We, the foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and the High Representative of the European Union, gathered in Toronto on April 22 and 23, 2018, to exchange views and coordinate action with respect to building a more peaceful and secure world. Bound together by respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law, we discussed four broad themes: (1) a rules-based international order, (2) non-proliferation and disarmament, (3) transnational threats to security and (4) conflict prevention and support for United Nations efforts and reform. We reaffirmed our belief in open economies, open societies and open governments where diversity is respected and inclusion is valued and embraced.
Throughout our discussions, we stressed the importance of protecting and promoting human rights, including gender equality and women's empowerment, to sustainable peace and security. In this regard, we held productive discussions with women foreign ministers from Colombia, Croatia, Ecuador, Jamaica, Ghana, Guatemala and Panama. We recognized that to be effective and durable, initiatives addressing peace and security challenges need to support women's equal and meaningful participation at all levels of decision-making processes, address women's and girls' needs and respect their rights, including their security and safety, and facilitate their access to and control of resources and the benefits of peace in line with UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 and other relevant resolutions. The G7 members are committed to implementing those resolutions and their respective National Action Plans on women, peace and security. We underscored the strategic importance of enhancing the integration of a gender perspective into policies and initiatives, and we look forward to the contributions of the Gender Equality Advisory Council to this endeavour. We expressed our will to support a concrete and transformative approach and identify policy options accounting for gender mainstreaming and inclusion.
In addition to exchanging views and coordinating actions, as set out below, we endorsed the G7 Statement on Non-proliferation and Disarmament and welcomed the Ise-Shima Cyber Group Chair's report.
The rules-based international order
The G7 is united by its shared values and commitment to a rules-based international order. That order is being challenged by authoritarianism, serious violations of human rights, exclusion and discrimination, humanitarian and security crises, and the defiance of international law and standards.
As members of the G7, we are convinced that our societies and the world have reaped remarkable benefits from a global order based on rules and underscore that this system must have at its heart the notions of inclusion, democracy and respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, diversity, and the rule of law. We understand that our full and meaningful engagement with civil society is an essential pillar of these concepts. We are deeply committed to the values of respect and mutual understanding and are dedicated to the application of equity to every person, including women and children, people with disabilities, Indigenous people and members of other minorities, including religious minorities, who are often marginalized in society. We recognize the key role played by human rights defenders in protecting and promoting human rights and in strengthening the rule of law. We are concerned about resurgent forms of racism, xenophobia and discrimination worldwide, including anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim sentiment. We will work individually and collectively to combat such discrimination and ensure that diversity is recognized and leveraged as a strength for humanity. We also share the view that open, predictable and rules-based trade and investment can contribute to economic growth and job creation. International trade generates prosperity, and we underline the importance of seeking to ensure that all segments of society can take advantage of and benefit from the opportunities that flow from it. In turn, increased trade and investment that is mutually beneficial, sustainable and inclusive—and that facilitates a level playing field—can contribute to reducing poverty and helping the world's most vulnerable.
We are determined to work collaboratively to reinforce our democracies against interference by hostile state and non-state actors. Such interference, undertaken through both traditional and digital means, seeks to create chaos and undermine public confidence in democratic institutions and processes. We have reached a common understanding of unacceptable actions by foreign actors, which are outlined in the G7 foreign and security ministers' Toronto Commitments. We instruct our officials to work together in the coming months to develop responses for consideration by the G7 leaders at the Charlevoix Summit.
We condemn the pervasive and egregious violations of international humanitarian law, notably in protracted armed conflicts, including attacks on civilians, civilian objects, and humanitarian and medical personnel and their facilities, and the arbitrary denial of humanitarian relief to those in need. We are gravely concerned about sexual and gender-based violence, trafficking in persons and grave violations against children, including the unlawful use and recruitment of child soldiers, and attacks on schools and hospitals. We underline the need to further protect those in situations of vulnerability, especially women, children and persons with disabilities and other persons belonging to minorities who are often marginalized or excluded in society. As outlined in the Toronto Commitments, we intend to redouble efforts to achieve greater awareness of and respect for international humanitarian law among national and international partners.
We reiterate our commitment to promoting cooperative, international maritime governance, to maintaining a rules-based maritime order based on international law, including as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to building trust and ensuring security, and to the peaceful management and settlement of disputes without using the threat of force or coercion and in accordance with international law, including through internationally recognized legal dispute settlement mechanisms, including arbitration. We reiterate our commitment to the freedom of the high seas, including the freedom of navigation and overflight, and to other rights, including the rights and jurisdiction of coastal states and internationally lawful uses of the seas. In this context, we stress the importance of maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific region based on the rule of law, and express our intention to work together with ASEAN and other countries in this endeavour.
We remain concerned about the situation in the East and South China seas. We reiterate our strong opposition to any unilateral actions that escalate tensions and undermine regional stability and the international rules-based order, such as the threat or use of force, large-scale land reclamation and building of outposts, as well as their use for military purposes. We urge all parties to comply with their obligations under international law, and call for the full and effective implementation of the commitments in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in their entirety. We emphasize the importance of ongoing negotiations for an effective code of conduct and welcome an agreement that does not derogate from the rights parties enjoy under international law or affect the rights of third parties. We also recognize that in order to secure stability in the region, such diplomatic efforts should lead to demilitarization of disputed features and a peaceful and open South China Sea in accordance with international law. We consider the July 12, 2016, award rendered by the Arbitral Tribunal under the UNCLOS as a useful basis for further efforts to peacefully resolve disputes in the South China Sea. We reiterate our concern regarding the destruction of marine ecosystems in the South China Sea, which threatens their sustainability and regional fish stocks, and reaffirm our commitment to increasing international cooperation to enhance protection of the marine environment. We reaffirm our commitment to further international cooperation on maritime security and safety, as well as the protection and sustainable management of the marine environment.
