22 May 2015

The Republic of Ireland becomes the first nation in the world to legalize gay marriage in a public referendum.

The government of Ireland held referendums on 22 May 2015 on two proposed amendments to the Constitution of Ireland which had been recommended by the Constitutional Convention.[1] The amendment to permit same-sex marriage in the Republic of Ireland was approved by 62%-38% of the voters.[2] The other amendment would have reduced the age of candidacy for the President of Ireland from 35 to 21, but voters rejected it by 73%-27%. A Dáil by-election in Carlow–Kilkenny was held on the same day.[2] Other amendments were considered but not proceeded with, including reducing the voting age from 18 to 16, and sanctioning the establishment of a Unified Patent Court.[3][4]

Same-sex marriage

Voters were asked whether to add to the Constitution that "marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex".[5] The proposal was supported by the Government as well as all major political parties,[6][7][8] and was approved by 62.07% of voters.[9]

Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2015
Choice Votes %
Referendum passed Yes 1,201,607 62.07
No 734,300 37.93
Valid votes 1,935,907 99.29
Invalid or blank votes 13,818 0.71
Total votes 1,949,725 100.00
Registered voters and turnout 3,221,681 60.52

Presidential candidacy age

Voters rejected a proposal to reduce the age of eligibility to run for president from 35 to 21 by a 73% to 27% margin.[10]

Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2015
Choice Votes %
Referendum failed No 1,412,602 73.06
Yes 520,898 26.94
Valid votes 1,933,500 99.18
Invalid or blank votes 15,938 0.82
Total votes 1,949,438 100.00
Registered voters and turnout 3,221,681 60.52


  1. ^ "Ireland Sets Date For Same Sex Marriage Vote". Sky News. 20 February 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Wording of same-sex marriage referendum published". RTÉ.ie. 21 January 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  3. ^ "Government to hold up to half a dozen referendums next year". The Irish Times. 14 August 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  4. ^ Collins, Stephen (15 January 2015). "Coalition abandons plan for poll on younger voting age". The Irish Times. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  5. ^ "Wording of same-sex marriage referendum published". RTÉ. 21 January 2015.
  6. ^ Sheahan, Fionnan (5 November 2013). "Government to call for Yes vote for gay marriage". Irish Independent. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  7. ^ "Fine Gael will take stance on gay marriage, says Kenny". Independent.ie. 10 February 2014.
  8. ^ "Fine Gael says 'yes' to same-sex marriage but 'no' to legalising cannabis". TheJournal.ie. 1 March 2014.
  9. ^ "Results received at the Central Count Centre for the referendum on the Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Marriage Equality) Bill 2015". Referendum Ireland. 23 May 2015. Archived from the original on 9 August 2015.
  10. ^ url="Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-07-29. Retrieved 2015-07-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

17 February 2015

Eighteen people are killed and 78 injured in a stampede at a Mardi Gras parade in Haiti.

2015 Haiti Carnival stampede
DateFebruary 17, 2015 (2015-02-17)
Time2:48 AM
LocationChamp de Mars, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Deaths18 (15 men + 3 women)
Non-fatal injuries78
External video
Video hosted on YouTube

On February 17, 2015, starting at around 2:48 AM,[1] a stampede occurred during the traditional Mardi Gras parade on Champ de Mars in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince. Initial reports stated that at least 16 people had died in the accident.[2] The number was revised to 18 dead (15 men and 3 women) according to the Haitian Minister of Communications, .[3] Nadia Lochard, of the Department of Civil Protection, stated that 20 people were killed in the accident.[4] In addition, 78 people were injured, according to Haiti Prime Minister Evans Paul.[4]

The stampede occurred after a man participating on top of a Carnival float during the Mardi Gras was shocked by high-voltage wires. Video footage of the incident shows visible sparks that triggered the stampede.[5] The man, known by his stage name Fantom, and part of the Haitian hip hop band Barikad Crew, survived the shock[4] and was in stable condition.[6]


Prime Minister Paul declared three days of official mourning for Haiti in response to the accident, and government officials announced a state funeral and vigil for the victims, which was held on February 21, 2015.[4] Paul also said that a silent parade would be held along the Champ de Mars, where the accident occurred.[7] Michel Martelly, the President of Haiti, expressed his "sincerest sympathies" for the victims.[8] After the accident, Minister of Communications François Junior said that the government will organize a plan to modernize the state electricity company, Electricité d’Haïti.[3]


  1. ^ Associated Press (17 February 2015). "Haiti cancels last day of Carnival after at least 16 die in power line tragedy". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  2. ^ Associated Press (17 February 2015). "Float Accident at Haiti Carnival Parade Kills at Least 16". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  3. ^ a b Baron, Amelie (18 February 2015). "Haiti to implement safety measures after Carnival tragedy". Reuters. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d Associated Press (17 February 2015). "Float Accident at Haiti Carnival Parade Kills at Least 16". ABC News. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  5. ^ ABC News. "Burned Singer Describes Deadly Haiti Carnival Accident". ABC News.
  6. ^ Bacon, John (17 February 2015). "At least 16 die in Haiti Carnival accident". USA Today. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  7. ^ "Three days of mourning for Haiti carnival float victims". BBC. 17 February 2015. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  8. ^ Baron, Amelie (17 February 2015). "Haiti cancels last day of Carnival after 16 die in float accident". Reuters. Retrieved 17 February 2015.

9 January 2015

The perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris two days earlier are both killed after a hostage situation; a second hostage situation, related to the Charlie Hebdo shooting, occurs at a Jewish market in Vincennes.

Charlie Hebdo shooting
Part of the January 2015 Île-de-France attacks
Police officers, emergency vehicles, and journalists at the scene two hours after the shooting
Location10 Rue Nicolas-Appert, 11th arrondissement of Paris, France[1]
Coordinates48°51′33″N 2°22′13″E / 48.85925°N 2.37025°E / 48.85925; 2.37025Coordinates: 48°51′33″N 2°22′13″E / 48.85925°N 2.37025°E / 48.85925; 2.37025
Date7 January 2015
11:30 CET (UTC+01:00)
TargetCharlie Hebdo employees
Attack type
Mass shooting
PerpetratorsAl-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula[4]
AssailantsChérif and Saïd Kouachi
MotiveIslamic extremism, Blasphemy

On 7 January 2015 at about 11:30am CET local time, two brothers, Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, forced their way into the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Armed with rifles and other weapons, they killed 12 people and injured 11 others. The gunmen identified themselves as belonging to the terrorist group al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula, which took responsibility for the attack. Several related attacks followed in the Île-de-France region on 7–9 January 2015, including the Hypercacher kosher supermarket siege where a terrorist held 19 hostages, of whom he murdered 4 Jewish people.

France raised its Vigipirate terror alert and deployed soldiers in Île-de-France and Picardy. A major manhunt led to the discovery of the suspects, who exchanged fire with police. The brothers took hostages at a signage company in Dammartin-en-Goële on 9 January and were shot dead when they emerged from the building firing.

On 11 January, about two million people, including more than 40 world leaders, met in Paris for a rally of national unity, and 3.7 million people joined demonstrations across France. The phrase Je suis Charlie became a common slogan of support at the rallies and in social media. The staff of Charlie Hebdo continued with the publication, and the following issue print ran 7.95 million copies in six languages, compared to its typical print run of 60,000 in only French.

Charlie Hebdo is a publication that has always courted controversy with satirical attacks on political and religious leaders. It published cartoons of Muhammad in 2012, forcing France to temporarily close embassies and schools in more than 20 countries amid fears of reprisals. Its offices were also firebombed in November 2011 after publishing a caricature of Muhammad on its cover.


Charlie Hebdo satirical works

Image of 3 November 2011 cover of Charlie Hebdo, renamed Charia Hebdo ("Sharia Hebdo"). The word balloon reads "100 lashes if you don't die of laughter!" with a cartoon featuring Muhammad.

Charlie Hebdo ([ʃaʁli ɛbdo]; French for Charlie Weekly) is a French satirical weekly newspaper that features cartoons, reports, polemics and jokes. The publication, irreverent and stridently non-conformist in tone, is strongly secularist, antireligious[5] and left-wing, publishing articles that mock Catholicism, Judaism, Islam and various other groups as local and world news unfolds. The magazine was published from 1969 to 1981 and has been again from 1992 on.[6]

Charlie Hebdo has a history of attracting controversy. In 2006, Islamic organisations under French hate speech laws unsuccessfully sued over the newspaper's re-publication of the Jyllands-Posten cartoons of Muhammad.[7][8][9] The cover of a 2011 issue retitled Charia Hebdo (French for Sharia Weekly), featured a cartoon of Muhammad, whose depiction is forbidden in most interpretations of Islam, with some Persian exceptions.[10] The newspaper's office was fire-bombed and its website hacked.[11][12] In 2012, the newspaper published a series of satirical cartoons of Muhammad, including nude caricatures;[13][14] this came days after a series of violent attacks on U.S. embassies in the Middle East, purportedly in response to the anti-Islamic film Innocence of Muslims, prompting the French government to close embassies, consulates, cultural centres, and international schools in about 20 Muslim countries.[15] Riot police surrounded the newspaper's offices to protect it against possible attacks.[14][16]

Cartoonist Stéphane "Charb" Charbonnier had been the director of publication of Charlie Hebdo since 2009.[17] Two years before the attack he stated, "We have to carry on until Islam has been rendered as banal as Catholicism."[18] In 2013, al-Qaeda added him to its most wanted list, along with three Jyllands-Posten staff members: Kurt Westergaard, Carsten Juste, and Flemming Rose.[17][19][20] Being a sport shooter, Charb applied for permit to be able to carry a firearm for self-defence. The application went unanswered.[21][22]

Numerous violent plots related to the Jyllands-Posten cartoons were discovered, primarily targeting cartoonist Westergaard, editor Rose, and the property or employees of Jyllands-Posten and other newspapers that printed the cartoons.[a] Westergaard was the subject of several attacks and planned attacks, and lives under police protection. On 1 January 2010, police used guns to stop a would-be assassin in his home,[27][28] who was sentenced to nine years in prison.[b][29][30] In 2010, three men based in Norway were arrested on suspicion of planning a terror attack against Jyllands-Posten or Kurt Westergaard; two of them were convicted.[31][32] In the United States, David Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana were convicted in 2013 of planning terrorism against Jyllands-Posten.[33][34][35]

Laïcité and blasphemy

In France, blasphemy law ceased to exist with progressive emancipation of the Republic from the Catholic church between 1789 and 1830. In France, the principle of laïcité – the separation of church and state – was enshrined in the 1905 law on the Separation of the Churches and the State, and in 1945 became part of the constitution. Under its terms, the government and all public administrations and services must be religion-blind and their representatives must refrain from any display of religion, but private citizens and organisations are free to practise and express the religion of their choice where and as they wish (although discrimination based on religion is prohibited).[36]

In recent years there has been a trend towards a stricter interpretation of laïcité which would also prohibit users of public services from expressing their religion (e.g. the 2004 law which bans school pupils from wearing "blatant" religious symbols[37]) or even ban citizens from expressing their religion in public even outside the administration and public services (e.g. a 2015 law project prohibiting the wearing of religious symbols by the employees of private crèches). This restrictive interpretation is not supported by the initial law on laïcité and is challenged by the representatives of all the major religions.[38]

Authors, humorists, cartoonists and individuals have the right to satirise people, public actors and religions, a right which is balanced by defamation laws. These rights and legal mechanisms were designed to protect freedom of speech from local powers, among which was the then-powerful Catholic Church in France.[39]

Though images of Muhammad are not explicitly banned by the Quran itself, prominent Islamic views have long opposed human images, especially those of prophets. Such views have gained ground among militant Islamic groups.[40][41][42] Accordingly, some Muslims take the view that the satire of Islam, of religious representatives, and above all of Islamic prophets is blasphemy in Islam punishable by death.[43] This sentiment was most famously actualized in the murder of the controversial Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh. According to the BBC, France has seen "the apparent desire of some younger, often disaffected children or grandchildren of immigrant families not to conform to western, liberal lifestyles – including traditions of religious tolerance and free speech".[44] Salafi scholar Muhammad Al-Munajjid indicates that the Islamic concept of Gheerah (protective jealousy) requires that Muslims protect Muhammad from blasphemy.[45]


Charlie Hebdo headquarters

On the morning of 7 January 2015, a Wednesday, Charlie Hebdo staff were gathered at 10 Rue Nicolas-Appert in the 11th arrondissement of Paris for the weekly editorial meeting starting around 10:30. The magazine had moved into an unmarked office at this address following the 2011 firebombing of their previous premises due to the magazine's original satirization of the Prophet Muhammad.[46]

