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The Maastricht Diplomat

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[France24] Prison's Detainees: France, Ambassador of Non-Violence

On the 19th of May 2023, 10.45 A.M, starts off the third session of EuroMUN2023. In the law faculty, the negotiations on prohibition of torture and blackmailing in prison is going on with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes. France is active and ambitious through the whole negotiation despite strong resistance from China and non-western nations.

“All countries are against torture” is what France states during the beginning of today's negotiations. In theory that should be the case, although it is slightly different in practice. Indeed, the discussions upon eliminating the use of torture and blackmailing are heated as delegates often disagree with each other. They seem to agree on the use of torture as something the United Nations does not align with. The present countries are rather diverse as they present European, Middle Eastern, Asian and American Nations. The main discussion’s point is upon finding a body which would have the task to tackle this issue. Some member states are in favour of creating an independent body, whilst others disagree. Canada and the United States suggest the creation of an independent body, as they deem is as the least biassed, looking at the diversity of the national bodies in the international organization. However, this idea is not well welcomed by every nation, mainly countries that are known to not emphasise human rights as the Western countries deem fit. The delegate of Saudi Arabia, emphasises this idea as an open door to violate national sovereignty. On the other side, the West, including Western European nations, Canada and the United States, marks the need for Arab states and China especially to improve their Human Rights standards.

On its side, France is in favour, alongside the other Western nations - especially the United States - of creating an independent body supervising the elimination of torture and blackmailing to prison’s detainees. France suggests more investigation and the need of statistics to comprehend the causes and consequences for such violence, in order to solve this important issue.

France further shares the United States' view that oversight bodies should be impartial and, to do so, must hold permanent members from every United Nations member. Moreover, France emphasizes the need to look at the psychological aspect of torture and not only physical, as a factor of improving the safety of the prison’s system. In addition, France is in favour of being supported by NGOs in order to support the UN’s decision to create an independent body.

As we had the chance to interview the delegate of France, we found out about relevant insights on the importance of the position of France in these negotiations. “Liberty, Egality, Fraternity”, reminds us of the nation's motto that the French Delegation wishes to use as the foundation of the negotiations.

Looking at the nation's history, the delegate states that it is France’s duty to play a major role in convincing other nations to prioritise Human Rights. France acknowledges that prisoners are in jail for specific reasons but still must be protected, as “it is part of our Human rights’ duty”. However, the delegate also mentions the need to work cooperatively with other nations and to be supported by NGOs in UN’s quest for Human Rights’ respect. On the question of convincing resistant nations to align with these values, France is optimistic in discussing with China as well as Serbia and Saudi Arabia, in order to reach a consensus that will be beneficial for the United Nations as a whole. France is aware of the difficulty of the task: “It is going to be very hard to convince them, it is not impossible but difficult." Moreover, France believes in its diplomatic tools and skills to convince other nations to align with their position, “We believe in our tools, in our power and in our country”, they say.

In the end, France is optimistic for the upcoming negotiations and believes that a consensus will be reached during the summit. Overall, states present at the negotiations are all, in theory, against torture but are still disagreeing on the way to solve the issue without undermining any nations’ sovereignty; there is a contrast between violation to prison’s detainees and violation to national sovereignty. However, the nexus between France and the United States seems to be powerful and ambitious enough to hopefully reach a consensus among the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crimes and convince nations that disagree with this principle.

- Alodia Heijmans, Human Rights Correspondent for France24


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