We reiterate our commitment to combatting illegal activities at sea, including acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea, transnational organized crime and terrorism in the maritime domain, trafficking in persons, smuggling of migrants, trafficking of weapons and illicit drugs, and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. We commend the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, the Djibouti Code of Conduct States, the G7++ Friends of the Gulf of Guinea Group, and the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia for their work in reducing illegal maritime activity and working toward more effective maritime governance, law enforcement capacity and regional cooperation in the maritime domain. We encourage further progress in advancing nationally and regionally led efforts to tackle maritime security challenges in Africa. We are committed to supporting regional maritime security in regions affected by illegal maritime activities through comprehensive capacity building assistance under existing instruments in areas such as maritime governance, coast guard authorities and functions, disaster relief, maritime search and rescue, and maritime information sharing and integration, including maritime domain awareness. Affirming the application of international law, we recognize the importance of reviewing and, where necessary, strengthening national legal frameworks to protect the critical infrastructure of subsea cables and improve national resilience, working with industry to establish standards and best practices.
We acknowledge both the benefits and the challenges of safe, orderly and regular migration, and the need for countries to share the burden and responsibility. While migrants and refugees may face many common challenges, we recognize that they are distinct groups governed by different frameworks. We stress the need to protect the human rights of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, particularly those in the most vulnerable situations, in accordance with international law. We acknowledge that each state maintains the sovereign right to manage and control its borders, including the admission of non-nationals, subject to their international obligations. We further acknowledge the importance for all countries to cooperate in facilitating the dignified and sustainable return and readmission of their nationals who want to return voluntarily or who, according to national and international law, do not have the right to stay in the country of destination, as well as the reintegration of these nationals. We further acknowledge that irregular migration poses a global challenge. Large movements of refugees and irregular migration can increase vulnerability to migrant smuggling, exploitation and trafficking in persons, all forms of slavery, including modern slavery, and forced displacement, and they require a coordinated response. We pledge to continue working in partnership, as appropriate, with countries of origin, transit and destination to address the factors that lead to irregular migration and forced displacement. We also recognize the need to eliminate the scourge of trafficking in persons, including by identifying and providing assistance to its victims, disrupting and prosecuting human traffickers and migrant smugglers, and providing protection for those fleeing torture and persecution, in accordance with our international obligations and applicable domestic laws.
We recognize the need to work together, as appropriate, to facilitate safe, orderly and regular migration, which can be a source of prosperity, innovation and sustainable development. We also acknowledge the link between migration and sustainable development, and recognize the need to cooperate to address the root causes that compel people to leave their own countries, as well as the importance of respecting human rights, the rule of law, good governance and promoting a strong civil society. We underscore the need for a gender-responsive approach to migration policy, noting that women and children have specific needs that should be taken into consideration, and that their inclusion and active engagement can strengthen the effectiveness of our responses. Further, we recognize the contributions of diasporas to the development of their countries of origin. Our collaboration with these communities, as appropriate, especially the younger generation, is also essential to strengthen their positive impact on their countries of origin and where they reside, including to support entrepreneurial initiatives and promote cheaper remittance transfers.
We emphasize the importance of improving connectivity for fostering sustainable and balanced growth and for bringing countries, people, societies and economies closer together, particularly through new transportation infrastructure, energy infrastructure, digital links and cultural exchanges, among others. We recognize the importance of working to bridge the gender digital divide and to increase women's ability to be digitally engaged, including by promoting digital spaces that are respectful and do not enable or ignore the harassment of women or minority groups. When financing and building infrastructure, we stress the critical importance of promoting quality and open practices, such as non-discriminatory procurement, a level playing field, free and open trade, transparency, and interoperability, as well as fiscally, environmentally and socially sustainable growth.
We also discussed a number of regional and country situations. We are deeply concerned about the lack of respect for human rights and basic democratic principles in Venezuela, and about the ongoing economic crisis and its humanitarian repercussions that are severely affecting the population, particularly the elderly, women and children who are in situations of great vulnerability. This is resulting in large waves of people fleeing Venezuela, including refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, to other countries in the region. We highlight the importance of providing gender-responsive humanitarian assistance to help address the basic needs of crisis-affected people and call upon the government to accept humanitarian assistance from the international community. We underline that upcoming presidential elections cannot be considered as free and fair under the conditions implemented by Venezuelan authorities. We call upon the government to reconsider the convening of these elections and establish widely agreed conditions to ensure free, transparent and credible elections on the basis of a viable electoral calendar. We welcome the work of the Organization of American States, the Lima Group and other regional partners to contribute to the restoration of democracy in Venezuela. We also call upon the international community to collectively take a strong, principled stance to help the Venezuelan people achieve a peaceful, democratic and sustainable solution to the worsening crisis.