Around 11:30am, two armed and hooded men first burst into the wrong address at 6 Rue Nicolas-Appert, shouting "Is this Charlie Hebdo?" and threatening people. After realizing their mistake and firing a bullet through a glass door, the two men left for 10 Rue Nicolas-Appert.[47] There, they encountered cartoonist Corinne "Coco" Rey and her young daughter outside and at gunpoint, forced her to enter the passcode into the electronic door.[48]

The men sprayed the lobby with gunfire upon entering. The first victim was maintenance worker Frédéric Boisseau, who was killed as he sat at the reception desk.[49] The gunmen forced Rey at gunpoint to lead them to a second-floor office, where 15 staff members were having an editorial meeting,[50] Charlie Hebdo's first news conference of the year. Reporter said they were interrupted by what they thought was the sound of a firecracker—the gunfire from the lobby—and recalled, "We still thought it was a joke. The atmosphere was still joyous."[51]

The gunmen burst into the meeting room. The shooting lasted five to ten minutes. The gunmen aimed at the journalists' heads and killed them.[52][53] During the gunfire, Rey survived uninjured by hiding under a desk, from where she witnessed the murders of Wolinski and Cabu.[54] Léger also survived by hiding under a desk as the gunmen entered.[55] Ten of the twelve people murdered were shot on the second floor, past the security door.[56]

Psychoanalyst Elsa Cayat, a French columnist of Tunisian Jewish descent, was killed.[57] Another female columnist present at the time, crime reporter Sigolène Vinson, survived; one of the shooters aimed at her but spared her, saying, "I'm not killing you because you are a woman", and telling her to convert to Islam, read the Quran and wear a veil. She said he left shouting, "Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!"[58][59][60][61] Other witnesses reported that the gunmen identified themselves as belonging to al-Qaeda in Yemen.[62]


Police vans arrive on the scene

An authenticated video surfaced on the Internet that shows two gunmen and a police officer, Ahmed Merabet, who is wounded and lying on a sidewalk after an exchange of gunfire. This took place near the corner of Boulevard Richard-Lenoir and Rue Moufle, 180 metres (590 ft) east of the main crime scene. One of the gunmen ran towards the policeman and shouted, "Did you want to kill us?" The policeman answered, "No, it's fine, boss", and raised his hand toward the gunman, who then murdered the policeman with a fatal shot to the head at close range.[63]

Sam Kiley, of Sky News, concluded from the video that the two gunmen were "military professionals" who likely had "combat experience", saying that the gunmen were exercising infantry tactics such as moving in "mutual support" and were firing aimed, single-round shots at the police officer. He also stated that they were using military gestures and were "familiar with their weapons" and fired "carefully aimed shots, with tight groupings".[64]

The gunmen then left the scene, shouting (according to witnesses), "We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad. We have killed Charlie Hebdo!"[65][66][61][60] They escaped in a getaway car, and drove to Porte de Pantin, hijacking another car and forcing its driver out. As they drove away, they ran over a pedestrian and shot at responding police officers.[67]

It was initially believed that there were three suspects. One identified suspect turned himself in at a Charleville-Mézières police station.[68][69] Seven of the Kouachi brothers' friends and family were taken into custody.[70] Jihadist flags and Molotov cocktails were found in an abandoned getaway car, a black Citroën C3.[71]


Charlie Hebdo had attracted considerable worldwide attention for its controversial depictions of Muhammad. Hatred for Charlie Hebdo's cartoons, which made jokes about Islamic leaders as well as the Islamic prophet Muhammad, is considered to be the principal motive for the massacre. Michael Morell, former deputy director of the CIA, suggested that the motive of the attackers was "absolutely clear: trying to shut down a media organisation that lampooned the Prophet Muhammad".[72]

In March 2013, al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen, commonly known as al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), released a hit list in an edition of their English-language magazine Inspire. The list included Stéphane Charbonnier (mentioned above in this article as Charlie Hebdo editor who died in this shooting) and others whom AQAP accused of insulting Islam.[73][74] On 9 January, AQAP claimed responsibility for the attack in a speech from AQAP's top Shariah cleric Harith bin Ghazi al-Nadhari, citing the motive as "revenge for the honour" of Muhammad.[75]



A commemorative plaque.
Commemorative plaque at 10, rue Nicolas-Appert
  • Frédéric Boisseau, 42, building maintenance worker for Sodexo, killed in the lobby as came to the building on a call, first victim of the shooting.
  • Franck Brinsolaro, 49, Protection Service police officer assigned as a bodyguard for Charb.[76]
  • Cabu (Jean Cabut), 76, cartoonist.
  • Elsa Cayat, 54, psychoanalyst and columnist – [77][78] the only woman killed in the shooting.[79]
  • Charb (Stéphane Charbonnier), 47, cartoonist, columnist, and director of publication of Charlie Hebdo.
  • Philippe Honoré, 73, cartoonist.
  • Bernard Maris, 68, economist, editor, and columnist.[80][81]
  • Ahmed Merabet, 42, police officer, shot in the head as he lay wounded on the ground outside.[82]
  • Mustapha Ourrad, 60, copy editor.[83]
  • Michel Renaud, 69, a travel writer and festival organiser visiting Cabu.[84]
  • Tignous (Bernard Verlhac), 57, cartoonist.[85]
  • Georges Wolinski, 80, cartoonist.[86]


  • Philippe Lançon, journalist—shot in the face and left in a critical condition, but recovered.[87]
  • Fabrice Nicolino, 59, journalist—shot in the leg.
  • Riss (Laurent Sourisseau), 48, cartoonist and editorial director—shot in the shoulder.[88]
  • Unidentified police officers.[50][89][90]

Uninjured and absent

Several people at the meeting were unharmed, including book designer Gérard Gaillard, who was a guest, and staff members, Sigolène Vinson,[91]  [fr], and Éric Portheault.

The cartoonist Coco was coerced into letting the murderers into the building, and was not harmed.[92] Several other staff members were not in the building at the time of the shooting, including medical columnist Patrick Pelloux, cartoonists Rénald "Luz" Luzier and  [fr] and film critic  [fr], who were late for work, cartoonist Willem, who never attends, editor-in-chief Gérard Biard and journalist Zineb El Rhazoui who were on holiday, journalist  [fr], who was at a funeral, and comedian and columnist Mathieu Madénian. Luz arrived in time to see the gunmen escaping.[93]


Chérif and Saïd Kouachi


Chérif and Saïd Kouachi
Chérif Kouachi.jpg Saïd Kouachi.jpg
Chérif Kouachi (left) and Saïd Kouachi
BornChérif: (1982-11-29)29 November 1982
Saïd: (1980-09-07)7 September 1980
Died(2015-01-09)9 January 2015 (aged 32 and 34)
Cause of deathGunshot wounds
Date7–9 January 2015
Location(s)Charlie Hebdo offices
Target(s)Charlie Hebdo staff

Police quickly identified brothers Saïd Kouachi (French pronunciation: ​[sa.id kua.ʃi]; 7 September 1980 – 9 January 2015) and Chérif Kouachi ([ʃe.ʁif]; 29 November 1982 – 9 January 2015) as the main suspects.[c] French citizens born in Paris to Algerian immigrants, the brothers were orphaned at a young age after their mother's apparent suicide and placed in a foster home in Rennes.[95] After two years, they were moved to an orphanage in Corrèze in 1994, along with a younger brother and an older sister.[99][100] The brothers moved to Paris around 2000.[101]

Chérif, also known as Abu Issen, was part of an informal gang that met in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont in Paris to perform military-style training exercises and sent would-be jihadists to fight for al-Qaeda in Iraq after the 2003 invasion.[102][103] Chérif was arrested at age 22 in January 2005 when he and another man were about to leave for Syria, at the time a gateway for jihadists wishing to fight US troops in Iraq.[104] He went to Fleury-Mérogis Prison, where he met Amedy Coulibaly.[105] In prison, they found a mentor, Djamel Beghal, who had been sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2001 for his part in a plot to bomb the US embassy in Paris.[104] Beghal had once been a regular worshiper at Finsbury Park Mosque in London and a disciple of the radical preachers Abu Hamza[106] and Abu Qatada.

Upon leaving prison, Chérif Kouachi married and got a job in a fish market on the outskirts of Paris. He became a student of Farid Benyettou, a radical Muslim preacher at the Addawa Mosque in the 19th arrondissement of Paris. Kouachi wanted to attack Jewish targets in France, but Benyettou told him that France, unlike Iraq, was not "a land of jihad".[107]

On 28 March 2008, Chérif was convicted of terrorism and sentenced to three years in prison, with 18 months suspended, for recruiting fighters for militant Islamist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group in Iraq.[95] He said outrage at the torture of inmates by the US Army at Baghdad Central Prison in Abu Ghraib inspired him to help Iraq's insurgency.[108][109]

French judicial documents state Amedy Coulibaly and Chérif Kouachi travelled with their wives in 2010 to central France to visit Djamel Beghal. In a police interview in 2010, Coulibaly identified Chérif as a friend he had met in prison and said they saw each other frequently.[110] In 2010, the Kouachi brothers were named in connection with a plot to break out of jail with another Islamist, . Belkacem was one of those responsible for the 1995 Paris Métro and RER bombings that killed eight people.[104][111] For lack of evidence, they were not prosecuted.

From 2009 to 2010, Saïd Kouachi visited Yemen on a student visa to study at the San'a Institute for the Arabic Language. There, according to a Yemeni reporter who interviewed Saïd, he met and befriended Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the perpetrator of the attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 later in 2009. Also according to the reporter, the two shared an apartment for "one or two weeks".[112]

In 2011, Saïd returned to Yemen for a number of months and trained with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula militants.[113] According to a senior Yemeni intelligence source, he met al Qaeda preacher Anwar al-Awlaki in the southern province of Shabwa.[114] Chérif Kouachi told BFM TV that he had been funded by a network loyal to Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by a drone strike in 2011 in Yemen.[115] According to US officials, the US provided France with intelligence in 2011 showing the brothers received training in Yemen. French authorities monitored them until the spring of 2014.[116] During the time leading to the Charlie Hebdo attack, Saïd lived with his wife and children in a block of flats in Reims. Neighbours described him as solitary.[citation needed]

The weapons used in the attack were supplied via the Brussels underworld. According to the Belgian press, a criminal sold Amedy Coulibaly the rocket-propelled grenade launcher and Kalashnikov rifles that the Kouachi brothers used for less than 5,000 euros.[117]

In an interview between Chérif Kouachi and Igor Sahiri, one of France's BFM TV journalists, Chérif stated that "We are not killers. We are defenders of the prophet, we don’t kill women. We kill no one. We defend the prophet. If someone offends the prophet then there is no problem, we can kill him. We don’t kill women. We are not like you. You are the ones killing women and children in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. This isn’t us. We have an honour code in Islam."[118]

After the attack: Manhunt (8 and 9 January)

A massive manhunt began immediately after the attack. One suspect left his ID card in an abandoned getaway car.[119][120] Police officers searched apartments in the Île-de-France region, in Strasbourg and in Reims.[121][122]

Police detained several people during the manhunt for the two main suspects. A third suspect voluntarily reported to a police station after hearing he was wanted, and was not charged. Police described the assailants as "armed and dangerous". France raised its terror alert to its highest level and deployed soldiers in Île-de-France and Picardy regions.

