To be a permanent member means making the commitment to peace (02/23/2015) [fr]
Maintenance of international peace and security : Reflect on history, reaffirm the strong commitment to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations - Statement by Mr François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 23 February 2015
I would like to thank the Chinese presidency for organizing a debate on a topic that is dear to us and which seeks to engage all our energy. Your presence helps us in that respect, Mr. Minister, and while the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Laurent Fabius, was not able to attend this debate, I know he welcomes your initiative, which is a very useful one in the lead-up to the seventieth anniversary of the United Nations.
Some 70 years ago, at the end of the Second World War, the San Francisco Conference ended with the enthusiastic adoption and signing of the Charter. That moment was celebrated as a key moment in history. When we read that text together, let us not forget that even its words are imbued with the trauma of the war and its atrocities. The United Nations is determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, as stated in the preamble to the Charter, and its primary goal, as reaffirmed in Article 1, is the maintenance peace and international security.
I wish to respond to the invitation of the Chinese presidency and to state here, as President Hollande did on 25 September 2012, that to be a permanent member of the Council means “making the commitment to take action to promote peace in the world” (A/67/PV.6, p. 44).
The maintenance of international peace and security is not the only goal affirmed by the Charter of the United Nations. Its Article 1 also sets out two essential pillars of the Organization, namely, the development of friendly relations between peoples and international cooperation in solving international problems by promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all.
France identifies strongly itself with these values, and I should like to recall that on 31 January 1964, as we were forging bilateral relations between France and China, General de Gaulle stated that, most importantly, it is possible that in the context of the immensity of global processes, it is by promoting relations among peoples that we will serve the cause of humankind, that is to say, the cause of wisdom, progress and peace.
On its path towards lasting peace, the international community bases itself on points of reference that include its values, one Organization and respect for the principles of international law.
The note submitted by the Chinese presidency (S/2015/87, annex) rightly stresses the need for respect for international law and the importance of the rule of law. These collective standards are aimed at constraining force in accordance with the principles set out in Article 2 of the Charter. It is essential to do everything possible to settle disputes by peaceful means, and France underlines in this regard the key role of the International Court of Justice in the strengthening of the international rule of law and recognizes the contribution it has made through its many advisory opinions. Through its work, it helps us understand that the rule of law cannot be applied in a vacuum but must be interpreted in the light of the realities of the international community in order to remain fruitful.
It is this living practice that has allowed the Charter to remain relevant. It shows that the United Nations has been able to adapt to changes throughout the world that have given rise to new challenges and new crises. An example here is the indispensable tool of peacekeeping operations, initially not provided for by the Charter. However, now we have more than 120,000 personnel members, as part of 16 operations, working daily for the maintenance of peace. France fully contributes to this effort, with 7,800 French soldiers engaged in peacekeeping operations. Our meeting today is also an opportunity to pay tribute to them and to restate our concerns regarding their security in the performance of their duties.
Increasingly, regional organizations, whose contributions the Charter anticipated in its Chapter VIII, play a pivotal role in collective security. France, as a member of the European Union, recognizes their value and welcomes the decisive role played by the African Union in crisis resolution in Africa.
The maintenance of international peace and security has become a more complex undertaking in increasingly fragmented and unequal societies, at a time when globalization allows terrorism to claim more victims and inflict more suffering, ignoring borders and destabilizing entire States. Upon the seventieth anniversary, we will not be able to forget the Syrian tragedy and its more than 220,000 victims, whose memory cries out for justice, and many other mass atrocities.
We are facing unprecedented challenges. Mass crimes offend the global conscience and the memory of the sentiments that inspired the drafting of the Charter. It is when our responsibility to protect civilians fails that we the peoples of the United Nations are tested. It is in the face of such tragic failures in terms of collective security that France emphasizes the role of the International Criminal Court in ensuring that the victims of mass atrocities, not satisfied solely with confronting their past, can help us to build a better future.
But France also wishes to help prevent such tragedies. Without waiting for Charter reform, France proposed a restriction on the use of the veto in the Security Council in case of mass atrocities, which would represent a major step. It is our duty to demonstrate the extent to which a permanent seat in the Council is a responsibility rather than a privilege or a manifestation of some longing for status.
As set out in Article 24 of the Charter, the Security Council, in discharging its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, must act in conformity with the purposes and principles of the United Nations. Be that as it may, France remains convinced that the best possible protection against conflicts will remain economic and harmonious development and respect for human rights. The Council itself has repeatedly recognized that creating the most favourable conditions possible in all areas of the international arena in itself ensures and contributes to the maintenance of international peace.
Let us not forget that, despite all the tragic events that have taken place, considerable progress has been achieved in the areas of education and health, for example. Nor can we forget the efforts undertaken under the auspices of the United Nations to protect our planet. The year 2015 will be marked by a major event to be held in Paris at the initiative of France: the twenty-first Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is to lead to an ambitious global agreement to protect our climate. Let us also recall the universal acceptance of the Geneva Conventions last year to mark their 150th anniversary, as they create the conditions for peace for succeeding generations.
Values and respect for the rule of law — here it behoves me to speak of our Organization, which has been able to reform itself in the past. France actively backs Security Council reform, as recent crises have made more pressing the need to make the Organization more effective and more representative of global balances, so as to fully discharge its mission of the maintenance of international peace and security.
Recent crises have shown just how essential the United Nations and its founding text remain. I thank you, Mr. President, for having allowed us to reaffirm our common commitment at a time when our Organization is faced with challenges that only the cooperation that you have called for can address.