We pledge to coordinate efforts to support building lasting peace and democratic transition in Myanmar, promote accountability for the human rights violations and abuses committed in Myanmar, particularly in northern Rakhine, and provide life-saving gender-responsive humanitarian assistance, especially for survivors of sexual violence. We are deeply concerned that the repatriation planning process and conditions in Myanmar for the repatriation of Rohingya are not sufficiently established. We emphasize that returns need to be voluntary, safe, sustainable and dignified, with the involvement of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, to ensure effective and sustainable implementation. Recognizing that the vast majority of the refugees and displaced people are women and children, we call upon the international community to prioritize their protection from sexual and gender-based violence, including child, early and forced marriage, trafficking in persons, and other human rights abuses and violations. We stress the importance of establishing a clear pathway toward accountability for the atrocities committed in Rakhine State. We call upon the Government of Myanmar to cooperate with all relevant UN bodies, mechanisms and instruments. We also reiterate our call for the provision of safe and unhindered access for humanitarian organizations in northern Rakhine, as well as unimpeded access for UN and international organizations to monitor returns, and the implementation of the recommendations of the Kofi Annan-led Advisory Commission on Rakhine State without delay. Recognizing the burden on Bangladesh and welcoming its response to date, we encourage the Government of Bangladesh, in partnership with the UN and other international agencies, to continue to offer support to refugees and the communities that host them and to increase efforts to prevent a deterioration of the humanitarian situation during the cyclone and monsoon seasons. We call on the international community to provide assistance, including through the new humanitarian Joint Response Plan.
We reaffirm our shared commitment to the security, stability, prosperity, full sovereignty and European Union aspirations of the Western Balkans. To this end, we emphasize the importance of advancing the rule of law and respect for human rights, and confirm our shared commitment to tackling the full range of challenges and opportunities through a comprehensive approach.
We reiterate our enduring support for Ukrainian sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. This includes our non-recognition of Russia's violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. We decry the degraded human rights situation in the peninsula, and the violations and abuses committed against its population by Russia in Crimea. We fully support the efforts within the Normandy format and of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe for a solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. We are convinced that the only way a sustainable solution to the conflict can be reached is through the full implementation of the Minsk agreements. Given Russia's responsibility in the conflict, we urge Russia to stabilize the security situation in the Donbas without delay. We recall that the duration of Donbas-related economic sanctions is clearly linked to Russia's complete and irreversible implementation of the Minsk Agreements. These sanctions can be rolled back only if Russia truly fulfills its commitments, but we also stand ready to take further restrictive measures should Russia's actions so require.
We reconfirm our support for Ukraine's reform and are encouraged by steps taken to date, especially in the areas of decentralization and economic growth. We urge the Government of Ukraine to make continued, clear progress along the reform path on which it has embarked and which its people demand. This includes the creation of an anti-corruption court in line with the Venice Commission's recommendations, as well as progress on electoral reforms and the National Security Law. We reiterate our full confidence in the G7 Ambassadors Group in Ukraine and acknowledge the role of this group in monitoring and supporting the implementation of reforms.
We are committed to protecting and promoting the rules-based international system. This stands against the background of a pattern of irresponsible and destabilizing Russian behaviour, including interference in countries' democratic systems. We call on Russia to cease this behaviour, which is highly detrimental to prospects for constructive cooperation. We urge Russia to live up to its international obligations, as well as its responsibilities as a permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC), to uphold international peace and security. Notwithstanding, we will continue to engage with Russia on addressing regional crises and global challenges. We will continue to bolster our capabilities to address hybrid threats, including in the areas of cybersecurity, strategic communications and counter-intelligence. We welcome national action taken to constrain Russian hostile-intelligence activity and to enhance our collective security. We will remain closely focused on this issue and its implications in anticipation of our Leaders' Summit.
We remain gravely concerned about the documented accounts of human rights violations and abuses in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). We note that the precarious humanitarian situation there is exacerbated by the DPRK's national policy priorities that, among others, prioritize military spending, especially nuclear and ballistic missile development, over citizens' access to food, education and medicine. We urge all parties to fully implement all existing UN sanctions against the DPRK and once again call upon the DPRK to respect the human rights of its people and resolve the abductions issue immediately.
We encourage China's responsible participation in the international rules-based system and note its capacity to make important contributions to global public goods and international security, such as peacekeeping. We wish to cooperate with China to resolve the challenges to regional and global peace and prosperity, notably on the Korean Peninsula. We also stress the need for respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. We are concerned about the lack of freedom of expression, and about the situation of members of ethnic minorities and some religious groups in China. We are also concerned about the harassment and detention of human rights defenders and their families. We underscore the need to take into consideration the detrimental humanitarian situation in the DPRK when dealing with asylum seekers, including abstaining from forcibly repatriating asylum seekers to the DPRK and allowing safe passage for DPRK asylum seekers transiting through China.
We commend the ongoing democratic transition in countries like the Gambia, the policy of Uzbekistan focusing on reforms and regional cooperation and, notwithstanding shortcomings in some areas, countries like Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon and Bangladesh have shown commendable resilience in the face of great challenges in recent years. We also note commitments to reforms in Zimbabwe and are looking for substantive progress in areas such as elections, economic reform and socio-political freedoms and liberties, allowing for the holding of free and fair elections. We also welcome the recent commitments on reform within Saudi Arabia, particularly with regard to women and girls, but acknowledge the need for greater progress on human rights. We stand ready to assist these countries, as appropriate, to fulfill their positive ambitions.
