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25 April 2012 - Security Council - Securing borders against illicit cross-border trafficking and movement - Statement by M. Martin Briens, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

(UN translation)

I thank you, Madam President, for having organized this debate, which provides the Council with the opportunity to examine how the United Nations system can better help States to secure their borders against illicit trafficking and flows. I associate myself with the statement to be made shortly by the head of the European Union delegation. Illicit cross-border trafficking and flows encompass various phenomena. Some of them certainly constitute direct threats to international peace and security, for example, the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction-related goods and technologies related to. Others can indirectly harm regional and international stability and security. I am thinking, for example, of a phenomenon that we see in a number of crises that the Council has been called on to address.

Money stemming from the trafficking of natural resources fuels the illicit trade in weapons, which, in turn, increases regional instability. When the consequences of such cross-border flows and trafficking threaten international peace and security, the Council has the responsibility to address those issues. The Council has already fully taken into account that growing threat in a number of specific areas, such as the fight against terrorism with resolution 1373 (2001) and the fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the prevention of terrorism by means of weapons of mass destruction with resolution 1540 (2004) and subsequent resolutions. That is also a key element in the effectiveness of sanctions decided by the Council.

Moreover, in February 2010, the Council, in adopting presidential statement S/PRST/2012/4, acknowledged the increasing danger posed by crossborder threats. At last, it is increasingly taking note of the regional dimension, as it did on West Africa and the Sahel in February by noting the threat to international peace and security posed by transnational organized crime (see S/PV.6717).

The approach that we are taking today is to consider the issue of illicit trafficking and flows from the perspective of borders, which are crossing points for such trafficking. Here, it is not a matter of having a theoretical debate on the various phenomena encompassed by the notion of illicit trafficking and flows, but rather of trying to provide concrete responses on the ground.

States have the key responsibility for border control. However, we know that criminal networks often adapt more rapidly than State structures to the opportunities provided by globalization. States sometimes do not have the necessary capacities to effectively monitor their borders and to combat illicit trafficking; hence, the importance of responding through international cooperation and the need for States to have the necessary capacities in order to be able to implement their international obligations with regard to border control. In that regard, efforts to better help those States requesting assistance in that area can be made.

In order to address such illicit flows, many strategies and mechanisms to assist States that need such assistance are already in place. We commend ongoing projects that make it possible to tackle such flows at the regional level. As an example, I would like to cite the Economic Community of West African States Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons. Strengthening cooperation among States is important; hence, France’s initiative in 2011 — in the context of its presidency of the Group of Eight — to address the fight against cross-border cocaine trafficking.

Moreover, I would like to recall that, within the European Union, mechanisms exist to combat threats related to smuggling and the trafficking of goods and persons. As the Secretary-General mentioned, there are many United Nations structures, be they institutions, programmes or bodies of the Security Council, currently cooperating with States to help them to counter such phenomena. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, in particular, plays a key role in such issues, especially within the context of its regional programme for West Africa.

The tasks undertaken by the various United Nations structures often have much in common, such as assessing the position of States and providing technical assistance, and may overlap. Even when they focus on specific areas, they can provide effective external assistance. For example, when a State benefits from a technical assistance programme to counter proliferation and to combat terrorism relating to weapons of mass destruction under the 1540 Committee, or when it strengthens export control mechanisms or its customs system for that purpose, a State more generally further secures its borders, which helps it to further counter other kinds of trafficking.

Thus, there are many areas for possible synergies. International peace and security can only benefit from more efforts to prevent illicit trafficking and flows. There are many international and regional initiatives. It therefore seems particularly timely that the Council is today requesting the United Nations to assess its work on State support in that regard. In our view, such an assessment should be in the form of specific recommendations aimed at increasing consistency and effectiveness, while drawing the greatest benefit from the initiatives of other international and regional organizations that play a role in that area.



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