At 10:30 CET on 8 January, the day following the attack, the two primary suspects were spotted in Aisne, north-east of Paris. Armed security forces, including the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group (GIGN) and the Force d'intervention de la police nationale (FIPN), were deployed to the department to search for the suspects.[123]

Later that day, the police search concentrated on the Picardy, particularly the area around Villers-Cotterêts and the village of Longpont, after the suspects robbed a petrol station near Villers-Cotterêts,[124] then reportedly abandoned their car before hiding in a forest near Longpont.[125] Searches continued into the surrounding Forêt de Retz (130 km2), one of the largest forests of France.[126]

The manhunt continued with the discovery of the two fugitive suspects early in the morning of 9 January. The Kouachis had hijacked a Peugeot 206 near the town of Crépy-en-Valois. They were chased by police cars for approximately 27 kilometres (17 miles) south down the N2 trunk road. At some point they abandoned their vehicle and an exchange of gunfire between pursuing police and the brothers took place near the commune of Dammartin-en-Goële, 35 kilometres (22 miles) northeast of Paris. Several blasts went off as well and Saïd Kouachi sustained a minor neck wound. Several others may have been injured as well but no one was killed in the gunfire. The suspects were not apprehended and escaped on foot.[127]

Dammartin-en-Goële hostage crisis, death of Chérif and Saïd (9 January)

At around 9:30 am on 9 January 2015, the Kouachi brothers fled into the office of Création Tendance Découverte, a signage production company on an industrial estate in Dammartin-en-Goële. Inside the building were owner Michel Catalano and a male employee, 26-year-old graphics designer Lilian Lepère. Catalano told Lepère to go hide in the building and remained in his office himself.[128] Not long after, a salesman named Didier went to the printworks on business. Catalano came out with Chérif Kouachi who introduced himself as a police officer. They shook hands and Kouachi told Didier, "Leave. We don't kill civilians anyhow." These words were what caused Didier to guess that Kouachi was a terrorist and he alerted the police.[129]

The Kouachi brothers remained inside and a lengthy standoff began. Catalano re-entered the building and closed the door after Didier had left.[130] The brothers were not aggressive towards Catalano, who stated, "I didn't get the impression they were going to harm me." He made coffee for them and helped bandage the neck wound that Saïd Kouachi had sustained during the earlier gunfire. Catalano was allowed to leave after an hour.[131] Catalano swore three times to the terrorists that he was alone and did not reveal Lepère's presence. The Kouachi brothers were never aware of him being there. Lepère hid inside a cardboard box and sent the Gendarmerie text messages for around three hours during the siege, providing them with "tactical elements such as [the brothers'] location inside the premises".[132]

Given the proximity (10 km) of the siege to Charles de Gaulle Airport, two of the airport's runways were closed.[127][133] Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve called for a Gendarmerie operation to neutralise the perpetrators. An Interior Ministry spokesman announced that the Ministry wished first to "establish a dialogue" with the suspects. Officials tried to establish contact with the suspects to negotiate the safe evacuation of a school 500 metres (1,600 feet) from the siege. The Kouachi brothers did not respond to attempts at communication by the French authorities.[134]

The siege lasted for eight to nine hours, and at around 4:30 p.m. there were at least three explosions near the building. At around 5:00 pm, a GIGN team landed on the roof of the building and a helicopter landed nearby.[135] Before gendarmes could reach them, the pair ran out of the building and opened fire on gendarmes. The brothers had stated a desire to die as martyrs[136] and the siege came to an end when both Kouachi brothers were shot and killed. Lilian Lepère was rescued unharmed.[137][138] A cache of weapons, including Molotov cocktails and a rocket launcher, was found in the area.[132]

During the standoff in Dammartin-en-Goële, another jihadist named Amedy Coulibaly, who had met the brothers in prison,[139] took hostages in a kosher supermarket at Porte de Vincennes in east Paris, killing those of Jewish faith while leaving the others alive. Coulibaly was reportedly in contact with the Kouachi brothers as the sieges progressed, and told police that he would kill hostages if the brothers were harmed.[127][140] Coulibaly and the Kouachi brothers died within minutes of each other.[141]

Suspected Charlie Hebdo attack driver

The police initially identified the 18-year-old brother-in-law of Chérif Kouachi, a French Muslim student of North African descent and unknown nationality, as a third suspect in the shooting, accused of driving the getaway car.[95] He was believed to have been living in Charleville-Mézières, about 200 km northeast of Paris near the border with Belgium.[142] He turned himself in at a Charleville-Mézières police station early in the morning on 8 January 2015.[142] The man said he was in class at the time of the shooting, and that he rarely saw Chérif Kouachi.[143] Many of his classmates said that he was at school in Charleville-Mézières during the attack.[144] After detaining him for nearly 50 hours, police decided not to continue further investigations into the teenager.[145]

Peter Cherif

In December 2018, French authorities arrested Peter Cherif for playing an “important role in organizing” the Charlie Hebdo attack.[146] Not only was Cherif a close friend of brothers Cherif Kouachi and Said Kouachi,[147] but had been on the run from French authorities since 2011. Cherif fled Paris in 2011 just before a court sentenced him to five years in prison on terrorism charges for fighting as an insurgent in Iraq.

2020 trial

On 2 September 2020, fourteen people went on trial in Paris charged with providing logistical support and procuring weapons for those who carried out both the Charlie Hebdo shooting and the Hypercacher kosher supermarket siege. Of the fourteen on trial Mohamed and Mehdi Belhoucine and Amedy Coulibaly's girlfriend, Hayat Boumeddiene, are being tried in absentia, having fled to either Iraq or Syria in the days before the attacks took place.[148] [149] In anticipation of the trial getting underway Charlie Hebdo reprinted cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed with the caption:"Tout ça pour ça" ("All of that for this").[150]

The trial was scheduled to be filmed for France's official archives.[151]



14 January 2015 cover of Charlie Hebdo rendered in the same style as the 3 November 2011 one. It depicts Muhammad holding a sign saying Je suis Charlie and the caption "All is forgiven".
Location of three anti-Muslim incidents that took place the night of 7 January 2015 and in the early hours of the morning across France.

The remaining staff of Charlie Hebdo continued normal weekly publication, and the following issue print run had 7.95 million copies in six languages.[152] In contrast, its normal print run was 60,000, of which it typically sold 30,000 to 35,000 copies.[153] The cover depicts Muhammad holding a "Je suis Charlie" sign, and is captioned: "All is forgiven".[154] The issue was also sold outside France.[155] The Digital Innovation Press Fund donated €250,000 to support the magazine, matching a donation by the French Press and Pluralism Fund.[156][157] The Guardian Media Group pledged £100,000 to the same cause.[158]

On the night of 8 January, police commissioner Helric Fredou, who had been investigating the attack, committed suicide in his office in Limoges while he was preparing his report shortly after meeting with the family of one of the victims. He was said to have been experiencing depression and burnout.[159]

In the week after the shooting, 54 anti-Muslim incidents were reported in France. These included 21 reports of shootings, grenade throwing at mosques and other Islamic centers, an improvised explosive device attack,[160] and 33 cases of threats and insults.[d] Authorities classified these acts as right-wing terrorism.[160]

On 7 January 2016, the one-year anniversary of the shooting, an attempted attack occurred at a police station in the Goutte d'Or district of Paris. The assailant, a Tunisian man posing as an asylum-seeker from Iraq or Syria, charged police officers with a meat cleaver while shouting "Allahu Akbar!" and was subsequently shot and killed.[167][168]

2020 IFOP opinion poll

According to a poll by Institut français d'opinion publique in 2020, a majority of French Muslims (72%) condemned the attack, a lesser fraction than the French public (88%). Ten percent of Muslim respondents condemned the actions of the Kouachi brothers but shared some of their views, 5% did not condemn their actions and 13% were indifferent. Concerning religiosity, 40% of Muslims gave the view that their religious beliefs were more important than the values of the French republic, more than twice the fraction of the French public (17%). Among Muslims under 25 years of age a large majority (74%) considered their religion more important than French values.[169]


On 14 February 2015 in Copenhagen, Denmark, a public event called "Art, blasphemy and the freedom of expression", was organised to honour victims of the attack in January against the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. A series of shootings took place that day and the following day in Copenhagen, with two people killed and five police officers wounded. The suspect, Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, a recently released, radicalized prisoner, was later shot dead by police on 15 February.

United States

On 3 May 2015, two men attempted an attack on the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas. The center was hosting an exhibit featuring cartoons depicting the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The event was presented as a response to the attack on Charlie Hebdo, and organised by the group American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI).[170] Both gunmen were killed by police. A Garland Independent School District police officer was injured by a shot to the ankle but survived.


Following the attack, France raised Vigipirate to its highest level in history: Attack alert, an urgent terror alert which triggered the deployment of soldiers in Paris to the public transport system, media offices, places of worship and the Eiffel Tower.[171] The British Foreign Office warned its citizens about travelling to Paris. The New York City Police Department ordered extra security measures to the offices of the Consulate General of France in New York in Manhattan's Upper East Side as well as the Lycée Français de New York, which was deemed a possible target due to the proliferation of attacks in France as well as the level of hatred of the United States within the extremist community.[53] In Denmark, which was the centre of a controversy over cartoons of Muhammad in 2005, security was increased at all media outlets.[172]

Hours after the shooting, Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz said that Spain's anti-terrorist security level had been upgraded, and that the country was sharing information with France in relation to the attacks. Spain increased security in public places such as railway stations and increased the police presence on streets throughout the country's cities.[173]

The British Transport Police confirmed on 8 January that they would establish new armed patrols in and around St Pancras International railway station in London, following reports that the suspects were moving north towards Eurostar stations. They confirmed that the extra patrols were for the reassurance of the public and to maintain visibility and that there were no credible reports yet of the suspects heading towards St Pancras.[174]

In Belgium, the staff of P-Magazine were given police protection, although there were no specific threats. P-Magazine had previously published a cartoon of Muhammad drawn by the Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.[175]


7 January

On the evening of the day of the attack, demonstrations against the shootings were held at the Place de la République in Paris[176] and in other cities including Toulouse,[177] Nice, Lyon, Marseille and Rennes.

The phrase Je suis Charlie (French for "I am Charlie") came to be a common worldwide sign of solidarity against the attacks.[178] Many demonstrators used the slogan to express solidarity with the magazine. It appeared on printed and hand-made placards, and was displayed on mobile phones at vigils, and on many websites, particularly media sites such as Le Monde. The hashtag #jesuischarlie quickly trended at the top of Twitter hashtags worldwide following the attack.[179]

Not long after the attack, it is estimated that around 35,000 people gathered in Paris holding "Je suis Charlie" signs. 15,000 people also gathered in Lyon and Rennes.[180] 10,000 people gathered in Nice and Toulouse; 7,000 in Marseille; and 5,000 each in Nantes, Grenoble and Bordeaux. Thousands also gathered in Nantes at the Place Royale.[181] More than 100,000 people in total gathered within France to partake in these demonstrations the evening of 7 January.[182]

Similar demonstrations and candle vigils spread to other cities outside France as well, including Amsterdam,[183] Brussels, Barcelona,[184] Ljubljana,[185] Berlin, Copenhagen, London and Washington, D.C.[186] Around 2,000 demonstrators gathered in London's Trafalgar Square and sang La Marseillaise, the French national anthem.[187][188] In Brussels, two vigils have been held thus far, one immediately at the city's French consulate and a second one at Place du Luxembourg. Many flags around the city were at half-mast on 8 January.[189] In Luxembourg, a demonstration was held in the Place de la Constitution.[190]

A crowd gathered on the evening of 7 January, at Union Square in Manhattan, New York City. French ambassador to the United Nations François Delattre was present; the crowd lit candles, held signs, and sang the French national anthem.[191] Several hundred people also showed up outside of the French consulate in San Francisco with "Je suis Charlie" signs to show their solidarity.[192] In downtown Seattle, another vigil was held where people gathered around a French flag laid out with candles lit around it. They prayed for the victims and held "Je suis Charlie" signs.[193] In Argentina, a large demonstration was held to denounce the attacks and show support for the victims outside the French embassy in the Buenos Aires.[194]

More vigils and gatherings were held in Canada to show support to France and condemn terrorism. Many cities had notable "Je suis Charlie" gatherings, including Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto.[195] In Calgary, there was a strong anti-terrorism sentiment. "We're against terrorism and want to show them that they won't win the battle. It's horrible everything that happened, but they won't win," commented one demonstrator. "It's not only against the French journalists or the French people, it's against freedom – everyone, all over the world, is concerned at what's happening."[196] In Montreal, despite a temperature of −21 °C (−6 °F), over 1,000 people gathered chanting "Liberty!" and "Charlie!" outside of the city's French Consulate. Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre was among the gatherers and proclaimed, "Today, we are all French!" He confirmed the city's full support for the people of France and called for strong support regarding freedom, stating that "We have a duty to protect our freedom of expression. We have the right to say what we have to say."[197][198]

8 January

By 8 January, vigils had spread to Australia, with thousands holding "Je suis Charlie" signs. In Sydney, people gathered at Martin Place – the location of a siege less than a month earlier – and in Hyde Park dressed in white clothing as a form of respect. Flags were at half-mast at the city's French consulate where mourners left bouquets.[199] A vigil was held at Federation Square in Melbourne with an emphasis on togetherness. French consul Patrick Kedemos described the gathering in Perth as "a spontaneous, grass roots event". He added, "We are far away but our hearts today [are] with our families and friends in France. It [was] an attack on the liberty of expression, journalists that were prominent in France, and at the same time it's an attack, or a perceived attack on our culture."[200]

On 8 January over 100 demonstrations were held from 18:00 in the Netherlands at the time of the silent march in Paris, after a call to do so from the mayors of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and other cities. Many Dutch government members joined the demonstrations.[201][202]

10–11 January

Around 700,000 people walked in protest in France on 10 January. Major marches were held in Toulouse (attended by 180,000), Marseille (45,000), Lille (35–40,000), Nice (23–30,000), Pau (80,000), Nantes (75,000), Orléans (22,000), and Caen (6,000).[203]