Non-proliferation and disarmament
We are committed to working together and with our partners to promote international peace and security, and to create the conditions for a more secure, stable and safer world. The international security environment continues to present significant challenges in areas of non-proliferation and disarmament.
We condemn in the strongest possible terms any attempts to challenge the rules-based international order in dangerous and destabilizing ways. It is essential that we, together with the broader international community, adopt coordinated approaches to prevent the use and spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their means of delivery, and reaffirm the importance of non-proliferation norms.
At the top of our agenda is the global threat to international peace and security posed by the DPRK's unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile programs, as well as its proliferation of these technologies. We remain deeply concerned by the challenge the DPRK presents to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and to international efforts to strengthen the global nuclear non-proliferation regime.
We stand united behind the United States of America and the Republic of Korea as they undertake bilateral discussions with the DPRK. We reaffirm that we will never accept a nuclear-armed DPRK and remain committed to the goal of achieving complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of the DPRK's WMDs, including biological and chemical weapons, missiles and related facilities, for the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and beyond. We acknowledge the DPRK's recent statement announcing the suspension of nuclear tests, intercontinental ballistic missile launches and the closing of its testing site (Punggye-ri) as a first step toward full denuclearization, assuming full implementation. Noting that meaningful negotiations must imply concrete actions by the DPRK toward denuclearization, we are committed to maintaining maximum pressure, including by cutting down or reducing DPRK diplomatic representation abroad and downgrading economic relationships. Until the DPRK denuclearizes, we further commit to countering the DPRK's sanctions-evasion tactics, particularly through its illicit maritime activities, including prohibited ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum and sales of coal and other UN-banned commodities, as well as its malicious cyber activities. We reaffirmed that such measures will remain in place to urge the DPRK to change its course and take decisive, irreversible steps to denuclearize. We further resolve to make clear to the DPRK that a diplomatic solution leading to complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of WMDs and missiles, as well as related facilities, is the DPRK's only viable option and would lead to a brighter future within the international community. To this end, we call on all states to fully implement relevant UNSCRs, including UNSCR 2397, and note with urgent concern that some countries still fail to implement these resolutions, as documented in the latest report of the Panel of Experts established pursuant to UNSCR 1874. We urge all states to consider pursuing actions beyond the UNSC resolutions to prevent the DPRK from further developing its WMD and ballistic missile programs, and we urge the DPRK to abandon those programs. We intend to continue our coordination on capacity building, counter-proliferation and proliferation financing.
We call for the full implementation of UNSCR 2231. We are committed to permanently ensuring that Iran's nuclear program remains exclusively peaceful, in line with its NPT obligations and its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) never to seek, develop or acquire a nuclear weapon. We strongly support the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in its crucial monitoring and verification work to help ensure Iran's compliance with its JCPOA and other commitments, including safeguard obligations. We call on UN member states to make voluntary contributions to the IAEA to ensure it has the resources necessary to fulfill this vital role.
We deeply regret Iran's ballistic missile tests, which are inconsistent with UNSCR 2231 and which contribute to increased tensions and instability in the region. We call upon Iran to play a constructive regional role and urge it to cease its unlawful transfers of ballistic missile technology to states and non-state actors. We intend to continue to our work to counter Iran's regional proliferation of ballistic missiles and its unlawful arms transfers.
We reaffirm our commitments to joint efforts to reinforce the goals of the NPT as the essential cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and as a foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. We also welcome the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty's potential contribution to nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, and reaffirm our commitments to promote the International Monitoring System. We recognize that states should maintain all existing voluntary moratoriums on nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions, and that those states that have not instituted such moratoriums should do so. Likewise, we call for the commencement of the negotiation in the Conference on Disarmament of a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices (FMCT). In the meantime, we urge all states to declare and maintain moratoriums on the production of such materials. We underscore the importance of progress toward verifiable nuclear disarmament through practical and inclusive initiatives, such as those developed by the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification. While recognizing the constraints of the current international security environment, we remain strongly committed to the goal of ultimately achieving a world without nuclear weapons, to be pursued using practical and concrete steps in accordance with the NPT's emphasis on easing tension and strengthening trust among states.
Outer space plays a vital role in global prosperity and security but is increasingly congested and contested. We commit to respond to these threats by continuing to advance and develop norms of responsible behaviour to ensure the safety, stability and sustainability of space so that all countries can benefit from its peaceful use. We confirm our resolve in the face of threats in and from space, and our commitment to build collective resilience against such threats. We are committed to preventing conflicts from extending into outer space through voluntary, pragmatic transparency and confidence building measures and guidelines. We asked the Non-Proliferation Directors' Group to develop shared positions on the responsible use and exploration of outer space and to further examine how the G7 can contribute to ensuring that the prosperity and security benefits of space are preserved through responsible use.
