Daily Archives: April 23, 2015

Special meeting of the European Council, 23 April 2015 – ...

1. The situation in the Mediterranean is a tragedy. The European Union will mobilise all efforts at its disposal to prevent further loss of life at sea and to tackle the root causes of the human emergency that we face, in cooperation with the countries of origin and transit. Our immediate priority is to prevent more people from dying at sea.

2. We have therefore decided to strengthen our presence at sea, to fight the traffickers, to prevent illegal migration flows and to reinforce internal solidarity and responsibility. Given that instability in Libya creates an ideal environment for the criminal activities of traffickers, we will actively support all UN-led efforts towards re-establishing government authority in Libya. We will also step up efforts to address conflict and instability as key push factors of migration, including in Syria.

3. We today commit to:

Strengthening our presence at sea

a) rapidly reinforce EU Operations Triton and Poseidon by at least tripling the financial resources for this purpose in 2015 and 2016 and reinforcing the number of assets, thus allowing to increase the search and rescue possibilities within the mandate of FRONTEX. We welcome the commitments already made by Member States which will allow to reach this objective in the coming weeks;

Fighting traffickers in accordance with international law

b) disrupt trafficking networks, bring the perpetrators to justice and seize their assets, through swift action by Member State authorities in co-operation with EUROPOL, FRONTEX, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and EUROJUST, as well as through increased intelligence and police-cooperation with third countries;

c) undertake systematic efforts to identify, capture and destroy vessels before they are used by traffickers;

d) at the same time, the High Representative is invited to immediately begin preparations for a possible CSDP operation to this effect;

e) use EUROPOL to detect and request removal of internet content used by traffickers to attract migrants and refugees, in accordance with national constitutions;

Preventing illegal migration flows

f) increase support to Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Mali and Niger among others, to monitor and control the land borders and routes, building on current CSDP operations in the region, as well as on regional cooperation frameworks (Rabat and Khartoum processes); step up dialogue with the African Union at all levels on all these issues;

g) reinforce our political cooperation with African partners at all levels in order to tackle the cause of illegal migration and combat the smuggling and trafficking of human beings. The EU will raise these issues with the African Union and the key countries concerned, with whom it will propose the holding of a summit in Malta in the coming months;

h) step up cooperation with Turkey in view of the situation in Syria and Iraq;

i) deploy European migration liaison officers in key countries to gather information on migratory flows, co-ordinate with national liaison officers, and co-operate directly with the local authorities;

j) work with regional partners in building capacity for maritime border management and search and rescue operations;

k) launch Regional Development and Protection programmes for North Africa and the Horn of Africa;

l) invite the Commission and the High Representative to mobilise all tools, including through development cooperation and the implementation of EU and national readmission agreements with third countries, to promote readmission of unauthorised economic migrants to countries of origin and transit, working closely with the International Organisation for Migration;

m) while respecting the right to seek asylum, set up a new return programme for the rapid return of illegal migrants from frontline Member States, coordinated by FRONTEX;

Reinforcing internal solidarity and responsibility

n) rapid and full transposition and effective implementation of the Common European Asylum System by all participating Member States, thereby ensuring common European standards under existing legislation;

o) increase emergency aid to frontline Member States and consider options for organising emergency relocation between all Member States on a voluntary basis;

p) deploy EASO teams in frontline Member States for joint processing of asylum applications, including registration and finger-printing;

q) set up a first voluntary pilot project on resettlement across the EU, offering places to persons qualifying for protection.

4. The EU institutions and the Member States will work immediately on the full implementation of these orientations. The Presidency and the Commission will present next week a roadmap setting out work up to June.

5. The European Council looks forward to the Commission Communication on a European Agenda for Migration, in order to develop a more systemic and geographically comprehensive approach to migration. The European Council will remain seized of the situation and will closely monitor the implementation of these orientations. The Council and the Commission will report to the European Council in June.

Chair of UN Development Group and Turkey Minister of Foreign Affairs ...

23 Apr 2015

imageOpening of Istanbul Regional Hub

Istanbul – The United Nations and the Republic of Turkey today officially launched the new Istanbul Regional Hub which provides support to the countries and territories in which the UN Development Programme (UNDP) works in Europe and CIS. The Hub also hosts UNICEF and UN Women regional offices.