On 11 January, up to 2 million people, including President Hollande and more than 40 world leaders, led a rally of national unity in the heart of Paris to honour the 17 victims. The demonstrators marched from Place de la République to Place de la Nation. 3.7 million joined demonstrations nationwide in what officials called the largest public rally in France since World War II.[e]

There were also large marches in many other French towns and cities, and marches and vigils in many other cities worldwide.[f]

Apologists for terrorism

About 54 people in France, who had publicly supported the attack on Charlie Hebdo, were arrested as "apologists for terrorism" and about 12 people were sentenced to several months in jail.[210][211] Comedian Dieudonné faces the same charges for having written on Facebook "I feel like Charlie Coulibaly".[212]

Planned attacks in Belgium

Following a series of police raids in Belgium, in which two suspected terrorists were killed in a shootout in the city of Verviers, Belgian police stated that documents seized after the raids appear to show that the two were planning to attack sellers of the next edition of Charlie Hebdo released following the attack in Paris.[213] Police named the men killed in the raid as Redouane Hagaoui and Tarik Jadaoun.[213]

Protests following resumed publication

Unrest in Niger following the publication of the post-attack issue of Charlie Hebdo resulted in ten deaths,[214] dozens injured, and at least 45 churches were burned down.[215] The Guardian reported seven churches burned in Niamey alone. Churches were also reported to be on fire in eastern Maradi and Goure. There were violent demonstrations in Karachi in Pakistan, where Asif Hassan, a photographer working for the Agence France-Presse, was seriously injured by a shot to the chest. In Algiers and Jordan, protesters clashed with police, and there were peaceful demonstrations in Khartoum, Sudan, Russia, Mali, Senegal, and Mauritania.[216] In the week after the shooting, 54 anti-Muslim incidents were reported in France. These included 21 reports of shootings and grenade-throwing at mosques and other Islamic centres and 33 cases of threats and insults.[g]

RT reported that a million people attended a demonstration in Grozny, the capital city of the Chechen Republic, protesting the depictions of Muhammad in Charlie Hebdo and proclaiming that Islam is a religion of peace. One of the slogans was "Violence is not the method".[217]

On 8 February 2015 the Muslim Action Forum, an Islamic rights organization, orchestrated a mass demonstration outside Downing Street in London. Placards read, "Stand up for the Prophet" and "Be careful with Muhammad".[218]


French Government

President François Hollande addressed media outlets at the scene of the shooting and called it "undoubtedly a terrorist attack", adding that "several [other] terrorist attacks were thwarted in recent weeks".[219] He later described the shooting as a "terrorist attack of the most extreme barbarity",[9] called the slain journalists "heroes",[220] and declared a day of national mourning on 8 January.[221]

At a rally in the Place de la République in the wake of the shooting, mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo said, "What we saw today was an attack on the values of our republic; Paris is a peaceful place. These cartoonists, writers and artists used their pens with a lot of humour to address sometimes awkward subjects and as such performed an essential function." She proposed that Charlie Hebdo "be adopted as a citizen of honour" by Paris.[222]

Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that his country was at war with terrorism, but not at war with Islam or Muslims.[223] French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said, "The terrorists' religion is not Islam, which they are betraying. It's barbarity."[224]

Other countries

Obama signs a book of condolences at the Embassy of France, Washington, D.C.

The attack received immediate condemnation from dozens of governments worldwide. International leaders including Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, Stephen Harper, Narendra Modi, Benjamin Netanyahu, Angela Merkel, Matteo Renzi, David Cameron, Mark Rutte and Tony Abbott offered statements of condolence and outrage.[225]


Some English-language media outlets republished the cartoons on their websites in the hours following the shootings. Prominent examples included Bloomberg News, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, Gawker, Vox, and The Washington Free Beacon.[h]

Other news organisations covered the shootings without showing the drawings, such as The New York Times, New York Daily News, CNN,[232] Al Jazeera America,[233] Associated Press, NBC, MSNBC, and The Daily Telegraph.[232] Accusations of self-censorship came from the websites Politico[233] and Slate.[232] The BBC, which previously had guidelines against all depictions of Muhammad, showed a depiction of him on a Charlie Hebdo cover and announced that they were reviewing these guidelines.[234]

Other media publications such as Germany's Berliner Kurier and Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza reprinted cartoons from Charlie Hebdo the day after the attack; the former had a cover of Muhammad reading Charlie Hebdo whilst bathing in blood.[235] At least three Danish newspapers featured Charlie Hebdo cartoons, and the tabloid BT used one on its cover depicting Muhammad lamenting being loved by "idiots".[172] The German newspaper Hamburger Morgenpost re-published the cartoons, and their office was fire-bombed.[236][237] In Russia, LifeNews and Komsomolskaya Pravda suggested that the US had carried out the attack.[238][239] "We are Charlie Hebdo" appeared on the front page of Novaya Gazeta.[239] Russia's media supervision body, Roskomnadzor, stated that publication of the cartoons could lead to criminal charges.[240]

Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought to harness and direct Muslim anger over the Charlie Hebdo cartoons against the West.[241] Putin is believed to have backed protests by Muslims in Russia against Charlie Hebdo and the West.[242]

In China, the state-run Xinhua advocated limiting freedom of speech, while another state-run newspaper, Global Times, said the attack was "payback" for what it characterised as Western colonialism.[243][244]

Media organisations carried out protests against the shootings. Libération, Le Monde, Le Figaro, and other French media outlets used black banners carrying the slogan "Je suis Charlie" across the tops of their websites.[245] The front page of Libération's printed version was a different black banner that stated, "Nous sommes tous Charlie" ("We are all Charlie"), while Paris Normandie renamed itself Charlie Normandie for the day.[172] The French and UK versions of Google displayed a black ribbon of mourning on the day of the attack.[9]

Ian Hislop, editor of the British satirical magazine Private Eye, stated, "I am appalled and shocked by this horrific attack – a murderous attack on free speech in the heart of Europe. ... Very little seems funny today."[246] The editor of Titanic, a German satirical magazine, declared, "[W]e are scared when we hear about such violence. However, as a satirist, we are beholden to the principle that every human being has the right to be parodied. This should not stop just because of some idiots who go around shooting".[247] Many cartoonists from around the world responded to the attack on Charlie Hebdo by posting cartoons relating to the shooting.[248] Among them was Albert Uderzo, who came out of retirement at age 87 to depict his character Astérix supporting Charlie Hebdo.[249] In Australia, what was considered the iconic national cartoonist's reaction[250] was a cartoon by David Pope in the Canberra Times, depicting a masked, black-clad figure with a smoking rifle standing poised over a slumped figure of a cartoonist in a pool of blood, with a speech balloon showing the gunman saying, "He drew first."[251]

In India, Mint ran the photographs of copies of Charlie Hebdo on their cover, but later apologised after receiving complaints from the readers.[252] The Hindu also issued an apology after it printed a photograph of some people holding copies of Charlie Hebdo.[253] The editor of the Urdu newspaper Avadhnama, Shireen Dalvi, which printed the cartoons faced several police complaints. She was arrested and released on bail. She began to wear the burqa for the first time in her life and went into hiding.[254][255]

Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm featured drawings by young cartoonists signed with "Je suis Charlie" in solidarity with the victims.[256] Al-Masry al-Youm also displayed on their website a slide show of some Charlie Hebdo cartoons, including controversial ones. This was seen by analyst Jonathan Guyer as a "surprising" and maybe "unprecedented" move, due to the pressure Arab artists can be subject to when depicting religious figures.[257]

In Los Angeles, the Jewish Journal weekly changed its masthead that week to Jewish Hebdo and published the offending Muhammad cartoons.[258]

The Guardian reported that many Muslims and Muslim organisations criticised the attack while some Muslims support it and other Muslims stated they would only condemn it if France condemned the killings of Muslims worldwide".[259] Zvi Bar'el argued in Haaretz that believing the attackers represented Muslims was like believing that Ratko Mladić represented Christians.[260] Al Jazeera English editor and executive producer Salah-Aldeen Khadr attacked Charlie Hebdo as the work of solipsists, and sent out a staff-wide e-mail where he argued: "Defending freedom of expression in the face of oppression is one thing; insisting on the right to be obnoxious and offensive just because you can is infantile." The e-mail elicited different responses from within the organisation.[261][clarification needed]

The Shia Islamic journal Ya lasarat Al-Hussein, founded by Ansar-e Hezbollah, praised the shooting, saying, "[the cartoonists] met their legitimate justice, and congratulations to all Muslims" and "according to fiqh of Islam, punishment of insulting of Muhammad is death penalty".[262][263][264][265][266][267]

Activist organisations

Reporters Without Borders criticised the presence of leaders from Egypt, Russia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, saying, "On what grounds are representatives of regimes that are predators of press freedom coming to Paris to pay tribute to Charlie Hebdo, a publication that has always defended the most radical concept of freedom of expression?"[268]

Hacktivist group Anonymous released a statement in which they offered condolences to the families of the victims and denounced the attack as an "inhuman assault" on freedom of expression. They addressed the terrorists: "[a] message for al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and other terrorists – we are declaring war against you, the terrorists." As such, Anonymous plans to target jihadist websites and social media accounts linked to supporting Islamic terrorism with the aim of disrupting them and shutting them down.[269]

Muslim reactions

Condemning the attack

Lebanon, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, Morocco, Algeria, and Qatar denounced the incident, as did Egypt's Al-Azhar University, the leading Sunni institution of the Muslim world.[259] Islamic organisations, including the French Council of the Muslim Faith, the Muslim Council of Britain and Islamic Forum of Europe, spoke out against the attack. Sheikh Abdul Qayum and Imam Dalil Boubakeur stated, "[We] are horrified by the brutality and the savagery."[270] The Union of Islamic Organisations of France released a statement condemning the attack, and Imam Hassen Chalghoumi stated that those behind the attack "have sold their soul to hell".[271]

The US-based Muslim civil liberties group, the Council on American–Islamic Relations, condemned the attacks and defended the right to freedom of speech, "even speech that mocks faiths and religious figures".[272] The vice president of the US Ahmadiyya Muslim Community condemned the attack, saying, "The culprits behind this atrocity have violated every Islamic tenet of compassion, justice, and peace."[273] The National Council of Canadian Muslims, a Muslim civil liberties organisation, also condemned the attacks.[274]

The League of Arab States released a collective condemnation of the attack. Al-Azhar University released a statement denouncing the attack, stating that violence was never appropriate regardless of "offence committed against sacred Muslim sentiments".[275] The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation condemned the attack, saying that it went against Islam's principles and values.[276]

Both the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Hamas government of the Gaza Strip stated that "differences of opinion and thought cannot justify murder".[277] The leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah declared that "takfiri terrorist groups" had insulted Islam more than "even those who have attacked the Prophet".[278][279]

Malek Merabet, the brother of Ahmed Merabet, a Muslim police officer killed in the shooting, condemned the terrorists who killed his brother: "My brother was Muslim and he was killed by two terrorists, by two false Muslims".[280] Just hours after the shootings, the mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb, a Muslim born in Morocco, condemned Islamist extremists living in the West who "turn against freedom" and told them to "fuck off".[281]

Supporting the attack

Saudi-Australian Islamic preacher Junaid Thorne said: "If you want to enjoy 'freedom of speech' with no limits, expect others to exercise 'freedom of action'."[282] Anjem Choudary, a radical British Islamist, wrote an editorial in USA Today in which he professes justification from the words of Muhammad that those who insult prophets should face death, and that Muhammad should be protected to prevent further violence.[283] Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia[284] said that "as a result, it is assumed necessary in all cases to ensure that the pressure does not exceed the red lines, which will then ultimately lead to irreversible problems".[285] Bahujan Samaj Party leader Yaqub Qureishi, a Muslim MLA and former Minister from Uttar Pradesh in India, offered a reward of 510 million (US$8 million) to the perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo shootings.[i] On 14 January, about 1,500 Filipino Muslims held a rally in Muslim-majority Marawi in support of the attacks.[290]

The massacre was praised by various militant and terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula,[74] the Taliban in Afghanistan,[291][292] Al-Shabaab,[293] Boko Haram,[294] and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.[295][296]

Two Islamist newspapers in Turkey ran headlines that were criticised on social media as justifying the attack. The Yeni Akit ran an article entitled "Attack on the magazine that provoked Muslims", and Türkiye ran an article entitled "Attack on the magazine that insulted our Prophet".[297] Yahoo Canada reported a rally in support of the shootings in southern Afghanistan, where the demonstrators called the gunmen "heroes" who meted out punishment for the disrespectful cartoons. The demonstrators also protested Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's swift condemnation of the shootings.[298] Around 40 to 60[299] people gathered in Peshawar, Pakistan, to praise the killers, with a local cleric holding a funeral for the killers, lionizing them as "heroes of Islam."[300][301]