We are appalled by the re-emergence of chemical weapons use in the Middle East, Asia and now Europe. Noting the G7 leaders' statement of April 16, we are united in condemning, in the strongest possible terms, the use of chemical weapons in the April 7 attack in Eastern Ghouta, Syria. We fully support all efforts made by the United States, the United Kingdom and France to alleviate the extreme suffering of the Syrian people by degrading the Assad regime's ability to use chemical weapons and to deter any future use, as demonstrated by their action taken on April 13. This response was limited, proportionate and necessary—and taken only after exhausting every possible diplomatic option to uphold the international norm against the use of chemical weapons. We condemn the repeated and morally reprehensible use of chemical weapons in Syria by the Syrian regime and by Daesh, as confirmed by successive reports of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW-UN) Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM). We condemn this deliberate strategy of terrorizing local populations and forcing them into submission. We regret that Russia has vetoed the renewal of the mandate of the JIM and also vetoed the recent UNSC draft resolution, which aimed to establish an independent investigative mechanism for the use of chemical weapons in Syria. We stress the importance of the establishment of a successor mechanism to the JIM specifically tasked by the UNSC with attributing chemical weapons attacks in Syria. The regime's use of chemical weapons is illegal under UNSCR 2118 and the Chemical Weapons Convention. We urge them to respect their obligations under international law, to cease chemical weapons use and to declare and completely destroy their chemical weapons program pursuant to the obligation under the Chemical Weapons Convention. We deplore the fact that Syria will assume the Presidency of the Conference on Disarmament in May, given its consistent and flagrant disregard of international non-proliferation and disarmament norms and agreements.
In this context, we reaffirm our support to the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons and our solemn belief that there can be no impunity for the perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks anywhere, by anyone, under any circumstances. We underline our commitment to ensuring accountability of those who use chemical weapons through all means available, including, as appropriatethrough the sharing of information, sanctions measures and strengthening the capacity of participating states. We will continue to ensure that the use of chemical weapons anywhere by anyone remains a taboo.
We reiterate our joint statement of April 16 on the Salisbury attack. We are united in condemning, in the strongest possible terms, the attack that took place in Salisbury, United Kingdom (U.K.), on March 4, 2018. This use of a military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, constitutes the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War and is a grave challenge not only to the security of the U.K. but also to our shared security. It is an assault on U.K. sovereignty. Any use of chemical weapons by a state party under any circumstances is a clear breach of international law and a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The OPCW has now independently confirmed the U.K.'s findings relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury. We share, and agree with, the U.K.'s assessment that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation was responsible for the attack, and that there is no plausible alternative explanation. We call on Russia to urgently address all questions related to the incident in Salisbury. Russia should provide full and complete disclosure of its previously undeclared Novichok programme to the OPCW in line with its international obligations. We call on Russia to live up to its Chemical Weapons Convention obligations, as well as its responsibilities as a permanent member of the UNSC to uphold international peace and security.
We reaffirm our strong commitment to the Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction as a proven and effective mechanism for addressing WMD proliferation threats that exist worldwide. We recognize the ongoing need for the Global Partnership, and we underscore the importance for the 31 active members to continue to deliver programming and coordinate activities to combat chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear proliferation and terrorism. In its 15th anniversary year, we also reiterate our support for the complementary efforts of the Proliferation Security Initiative and we hope that the May 2018 High-Level Political Meeting in Paris will help the initiative to remain robust and relevant for tackling proliferators' procurement strategies in the years ahead.
We recognize that the illicit transfer and destabilizing accumulation of conventional arms, in particular small arms and light weapons and related ammunition, continue to undermine global efforts to achieve peace and sustainable development in many parts of the world. We are committed to continuing to promote effective systems of national controls for exports and imports of conventional arms and dual-use goods, including those called for in the Arms Trade Treaty, and to supporting improvements in stockpile management and law enforcement cooperation. We support the full implementation of the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, in All Its Aspects, and we look forward to a productive review conference of the Program of Action in June 2018.
We recognize the 20th anniversary of the Ottawa Convention, which played a pivotal role in banning the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines, and in addressing their crippling toll on human life. However, we note with alarm the reversal of this trend in the last three years with year-over-year increases in casualties as a result of conflicts, including those involving non-State armed groups in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan and Ukraine. We also note with concern the continued use of anti-personnel mines in Syria and Myanmar. We remain committed to comprehensive mine action addressing mines, explosive remnants of war and unexploded ordnance. We commend the work being done under the Ottawa Convention to address the gendered impacts of anti-personnel mines and leverage opportunities to empower women and girls as agents of change in their communities.
Transnational security threats
The issue of terrorism remains at the top of our agenda. We celebrate successes against Daesh, al Qaeda and other groups but are resolved to continue to fight them and all their affiliates through multilateral counterterrorism efforts, including the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and the Global Counterterrorism Forum, as well as continuing to tackle the threat from al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. We emphasize the need for information sharing, cross-border cooperation and continued implementation of the Ise-Shima Action Plan on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism, as well as support for the Taormina Statement on the Fight against Terrorism and Violent Extremism and the Ischia Communiqué. We welcome the establishment of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism and will work to ensure? that the review of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy continues to promote balanced implementation across all four of its pillars and the recommendations of the Secretary General's Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism. We reaffirm that effective and sustainable counterterrorism measures require a global approach that combines domestic and international efforts, while safeguarding the democratic character of our countries, promoting the rule of law, and upholding established national and international human rights norms and obligations. We recognize that violent extremists and terrorists manipulate and exploit gender stereotypes and dynamics to attract and maintain recruits and use sexual and gender-based violence, including trafficking in persons and rape, and we are committed to holding those responsible to account. Recognizing that gender-responsive measures that include women's perspectives and participation to prevent and eradicate terrorism are vital to effective and sustainable results, we are committed to fully integrating the women, peace and security agenda into our counterterrorism policies and programs.
