciliation in Syria.

From a national perspective, French courts is examining the César report for crimes against humanity, kidnapping and torture.

Use of chemical weapons cannot continue to go unpunished.

Within this framework, the use of chemical weapons is a serious violation of international law particularly the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) of 1993 and which Syria signed up to in 2013.

On 7 April 2018 in Douma, tens of men, women and children were killed in a chemical weapons attack. In its national assessment on 13 April 2018 France stated that it was highly probable that the Syrian armed and security forces were responsible for this attack. On 14 April 2018, France carried out targeted attacks on the regime’s illegal chemical weapons arsenal together with its British and American partners.

“No political solution can be found as long as the use of chemical weapons goes unpunished.”
Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs on 16 April 2018

It is crucial to verifiably and irreversibly dismantle the entire Syrian chemical weapons programme. The rigour of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ methods and the expertise of their experts are unquestionable. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) must have complete, immediate and unhindered access to all the information required for its investigations.

Lastly, France is working within international fora, particularly the OPCW. France wishes to see a new independent and impartial mechanism rolled out which would enable responsibility for the use of chemical weapons in Syria to be attributed.

On 23 January 2018, France launched the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons. The 34 States which currently participate in the partnership wish to assert their refusal of impunity for those who use or develop such weapons. They have committed to publicly release the names of those that they have identified as responsible and sanctioned according to their own procedures, and to exchange information on violations committed and the other players involved. Their aim is to bolster the regime for the non-proliferation of chemical weapons, support international organizations and international enquiry mechanisms and underline the worldwide ban on using such weapons.

A negotiated political solution is the only way to resolve the conflict

There can be no return to stability without a political solution that meets the legitimate aspirations of all Syrians.

The international community agreed on a political framework to end the Syrian crisis with the adoption of the Geneva Communiqué of 2012 and United Nations Security Council resolution 2254 of December 2015. It is within this framework that inter-Syrian negotiations must resume, in Geneva, under the auspices of the United Nations Special Envoy.

France’s goal is to create the conditions for a credible political transition. It therefore encourages negotiations to resume with all partners present in Syria to facilitate an end to the crisis and build together the convergences which will help provide a political solution to the conflict. Since the 2011 uprising which showed the Syrian people’s aspirations for a political transition, France has been providing loyal support to the opposition which is representing Syria in these negotiations. France also held discussions with regime sponsors to encourage them to become involved in the discussions in good faith.

Last update: June 2018