“By locating this knowledge and technical expertise in Istanbul, UNDP will be well positioned to support and engage with partners in Europe and the CIS on the post-2015 development agenda, which is due to be agreed in September of this year,” said Helen Clark, Chair of the UN Development Group and Administrator of UNDP, in her opening remarks at the inauguration of the Istanbul Regional Hub.

Developing and transition economies of Europe and Central Asia are showing  poverty and inequality, even in some upper middle-income countries, as well as declining life expectancy relative to global averages in many countries, according to analysis in Poverty, Inequality and Vulnerability in the Transition and Developing Economies of Europe and Central Asia, recently released by UNDP.  A changing climate and rapidly growing exposure to disaster risk also present the region with new and evolving challenges.

The support of the Istanbul Regional Hub will enable countries to pursue development paths that are responsive to these and other issues, including sustainable growth, governance and peace-building, gender equality and women’s empowerment, energy, disaster resilience and climate change, and the protection of children’s rights.

In addition, the Istanbul Regional Hub and the Republic of Turkey will jointly advance efforts to promote south-south cooperation and share Turkey’s important development experience with other countries. This strategic partnership recognizes the increasing role of Turkey as an emerging donor for development cooperation across the world.

Helen Clark was joined by H.E. Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey, and Mr. Kadir Topbas, Mayor of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, to inaugurate the new Hub and unveil a plaque on the premises in Key Plaza in Istanbul.

The Istanbul Regional Hub is co-located with other UN agencies, including the UN Population Fund, which will strengthen coordination within the UN development system.   UNDP has other regional offices in Amman, Addis Ababa, Bangkok, Cairo, Dakar, and Panama.

Contact Information

Cherie.hart@undp.org; 05 35 626 8082
Faik.uyanik@undp.org; 05 30 499 2548

Helen Clark: Speech at the Opening Session of UNDP’s Regional ...

23 Apr 2015

Let me begin by expressing my deep appreciation to the Government of Turkey, and to Ambassador Yunt for his participation in the opening of this important Regional Meeting for UNDP in Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

As has been emphasized earlier today during the official inauguration of UNDP’s regional hub here in Istanbul, the partnership between UNDP and the Government of Turkey has evolved over almost sixty years into one which is dynamic at every level: global, regional, and national. The partnership which we have with your government, Ambassador, demonstrates to us the great potential which exists in working hand-in-hand with an upper middle-income country, both within the country and through South-South Co-operation to direct expertise, knowledge, and resources to address global development challenges.

Allow me at the outset to highlight some examples of recent joint endeavours between the Government of Turkey and UNDP which are so relevant to our discussions today. There have been:

– the regional consultations on “Perspectives from Europe and Central Asia on the post-2015 development agenda”, bringing together 350 participants from forty countries;

– the conference on “International Development Co-operation: Trends and Emerging Opportunities – Perspectives of the new actors”, co-organised with the Turkish Co-operation and Co-ordination Agency, TIKA, in June 2014; and

– the conference on “Scaling up Sustainable Energy Solutions – The Role of the Private Sector”, in May last year, co-organised with Turkey’s Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources and the Islamic Development Bank.

The issues around which Turkey and UNDP have jointly convened major meetings are directly relevant to the post-2015 agenda. We look forward, Mr. Ambassador, to the future co-operation between Turkey and UNDP which I know will continue to inform and contribute to dynamic regional and global discussion on development as we move to implement a new sustainable development agenda.

It is truly a pleasure to be at this important meeting of our Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, which brings together our senior Bureau management; senior colleagues from other UNDP Bureaux, UN agencies, and the UN Secretariat; high level guests from Turkey, Moldova, Albania, and the Kyrgyz Republic ; and RC/RRs, Country Directors, and DRRs from across the region. In addition to spending time in Turkey this week, I have had the opportunity during the past year to visit a number of countries in the region: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Serbia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

In each and every visit, it has been good to see how UNDP and the broader UN development system have positioned themselves to support our national partners in seeking and implementing solutions to development challenges. I see development co-operation between countries within the region growing fast. The large economies of Russia and Turkey have been rapidly growing their co-operation with others, and we also see growing interest from Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Romania, and others. Over the years, UNDP has had long-standing co-operation through ODA-related trust funds with the Czech Republic, Hungary, and the Slovak Republic. We have been keen to grow partnerships like these with other former programme countries which have entered or aspire to enter the European Union.

