21 August - Security Council - Maintenance of International Peace and Security - Statement by by Mr Alexis Lamek, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, chargé d’Affaires a.i.
I, too, thank the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for their briefings. I would like to warmly thank Ms. Pillay, since this is the last time that we will have the pleasure of welcoming her as High Commissioner. I would like to pay tribute to her commitment and to the influence that she has had on the Council. We can say that during her term, human rights have become an essential part of our agenda. We can still do better, but that development is irreversible thanks to her.
Conflict prevention is at the heart of the Security Council’s mandate and one of the primary tasks of the United Nations. However, with the increase in the number of crises in several regions of the world, we recall how much we still need to improve our prevention tools. In some cases, the threat was identified but the Council did not act owing to a lack of consensus. Clearly, I am thinking of Syria, where the blocking of early action by the Council and the United Nations allowed the crisis to reach the current level of seriousness. In other cases, the risk was not sufficiently understood owing to a lack of early warning. I am thinking of South Sudan, where the increasing tension and violence did not receive an appropriate response until the outbreak of hostilities.
All the tools established by the United Nations system should be used in order to allow the Security Council to have the best information. At the heart of that provision, as many of us have said, the Secretary-General plays a crucial role, as set out in Article 99 of the Charter of the United Nations. On his own initiative, the Secretary-General may in particular bring to the attention of the Council any situation that may threaten international peace and security. In the same spirit, the regular briefings by the High Commissioner for Human Rights have demonstrated their usefulness. In that regard, I would like to say that we support the proposal made earlier by the High Commissioner for a monthly briefing to the Security Council. That is fully within her mandate and that of the Council. The same applies to briefings by the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide.
From the first signs of the crisis in the Central African Republic, Mr. Adama Dieng warned the Council about the seriousness of the crisis and helped to mobilize the international community. Such interventions should therefore be more frequent and the Council should make more systematic use of the information provided to it. The Council should, for example, make good use of the information gathered by the special procedures of the Human Rights Council. As many of us have said, we should also increase the involvement of external actors, such as regional organizations and civil society, including in the context of Arria Formula meetings.
In conclusion, once the early warning signs have been received, the Council must clearly be able to act. To that end, the Council has additional tools — referral to the International Criminal Court, the imposition of sanctions and mediation, for example, can make it possible to defuse tensions, restore calm and stabilize the situation. The Council’s ability to act along those lines is therefore decisive. To prevent is to act — a concept to which all States Members of the United Nations committed by adopting the concept of the responsibility to protect in 2005. In that spirit, France made a commitment to limit the abusive use of the veto by the permanent members of the Security Council in the case of serious crimes. We again call for the joint approach of the five permanent members. Such an approach, I am glad to say, has been broadly supported by civil society and by many States Members of the Organization. I thank all those that have spoken in favour of such a measure.