We are committed to developing and implementing common measures to address the risks posed by the international travel of terrorists, including foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs), as outlined in the joint commitments of the G7 foreign and security ministers. We recognize the importance of holding returning FTFs accountable for their actions and are committed to providing appropriate disengagement, rehabilitation and reintegration programs, with special consideration afforded to children, youth and women based on their age and gender needs. We remain committed to enhancing our efforts, individually and collectively, to promote better implementation of effective aviation security measures. In this regard we welcome and offer our full support to the International Civil Aviation Organization to deliver early and substantive implementation of the new Global Aviation Security Plan. We strongly support the full implementation of UNSCR 2396 on measures to counter threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts.
We continue to support measures to tackle terrorist financing, including via UNSCR 2368 on the Daesh and al Qaeda sanctions regime, UNSCR 1373, UNSCR 1267 and its successors, and UNSCR 2347 on the protection of cultural heritage from illicit trafficking, as well as UNSCR 2341 on the protection of critical infrastructure. We look forward to the Paris conference of April 25 and 26, 2018, on terrorist financing, which will further mobilize the international community on this important aspect of the fight against terrorism. In this context, we reiterate our resolve to prevent terrorist groups from using kidnap for ransom as a means of raising funds for their activities and harming our citizens at home and overseas, in accordance with the relevant international conventions.
We underscore the role that the G7 Roma-Lyon Group plays in fostering international cooperation to counter terrorism and combat transnational organized crime. We call for parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and the protocols thereto to effectively implement these instruments. We welcome the Roma-Lyon Group taking a more active role in delivering practical outcomes in this area as well as on counterterrorism, including the implementation of relevant UNSCRs and strengthening border and aviation security (including through continued cooperation with INTERPOL). We reiterate our commitment to bringing perpetrators to justice, and to this end we intend to further enhance cooperation between law enforcement and criminal justice authorities, including in partnership with third countries with due regard for human rights. We remain concerned about the security threat posed by the sale of synthetic drugs on the Internet. We believe that the G7 Roma-Lyon Group should continue to build on cooperative efforts to promote an international response to this threat and to contribute to addressing challenges faced in placing new and emerging dangerous substances under control at the national and international levels, particularly new psychoactive substances, synthetic drugs and substances.
We recognize that the illegal wildlife trade is a serious organized crime that poses a significant and growing threat. We are committed to working together to strengthen cross-border law enforcement and tackle associated corruption, to close markets for illegally traded wildlife and wildlife products, including elephant ivory. We will support the October conference in London as an important moment in strengthening the global fight against the illegal wildlife trade and threats to protected species.
The various dimensions of cyber cut across all our discussions. We remain committed to an accessible, open, interoperable, reliable and secure cyberspace for all. Stressing the need to develop further a global understanding of expectations of responsible state behaviour in cyberspace, we are concerned about the malicious cyber activities of a growing number of state and non-state actors, for which coordinated responses in keeping with rules-based international order and fundamental human rights are needed. We stress the applicability of existing international law to State conduct in cyberspace. We pledge support for the development and implementation of practical cyber confidence-building measures between states, as well as capacity-building support for their implementation. We reiterate our support for the G7 Lucca Declaration on Responsible State Behavior in Cyberspace as well as "The Principles and Actions on Cyber" endorsed in Ise-Shima. We reaffirm our commitment to contribute to international cooperative action by working together to develop measures aimed at preventing, deterring, discouraging and countering malicious cyber acts and thus strengthen our collective resolve to deter malicious cyber actors by imposing costs in a timely manner. When appropriate, we will consider attributing malicious behaviour and taking action. We recognize the importance of working with the private sector and civil society in addressing these challenges.
We stress the importance of the Convention on Cybercrime ("Budapest Convention") and the UNTOC ("Palermo Convention") as effective global frameworks to support law enforcement cooperation against cybercrime. Further, we will continue working closely together to set out clear conditions for facilitating access to digital evidence for law enforcement and judicial authorities, including through the negotiation of an Additional Protocol to the Budapest Convention with the necessary conditions and safeguards, and in full respect of human rights.
We also reaffirm our commitment to prevent the use of the Internet for terrorist and violent extremist purposes. We express our determination to continue to work in support of security ministers to encourage technology companies to implement measures necessary to prevent and counter radicalization to violence, terrorist recruitment and operational planning using the Internet and to counter violent extremist and terrorist narratives while fostering positive alternative narratives. To increase their effectiveness, these efforts must be coordinated with other counterterrorism and countering-violent-extremism interventions.
We also emphasize the importance of promoting and protecting the human rights of all women and girls and their ability to access information and communication technologies without being targeted by technology-facilitated harassment, violence and abuse.
Conflict prevention and support for UN efforts and reform
We stress the overriding importance of conflict prevention to reduce the unprecedented human and economic cost of violent conflicts around the globe. We emphasize the need for more innovative, integrated and flexible approaches to conflict management that encompass the whole peace continuum, including making better use of existing human rights mechanisms, and development activities that tackle root causes of conflict, instability and vulnerability. G7 members thank the Working Group on Climate Change and Fragility for its work, note with appreciation its report and remain seized of this issue.