In the region, we see considerable interest from governments and civil society in innovative development solutions – whether as a means to combat corruption, link vulnerable populations to sustainable and affordable access to energy, influence local level decision-making on investments and infrastructure, or increase women’s economic empowerment and access to justice. We see the capacities of many local administrations strengthening, and thereby improving the availability and delivery of services to people and communities.

National consultations on the post-2015 agenda in the region have been robust and inclusive. In the past year, twelve RBEC countries conducted in-depth consultations, and the Government of Moldova co-chaired the global consultation on means of implementation just last month.

UNDP has been responding actively to new challenges; for example by contributing to the Recovery and Peacebuilding Assessment in Ukraine; in support for communities hosting Syrian refugees in southeastern Turkey, to which Turkey itself has made a massive contribution; and in responses to the devastating flooding experienced last year in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia.

I am pleased to see that the efforts of UNDP in this region in response to all crises – whether caused by conflict, natural disaster, or any other factor – always aim to build the foundations for development, and to build resilience to future events. These issues will be important elements of the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May next year, and are already being discussed in regional consultations, such as the one which will be hosted by Tajikistan this July for the countries of South and Central Asia.

Throughout all my visits, I have been impressed by the dedication of UNDP’s leadership and our Country Office staff. All work tirelessly to deliver results in everything we do – in supporting recovery from crises and building future resilience, inclusive and sustainable development, and effective and responsive governance.

At this time, the rather widespread impact of the currency crisis in the region and the spillover impact of slower growth in Russia are testing many countries’ resilience to macro-economic shocks. The socio-economic impact has been especially hard on the most vulnerable and marginalized populations. Inequalities between regions, genders, and age groups, and inequalities flowing from ethnic and other factors, remain a persistent reality in a number of countries. Given the focus in the emerging post-2015 agenda on leaving no one behind, it is timely that RBEC’s next Regional Human Development Report will focus on inequalities, building on the numerous experiences our staff have in tackling these challenges.

All the issues which our Country Offices in Europe and the CIS are working with national partners to address – from governance, rule of law, and human rights to poverty eradication, local development, inequalities, sustainable development, climate change, disaster response, building resilience, and more – are at the heart of UNDP’s current global Strategic Plan. They are at the heart of the vision of a UNDP which is a relevant and high quality development partner to its national and international counterparts. They are at the core of how UNDP is positioned, and how we commit to supporting countries as they pursue development plans and priorities which are sustainable and inclusive, and build resilience to shocks.

Country Offices around the world have reviewed the focus, design, and management of their programmes and projects to ensure that they are well-aligned with both countries’ needs and the new Strategic Plan. It has also required staff to invest more time and intellectual effort in ensuring that UNDP’s contribution to national efforts is results-oriented and measurable. As well, eleven Country Offices in this region have been working within UN Country Teams and with national and international partners to develop new UN Development Assistance Frameworks and new UNDP Country Programme Documents for the next five years. Our colleagues in Pristina are also developing a common programming framework.

Many changes have also been taking place in other parts of UNDP to support our delivery on the new Strategic Plan. Across Central and Regional Bureaux, we have been working to break down silos, and to relocate more staff in both regional hubs and in global centres outside New York. The inauguration of our new regional hub here this morning and the strength of UNDP’s presence now in Istanbul reflect these changes. We have also put in place a new and comprehensive internal accountability framework, which enables all in the organization to see where accountability for processes and results lies.

Ultimately, our reformed structures, efforts to build a more collaborative culture, and new processes are about delivering more effective, integrated, and coherent support to Country Offices so that, in turn, they can deliver more substantive and high quality development results more efficiently to partners.

We have also been conscious of positioning UNDP and the UN development system overall as leaders in the roll out and implementation of the new global development agenda. I describe 2015 as a “once in a generation” year for development, with major global processes setting priorities for the next generation. The first of these, the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, has already been held in Sendai, Japan. The last of these will be COP 21 in Paris in December where a new global agreement on tackling climate change is due to be reached. In between are the Third International Summit on Financing for Development in July in Addis Ababa, and the Special Summit on Sustainable Development in New York in September. Success across these processes would renew confidence in multilateralism at a time when there are many challenges to be addressed around our world.