Le Figaro reported that in a Seine-Saint-Denis primary school, up to 80% of the pupils refused[302] to participate in the minute of silence that the French government decreed for schools.[303] A student told a teacher, "I'll drop you with a Kalashnikov, mate." Other teachers were told Charlie Hebdo "had it coming", and "Me, I'm for the killers". One teacher requested to be transferred.[302] They also reported that students from a vocational school in Senlis tried to attack and beat students from a neighbouring school while saying "we will kill more Charlie Hebdos". The incident is being investigated by authorities who are handling 37 proceedings of "terrorism glorification" and 17 proceedings of threats of violence in schools.[304]

La Provence reported that a fight broke out in the l'Arc à Orange high school during the minute of silence, as a result of a student post on a social network welcoming the atrocities. The student was later penalised for posting the message.[305] Le Point reported on the "provocations" at a grade school in Grenoble, and cited a girl who said "Madame, people won't let the insult of a drawing of the prophet pass by, it is normal to take revenge. This is more than a joke, it's an insult!"[306]

Le Monde reported that the majority of students they met at Saint-Denis condemned the attack. For them, life is sacred, but so is religion. Marie-Hélène, age 17, said "I didn't really want to stand for the one minute silence, I didn't think it was right to pay homage to a man who insulted Islam and other religions too". Abdul, age 14, said "of course everyone stood for the one minute silence, and that includes all Muslims... I did it for those who were killed, but not for Charlie. I have no pity for him, he had no respect for us Muslims". It also reported that for most students at the Paul Eluard high school in Saint-Denis, freedom of expression is perceived as being "incompatible with their faith". For Erica, who describes herself as Catholic, "there are wrongs on both sides". A fake bomb was planted in the faculty lounge at the school.[307]

France Télévisions reported that a fourth-grade student told her teacher, "We will not be insulted by a drawing of the prophet, it is normal that we take revenge." It also reported that the fake bomb contained the message "I Am Not Charlie".[308]

Public figures

The Head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, said "we will not allow anyone to insult the prophet, even if it costs us our lives."[309]

Salman Rushdie, who is on the al-Qaeda hit list[17][74] and received death threats over his novel The Satanic Verses, said, "I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity ... religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today."[310]

Swedish artist Lars Vilks, also on the al-Qaeda hit list[74] for publishing his own satirical drawings of Muhammad, condemned the attacks and said that the terrorists "got what they wanted. They've scared people. People were scared before, but with this attack fear will grow even larger"[311] and that the attack "expose[s] the world we live in today".[312]

American journalist David Brooks wrote an article titled "I Am Not Charlie Hebdo" in The New York Times, arguing that the magazine's humor was childish, but necessary as a voice of satire. He also criticised many of those in America who were ostensibly voicing support for free speech, noting that were the cartoons to be published in an American university newspaper, the editors would be accused of "hate speech" and the university would "have cut financing and shut them down." He called on the attacks to be an impetus toward tearing down speech codes.[313]

American linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky views the popularisation of the Je suis Charlie slogan by politicians and media in the West as hypocritical, comparing the situation to the NATO bombing of the Radio Television of Serbia headquarters in 1999, when 16 employees were killed. "There were no demonstrations or cries of outrage, no chants of 'We are RTV' [...]", he noted. Chomsky also mentioned other incidents where US military forces have caused higher civilian death tolls, without leading to intensive reactions such as those that followed the 2015 Paris attacks.[314]

German politician Sahra Wagenknecht, the deputy leader of the party Die Linke in the German Parliament, has compared the US drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan or Yemen with the terrorist attacks in Paris. ″If a drone controlled by the West extinguishes an innocent Arab or Afghan family, which is just a despicable crime as the attacks in Paris, and it should fill us with the same sadness and the same horror". We should not operate a double standard. Through the drone attacks had been "murdered thousands of innocent people", in the concerned countries, this created helplessness, rage and hatred: "Thereby we prepare the ground for the terror, we officially want to fight." The politician stressed that this war is also waged from German ground. Regarding the Afghanistan war with German participation for years, she said: "Even the Bundeswehr is responsible for the deaths of innocent people in Afghanistan." As the most important consequence of the terrorist attacks in Paris, Wagenknecht demanded the end of all military operations of the West in the Middle East.[315][316]

Bill Donohue, president of the US Catholic League, said Charlie Hebdo had a "long and disgusting record" of mocking religious figures and that Charb "didn't understand the role he played in his tragic death. ... Had he not been so narcissistic, he may still be alive."[317]

Cartoonist-journalist Joe Sacco expressed grief for the victims in a comic strip, and wrote

but ... tweaking the noses of Muslims ... has never struck me as anything other than a vapid way to use the pen ... I affirm our right to "take the piss" ... but we can try to think why the world is the way it is ... and [retaliating with violence against Muslims] is going to be far easier than sorting out how we fit in each other's world.[318]

Japanese famous film director, Hayao Miyazaki expressed his opinion about the attack and gave his opinion about the magazine decision to publish the content cited as the trigger for the incident. He said, "I think it's a mistake to caricaturize the figures venerated by another culture. You shouldn't do it." He assert, "Instead of doing something like that, you should first make caricatures of your own country's politicians."[319][320]

Social media

French Minister of the Interior Bernard Cazeneuve declared that by the morning of 9 January 2015, a total of 3,721 messages "condoning the attacks" had already been documented through the French government system.[321][322]

In an open letter titled "To the Youth in Europe and North America", Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged young people in Europe and North America not to judge Islam by the attacks, but to seek their own understanding of the religion.[323] Holly Dagres of Al-Monitor wrote that Khamenei’s followers "actively spammed Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+ and even Tumblr with links" to the letter with the aim of garnering the attention of people in the West.[324]

On social media, the hashtag "#JeSuisAhmed" trended, a tribute to the Muslim policeman Ahmed Merabet, along with the quote "I am not Charlie, I am Ahmed the dead cop. Charlie ridiculed my faith and culture and I died defending his right to do so."[325][326][327] The Economist compared this to a quote commonly misattributed to Voltaire, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it".[328]

See also


  1. ^ Sources for 'Plots against' Jyllands-Posten
    • spiegel.de 'I Don't fear for My life'[23]
    • spigdel.de (newspaper?)[24]
    • usatoday.com[25]
    • ekstrabladet.dk[26]
  2. ^ For details of various incidents see: 2006 German train bombing plot, 2008 Danish embassy bombing in Islamabad, Hotel Jørgensen explosion, and 2010 Copenhagen terror plot.
  3. ^ Information about Chérif and Saïd Kouachi.
    • Main Suspects:
    • Sources stating they are french nationals:
  4. ^ Attacks on mosques
  5. ^ Sources confirming largest public rally in france since WWII
  6. ^ Sources for worldwide marches and vigils
  7. ^ Attacks on mosques
  8. ^ English-language media outlets that republished cartoons
  9. ^ Sources confirming reward of 510 million


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External links

  • , Are the French still "Charlie"? Reflections after the terrorist attacks in Paris, CIFE Policy Paper No 10, 2015. [2]

12 December 2015

The Paris Agreement relating to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is adopted.

Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
  State parties
  Parties covered by EU ratification
Drafted30 November – 12 December 2015 in Le Bourget, France
Signed22 April 2016
LocationNew York City, United States
Sealed12 December 2015
Effective4 November 2016[1][2]
ConditionRatification and accession by 55 UNFCCC parties, accounting for 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions
Parties189[1] (list)
DepositarySecretary-General of the United Nations
LanguagesArabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish
Paris Agreement at Wikisource

The Paris Agreement (French: l'accord de Paris)[3] is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), dealing with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance, signed in 2016. The agreement's language was negotiated by representatives of 196 state parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Le Bourget, near Paris, France, and adopted by consensus on 12 December 2015.[4][5] As of February 2020, all UNFCCC members have signed the agreement, 189 have become party to it,[1] and the only significant emitters which are not parties are Iran and Turkey.

The Paris Agreement's long-term temperature goal is to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C (3.6 °F) above pre-industrial levels; and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 °C (2.7 °F), recognizing that this would substantially reduce the risks and impacts of climate change. This should be done by reducing emissions as soon as possible, in order to "achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases" in the second half of the 21st century. It also aims to increase the ability of parties to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change, and make "finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development."

Under the Paris Agreement, each country must determine, plan, and regularly report on the contribution that it undertakes to mitigate global warming.[6] No mechanism forces[7] a country to set a specific emissions target by a specific date,[8] but each target should go beyond previously set targets. In June 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the agreement. Under the agreement, the earliest effective date of withdrawal for the U.S. is November 2020, shortly before the end of President Trump's 2016 term. In practice, changes in United States policy that are contrary to the Paris Agreement have already been put in place.[9][10]



The aim of the agreement is to decrease global warming described in its Article 2, "enhancing the implementation" of the UNFCCC through:[11]

(a) Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change;

(b) Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production;

(c) Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.

This strategy involved energy and climate policy including the so-called 20/20/20 targets, namely the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 20%, the increase of renewable energy's market share to 20%, and a 20% increase in energy efficiency.[12]

Countries furthermore aim to reach "global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible". The agreement has been described as an incentive for and driver of fossil fuel divestment.[13][14]

The Paris deal is the world's first comprehensive climate agreement.[15]

Nationally determined contributions

Global carbon dioxide emissions by jurisdiction.

  China (29.4%)
  United States (14.3%)
  European Economic Area (9.8%)
  India (6.8%)
  Russia (4.9%)
  Japan (3.5%)
  Other (31.3%)

Contributions each individual country should make to achieve the worldwide goal are determined by all countries individually and are called nationally determined contributions (NDCs).[6] Article 3 requires them to be "ambitious", "represent a progression over time" and set "with the view to achieving the purpose of this Agreement". The contributions should be reported every five years and are to be registered by the UNFCCC Secretariat.[16] Each further ambition should be more ambitious than the previous one, known as the principle of 'progression'.[17] Countries can cooperate and pool their nationally determined contributions. The Intended Nationally Determined Contributions pledged during the 2015 Climate Change Conference serve—unless provided otherwise—as the initial Nationally determined contribution.

The level of NDCs set by each country[8] will set that country's targets. However the 'contributions' themselves are not binding as a matter of international law, as they lack the specificity, normative character, or obligatory language necessary to create binding norms.[18] Furthermore, there will be no mechanism to force[7] a country to set a target in their NDC by a specific date and no enforcement if a set target in an NDC is not met.[8][19] There will be only a "name and shame" system[20] or as János Pásztor, the U.N. assistant secretary-general on climate change, told CBS News (US), a "name and encourage" plan.[21] As the agreement provides no consequences if countries do not meet their commitments, consensus of this kind is fragile. A trickle of nations exiting the agreement could trigger the withdrawal of more governments, bringing about a total collapse of the agreement.[22]

The NDC Partnership was launched at COP22 in Marrakesh to enhance cooperation so that countries have access to the technical knowledge and financial support they need to achieve large-scale climate and sustainable development targets. The NDC Partnership is guided by a Steering Committee composed of developed and developing nations and international institutions, and facilitated by a Support Unit hosted by World Resources Institute and based in Washington, DC and Bonn, Germany. The NDC Partnership is co-chaired by the governments of Costa Rica and the Netherlands and includes 93 member countries,21 institutional partners and ten associate members.

Effects on global temperature

The negotiators of the agreement, however, stated that the NDCs and the target of no more than 2 °C increase were insufficient; instead, a target of 1.5 °C maximum increase is required, noting "with concern that the estimated aggregate greenhouse gas emission levels in 2025 and 2030 resulting from the intended nationally determined contributions do not fall within least-cost 2 °C scenarios but rather lead to a projected level of 55 gigatonnes in 2030", and recognizing furthermore "that much greater emission reduction efforts will be required in order to hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 2 °C by reducing emissions to 40 gigatonnes or to 1.5 °C."[23]

Though not the sustained temperatures over the long term that the Agreement addresses, in the first half of 2016 average temperatures were about 1.3 °C (2.3 degrees Fahrenheit) above the average in 1880, when global record-keeping began.[24]

When the agreement achieved enough signatures to cross the threshold on 5 October 2016, US President Barack Obama claimed that "Even if we meet every target ... we will only get to part of where we need to go." He also said that "this agreement will help delay or avoid some of the worst consequences of climate change. It will help other nations ratchet down their emissions over time, and set bolder targets as technology advances, all under a strong system of transparency that allows each nation to evaluate the progress of all other nations."[25][26]

Global stocktake

Map of cumulative per capita anthropogenic atmospheric CO2 emissions by country. Cumulative emissions include land use change, and are measured between the years 1950 and 2000.