Underscoring the central role of the UN in sustaining peace, we reaffirm our support to Secretary-General Guterres' vision for UN reform and welcome efforts to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the UN system. We commend the important role that the UN plays in preventing violent conflict and responding to international crises. We emphasize the need to ensure that peacekeeping missions are as effective and efficient as possible in responding to peace and security challenges, including through improved performance, greater participation of women, innovation and training, prioritized and phased mission mandates, appropriate troops and equipment, and adequate resources. We underline the role of peacekeeping operations in the protection of civilians, in particular from sexual violence, and the prevention of mass atrocities. We call on countries to continue considering innovative means of supplying personnel, assets and training in support of peacekeeping missions, including through the smart pledging approaches last discussed at the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial Conference in Vancouver in November 2017. We also underscore the importance of effective transitions, including peacebuilding strategies, and the role of police in this regard. Further, we highlight the important role UN missions can play in the protection of cultural heritage and the need for peace operations to properly manage their environmental impact.
We stress the critical importance of fully implementing the UN's zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse across the UN system and call on all countries to hold their personnel accountable, whether they work in civilian or peacekeeping roles.
We further stress the need to accelerate efforts to increase the number of women serving in a full range of peacekeeping roles, including leadership positions across the UN. We underscore the importance of strengthening the global implementation of the women, peace and security (WPS) agenda through national leadership and action in multilateral forums, such as the UN, the African Union (AU) and the European Union, and welcome the Secretary-General's Gender Parity Strategy. We underline the important role of regional organizations in advancing the WPS agenda and acknowledge the crucial role of civil society in the development of National Action Plans and other initiatives for the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and relevant resolutions. We also acknowledge that civil society, in particular local women's organizations and movements, plays a central role in conflict prevention and often needs support to effectively carry out its functions. In this context, we welcome initiatives such as the WPS Focal Points Network, launched on the margins of the UN General Assembly in 2016. We are committed to demonstrating leadership in this area, notably by continuing to strengthen partnerships with international and regional organizations, as well as civil society organizations. As per our Toronto Commitments, we intend to build tailored partnerships based on mutual learning and approaches in order to address the challenges related to the situation and role of women in promoting peace and security. In this context, we recognize the importance of girls' and women's access to education in crisis and conflict-affected situations within the overall objective of providing the opportunity for 12 years of quality education for all, leading to improved learning outcomes. Recognizing the need to prioritize education systematically in the international response to complex emergencies, we invite collaboration with and between G7 development ministers to take this forward.
We confirm our intention to accelerate the global implementation of the youth, peace and security agenda, as set out in UNSCR 2250, including through investing in young people's resilience and promoting their meaningful inclusion in all efforts for maintaining and promoting peace and security.
We reiterate our support for African-led peace and security initiatives and welcome the commitment of the AU and its member states to assume more responsibilities, including financial.
We also support both the accelerated implementation of the AU Roadmap for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development's High-Level Revitalization Forum process for South Sudan. We call on all parties in South Sudan to reach an agreement within the framework of the High-Level Revitalization Forum. We also reiterate our support for the Multinational Joint Task Force against Boko Haram and Daesh-West Africa. We support a phased and conditions-based transition of security responsibilities from the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to Somali security forces with clear target dates, and we stress the need for to identify sustainable funding for AMISOM. We welcome the operationalization of the G5 Sahel Joint Force and continue to support the efforts of the G5 Sahel states in improving regional cooperation and the fight against terrorism, underscoring the need to respect human rights. We emphasize the need to implement the peace agreement in Mali and to accelerate reforms in order to allow for lasting improvement. We are concerned by the political crisis and deterioration of the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We urge credible, transparent and inclusive elections by December 23, 2018, that lead to a democratic, peaceful transition of power, in accordance with the Congolese constitution and fully respectful of human rights.
We recognize the considerable achievements of the Deauville Partnership since it was established in 2011 in improving governance and supporting sustainable economic growth, and reaffirm our commitment to support the efforts of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries to cope with stability, security, humanitarian and developmental challenges. While taking stock of the results achieved, we are considering new ways for the G7 to carry on its dialogue and cooperation with MENA countries in order to lay the foundations for a renewed engagement in the interest of promoting regional stability and prosperity.
We welcome the efforts of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), Ghassan Salamé, and support the UN-led Action Plan presented in September 2017 to support the stabilization of Libya through an inclusive Libyan political reconciliation process. We recognize and fully support the UN Support Mission in Libya's efforts, which are working to prepare the ground for successful national elections. We call on all Libyan actors to rally toward this goal by showing restraint and willingness to compromise and by putting the interests of the Libyan people first. We reaffirm that there is no military solution to the conflict in Libya and call on all parties to work on the implementation of the UN Action Plan. We reiterate the need for the international community, regional partners and multilateral organizations to continue supporting these efforts toward a Libyan-owned solution. Such efforts should contribute to a stable, peaceful and united Libya with strong, meaningful institutions able to carry out economic reforms, end armed conflict among Libyan groups, partner with the international community to counter Daesh and other UN listed terrorist groups, and address migration challenges.
