19 February 2014 - Security Council - The rule of law - Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Thank you, Sir, for convening this debate.
France aligns itself with the statement to be delivered on behalf of the European Union.
I would like to focus on three aspects.
The first is the exemplary nature of peacekeeping operations and more broadly of the Organization in the field of the rule of law. For United Nations action to be legitimate and effective, it must be based on the principles of transparency, respect for rights and accountability. In that regard, France welcomes the Secretary-General’s policies in those areas, including the zero-tolerance policy for sexual abuse, the due diligence policy on human rights, the screening policy and the guidelines on limiting contacts with persons subject to arrest warrants from the International Criminal Court.
All staff of the Organization at all levels must be aware of those rules. The United Nations cannot provide support in the field of security to entities that do not respect human rights or that recruit children. The United Nations cannot deal with criminals as part of its normal activities. The Office of Legal Affairs is the guarantor of the proper application of those guidelines, and we welcome once again the rigour of the services of the Legal Adviser. We must be beyond reproach.
Secondly, I turn to the appropriateness of the mandates of peacekeeping operations and special political missions to the needs on the ground with regard to the rule of law. Faced with conflict situations, when the States concerned are weak or have even failed, the Council has, over the years, identified several key areas for action: support for the criminal justice process, an independent judiciary, the prison system, comprehensive security-sector reform, institutional
strengthening and support for international criminal justice.
The Council has therefore specified in mandates for several peacekeeping operations the contribution that Blue Helmets can make to the fight against impunity for the perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. We have given them mandates to assist national authorities to cooperate with the International Criminal Court. The role of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali in supporting national authorities should be highlighted in that respect.
If people still doubt that all the tasks I have listed must be an integral part of the maintenance of international peace and security, they need only look at the Central African Republic. In that country, to date — thanks to the work of the African forces with the support of France — large-scale massacres have been
avoided. However, we are facing a general situation of insecurity as a result of the collapse of the Central African State. It is therefore essential, in parallel with action on security, to act now to get the institutions back on track and restore State authority. To do that, it is crucial to ensure that officials are paid as soon as possible, which will get the police, gendarmerie, courts and detention centres back up and running. We must also continue working towards the objective of holding elections no later than February 2015.
The United Nations has an indispensable role to play in those priority areas, at present through the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic and, as soon as possible, through a peacekeeping operation. To get the State of the Central African Republic functioning again and assist it in establishing the rule of law, those projects need resources. Members of the international community must strengthen their mobilization.
My third point is adapting to cross-cutting threats. In recent years, the Security Council has shown its ability to adapt to new challenges. The support provided to addressing judicial and prison aspects of the fight against piracy off the coast of Somalia is an example. Today, we must mobilize to build the capacity of the States of the Sahel to fight drug-trafficking. France again welcomes the United Nations integrated strategy for the Sahel, which allows all actors of the system to
be brought together to work against the development of a criminality that threatens the stability of the States of the region. Significant efforts are also being
made to enable States to regain control over the trade of natural resources for the benefit of their citizens. The grip on such resources by armed groups fuels conflicts and deprives States of income. Once again, the maintenance of peace and nation-building are part of the same reasoning.
In that context, it is regrettable that the Council has not yet mentioned in a statement or a resolution the most expensive trafficking for the African continent after drug trafficking, namely, wildlife trafficking. It involves not only protecting threatened species, such as elephants or rhinoceroses, but also dealing with the issue from the aspect of organized crime. France carefully follows the initiatives launched on that topic at the United Nations, in particular by Gabon and Germany, and we welcome the conference very recently hosted by the United Kingdom. The Council should address the issue.
Promoting the rule of law is part of the Organization’s DNA. In 2012, the General Assembly devoted a high-level declaration to it, enshrined in resolution 67/1.The Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and our peacekeeping operations, missions and teams on the ground devote a large part of their work and resources to it.
We can certainly further improve the alignment of such mandates with needs. In that regard, I am thinking of South Sudan. We can certainly work more on mobilizing civilian capacities and devote more efforts to planning transitions between peacekeeping operations and country teams. However, promoting the rule of law is fundamental to our mandate. France will continue to support that goal within the Council. Today, the urgent need is in the Central African Republic.
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