The global stocktake will kick off with a "facilitative dialogue" in 2018. At this convening, parties will evaluate how their NDCs stack up to the nearer-term goal of peaking global emissions and the long-term goal of achieving net zero emissions by the second half of this century.[27]

The implementation of the agreement by all member countries together will be evaluated every 5 years, with the first evaluation in 2023. The outcome is to be used as input for new nationally determined contributions of member states.[28] The stocktake will not be of contributions/achievements of individual countries but a collective analysis of what has been achieved and what more needs to be done.

The stocktake works as part of the Paris Agreement's effort to create a "ratcheting up" of ambition in emissions cuts. Because analysts agreed in 2014 that the NDCs would not limit rising temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius, the global stocktake reconvenes parties to assess how their new NDCs must evolve so that they continually reflect a country's "highest possible ambition".[27]

While ratcheting up the ambition of NDCs is a major aim of the global stocktake, it assesses efforts beyond mitigation. The 5-year reviews will also evaluate adaptation, climate finance provisions, and technology development and transfer.[27]

A preliminary study with implications for the stocktake was published in Nature Communications in April 2020. Based on a public policy database and a multi-model scenario analysis, the authors showed that implementation of current policies leaves a median emission gap of 22.4 to 28.2 GtCO2eq by 2030 with the optimal pathways to implement the well below 2 °C and 1.5 °C Paris goals. If Nationally Determined Contributions were to be fully implemented, this gap would be reduced by a third. The countries evaluated were found to not achieve their pledged contributions with implemented policies (implementation gap), or to have an ambition gap with optimal pathways towards well below 2 °C. The study showed that all countries would need to accelerate the implementation of policies for renewable technologies, while efficiency improvements are especially important in emerging countries and fossil-fuel-dependent countries.[29]


The Paris Agreement has a 'bottom up' structure in contrast to most international environmental law treaties, which are 'top down', characterised by standards and targets set internationally, for states to implement.[30] Unlike its predecessor, the Kyoto Protocol, which sets commitment targets that have legal force, the Paris Agreement, with its emphasis on consensus-building, allows for voluntary and nationally determined targets.[31] The specific climate goals are thus politically encouraged, rather than legally bound. Only the processes governing the reporting and review of these goals are mandated under international law. This structure is especially notable for the United States—because there are no legal mitigation or finance targets, the agreement is considered an "executive agreement rather than a treaty". Because the UNFCCC treaty of 1992 received the consent of the Senate, this new agreement does not require further legislation from Congress for it to take effect.[31]

Another key difference between the Paris Agreement and the Kyoto Protocol is their scopes. While the Kyoto Protocol differentiated between Annex-1 and non-Annex-1 countries, this bifurcation is blurred in the Paris Agreement, as all parties will be required to submit emissions reductions plans.[32] While the Paris Agreement still emphasizes the principle of "Common but Differentiated Responsibility and Respective Capabilities"—the acknowledgement that different nations have different capacities and duties to climate action—it does not provide a specific division between developed and developing nations.[32] It therefore appears that negotiators will have to continue to deal with this issue in future negotiation rounds, even though the discussion on differentiation may take on a new dynamic.[33]

Mitigation provisions and carbon markets

Article 6 has been flagged as containing some of the key provisions of the Paris Agreement.[34] Broadly, it outlines the cooperative approaches that parties can take in achieving their nationally determined carbon emissions reductions. In doing so, it helps establish the Paris Agreement as a framework for a global carbon market.[35]

Linkage of trading systems and international transfer of mitigation outcomes (ITMOs)

Paragraphs 6.2 and 6.3 establish a framework to govern the international transfer of mitigation outcomes (ITMOs). The Agreement recognizes the rights of Parties to use emissions reductions outside of their own jurisdiction toward their NDC, in a system of carbon accounting and trading.[35]

This provision requires the "linkage" of various carbon emissions trading systems—because measured emissions reductions must avoid "double counting", transferred mitigation outcomes must be recorded as a gain of emission units for one party and a reduction of emission units for the other.[34] Because the NDCs, and domestic carbon trading schemes, are heterogeneous, the ITMOs will provide a format for global linkage under the auspices of the UNFCCC.[36] The provision thus also creates a pressure for countries to adopt emissions management systems—if a country wants to use more cost-effective cooperative approaches to achieve their NDCs, they will need to monitor carbon units for their economies.[37]

Sustainable Development Mechanism

Paragraphs 6.4-6.7 establish a mechanism "to contribute to the mitigation of greenhouse gases and support sustainable development".[38] Though there is no specific name for the mechanism as yet, many Parties and observers have informally coalesced around the name "Sustainable Development Mechanism" or "SDM".[39][40] The SDM is considered to be the successor to the Clean Development Mechanism, a flexible mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol, by which parties could collaboratively pursue emissions reductions for their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions. The Sustainable Development Mechanism lays the framework for the future of the Clean Development Mechanism post-Kyoto (in 2020).

In its basic aim, the SDM will largely resemble the Clean Development Mechanism, with the dual mission to 1. contribute to global GHG emissions reductions and 2. support sustainable development.[41] Though the structure and processes governing the SDM are not yet determined, certain similarities and differences from the Clean Development Mechanism can already be seen. Notably, the SDM, unlike the Clean Development Mechanism, will be available to all parties as opposed to only Annex-1 parties, making it much wider in scope.[42]

Since the Kyoto Protocol went into force, the Clean Development Mechanism has been criticized for failing to produce either meaningful emissions reductions or sustainable development benefits in most instances.[43] It has also suffered from the low price of Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs), creating less demand for projects. These criticisms have motivated the recommendations of various stakeholders, who have provided through working groups and reports, new elements they hope to see in SDM that will bolster its success.[36] The specifics of the governance structure, project proposal modalities, and overall design were expected to come during the 2016 Conference of the Parties in Marrakesh.

Adaptation provisions

Adaptation issues garnered more focus in the formation of the Paris Agreement. Collective, long-term adaptation goals are included in the Agreement, and countries must report on their adaptation actions, making adaptation a parallel component of the agreement with mitigation.[44] The adaptation goals focus on enhancing adaptive capacity, increasing resilience, and limiting vulnerability.[45]

Ensuring finance

At the Paris Conference in 2015 where the Agreement was negotiated, the developed countries reaffirmed the commitment to mobilize $100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020, and agreed to continue mobilizing finance at the level of $100 billion a year until 2025.[46] The commitment refers to the pre-existing plan to provide US$100 billion a year in aid to developing countries for actions on climate change adaptation and mitigation.[47]

Though both mitigation and adaptation require increased climate financing, adaptation has typically received lower levels of support and has mobilised less action from the private sector.[44] A 2014 report by the OECD found that just 16 percent of global finance was directed toward climate adaptation in 2014.[48] The Paris Agreement called for a balance of climate finance between adaptation and mitigation, and specifically underscoring the need to increase adaptation support for parties most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, including Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States. The agreement also reminds parties of the importance of public grants, because adaptation measures receive less investment from the public sector.[44] John Kerry, as Secretary of State, announced that the U.S. would double its grant-based adaptation finance by 2020.[31]

Some specific outcomes of the elevated attention to adaptation financing in Paris include the G7 countries' announcement to provide US$420 million for Climate Risk Insurance, and the launching of a Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) Initiative.[49] In early March 2016, the Obama administration gave a $500 million grant to the "Green Climate Fund" as "the first chunk of a $3 billion commitment made at the Paris climate talks."[50][51][52] So far, the Green Climate Fund has now received over $10 billion in pledges. Notably, the pledges come from developed nations like France, the US, and Japan, but also from developing countries such as Mexico, Indonesia, and Vietnam.[31]

Loss and damage

A new issue that emerged[53] as a focal point in the Paris negotiations rose from the fact that many of the worst effects of climate change will be too severe or come too quickly to be avoided by adaptation measures. The Paris Agreement specifically acknowledges the need to address loss and damage of this kind, and aims to find appropriate responses.[54] It specifies that loss and damage can take various forms—both as immediate impacts from extreme weather events, and slow onset impacts, such as the loss of land to sea-level rise for low-lying islands.[31]

The push to address loss and damage as a distinct issue in the Paris Agreement came from the Alliance of Small Island States and the Least Developed Countries, whose economies and livelihoods are most vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change.[31] Developed countries, however, worried that classifying the issue as one separate and beyond adaptation measures would create yet another climate finance provision, or might imply legal liability for catastrophic climate events.

In the end, all parties acknowledged the need for "averting, minimizing, and addressing loss and damage" but notably, any mention of compensation or liability is excluded.[11] The agreement also adopts the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage, an institution that will attempt to address questions about how to classify, address, and share responsibility for loss.[54]

Enhanced transparency framework

While each Party's NDC is not legally binding, the Parties are legally bound to have their progress tracked by technical expert review to assess achievement toward the NDC, and to determine ways to strengthen ambition.[55] Article 13 of the Paris Agreement articulates an "enhanced transparency framework for action and support" that establishes harmonized monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) requirements. Thus, both developed and developing nations must report every two years on their mitigation efforts, and all parties will be subject to both technical and peer review.[55]

Flexibility mechanisms

While the enhanced transparency framework is universal, along with the global stocktaking to occur every 5 years, the framework is meant to provide "built-in flexibility" to distinguish between developed and developing countries' capacities. In conjunction with this, the Paris Agreement has provisions for an enhanced framework for capacity building.[56] The agreement recognizes the varying circumstances of some countries, and specifically notes that the technical expert review for each country consider that country's specific capacity for reporting.[56] The agreement also develops a Capacity-Building Initiative for Transparency to assist developing countries in building the necessary institutions and processes for complying with the transparency framework.[56]

There are several ways that flexibility mechanisms can be incorporated into the enhanced transparency framework. The scope, level of detail, or frequency of reporting may all be adjusted and tiered based on a country's capacity. The requirement for in-country technical reviews could be lifted for some less developed or small island developing countries. Ways to assess capacity include financial and human resources in a country necessary for NDC review.[56]


Paris Agreement negotiations

The Paris Agreement was opened for signature on 22 April 2016 (Earth Day) at a ceremony in New York.[57] After several European Union states ratified the agreement in October 2016, there were enough countries that had ratified the agreement that produce enough of the world's greenhouse gases for the agreement to enter into force.[58] The agreement went into effect on 4 November 2016.[2]


Within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, legal instruments may be adopted to reach the goals of the convention. For the period from 2008 to 2012, greenhouse gas reduction measures were agreed in the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. The scope of the protocol was extended until 2020 with the Doha Amendment to that protocol in 2012.[59]

During the 2011 United Nations Climate Change Conference, the Durban Platform (and the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action) was established with the aim to negotiate a legal instrument governing climate change mitigation measures from 2020. The resulting agreement was to be adopted in 2015.[60]


Heads of delegations at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

At the conclusion of COP 21 (the 21st meeting of the Conference of the Parties, which guides the Conference), on 12 December 2015, the final wording of the Paris Agreement was adopted by consensus by all of the 195 UNFCCC participating member states and the European Union[4] to reduce emissions as part of the method for reducing greenhouse gas. In the 12-page Agreement,[52] the members promised to reduce their carbon output "as soon as possible" and to do their best to keep global warming "to well below 2 °C" [3.6 °F].[61]

Signature and entry into force

Signing by John Kerry in United Nations General Assembly Hall for the United States

The Paris Agreement was open for signature by states and regional economic integration organizations that are parties to the UNFCCC (the Convention) from 22 April 2016 to 21 April 2017 at the UN Headquarters in New York.[62]

The agreement stated that it would enter into force (and thus become fully effective) only if 55 countries that produce at least 55% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions (according to a list produced in 2015)[63] ratify, accept, approve or accede to the agreement.[64][65] On 1 April 2016, the United States and China, which together represent almost 40% of global emissions, issued a joint statement confirming that both countries would sign the Paris Climate Agreement.[66][67] 175 Parties (174 states and the European Union) signed the agreement on the first date it was open for signature.[57][68] On the same day, more than 20 countries issued a statement of their intent to join as soon as possible with a view to joining in 2016. With ratification by the European Union, the Agreement obtained enough parties to enter into effect as of 4 November 2016.

