25 June 2012 - Security Council - Protection of civilians in armed conflict - Statement by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

I thank
the Secretary-General for introducing his report
(S/2012/376), as well as the various speakers for their

France subscribes to the statement to be made by
the observer of the European Union.

The past year has seen significant developments
in the area of the protection of civilians. The Council
has been able to react urgently and based upon clear
principles in order to protect civilians. I would like to
note the Libyan example and resolutions 1970 (2011) and
1973 (2011). We remember the thanks that the Libyan
Prime Minister personally extended to the Council for
having avoided the deaths of thousands of civilians.
France also welcomes the fact that the protection of
civilians remains at the heart of the mandates of United
Nations peacekeeping operations. In that context, two
recent initiatives deserve highlighting: first, the policy
of reasonable due diligence in matters of human rights
established by the Secretary-General. The policy
makes it possible to ensure that national security
forces suspected of serious violations of human rights
do not receive United Nations support. It has been
implemented by the United Nations Organization
Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the
Congo (MONUSCO) and the United Nations Mission in
South Sudan, and the policy should now be extended to
other United Nations missions.

We also welcome the establishment within the
African Union Mission in Somalia and the International
Security Assistance Force of cells tasked with tallying
and identifying civilian victims. Such policies could be developed and extended to other missions so as to help
identify the harm done to civilians and to enable the
Security Council to respond appropriately.

The Secretary-General’s report also reminds us
of the challenges we continue to face in the protection
of civilians. How can we avoid mentioning Syria? So
far, the international community has failed to protect
that country’s civilian population. After 15 months
of repression, resulting in almost 15,000 deaths, the
majority of them civilian, Bashar Al-Assad’s regime
continues to violate its commitments and threaten
international peace and security. The massacres in
Houla and Al-Qubayr, following those in Homs and
Idlib, have proved that this regime knows no bounds.

Deploying a United Nations observation mission has
done nothing to change its murderous behaviour. It is
now more essential than ever for the Council to send a
firm message to the Syrian authorities on the need to
respect their commitments and the consequences they
face if they continue to violate them. Those responsible
for the atrocities, Bashar Al-Assad first among them,
will one day answer in court for their actions.
Turning to the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
the challenges to the protection of civilians there
are still immense. In the short term, the innovative
steps that MONUSCO has taken, such as recruiting
community liaison assistants and establishing early
warning networks, are essential and should continue
to be expanded. In the medium and long terms,
ensuring the protection of civilians demands a full-on
commitment on the part of the Congolese authorities. To
that end, the efforts undertaken to reform the security
forces, including adopting the necessary legislative
frameworks, are a step in the right direction and should
be pursued and implemented.

Finally we turn to Mali, where civilian populations
are hostage to the seizure of control in the north by rebel
groups linked to Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. Tens
of thousands of refugees and displaced persons have
been forced to flee the region in order to escape the
violence. The international community cannot stand
idly by in the face of such a situation. The Economic
Community of West African States, the African Union
and the countries of the region are working on a strategy
designed both to restore constitutional order in the
capital and to preserve Mali’s territorial integrity. It is
the Council’s responsibility to support those initiatives
with policy.

In every area of conflict, the situation of journalists
also remains worrying. In the almost six years since the
Council adopted resolution 1738 (2006), 300 journalists
and media professionals have lost their lives on the job,
and more have been threatened, abducted or tortured.
The rate of impunity for those who perpetrate violence
against journalists is estimated to be 90 per cent, which
is unacceptable. France supports UNESCO’s Plan
of Action for the Safety of Journalists. The Security
Council should continue to focus on the issue.

I will conclude by recalling that the protection of
civilians also involves combating impunity for those
responsible for atrocities. I have mentioned this in the
context of Syria. In that regard, the sentences passed on
Charles Taylor, by the Special Court for Sierra Leone,
and Thomas Lubanga, by the International Criminal
Court (ICC), for war crimes and crimes against humanity
are milestones of international criminal justice. The
results of these proceedings demonstrate that no Head
of State, minister or high military official — and this
message must be understood in Syria — can hope to
commit such crimes with complete impunity. We will
not forget. It is now essential that Bosco Ntaganda,
Thomas Lubanga’s co-defendant, be arrested as soon as
possible and brought before the ICC to answer for the
crimes of which he is accused, along with all those for
whom the Court has issued arrest warrants.

Dernière modification : 26/02/2015

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