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20 May 2008 - Security Council debate on Peacebuilding: Statement by Ms. Rama Yade, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Human Rights

( UN translation)

On behalf of France, I would of course like to join my colleagues in expressing to China and Myanmar our sadness at the humanitarian catastrophes they are currently experiencing.

Turning to our meeting today, I should like to warmly thank Mr. Miliband and the United Kingdom for presiding over the Council today and for having taken the initiative to organize this public debate on post-conflict peacebuilding. Post-conflict peacebuilding is today at the centre of the international community’s concerns, and especially those of the Security Council.

During the crucial post-conflict stage, it behooves the international community to support still-precarious national institutions and enable them to meet the basic needs of the population. Of course the holding of elections is often a crucial and necessary stage for a country’s return to peace, stability and democracy. Let us acknowledge, however, that that is not sufficient in itself. Unfortunately, we have before us some very worrying examples, whether in Timor-Leste or Haiti.

So what answers can we propose to meet those new challenges?

We must work to strengthen the international abilities of the United Nations to act during every stage of a crisis, from the threat of conflict through to reconstruction via peacekeeping and stabilization. That is a vision and a commitment that we share with the United Kingdom, as was reiterated by the President of the Republic and Prime Minister Gordon Brown during the Franco-British summit on 27 March. To that end we wish to act along four axes, without prejudice to the positions of the European Union (EU), which will soon be set out in the statement by Slovenia, with which France is in complete solidarity.

First, we have to strengthen the cohesiveness of the international community’s interventions in postconflict phases by integrating its various dimensions — political, security, humanitarian and development. In Afghanistan, for example, the entire international community is convinced of the need to implement a comprehensive civilian and military strategy. That is the thrust of resolution 1806 (2008), which has entrusted the Secretary-General’s new Special Representative with a mission of coordinating the international community’s effort, which includes these two aspects.

The Peacebuilding Commission is the first effort to improve the cohesiveness of the international community’s actions. We believe that improvement of the Commission’s working methods is desirable to enable it to meet that objective.

Secondly, we must also step up our actions in certain essential aspects of stabilization. Among the major issues — promoting the rule of law, setting up an effective and independent justice system and developing good governance — security sector reform is an indispensable, often crucial stage. United Nations endeavours in this field must be encouraged. The Security Council did so on 12 May (see S/PV.5889 and S/PV.5890). I wish to renew France’s support for the Secretary-General’s work in defining the Organization’s approach to security sector reform.

I also wish to underscore the importance of combating impunity, which is the main condition for a genuine reconciliation, without which no lasting peace or development is possible. France was a sponsor of resolution 1593 (2005), which referred the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court. It was also a French expert who elaborated the main United Nations guidelines for the fight against impunity.

Therefore it is natural for us to support the national processes begun in Burundi, Mauritania and Togo in that sense. We will continue to resolutely support the action of international criminal justice — especially the International Criminal Court, whose rulings must be carried out.

The third axis — one which is close to my heart — is the promotion of and respect for human rights in societies emerging from crisis. There can be no longterm peace, no long-term security or no long-term development if civil and political rights, as well as economic, social and cultural rights, are trampled underfoot. How can a State hope to engage in reconstruction without harnessing the energy, inventiveness and spirit of enterprise of its people, without guaranteeing freedom of expression and assembly, which would enable them to fully express their potential?

How can we hope to rebuild a stable and democratic society if the right to education, whether universal primary education or access to education for women, is not respected? How can one rebuild a society whose productive forces have been decimated by pandemics, or where women are marginalized?

That is why France cherishes the hope of seeing regulated and equitable globalization, and why we fight the scourge of child soldiers. It is why France has set up a forum to follow up the Paris Commitments to facilitate the financing of programmes for the social reinsertion of former child soldiers. We should have a long-term commitment in that regard. It is why it is also indispensable to strengthen the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000), on women and peace and security, in all its aspects. We must do that both to combat sexual violence and the impunity that too many perpetrators of those unbearable acts still enjoy, and to guarantee the role of women in any peace or reconstruction process.

Finally, France intends to back United Nations action in the field of post-conflict stabilization by mobilizing the capacities of the European Union. Generally speaking, we support the development of the potential of regional organizations, including the African Union, in security questions. We especially wish to develop cooperation between the EU and the United Nations in those areas. The EU has a broad set of instruments and expertise that can be made available to the United Nations. That is true of missions of the European Security and Defence Policy in the fields of security sector reform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Guinea-Bissau, the rule of law in Iraq or Georgia, or police in Afghanistan and Bosnia.

The development of partnership between the United Nations and the EU on security issues in the broad sense will thus be a priority of the French presidency of the EU, and we intend to work on that./.

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