European Union and its member states

Both the EU and its member states are individually responsible for ratifying the Paris Agreement. A strong preference was reported that the EU and its 28 member states deposit their instruments of ratification at the same time to ensure that neither the EU nor its member states engage themselves to fulfilling obligations that strictly belong to the other,[69] and there were fears that disagreement over each individual member state's share of the EU-wide reduction target, as well as Britain's vote to leave the EU might delay the Paris pact.[70] However, the European Parliament approved ratification of the Paris Agreement on 4 October 2016,[58] and the EU deposited its instruments of ratification on 5 October 2016, along with several individual EU member states.[70]


The process of translating the Paris Agreement into national agendas and implementation has started. One example is the commitment of the least developed countries (LDCs). The LDC Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Initiative for Sustainable Development, known as LDC REEEI, is set to bring sustainable, clean energy to millions of energy-starved people in LDCs, facilitating improved energy access, the creation of jobs and contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.[71]

Per analysis from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) a carbon "budget" based upon total carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere (versus the rate of annual emission) to limit global warming to 1.5 °C was estimated to be 2.25 trillion tonnes of overall emitted carbon dioxide from the period since 1870. This number is a notable increase from the number estimated by the original Paris Climate accord estimates (of around 2 trillion tonnes total) total carbon emission limit to meet the 1.5 °C global warming target, a target that would be met in the year 2020 at 2017 rates of emission. Additionally, the annual emission of carbon is estimated in 2017 to be at 40 billion tonnes emitted per year. The revised IPCC budget for this was based upon CMIP5 climate model. Estimate models using different base-years also provide other slightly adjusted estimates of a carbon "budget".[72]

In July 2020 the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) announced that it assessed a 20% chance of global warming compared to pre-industrial levels exceeding 1.5 °C in at least one year between 2020 and 2024, with 1.5 °C being a key threshold under the Paris Agreement.[73][74]

Parties and signatories

As of February 2020, 194 states and the European Union have signed the Agreement. 188 states and the EU, representing more than 97% of global greenhouse gas emissions, have ratified or acceded to the Agreement, including China, the United States and India, the countries with three of the four largest greenhouse gas emissions of the UNFCCC members total (about 42% together).[1][75][76] As of January 2020 the only countries with over 1% share of global emissions which have not ratified, and so are not parties, are Iran and Turkey.

Withdrawal from Agreement

Article 28 of the agreement enables parties to withdraw from the agreement after sending a withdrawal notification to the depositary, but notice can be given no earlier than three years after the agreement goes into force for the country. Withdrawal is effective one year after the depositary is notified. Alternatively, the Agreement stipulates that withdrawal from the UNFCCC, under which the Paris Agreement was adopted, would also withdraw the state from the Paris Agreement. The conditions for withdrawal from the UNFCCC are the same as for the Paris Agreement. The agreement does not specify provisions for non-compliance.

On 4 August 2017, the Trump administration delivered an official notice to the United Nations that the U.S. intends to withdraw from the Paris Agreement as soon as it is legally eligible to do so.[77] The formal notice of withdrawal could not be submitted until the agreement was in force for 3 years for the US, on 4 November 2019.[78][79] On 4 November the US government deposited the withdrawal notification with the Secretary General of the United Nations, the depositary of the agreement.[80]

National communication

A "National Communication" is a type of report submitted by the countries that have ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).[81] Countries listed in Annex I of the Convention (mostly industrialized countries) are obliged to submit regular National Communications.[82] Non-Annex I countries do so less frequently.[83] Some Least Developed Countries have not submitted National Communications in the past 5–15 years,[84] largely due to capacity constraints.

National Communication reports are often several hundred pages long and cover a country's measures to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions as well as a description of its vulnerabilities and impacts from climate change.[85] National Communications are prepared according to guidelines that have been agreed by the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC. The (Intended) Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) that form the basis of the Paris Agreement are shorter and less detailed but also follow a standardized structure and are subject to technical review by experts.

Although President Donald Trump has declared that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Agreement, this cannot be effectuated until the day after the 2020 presidential election in the United States. Since the United States has not declared an intention to also withdraw from the 1992 UNFCCC, the United States will continue to be obliged to prepare National Communications.



Global CO2 emissions and probabilistic temperature outcomes of Paris
Paris climate accord emission reduction targets and real-life reductions offered

A pair of studies in Nature have said that, as of 2017, none of the major industrialized nations were implementing the policies they had envisioned and have not met their pledged emission reduction targets,[86] and even if they had, the sum of all member pledges (as of 2016) would not keep global temperature rise "well below 2 °C".[87][88]

How well each individual country is on track to achieving its Paris agreement commitments can be continuously followed on-line (through the Climate Action Tracker[89] and the Climate Clock).

A 2018 published study points at a threshold at which temperatures could rise to 4 or 5 degrees compared to the pre-industrial levels, through self-reinforcing feedbacks in the climate system, suggesting this threshold is below the 2-degree temperature target, agreed upon by the Paris climate deal. Study author Katherine Richardson stresses, "We note that the Earth has never in its history had a quasi-stable state that is around 2 °C warmer than the pre-industrial and suggest that there is substantial risk that the system, itself, will 'want' to continue warming because of all of these other processes – even if we stop emissions. This implies not only reducing emissions but much more."[90]

At the same time, another 2018 published study notes that even at a 1.5 °C level of warming, important increases in the occurrence of high river flows would be expected in India, South and Southeast Asia.[91] Yet, the same study points out that under a 2.0 °C of warming various areas in South America, central Africa, western Europe, and the Mississippi area in the United States would see more high flows; thus increasing flood risks.

Lack of binding enforcement mechanism

Although the agreement was lauded by many, including French President François Hollande and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon,[65] criticism has also surfaced. For example, James Hansen, a former NASA scientist and a climate change expert, voiced anger that most of the agreement consists of "promises" or aims and not firm commitments.[92] He called the Paris talks a fraud with 'no action, just promises' and feels that only an across the board tax on CO
emissions, something not part of the Paris Agreement, would force CO
emissions down fast enough to avoid the worst effects of global warming.[92]

Institutional asset owners associations and think-tanks have also observed that the stated objectives of the Paris Agreement are implicitly "predicated upon an assumption – that member states of the United Nations, including high polluters such as China, the US, India, Russia, Japan, Germany, South Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Indonesia and Mexico, which generate more than half the world's greenhouse gas emissions, will somehow drive down their carbon pollution voluntarily and assiduously without any binding enforcement mechanism to measure and control CO
emissions at any level from factory to state, and without any specific penalty gradation or fiscal pressure (for example a carbon tax) to discourage bad behaviour."[93] Emissions taxes (such as a carbon tax) can be integrated into the country's NDC however.


According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) if we rely only on the current climate commitments of the Paris Agreement, temperatures will likely rise to 3.2 °C this century. To limit global temperature rise to 1.5 °C, emissions must be below 25 gigatons (Gt) by 2030. With current Nov 2019 commitments, emissions will be 56 Gt CO2e by 2030, twice the environmental target. To limit global temperature rise to 1.5 °C, the global annual emission reduction needed is 7.6% emissions reduction every year between 2020 and 2030. The top four emitters (China, USA, EU27 and India) contribute to over 55% of the total emissions over the last decade, excluding emissions from land-use change such as deforestation. China's emissions grew 1.6% in 2018 to reach a high of 13.7 Gt of CO2 equivalent. The US emits 13% of global emissions and emissions rose 2.5% in 2018. The EU emits 8.5% of global emissions has declined 1% per year across the last decade. Emissions declined 1.3% in 2018. India's 7% of global emissions grew 5.5% in 2018 but its emissions per capita is one of the lowest within the G20.[94]


In 2018 the International Four Freedoms Award was given to Christiana Figueres Olsen as a representative of all those whose hard work and dedication for many years contributed to the realization of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. The board of the Roosevelt Foundation: "The rebuilding of the global climate change negotiation process based on fairness, transparency and collaboration leading to the Climate Agreement is widely recognized as a historical achievement. The signature of this Climate Agreement confirms that the great majority of countries wants to work to reduce the temperature rise and the disastrous consequences of climate change. A major and important challenge in relation to the future of next generations in particular and our planet in general. "https://www.fourfreedoms.nl/en/laureaten/year:2018/award:international-four-freedoms-award/laureates:paris-climate-agreement--christiana-figueres.htm

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Further reading

External links

Media related to Paris Agreement at Wikimedia Commons

29 October 2015

China announces the end of One child policy after 35 years.

The one-child policy was part of a birth planning program designed to control the size of the rapidly growing population of the People's Republic of China.[1] Distinct from the family planning policies of most other countries, which focus on providing contraceptive options to help women have the number of children they want, it set a limit on the number of births parents could have, making it the world's most extreme example of population planning. It was introduced in 1979 (after a decade-long two-child policy),[2] modified beginning in the mid 1980s to allow rural parents a second child if the first was a daughter, and then lasted three more decades before the government announced in late 2015 a reversion to a two-child limit.[3][4] The policy also allowed exceptions for some other groups, including ethnic minorities. Thus, the term "one-child policy" has been called a "misnomer", because for nearly 30 of the 36 years that it existed (1979–2015), about half of all parents in China were allowed to have a second child.[5][6][7]

To enforce existing birth limits (of one or two children), provincial governments could, and did, require the use of contraception, abortion, and sterilization to ensure compliance, and imposed enormous fines for violations. Local and national governments created commissions to promote the program and monitor compliance. China also rewarded families with one child, in accordance with the instructions on further family planning issued by the Communist Party Central Committee and the State Council in that year, regulations awarded 5 yuan per month for families with one child. Parents who had only one child would also get a "one-child glory certificate".[8]

The impact of China's birth restrictions has been hotly debated. According to its government, 400 million births were prevented. That statistic originally referred to all births averted since 1970,[9] although later it referred to just the one-child era beginning around 1980. Some scholars have disputed the official estimates. They claim that the one-child program had little effect on birth rates or the size of the total population when one considers the large drop in fertility during the two-child decade preceding it and that other countries – such as Thailand and the Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu – experienced notable fertility declines without official birth quotas.[10][11][12][13] A recent study even suggests that, contrary to popular belief and its government's intentions, the one-child phase of the birth program had a pronatal effect that raised birth rates above what they otherwise would have been.[14] Yet this study has itself been disputed as an implausible "erasure of the impact of this program from history.[15] Moreover, the comparative models proposed by those dismissing official estimates as exaggerations[14][11] imply that, even when China's rapid development is considered, its birth program since 1970 has already averted at least 600 million births, a number projected to grow to one billion or more by 2060 given the averted descendants of the births originally averted by policy.[16][17][18][15] The real dispute concerns what portion of that massive number of averted births (and population) should be attributed to the tightened one-child limits (and related enforcements) after 1980, as opposed to the two-child program that preceded it.

China's population since 1950


Birth rate in China

During the period of Mao Zedong's leadership in China, the birth rate fell from 37 per thousand to 20 per thousand.[19] Infant mortality declined from 227 per thousand births in 1949 to 53 per thousand in 1981, and life expectancy dramatically increased from around 35 years in 1948 to 66 years in 1976.[19][20] Until the 1960s, the government encouraged families to have as many children as possible[21] because of Mao's belief that population growth empowered the country, preventing the emergence of family planning programs earlier in China's development.[22] The population grew from around 540 million in 1949 to 940 million in 1976.[23] Beginning in 1970, citizens were required to marry at later ages and many were limited to have only two children.[2]

Although China's fertility rate plummeted faster than anywhere else in the world during the 1970s under these restrictions, the Chinese government thought that fertility was still too high, influenced by the global debate over a possible overpopulation crisis suggested by organizations such as the Club of Rome and the Sierra Club. In response, the authorities began encouraging one-child families in 1978, and in 1979 announced that they intended to advocate for one-child families. In 1980, the central government organized a meeting in Chengdu to discuss the speed and scope of one-child restrictions.[2]

One participant at the Chengdu meeting had read two influential books about population concerns, The Limits to Growth and A Blueprint for Survival, while visiting Europe in 1979. That official, Song Jian, along with several associates, determined that the ideal population of China was 700 million, and that a universal one-child policy for all would be required to meet that goal.[24] Moreover, Song and his group showed that if fertility rates remained constant at 3 births per woman, China's population would surpass 3 billion by 2060 and 4 billion by 2080.[2] In spite of some criticism inside the party, the plan (also referred to as the Family Planning Policy[25]) was formally implemented as a temporary measure on 18 September 1980.[26][27][28][29] The plan called for families to have one child each in order to curb a then-surging population and alleviate social, economic, and environmental problems in China.[30][31]

Although a recent and often-repeated interpretation by Greenhalgh claims that Jian was the central architect of the one-child policy and that he "hijacked" the population policy making process,[32] that claim has been refuted by several leading scholars, including Liang Zhongtang, a leading internal critic of one-child restrictions and an eye-witness at the discussions in Chengdu.[33] In the words of Wang et al., "the idea of the one-child policy came from leaders within the Party, not from scientists who offered evidence to support it”[10] Central officials had already decided in 1979 to advocate for one-child restrictions before knowing of Song's work and, upon learning of his work in 1980, already seemed sympathetic to his position.[34] Moreover, even if Song's work convinced them to proceed with universal one-child restrictions in 1980, the policy was loosened to a "1.5"-child policy just five years later, and it is that policy which has been misrepresented since as the "one-child policy". Thus, it is misleading to suggest that Jian was either the inventor or architect of the policy.


