I would like to start by thanking Ambassadeur Gasana and his entire team for their work this month. This second Rwandan presidency, which has been just as professional as the first, has unfortunately been marked by the tragedies in Ukraine and the Middle East. In a heated climate, Sir, you have worked with a cool head day and night, seven days a week. For that we thank you.
I also wish to congratulate you on having made this month’s wrap-up session a public meeting. I am sure that future Presidents will be eager to follow your example.
Fighting has continued in Ukraine after the separatists have refused to lay down their arms. Even worse, signs of outside support for the separatists have multiplied, especially with respect to the transfer of long-range weapons. On the one hand, Russia claims to be working for peace, yet on the other it continues to arm and support thugs. That is the context in which the European Union has decided to significantly strengthen its sanctions. The double game must cease, because when one arms bandits, anything can happen.
Unfortunately, the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17 on 17 July is tragic proof of that. The Council held an emergency meeting the next day to express its horror and outrage in the face of the disaster (see S/PV.7219). We wish once again to offer our deepest solidarity to the many countries that lost citizens in the catastrophe.
The Council unanimously adopted resolution 2166 (2014), confirming Ukraine’s responsibility to conduct the investigation and demanding that the Secretary-General file periodic reports. The presence of three foreign ministers at the meeting was evidence that the public attaches great importance to full light being shed on the matter. Due to the lack of security, the investigators have not yet been able to begin their mission. It is urgent to establish the conditions necessary for the international mission to conduct its investigation. That will require the parties to respect a ceasefire. The victims must receive a dignified burial. The investigation must be able to proceed unhindered. Justice must be done.
The tragedy of the crisis in Gaza demands that we stand firm. The catastrophic human toll, with more than 1,200 victims on the Palestinian side, most of them civilians, requires us to increase pressure on the parties. As French Minister of Foreign Affairs Fabius remarked on the occasion of the meeting in Paris on 26 July, the urgency of the situation demands an immediate, unconditional and renewable humanitarian ceasefire that will provide relief to the civilian population and delivery of the assistance they require.
That can be only a first step. Our common goal must be to obtain, as quickly as possible, a lasting, negotiated ceasefire that meets the legitimate Israeli security needs and the legitimate Palestinian needs for the protection of civilians, free access and socioeconomic reconstruction. The Palestinian Authority must be brought in to help achieve that goal, on the basis of the Egyptian initiative. The crisis underscores yet again the urgency of restoring a political outlook to both Palestinians and Israelis. Only credible negotiations between the parties can lead to the signing of a just, definitive agreement establishing two democratic States living side by side in peace and security within recognized borders.
Despite all the efforts made so far, armed force continues to prevail over political dialogue in Syria. The Syrian regime bears overwhelming responsibility in that regard. It has never sought anything but a military victory. It has refused to take part in negotiations, preferring to continue laying siege, bombarding and torturing all those who have resisted it or those who — peacefully at the outset — demanded reforms. The independent international commission of inquiry on Syria led by Mr. Pinheiro made that clear again on Friday. The regime has chosen instead to encourage the efforts of terrorist groups, to which it is now losing control and that are threatening the stability of the entire region. Given that situation, the moderate opposition continues alone to fight two forms of extremism; it is battling the regime on the one hand and the terrorists on the other. Only by giving it additional support will we be able to promote the emergence of a free and democratic Syria that is respectful of all its citizens.
Civilians are bearing the brunt of the current situation. Humanitarian aid must reach them without any impediment, without political considerations and by the most direct routes, as required by resolutions 2139 (2014) and 2165 (2014). But it is also important to relaunch a process aimed at finding a way out of the crisis, with a view to reaching a political transition solution that is based on the Geneva communiqué. We welcome in that regard the appointment of Staffan de Mistura as the Special Envoy for the Syrian Arab Republic, succeeding Mr. Brahimi, whom we thank for his efforts. France is deeply concerned by the advance of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which poses a threat to the integrity of the country and the stability of the entire region. We have strongly condemned the atrocities committed by ISIL against ethnic and religious minorities and all those who do not adhere to its barbarous ideology, as well as the ultimatum given the Christians in Mosul. This is yet another illustration of the true nature of that terrorist organization. The Council, on the initiative of France, made itself clear on this issue. What ISIL has undertaken to eradicate in Iraq is a centuries-old tradition.
The Council usefully recalled the obligations of States in the fight against the financing of terrorism and expressed its concern about access to oil zones and refineries by terrorist groups that are under the Al-Qaida sanctions regime, in particular ISIL and the al-Nusra Front.
France supports the Iraqi State in this fight against terrorism and believes that the only lasting solution to the crisis is a political one. Only the formation of a national unity Government on the basis of an agreement involving all communities will allow for a political solution to be reached.
Finally, in the context of this overview of the North Africa and the Middle East region, I would cite Libya as another example of a deteriorating security situation and continued political confusion. We have asked all of our nationals to leave Libya and have temporarily closed our embassy. After the elections, our priority must be to help the Libyans to relaunch a political process. They must unite around a common political project, through an inclusive process of national reconciliation. Today violence threatens this institutional perspective, and we must therefore help the Libyans reach a ceasefire as quickly as possible.
To that end, the Libyans require greater support from the international community. We must act in a consistent and coordinated manner, and the United Nations has a key role to play in this process. It is of paramount importance that it continue its involvement in Libya and bring together all the efforts of the international community. The scant good news this month comes, for once, from Africa, and this must be stressed.
First, Mali saw the consensus-based adoption in Algiers of the road map on inter-Malian negotiations. That is an encouraging and long-awaited step which the Council welcomed and which must be continued.
Good news comes also from the Central African Republic, with the holding of the reconciliation forum from 21 to 23 July. That, along with the increase in the strength of and the preparations for the United Nations force, will make it possible to envisage a peaceful transition in that country.
I would conclude by issuing a warning on South Sudan. For more than six months now, the Security Council has been stepping up its efforts to help resolve the crisis there, by doubling the size of the Mission last December, under the French presidency of the Council; building its capacity; revising its mandate; supporting the mediation of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development; and integrating the troops of the countries of the region to endeavour to enforce respect of the ceasefire. Unfortunately, experience has shown that the parties do not want peace. We heard Ms. Amos sound the alarm for the people of South Sudan; indeed, a million people have been displaced, there are hundreds of thousands of refugees, and now famine looms large.
The Mission’s mandate was therefore tightened as concerns the protection of civilians, human rights and the facilitating of access to humanitarian aid. But we must continue to reflect together on the best way for the Security Council to have an impact on the disastrous situation in the country and to save lives. We must urgently devise concrete humanitarian initiatives and take action against those who make civilians pay such a high price for their unquenchable thirst for power and riches.
I thank you once again, Mr. President, for your work this month, and I wish the United Kingdom good luck.