At this meeting, the SDGs, and their global and national implications, will be discussed in the panel, which Cihan Sultanoglu will chair, with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Moldova and the State Secretary of the Ministry of Economy from the Kyrgyz Republic. This is a good opportunity to explore how the proposed SDGs relate to this region, building on the important consultations already undertaken at the regional and national levels.

At the disaster risk reduction conference in Sendai, UN Member States agreed on a successor to the Hyogo Framework for Action. UNDP was prominent at the conference with quality presentations and new reports. Our tagline was: “If it’s not risk informed, it’s not sustainable development”. We are putting risk governance and management at the centre of our work on disaster risk reduction, and plan to help prevent, mitigate, and prepare for disasters in fifty countries over the next ten years – in our new 5-10-50 global programme.

For Addis Ababa in July at the financing for development conference, we are advocating a “Monterrey Plus” approach which acknowledges the important role of ODA, but also looks beyond it to the other far larger sources of financing which must come from domestic resource mobilization, loans, investments, and other mechanisms, including those of climate finance. ODA currently stands at just over $135 billion per annum. UNCTAD estimates the investment requirement for developing countries over the life of the SDGs to be US$3.3 to US$4.5 trillion per annum.

We also advocate consideration at Addis Ababa of how to manage risk better in development, taking into account that volatility is now the new normal in geo-economics, geopolitics, and our climate ecosystem. We believe that the role of private sector financing and investment partnerships must be central to development finance discussions. The Government of Turkey makes a vital contribution to UNDP’s thinking and action in this area through its support for the UNDP Istanbul International Center for Private Sector in Development.

As the largest implementer of climate change projects in the UN system, with a portfolio of $1.3 billion across more than 140 countries, UNDP will continue to support developing countries’ efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change in practical ways. Success at the Paris COP21 will be vital for the success of the post-2015 development agenda too. Climate change impacts the most on the poorest and most vulnerable people and countries. Poverty will not be eradicated if they remain so exposed to growing climate-related hazards which they did so little, if anything, to create.

It is critical that all countries now make ambitious national commitments on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and that progress continues on capitalizing the Green Climate Fund (GCF). At UNDP, we are delighted to be among the very small first group of agencies to be approved as accredited entities for the GCF. During this Regional Meeting, there is a session dedicated to sustainability, climate change, and disaster risk reduction, which will also include an important discussion on climate finance.

Around the world, UNDP is well placed to help programme countries deliver on all the major global development-related agendas agreed this year. Our expertise and experience across poverty reduction, MDG implementation, governance and rule of law, and building resilience, along with our knowledge networks and co-ordination role within the UNDG, make us well equipped to help countries deliver the integrated sustainable development solutions required to meet the SDGs. The SDG agenda is an opportunity to strengthen and deepen our policy and programme support to national partners.

So, 2015 is a significant year, and these are complex and unpredictable times. But I am fully confident that under the leadership of Cihan and Olivier, and with the support of all our senior staff gathered here today, RBEC will deliver on the Strategic Plan, and will continue to support and advance national and global human and sustainable development priorities.

Let me share with you a few observations on RBEC, and my expectations for your priorities and continued successes.

As a Bureau working within a predominantly middle-income context, you have accumulated a wealth of experience in and developed a culture of working with very low core funding. As a result, you know how to build strong partnerships, you know how to deliver quality results, and you know how to ensure that UNDP is a relevant partner. It is no accident that this Bureau’s operations across the region can leverage US$14.5 from partners for every US$1 of core funding received. As the whole of UNDP is increasingly working in a low core funding environment, RBEC’s experience in leveraging resources and partnerships is one from which others can learn. Your strong partnership with the European Commission is critical: the total amount of EU-UNDP contracts signed between RBEC and the European Union for this region totaled more than 154 million Euros in 2014, on the strength of our strong relationships with national partners, delegations, and the Commission in Brussels.

Over time, RBEC has also laid the groundwork for UNDP to step up support for South-South Co-operation and for partnerships with emerging development contributors. This work began with helping to build the ODA capacities of new EU Member States rather more than a decade ago. In recent years, we have developed global strategic partnerships with Turkey and Russia. The meeting which RBEC co-organised last June with TIKA on emerging development partners was an invaluable contribution to advancing this agenda globally, and to making concrete recommendations to the UN Development Co-operation Forum last July.