The one-child policy was originally designed to be a "One-Generation Policy".[35] It was enforced at the provincial level and enforcement varied; some provinces had more relaxed restrictions. The one-child limit was most strictly enforced in densely populated urban areas.[36] When this policy was first introduced, 6.1 million families that had already given birth to a child were given the "One Child Honorary Certificates". This was a pledge they had to make to ensure they would not have more children.[37]

Beginning in 1980, the official policy granted local officials the flexibility to make exceptions and allow second children in the case of "practical difficulties" (such as cases in which the father was a disabled serviceman) or when both parents were single children,[38] and some provinces had other exemptions worked into their policies as well. In most areas, families were allowed to apply to have a second child if their first-born was a daughter.[39][40] Furthermore, families with children with disabilities have different policies and families whose first child suffers from physical disability, mental illness, or intellectual disability were allowed to have more children.[41] However, second children were sometimes subject to birth spacing (usually 3 or 4 years). Children born in overseas countries were not counted under the policy if they did not obtain Chinese citizenship. Chinese citizens returning from abroad were allowed to have a second child.[42] Sichuan province allowed exemptions for couples of certain backgrounds.[43] By one estimate there were at least 22 ways in which parents could qualify for exceptions to the law towards the end of the one-child policy's existence.[44] As of 2007, only 36% of the population were subjected to a strict one-child limit. 53% were permitted to have a second child if their first was a daughter; 9.6% of Chinese couples were permitted two children regardless of their gender; and 1.6% – mainly Tibetans – had no limit at all.[45]

The Danshan, Sichuan Province Nongchang Village people Public Affairs Bulletin Board in September 2005 noted that RMB 25,000 in social compensation fees were owed in 2005. Thus far 11,500 RMB had been collected, so another 13,500 RMB had to be collected.

Following the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, a new exception to the regulations was announced in Sichuan for parents who had lost children in the earthquake.[46][47] Similar exceptions had previously been made for parents of severely disabled or deceased children.[48] People have also tried to evade the policy by giving birth to a second child in Hong Kong, but at least for Guangdong residents, the one-child policy was also enforced if the birth was given in Hong Kong or abroad.[49]

In accordance with China's affirmative action policies towards ethnic minorities, all non-Han ethnic groups are subjected to different laws and were usually allowed to have two children in urban areas, and three or four in rural areas. Han Chinese living in rural towns were also permitted to have two children.[50] Because of couples such as these, as well as those who simply paid a fine (or "social maintenance fee") to have more children,[51] the overall fertility rate of mainland China was close to 1.4 children per woman as of 2011.[52]

On 6 January 2010, the former National Population and Family Planning Commission issued the "national population development" 12th five-year plan.[53]



The Family Planning Policy was enforced through a financial penalty in the form of the "social child-raising fee", sometimes called a "family planning fine" in the West, which was collected as a fraction of either the annual disposable income of city dwellers or of the annual cash income of peasants, in the year of the child's birth.[54] For instance, in Guangdong, the fee was between 3 and 6 annual incomes for incomes below the per capita income of the district, plus 1 to 2 times the annual income exceeding the average. The family was required to pay the fine.[55]

The one-child policy was a tool for China to not only address overpopulation, but to also address poverty alleviation and increase social mobility by consolidating the combined inherited wealth of the two previous generations into the investment and success of one child instead of having these resources spread thinly across multiple children. This theoretically provided financial stability and the ability to make discretionary spend and increasing economic growth and gross national income per capita.

Mandatory contraception and sterilization

As part of the policy, women were required to have a contraceptive intrauterine device (IUD) surgically installed after having a first child, and to be sterilized by tubal ligation after having a second child. From 1980 to 2014, 324 million Chinese women were fitted with IUDs in this way and 108 million were sterilized. Women who refused these procedures – which many resented – could lose their government employment and their children could lose access to education or health services and have any privileges revoked. The IUDs installed in this way were modified such that they could not be removed manually, but only through surgery.

In 2016, following the abolition of the one-child policy, the Chinese government announced that IUD removals would now be paid for by the government.[56]


In 2013, Deputy Director Wang Peian of the National Health and Family Planning Commission said that "China's population will not grow substantially in the short term".[57] A survey by the commission found that only about half of eligible couples wish to have two children, mostly because of the cost of living impact of a second child.[58]

In November 2013, following the Third Plenum of the 18th Central Committee of the CPC, China announced the decision to relax the one-child policy. Under the new policy, families could have two children if one parent, rather than both parents, was an only child.[59][60] This mainly applied to urban couples, since there were very few rural only children due to long-standing exceptions to the policy for rural couples.[61] Zhejiang, one of the most affluent provinces, became the first area to implement this "relaxed policy" in January 2014,[62] and 29 out of the 31 provinces had implemented it by July 2014,[63] with the exceptions of Xinjiang and Tibet. Under this policy, approximately 11 million couples in China were allowed to have a second child; however, only "nearly one million" couples applied to have a second child in 2014,[64] less than half the expected number of 2 million per year.[63] By May 2014, 241,000 out of 271,000 applications had been approved. Officials of China's National Health and Family Planning Commission claimed that this outcome was expected, and that "second-child policy" would continue progressing with a good start.[65]


In October 2015, the Chinese news agency Xinhua announced plans of the government to abolish the one-child policy, now allowing all families to have two children, citing from a communiqué issued by the CPC "to improve the balanced development of population" – an apparent reference to the country's female-to-male sex ratio – and to deal with an aging population according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.[30][66][67][68][69][70][71][72] The new law took effect on 1 January 2016 after it was passed in the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on 27 December 2015.[73][74]

The rationale for the abolition was summarized by former Wall Street Journal reporter Mei Fong: "The reason China is doing this right now is because they have too many men, too many old people, and too few young people. They have this huge crushing demographic crisis as a result of the one-child policy. And if people don't start having more children, they're going to have a vastly diminished workforce to support a huge aging population."[75] China's ratio is about five working adults to one retiree; the huge retiree community must be supported, and that will dampen future growth, according to Fong.

Since the citizens of China are living longer and having fewer children, the growth of the population imbalance is expected to continue. A United Nations projection forecast that "China will lose 67 million working-age people by 2030, while simultaneously doubling the number of elderly. That could put immense pressure on the economy and government resources."[30] The longer term outlook is also pessimistic, based on an estimate by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, revealed by Cai Fang, deputy director. "By 2050, one-third of the country will be aged 60 years or older, and there will be fewer workers supporting each retired person."[76]

Although many critics of China's reproductive restrictions approve of the policy's abolition, Amnesty International said that the move to the two-child policy would not end forced sterilizations, forced abortions, or government control over birth permits.[77][78] Others also stated that the abolition is not a sign of the relaxation of authoritarian control in China. A reporter for CNN said, "It was not a sign that the party will suddenly start respecting personal freedoms more than it has in the past. No, this is a case of the party adjusting policy to conditions. [...] The new policy, raising the limit to two children per couple, preserves the state's role."[79][80]

The abolition may not achieve a significant benefit, as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation analysis indicated: "Repealing the one-child policy may not spur a huge baby boom, however, in part because fertility rates are believed to be declining even without the policy's enforcement. Previous easings of the one-child policy have spurred fewer births than expected, and many people among China's younger generations see smaller family sizes as ideal."[30] The CNN reporter adds that China's new prosperity is also a factor in the declining[76] birth rate, saying, "Couples naturally decide to have fewer children as they move from the fields into the cities, become more educated, and when women establish careers outside the home."[79]

The Chinese government had expected the abolishing of the one-child rule would lead to an increase in births to about 21.9 million births in 2018. The actual number of births was 15.2 million - the lowest birth rate since 1961.[81]


The one-child policy was managed by the National Population and Family Planning Commission under the central government since 1981. The Ministry of Health of the People's Republic of China and the National Population and Family Planning Commission were made defunct and a new single agency National Health and Family Planning Commission took over national health and family planning policies in 2013. The agency reports to the State Council.

The policy was enforced at the provincial level through fines that were imposed based on the income of the family and other factors. "Population and Family Planning Commissions" existed at every level of government to raise awareness and carry out registration and inspection work.[82]


Fertility reduction: Debates over the roles of policy vs. socio-economic change

The progression of China's population pyramid, International Futures.

The fertility rate in China continued its fall from 2.8 births per woman in 1979 (already a sharp reduction from more than five births per woman in the early 1970s) to 1.5 by the mid 1990s. Some scholars claim that this decline is similar to that observed in other places that had no one-child restrictions, such as Thailand as well as Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, a claim designed to support the argument that China's fertility might have fallen to such levels anyway without draconian fertility restrictions.[10][83][13][84]

According to a 2017 study in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, "the one-child policy accelerated the already-occurring drop in fertility for a few years, but in the longer term, economic development played a more fundamental role in leading to and maintaining China's low fertility level.".[85] However, a more recent study found that China's fertility decline to very low levels by the mid 1990s was far more impressive given its lower level of socio-economic development at that time;[18] even after taking rapid economic development into account, China's fertility restrictions likely averted over 500 million births between 1970 and 2015, with the portion caused by one-child restrictions possibly totaling 400 million.[16] Fertility restrictions also had other unintended consequences, such as a deficit of 40 million female babies. Most of this deficit was due to sex-selective abortion as well as the 1.5 child stopping rule, which required rural parents to stop childbearing if their first born was a son.[86] Another consequence was the acceleration of the aging of China's population.[87][88]

Disparity in sex ratio at birth

The sex ratio at birth in People's Republic of China, males per 100 females, 1980–2010.

The sex ratio of a newborn infant (between male and female births) in mainland China reached 117:100, and stabilized between 2000 and 2013, about 10% higher than the baseline, which ranges between 103:100 and 107:100. It had risen from 108:100 in 1981—at the boundary of the natural baseline—to 111:100 in 1990.[89] According to a report by the National Population and Family Planning Commission, there will be 30 million more men than women in 2020, potentially leading to social instability, and courtship-motivated emigration.[90] The number of 30 million cited for the sex disparity is, however, likely very exaggerated, as birth statistics is skewed by late registrations and unreported births: for instance, researchers found that census statistics of women in later stages of their life do not match with the birth statistics.[91]

The disparity in the gender ratio at birth increases dramatically after the first birth, for which the ratios remained steadily within the natural baseline over the 20 year interval between 1980 and 1999. Thus, a large majority of couples appear to accept the outcome of the first pregnancy, whether it is a boy or a girl. If the first child is a girl, and they are able to have a second child, then a couple may take extraordinary steps to assure that the second child is a boy. If a couple already has two or more boys, the sex ratio of higher parity births swings decidedly in a feminine direction. This demographic evidence indicates that while families highly value having male offspring, a secondary norm of having a girl or having some balance in the sexes of children often comes into play. Zeng 1993 reported a study based on the 1990 census in which they found sex ratios of just 65 or 70 boys per 100 girls for births in families that already had two or more boys.[92] A study by Anderson & Silver (1995) found a similar pattern among both Han and non-Han nationalities in Xinjiang Province: a strong preference for girls in high parity births in families that had already borne two or more boys.[93] This tendency to favour girls in high parity births to couples who had already borne sons was later also noted by Coale and Banister, who suggested as well that once a couple had achieved its goal for the number of males, it was also much more likely to engage in "stopping behavior", i.e., to stop having more children.[94]

The long-term disparity has led to a significant gender imbalance or skewing of the sex ratio. As reported by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, China has between 32 million and 36 million more males than would be expected naturally, and this has led to social problems. "Because of a traditional preference for baby boys over girls, the one-child policy is often cited as the cause of China's skewed sex ratio [...] Even the government acknowledges the problem and has expressed concern about the tens of millions of young men who won't be able to find brides and may turn to kidnapping women, sex trafficking, other forms of crime or social unrest."[30] The situation will not improve in the near future. According to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, there will be 24 million more men than women of marriageable age by 2020.[95]


The effect of the one-child policy on female education is not known. Prior to the one-child policy, roughly 30% of women attended higher education, whereas between 1990 and 1992, 50 percent of students in higher education were women. The higher participation rate of women in education could be attributed to the lack of male siblings. As the result, families placed investment in their single female child.[96] According to Journal of Economic Perspectives, "existing studies indicate either a modest or minimal effect of the fertility change induced by the one-child policy on children education".[85]

Adoption and abandonment

A roadside sign in rural Sichuan: "It is forbidden to discriminate against, mistreat or abandon baby girls."

For parents who had "unauthorized" births, or who wanted a son but had a daughter, giving up their child for adoption was a strategy to avoid penalties under one-child restrictions. Many families also kept their illegal children hidden so that they would not be punished by the government.[97] In fact, "out adoption