We are deeply concerned about the continuing and escalating violence in Syria, the use of "starve or surrender" tactics and the lack of humanitarian access. In light of this devastating humanitarian situation and ongoing violence in Syria, we call for the immediate and full implementation of a nationwide ceasefire in line with UNSCR 2401. Following the adoption of this resolution in February, we were gravely distressed by and condemn the ground offensive and aerial bombardment and the devastating attacks on civilians and medical infrastructure in Eastern Ghouta by the Syrian regime, supported by Russia and Iran. We urge the regime and its backers to secure the highest level of protection for civilians and to ensure medical evacuations and immediate, safe, sustained and unhindered humanitarian access on the ground. Protecting the civilian population, which is the primary responsibility of the Syrian regime, and ensuring aid is delivered in a timely manner and in accordance with humanitarian principles, are urgent priorities. We are firmly committed to promoting accountability for those responsible for chemical weapons use and other abuses of international human rights law and violations of humanitarian law, including by supporting prosecutions, where possible. There is no military solution to the conflict, and we call on all parties to seriously and fully engage in the UN process in Geneva toward a credible political solution in accordance with UNSCR 2254 and the Geneva communiqué, facilitated by the implementation of a safe and neutral environment. We reiterate that we will be ready to assist with the reconstruction of Syria only when a credible political transition is firmly under way. We look forward to the second conference on "Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region" in Brussels on April 24 and 25, 2018, aimed at securing pledges for humanitarian needs in Syria and in the region, supporting the resilience of neighbouring countries, and reaffirming international support for relaunching the UN-led intra-Syrian talks in Geneva.
We express our commitment to a long-term, broad partnership with Iraq, on the basis of shared economic, diplomatic, cultural and security cooperation. We also stress the importance of supporting and strengthening Iraqi sovereignty. We also recognize the importance of promoting inclusion within and reconciliation amongst all communities in Iraq. We support the efforts of the Iraqi authorities, the UN and the Global Coalition to restore security and basic services in liberated areas and provide assistance to internally displaced persons so that they can return to their homes in a safe, dignified and voluntary manner, should they choose to do so. We support the outcomes of the Kuwait conference, in particular the Iraqi commitment to strengthen the economy and business environment to support stabilization and reconstruction, as well as the focus on empowering women, girls and youth, as key to success. We look forward to the parliamentary elections in Iraq on May 12, 2018, and underscore the importance of them being peaceful, free and fair. We also welcome efforts by the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government to resolve their differences in line with the Iraqi constitution, commend the progress that has been made over the last few months and urge further progress.
We express our deep concern at the continuous deterioration of the situation in Yemen. As a consequence of the ongoing conflict, the humanitarian conditions of the civilians continue to worsen. From a political perspective, the country is increasingly fragmented, putting in danger the unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Yemen and creating the space for terrorist organizations to thrive. We renew our urgent call on all parties to the conflict in Yemen to agree on the modalities for a durable cessation of hostilities and engage constructively with the UN Special Envoy in order to reach an inclusive political settlement, which is the only sustainable solution. We renew our call for all parties to fully comply with international humanitarian law and human rights law, as applicable, including with respect to the protection of civilians, and to ensure the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian aid and commercial supplies to all ports of entry and to all regions of the country. We further call on all regional states to support the implementation of the targeted UN arms embargo. We applaud the result of the recent conference on Yemen in Geneva and call on all donors to fully fund the Humanitarian Response Plan for Yemen for 2018.
We are concerned by Iran's destabilizing activities in the region, in particular its support to non-state military actors. We note with deep concern the UN Panel of Experts' reporting on Yemen regarding Iran's failure to comply with UNSCR 2216 on the transfer of Iranian-origin arms, particularly ballistic missile components, to the Houthis. We call on Iran, as well as on other states in the MENA region, to contribute more actively to reducing tensions in Yemen, complying with all relevant UN resolutions, and to prevent all forms of direct or indirect proliferation of ballistic expertise and missile capabilities. We urge Iran to refrain from any action that could harm regional security and to contribute to efforts to achieve peaceful political solutions. We further call on Iran to comply with its international human rights obligations, including to ensure freedom of expression and to end arbitrary detentions.
We remain concerned about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We support the resumption without delay of substantive peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians aimed at achieving a negotiated solution that ensures the peace and security of both parties and takes into account relevant UNSCRs. In this framework, regional stakeholders can play a pivotal role in the pursuit of peace. We call on both sides to avoid unilateral steps that may lead to escalation, prejudge the outcome of negotiations on the final status issues, generate further mistrust and make peace harder to achieve. We strongly condemn repeated incitements to acts of violence and terrorism. We stress the importance of addressing the dire and deteriorating humanitarian and security situation in the Gaza Strip. We call for swift steps to improve the situation and emphasize the need for all sides to comply with international law. We call on the international community to support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) equitably so services can be reliably provided. We also express our deep concern over the ongoing violence in Gaza and call for an end to the violence.
We are concerned by the continued threats to the stability of Afghanistan and its neighbourhood. As Afghanistan heads toward parliamentary elections in 2018 and presidential elections in 2019, there can only be a resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan through dialogue. We reiterate our commitment to a political and negotiated solution for Afghanistan, as part of an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned inclusive process supported by all key regional and international stakeholders. We will respect any peace agreement between the Afghan parties that ends violence, cuts ties to transnational terrorism, and protects the rights of women and minorities enshrined in the Afghan constitution. We welcome and support the Afghan government's initiatives, including its comprehensive offer for unconditional peace talks with the Taliban, announced by President Ghani at the second conference of the Kabul Process for Peace and Security Cooperation.
We look forward to meeting in New York in September 2018 on the margins of the UN General Assembly.