Peacekeeping is the backbone of our presidency [fr]
Press conference presenting the UNSC program of work - Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations and President of the Security Council - 1 June 2016
Greetings to all,
I am delighted to see so many of you here today at the start of the Security Council’s French Presidency, a presidency that will be one of this year’s busiest, with an extremely packed work program – perhaps even the busiest of this year’s presidencies. I would like to start by making a few general remarks, before opening the floor to questions. I will begin by sharing the French presidency’s major priorities. There are three such priorities:
1/ The first major concern of our presidency will be peacekeeping.
We want the French presidency to deepen our understanding of what peacekeeping means today, and to help us ponder what it will and must be tomorrow.
As we see on a daily basis, peacekeeping has changed profoundly as threats themselves have evolved. Today they come increasingly from non-state armed groups using terrorist methods. The priorities have consequently shifted as well, with the protection of civilians and human rights now central to peacekeeping missions.
That is why the theme of our ministerial debate on June 10 – and the central focus of our presidency – will be the protection of civilians in peacekeeping operations. It will be chaired by our foreign minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the president of the ICRC, Peter Maurer, and the President of the Central African Republic, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, will all be speaking at this debate.
We hope this important debate will contribute to the momentum of the peacekeeping reforms that got under way last year and will fuel discussions begun at the General Assembly’s high-level thematic debate of May 10 and 11.
The protection of civilians must be vital to any peacekeeping operation, and through this ministerial debate, we hope to underscore the centrality of this goal in developing and implementing the mandates of PKOs. It is therefore a discussion of critical importance and, I hope, of the highest quality.
With respect to this first priority – peacekeeping operations – the month of June will also see the renewal of four PKO mandates: MINUSMA in Mali, UNSMIL in Libya, UNDOF in the Golan, and UNAMID in Darfur. That gives you an idea of how important Africa will be to our presidency.
A special word, with your permission, on the renewal of MINUSMA, in regard to which France is drafting the documents. As events of recent days – including yesterday – have shown, MINUSMA, as we all know, is operating in a particularly difficult environment. That is why it has a robust mandate and very broad missions, particularly concerning the protection of civilians. As we have already heard on many occasions, MINUSMA is a “laboratory for the peacekeeping of tomorrow,” with unprecedented capabilities in terms of intelligence, technology, and equipment. All this reflects the importance of renewing this mandate, particularly in that the political situation in Mali is at a critical juncture, in which the implementation of the peace agreement must not only be encouraged but accelerated.
In this regard, the secretary-general’s report distributed yesterday recommends capacity building and increasing the troop ceiling. We will therefore be working toward this goal and on this basis.
Another date to keep in mind with respect to peacekeeping is the strategic review of MINUSCA, in the CAR – a strategic review that will be included in the report released on June 22 during our presidency, and on the basis of which we will adapt MINUSCA’s mandate to take into account new circumstances in the country. It is quite possible that consultations will be held on the basis of this report, and that they will be added to your work program.
Tomorrow, still in the category of “civilian protection,” which along with peacekeeping is the backbone of our presidency, we will hold an important public debate on the issue of sexual violence in conflicts, with a briefing from the secretary-general and Ms. Bangura. This will coincide with the first International Day Against Sexual Violence in Conflict. And it will also be the subject of an important meeting tomorrow at the Security Council.
Finally, with respect to peacekeeping, on June 6 the Security Council will welcome Ms. Mogherini, who is the European Union High Representative. The discussion will reaffirm the Council’s commitment to cooperation with regional organizations, in line with Chapter 8 of the UN Charter, which is also a key element in peacekeeping reform.
2/ The second priority this month is the Middle East.
All of the crises in the Middle East region are included in our presidency’s agenda: every aspect of the Syrian crisis (political, humanitarian, chemical weapons), Yemen, with a briefing by Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh, and Libya, regarding which Martin Kobler will present the latest status of the discussions in Tripoli. The Security Council will also receive the UN secretary-general’s report on resolution 1701 on Lebanon at the end of June.
With respect to the Middle East, I would like to mention the Middle East peace process which will be a key issue in June.
As you know, France will host in Paris on June 3 – i.e. the day after tomorrow – a major ministerial conference that will bring together most of the key actors involved in this issue. Thirty or so ministers are expected to attend the conference, representing the P5, the Quartet, the Arab League and international partners involved in promoting the peace process, notably European and Arab partners. All or almost all of them will be represented at the ministerial level so it will once again be an excellent conference. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will also attend the meeting, reflecting the UN’s commitment.
I know that you understand our approach with respect to the initiative on the peace process. It is based on one simple fact: the current status quo is a step backwards. This is France’s firm belief. The current status quo whereby the peace process is at a standstill, and mutual distrust is continuing to grow, is truly a step backwards. A step backwards because, day after day, settlement activity is expanding, violence is spreading, public opinion and the parties are becoming more extreme, and as a result, the prospect of the two-state solution becoming a reality is fading. It is fading on the ground; it is fading in people’s hearts and minds.
France believes that we do not have the right to give up. We cannot stand idly by and hope for a miracle. In short, this conference will help us to pursue three major goals:
a/ The first is to strongly reaffirm that the two-state solution is the only viable political perspective. The first goal of this conference is to ensure unanimous support for this goal.
b/ The second goal is to draw up, together with the international community, a package of positive incentives for the parties aimed at relaunching the negotiations. This package will also take into account the discussions underway on the Arab peace initiative which is a key underlying factor in any current discussions on reviving the political process.
c/ The third goal is to establish a detailed timetable with clear goals with a view toward convening an international conference with the parties during the second half of 2016, i.e. by the end of the year.
In this context, the Quartet’s report is due to be published very soon. This long-awaited report will contribute to this momentum and we will have the opportunity to examine the Quartet’s report, the results of the conference in Paris, and determine the way forward during the discussions led by Nikolay Mladenov, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, on June 14.
3/ A final component of the French presidency, and something important to keep in mind, is the elections that will be held in June. There are a number of important dates this month: the election of the president of the General Assembly on June 13, the election of new Security Council member states on June 28, and ongoing discussions on the designation of the future secretary-general.
On this last point, we are planning to hold informal meetings with any candidates for the position of secretary-general who request them. Two candidates, Susanna Malcorra and Miroslav Lajcak, will also meet with member states at a special session of the General Assembly organized by the Assembly president on June 7. We have a very positive view of the work that has been done by the UN General Assembly and the first informal meetings that have taken place, and the Security Council, under the French presidency, will take care to work and move forward in the same spirit of professionalism. That is the direction we want to take.