RBEC is also known as a leading innovator in UNDP. Our global Budva Declaration on Innovation was born in November 2013 in Montenegro, and committed us to deepen our exploration and use of innovative approaches to development. Innovation abounds in our Country Offices in this region, and I look forward to seeing and hearing of many more examples like those I was briefed on during my visit to Armenia last September.

RBEC delivers. I was very pleased to see that notwithstanding the many challenges the region has faced this past year, the Bureau exceeded its original delivery plans. Please accept my profound thanks to you and your teams for this achievement.

Finally, a word about this Regional Meeting – it occurs as major new global agendas are being negotiated and in uncertain times. It comes as we know we must do more with more constrained core funding. The quality of our communications is critical. Our partnerships with national counterparts, the UN system, donors, and the wide range of other development actors matter a great deal. You will be discussing all of these matters in the coming days. I hope the outcome will enable RBEC to build on its high quality work across the region, and I wish you all a happy and constructive meeting and a very successful 2015.

Montreal school struggles to explain why its students chose to join ...

view counter

RadicalizationMontreal school struggles to explain why its students chose to join ISIS

Published 24 April 2015

Just months after five students at Montreal’s Collège de Maisonneuveleft Canada to join the Islamic State in Syria, a young couple, El Mahdi Jamali and Sabrine Djaermane, who attended the same school, were arrested last Tuesday for what police allege were plans to commit terrorist acts. Since the arrest, school officials have met with terrorism and extremism experts to help analyze if the school itself had been a breeding ground for extremists. Some locals familiar with the school have pointed fingers at Adil Charkaoui, an Islamic leader in Montreal who rents the school’s facilities for a weekend Muslim youth group, and was once probed by federal agents as a suspected al-Qaeda sleeper agent.

Just months after five students at Montreal’s Collège de Maisonneuve left Canada to join the Islamic State in Syria, a young couple, El Mahdi Jamali and Sabrine Djaermane, who attended the same school, were arrested last Tuesday for what police allege were plans to commit terrorist acts. Since the arrest, school officials have met with terrorism and extremism experts to help analyze if the school itself had been a breeding ground for extremists.

Some locals familiar with the school have pointed fingers at Adil Charkaoui, an Islamic leader in Montreal who rents the school’s facilities for a weekend Muslim youth group, and was once probed by federal agents as a suspected al-Qaeda sleeper agent.

When school officials learned that five Maisonneuve students traveled to Syria to join ISIS, they immediately encouraged faculty to take courses on identifying signs of radicalization in an effort to prevent other students from being radicalized. “It’s an attempt to give some meaning to what has happened. If we don’t have that it would be a total depression. It’s powerlessness,” said Brigitte Desjardins, a spokesperson for Maisonneuve.

According to the Toronto Star, school officials consulted with police and radicalization experts in order to find out if the school had a terrorist recruiter at work on campus or if school faculty could have foreshadowed the actions of the five students. “There were no signs at all,” Desjardins concluded.

Some locals still believe Charkaoui played a role in the students’ departure, after revelations that several of them had enrolled in Arabic-language and Islamic instruction courses which he operates. Maisonneuve initially suspended its rental contract with Charkaoui, but then allowed him to resume courses under the supervision of an Arab-language observer.

Collège Rosemont, another Montreal school at which Charkaouri operated youth kickboxing and karate courses, canceled its rental contract with him last week, because it found that links on Charkaouri’s Web site led to extremist material.

Of the five Maisonneuve students who left, two were girls — Shayma Senouci and Ouardia Kadem; and another two were their boyfriends, Desjardins revealed. Imad Rafai, one of the students, wanted to become a doctor. His social media profile revealed that he had been moved by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and admired the work of Doctors Without Borders, the humanitarian group working on the front lines against the Ebola outbreak. On 23 October 2014, Rafai shared on his social media profile, a story about Canadian Muslim leaders paying tribute to Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, who was killed at the National War Memorial in Ottawa by homegrown terrorist Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.

On social media, Jamali, who was arrested last week, frequently mentioned the plight of Muslims around the world. “Mali, Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Burma … murders by the thousands and we don’t care,” he wrote on his Facebook page on 15 April 2013, referring to conflicts around the world where Muslims were dying in large numbers. “But Boston, Oh-la-la, a few injured. Get out of here you hypocrites.”

