UN Charter: the charter of our values and the core of our action [fr]
Debate "Respect for the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations as a key element for the maintenance of international peace and security" - Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 15 February 2016
At the outset, I thank the Venezuelan presidency of the Security Council for having convened today’s debate on respect for the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations as a key element for the maintenance of international peace and security. Following the debate convened by the Uruguayan presidency in January on the protection of civilians (see S/PV.7606), it is useful for 2016 to begin with a review of our fundamental principles. The Charter of the United Nations is first and foremost a charter of our values and the core of our action. It is a legacy to be treasured and remains as relevant as ever.
Our concept note (S/2016/103, annex) invites us to focus on the purposes and principles of the Charter and, more specifically, on its Preamble and Chapter I. On closer reading, we are struck by two challenges that remain a concern for us. First, in the wake of a devastating war, our main priority was to maintain international peace and security. That remains a concern for us 70 years later. As the concept note recalls, our Organization has made considerable progress in that regard thanks in particular to peacekeeping operations, in which uniformed personnel from 123 countries participate. Since 1948, 3,438 of them have lost their lives. We mourn those lives lost and pay special tribute to them. We owe our security to them. In basing its actions on the Charter, the Security Council must not only be able to address crises that threaten international peace and security, but also know when to withdraw once the situation has normalized.
The maintenance of international peace and security has become an increasingly complex challenge because of the rising terrorist threat. Terrorism affects all continents. It undermines our societies and even destabilizes some States. Resolution 2249 (2015) describes Da’esh as an unprecedented global threat to international peace and security. We must act together to combat terrorism with unwavering resolve, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and in line with respect for our human rights and international humanitarian law commitments.
The maintenance of international peace and security is not the only objective set out in the United Nations Charter. The Second World War was freedom’s fight against disdain for the human person. That is why those who drafted the Charter stressed respect for human rights as being inextricably linked to economic and social progress and development. That is the second concern that emerges from any reading of the purposes and principles of the Charter, as well as the Preamble. In those two areas, I believe that we have the strength to unite to confront formidable challenges. I will briefly mention a few of these.
First, humanitarian crises ushered in 2016, beginning with the tragedy in Syria, which is indeed becoming a black hole that is crushing our very values. The communiqué published in Munich by the International Syria Support Group offers a glimmer of hope that all players involved will honour all their commitments tangibly and in good faith. In Syria, as in Yemen and all situations of armed conflict, it is crucial to comply with international humanitarian law. Such compliance is not only a requirement for the peoples of the United Nations, whom the Charter stipulates that we protect, but it is also the best guarantee that the worst will not occur in conflict situations and that peace and reconciliation remain achievable. Now more than ever, it is useful to stress that respect for international humanitarian law is not a concession or a favour, but an obligation.
The second challenge is upholding the rule of law and international law. Such collective standards are recalled in Article 2 of the Charter; they seek to restrict the use of force within the boundaries of collective responsibility. It is imperative that we do our all to settle disputes by peaceful means. At The Hague on 18 April, the International Court of Justice, whose Statute is part and parcel of the Charter, will mark the seventieth anniversary of its first public hearing. I pay tribute to its central role in settling disputes and strengthening international law.
Thirdly, France remains convinced that the best protection against conflict is harmonious development of States and societies, in all its aspects, while upholding human rights. Are we rising to these challenges contained in the purposes and principles of the Charter? I think that 2015 saw two developments that restored confidence in and vigour to multilateralism and our Organization, demonstrating our ability to continue to set collective goals and norms.
The first action was the adoption by the General Assembly on 25 September 2015 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (resolution 70/1) and its 17 Goals to build a sustainable future and eradicate poverty. The second action was the adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement on 12 December 2015, less than one month after the attacks that drowned the city in blood. The Venezuelan Minister for Foreign Affairs, who is presiding over this meeting, helped us by facilitating the drafting of the preamble, which underscores the intrinsic link between combating climate change, fair access to resources and eradicating poverty. Other ministers, ambassadors and facilitators contributed in an inclusive and transparent manner to a universal and ambitious Agreement to preserve our planet. They made it possible for the Paris Agreement to become the first universal environmental agreement that explicitly refers to mandatory respect for human rights.
We will be opening the legally binding Paris Agreement for signature here in New York on 22 April. It is to be hoped that the largest number of countries possible will sign the Agreement on that date, if possible at the level of Head of State and Government, and then ratify it as soon as possible. I pay tribute here to the untiring initiative and support of Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon for our collective efforts in this regard.
These last two outcomes demonstrate that the multilateralism embodied by the United Nations is still alive and overcoming the often violent paradoxes of our time. Inclusive and transparent discussions open to those who mandate pursuant to the Charter — we the peoples — have allowed us to create new collective rules within the Organization. It is now our obligation to implement them. In that context, France has proposed, with the support of more than 90 countries, that the permanent members voluntarily and collectively abstain from the use of the veto when mass atrocities have been perpetrated.
This year of 2016 should be a year of action to find solutions together to the conflicts in Syria, Yemen, the Middle East and Libya; to prevent others, such as in Burundi; to consolidate peace processes, such as in those in Mali and the Central African Republic; and to provide the serious and swift response called for by the most recent provocations of North Korea following a new nuclear test and the launching of a ballistic missile under the pretext of a rocket launch.
I would like to conclude my statement by quoting from the concept note before us, as follows:
“the United Nations remains the best option we have to face, from a perspective of peace and cooperation, the large and complex challenges to be faced by humanity” (S/2016/103, annex, p.2).
This is indeed the basis of France’s commitment.