15 April 2013 – Security Council - Peace and Security in Africa – Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

“Prevention of conflicts in Africa: addressing the root causes”
(UN translation)

I welcome
your presence here, Madam President, and commend
Rwanda’s initiative to convene this debate on the
prevention of conflict in Africa.

In 1994, Rwanda experienced an internecine
genocide that resulted in hundreds of thousands of
deaths and that the United Nations and its Security
Council were not able to stop. Therefore today no one
is better placed than your country, Madam President,
to know that in order to prevent a conflict, whatever
its nature, it is crucial to address its root causes, which
over time fuel resentment, stir up hatred and even,
ultimately, lead to violence.

When a conflict looms, the United Nations uses
conflict-prevention tools. The Secretary-General
can use his good offices or appoint special envoys to
conduct mediation. The Dakar and Libreville regional
offices are there to support those efforts. For its part,
the Security Council can send political messages or
take preventive measures, or even impose sanctions as

However, such preventive measures, which are
aimed at alleviating existing tensions in the balance of
power, sometimes come too late and are thus insufficient
to curb antagonisms or stop the crisis from breaking out
or the recurrence of a conflict. All too often, the United
Nations is reduced to dealing only with security and
humanitarian questions and seeking to minimize the
impact of a conflict on the civilian population.
That is why, over and beyond managing the short term
factors causing conflict in Africa, the United
Nations must continue to work to better anticipate
problems by seeking to deal as soon as possible with the
root causes of conflicts. Those causes are often multiple
and complex. In Mali, for instance, the swift holding
of democratic elections in July will be an important
stage in the process of national reconciliation, but the
country must hold an inclusive dialogue so as to resolve
the long-standing demands of the different segments
of Malian society, which contributed to plunging the
country into chaos.

Conflicts can also be linked to economic and social
issues. In the eastern part of the Democratic Republic
of the Congo, for example, it will be indispensable, so
as to put an end to the recurring crisis in the region,
to address issues related to the dividing up of mining
resources and arable land. The failure to involve women
in decision-making and transition processes is also
worrisome. We should support the implementation of
mechanisms aimed at ensuring their full participation
in reconciliation, crisis-resolution and electoral

The absence of the rule of law, police and a justice
system further intensifies those factors and represents,
in and of itself, a structural cause of conflict. In the
absence of credible military or police forces, all too
often it is armed groups that take control of a region
or a State. In Mali, the Democratic Republic of the
Congo and the Central African Republic, the weakness
of the army and the police is what led to the conflicts
we are seeing today. In Somalia, the strengthening of
Transitional Government forces will be crucial to the
lasting stabilization of the country.

Justice also plays a crucial role in the prevention of
conflict. It is essential because impunity for criminals
always fuels resentment, which leads yesterday’s
victims to want to take justice into their own hands
and thereby become the criminals of tomorrow.
Justice is also a permanent reminder that resort to
violence is illegal and that the perpetrators of crimes,
whoever they may be, will be punished. That is why the
functioning of judicial institutions is key. Failing that,
the International Criminal Court (ICC) must be able
to punish the perpetrators of the most serious crimes.
There can be no peace without justice. That is why we
regret the absence of a reference to the ICC, which is an
essential instrument for conflict prevention in Africa,
in the draft presidential statement to be adopted later
by the Council.

The great diversity of the root causes of conflicts
should not represent a challenge to the competence of
the Security Council. Even though economic or social
issues are sometimes the causes of a conflict, the Council
must be able to address them, in close cooperation
with the African Union and subregional African
organizations, in conformity with Chapter VIII of the
Charter. The mediation conducted by President Mbeki
between the Sudan and South Sudan, with the support
of the Security Council, and the Secretary-General’s
Framework agreement on the Democratic Republic of
the Congo and the Great Lakes region, supported by
the African Union, shows that the United Nations and
African organizations today have the ability to tackle
together the specific root causes of conflicts.
The actions of the Council can also be based on
the principle of the responsibility to protect, which
is an essential instrument to prevent atrocities. Its
implementation has seen considerable progress since its
consensus-based definition, in 2005. The State has the
primary responsibility to protect its own population,
but if it does not shoulder that responsibility, the
international community has a duty to act resolutely. It
cannot, at the risk of being complicit, stop at a passive
principle of sovereignty and remain inactive in the face
of massacres and mass rapes. In Libya, the Council was
able to act preventively and it can be proud of that fact.
In conclusion, I would like to express our support
for the draft presidential statement that Rwanda has
presented, which we are prepared to adopt.

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Dernière modification : 26/02/2015

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