A number of Canadians who traveled to Syria to join ISIS appeared to have been searching for a cause, said Desjardins. “What we know of those who left is that they left to save the world. They didn’t leave to wage war. It was with good intentions,” she said.

view counter

Leave a comment

Register for your own account so you may participate in comment discussion. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to abide by our Comment Guidelines, our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Use. Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief. Names are displayed with all comments. Learn more about Joining our Web Community.

UN Assembly President urges collective action to end intolerance, ...

23 April 2015 – On the heels of a two-day United Nations High-Level meeting on Promoting Tolerance and Reconciliation, Fostering Peaceful, Inclusive Societies and Countering Violent Extremism, President of General Assembly, Sam Kutesa, has called for the defeat of obscurantism and urged faith leaders around the world to denounce those who preach intolerance in the name of religion.

“From Paris to Tunis; from Garissa to Yarmouk; from Johannesburg to Peshawar; no person, society or nation is immune from intolerance or violent extremism,” Mr. Kutesa told reporters at a press conference held today at UN Headquarters in New York. “There is no justification for such attacks. Collectively, we must condemn all manifestations of intolerance but also take action to present and stop them.”

The historic High-Level event – which concluded yesterday and which was convened by Mr Kutesa in conjunction with Secretary-General ban Ki-moon and the UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser – brought together leaders representing diverse faiths, including Islam, Judaism, Christianity, as well as ministers, academics, and spiritual teachers, in an effort to address the root causes of extremism committed in the name of religion.

Aside from underlining the critical role played by faith leaders in speaking out against radicalism, Mr. Kutesa also highlighted the importance of media in the global debate on intolerance, noting that it was used both as a recruitment tool for terrorist organizations as well as a positive means for engaging and educating citizens.

“I also urged faith leaders to speak out louder against and denounce those who perpetuate acts of intolerance in the name of religion,” he added.

In his wide-ranging press conference, the General Assembly President also touched on the issue of the post-2015 development agenda, underlining the need for eradicating extreme poverty and ensuring that the upcoming UN Third Conference on Financing for Development is “successful in order to support the implementation of a transformative and sustainable development agenda.”

At the same time, he announced that he would convene a High-Level Thematic Debate on Strengthening Cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organizations for 4 May.

“Regional and sub-regional organizations continue to play pivotal roles in their respective regions in the areas of peace and security, human rights and development,” Mr. Kutesa continued, adding that the cooperation between the UN and these bodies formed the “cornerstone” of the Organization’s work.

He also highlighted that on 21 April, I had met with Kingsley Mamabolo, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the UN, and was briefed on the violent acts of xenophobia targeting foreign nationals in that country. “These acts of Xenophobia are unacceptable. I call for an immediate end to these violent attacks. I hope that actions taken by South African authorities will effectively and swiftly address the situation.”

Turning to the death of African migrants in the Mediterranean in recent days, he said this tragedy of immense proportions was entirely avoidable in this day and age. “I call on Member States, the international community and regional organizations to do everything possible to save the lives of migrants, through search and rescue,” he said, adding however, that core factors of that contribute to such tragic migrations need to be addressed.

Marine Le Pen: The rhetoric behind extremist politician's ...

view counter

EuropeMarine Le Pen: The rhetoric behind extremist politician’s mainstream success

Published 23 April 2015

Jean-Marie Le Pen founded the French National Front in 1972 to unite under the same political banner several fringe groups – royalists, conservative Catholics, those nostalgic for the Vichy régime and the colonial Empire — and offer a political home to voters who opposed immigration to France from France’s former colonies in Africa and who wanted to take France out of the European Union. Le Pen, however, was an obstacle to the growth of FN. He is a crude anti-Semite and Holocaust denier, and a vulgar racist. He refuses to support the French national soccer team because some of its players are black or Muslim, and hence not “real” French. He criticized the French government’s participation in the efforts to contain Ebola in West Africa because, he argued, if the Ebola virus were allowed to spread freely, it would have “solved” the global “population explosion” (that is, having too many black-skinned people) and, by extension, France’s – and Europe’s — “immigration problem.” His daughter, Marine Le Pen, became the leader of FN in 2011 and set out to rebrand the FN in order to make it acceptable to more centrist voters. Recent election results show that she has been successful. A textual analysis of French political speeches reveals how Marine Le Pen has made extremism palatable in a land of republican values.

French politician Marine Le Pen carried her father’s right-wing fringe political party to first place in the country’s latest elections for European Parliament. Stanford scholar Cécile Alduy says Le Pen’s success at the helm of France’s right-wing National Front can be attributed to a combination of sophisticated rebranding and skillfully crafted moderate rhetoric that sells a conservative agenda that borders on extreme.

An associate professor of French at Stanford, Alduy conducted a qualitative and quantitative analysis of more than 500 speeches by Marine Le Pen and her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, to find out what has made their party surge in the polls.

Alduy’s word-for-word analysis of National Front political speeches, published in the book Marine Le Pen prise aux mots: Décryptage du nouveau discours frontiste (Seuil, 2015) has become a flashpoint of political discourse in France.

A Stanford University release notes that the resulting research is the first study of Marine Le Pen’s discourse, the first to compile a corpus of this magnitude of political speeches by a French political organization.

After sifting through the data and performing extensive close readings of the corpus, Alduy found that the stylistic polish of Marine Le Pen’s language conceals ideological and mythological structures that have traditionally disturbed French voters. Her research reveals how radical views can be cloaked in soothing speech.

Marine Le Pen’s language is full of ambiguities, double meanings, silences and allusions,” Alduy said.

However, in terms of political agenda and ideological content, Alduy said the continuity between the younger and elder Le Pen is striking. “What is different is the words and phrases she uses to express the same agenda,” Alduy said.

Alduy, whose research centers on the history and mythology of national and ethnic identities since the European Renaissance, conducted the research with the help of Stanford graduate and undergraduate students and with communication consultant Stéphane Wahnich. 

Academic technology specialist Michael Widner of Stanford Libraries and the Division of Literatures, Cultures and Languages, provided technical expertise throughout and trained students in the art of indexing the database.

With a grant from Stanford’s Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, Alduy and her team transcribed and analyzed more than 500 speeches by Marine and Jean-Marie Le Pen dating from 1987 to 2013.

Alduy’s team used text analysis software such as Hyperbase or Voyant Tools to measure precisely how Marine’s language differs from that of Jean-Marie.

view counter

Minister Pierre Poilievre will address an important issue that has ...

The Honourable Pierre Poilievre, Minister of Employment and Social Development, will address an important issue that has arisen with the delivery of the Universal Child Care Benefit and will affect families in Peterborough.

Please note that all details are subject to change. All times are local.

DATE:        Saturday, April 25, 2015

TIME:         1:30 P.M.


123 Aylmer Street South
Peterborough, Ontario

– 30 –

FOR INFORMATION (media only):

Aaron Bell
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Employment and Social Development

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada

Follow us on Twitter


Ebola: UN launches push to engage more women, community leaders in ...

23 April 2015 – With fresh statistics on the Ebola outbreak reflecting a halt in the decline in West Africa, the United Nations today began a campaign to engage more women – who have been disproportionately affected by the disease – as well as local traditional healers, to encourage communities to become more involved to bring down infection rates to zero.

“The decline in confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease has halted over the last three weeks,” the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its latest update. “To accelerate the decline towards zero cases will require stronger community engagement, improved contact tracing and earlier case identification.”

As part of the push to engage more community involvement, the UN Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) reported “in view of evidence that women are disproportionately more affected by Ebola (56.7 per cent) than men (43.3 per cent), UNMEER is collaborating with UN Women and the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists to bring women into the mainstream of EVD Response in Sierra Leone through a focus on community, youth, religious and women leaders.”

Starting today, there will be country-wide training of journalists on how to better engage women at the community level and women-themed radio programmes, including a simulcast on 41 radio stations in which representatives from UN Women, survivors, and women’s leaders will discuss issues around bringing transmission to a resilient zero, according to UNMEER.

UNMEER also reported a campaign to engage communities in early detection of Ebola cases in Guinea, including the sensitization of local traditional healers.

According to WHO, more than 26,000 cases of Ebola have been reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with over 10,800 deaths. The agency also says that 21 new confirmed cases were reported in Guinea, 12 in Sierra Leone and none in Liberia in the latest seven day reporting period.

“Community engagement appears to be steadily improving in Guinea and Sierra Leone, but more needs to be done to identify all chains of transmission,” according the UN health agency.