UNSC wrap up for the month of December (12/22/2014)
Statement by Mr François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 22 December 2014
I would first like to thank Ambassador Cherif and the Chadian team for the superb work they have done in December. It is still a little early to uncork the champagne because our programme has filled up beyond the symbolic date set by this wrap-up debate, but we know that we are in good hands in dealing with this late-year urgent business.
This monthly debate is obviously a bit unusual, and somewhat moving and special because in a few days we will say farewell to five marvelous colleagues and their teams. I tell them all — Maria, Joon, Sylvie, Gary, Eugène-Richard and Olivier — that I have thoroughly enjoyed working with them, as has my team. Two years of shared living in the Council have forged strong links that will survive the separation. For us, it has been an honour to work with them in a body that is so important to our Organization. We have not always agreed on everything. France, a very active, activist and even overactive penholder, has asked a great deal of them with the texts it has submitted, with sometimes very ambitious deadlines. They have always responded with great enthusiasm and expertise, faithful to their interests and values and to the desire to elevate us collectively. They have taken important initiatives and contributed their ideas, for which we warmly thank them. The time allotted to me here does not allow me to say a word to each of them individually, but we will have many opportunities to do so in the coming days.
It is also a rather special debate because of its date. This being December, it is an opportunity to offer a status update on the past year and to outline prospects for 2015. I shall begin with two topics on which we have made insufficient progress because we have been unable to settle our differences.
That is the case of Syria, obviously. Certainly, the work of eliminating Syria’s military chemical capabilities advanced in 2014, although there remain gray areas concerning the regime’s initial statements and concerning the repeated use of chlorine gas. Certainly, the Council opened new paths to humanitarian assistance by adopting important resolutions upon the initiative of Luxembourg, Australia and Jordan, to which I pay tribute. However, the Council remains divided on the political aspect of the crisis. That is why we must support the ongoing efforts of Staffan de Mistura. We hope that they will bear first fruits in 2015 and reopen a space for a political settlement.
The same can be said regarding Ukraine, where Russia’s refusal to listen to the very clear messages of other Council members and the General Assembly has contributed to tensions and the impasse. Likewise, we are concerned about Russia’s initiatives to incorporate Abkhazia and South Ossetia, efforts that challenge international norms. We hope that in 2015 Russia will engage in real de-escalation efforts, both in terms of rhetoric and in practice; we actively encourage such de-escalation. President Hollande visited Moscow to promote a change in Russia’s approach, and France will continue to seek ways, without undermining its principles, to improve relations between Russia and its neighbours.
As significant as they are, those divisions have not, to date — and I hope also in 2015 — prevented the Council from acting in many other crises, some of which sprung up in 2014. Such is the case regarding terrorism, our mobilization against the terrorist group Daesh and the Ebola outbreak, which has been judged to constitute a threat to international peace and security, as well as the crises in Africa. I will address two examples: the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the Central African Republic, joint action on the part of the African, French, European and United Nations forces have helped to avoid the spectre of genocide, 20 years after the one in Rwanda. That mobilization — which took place on the initiative of France, but with the support of all — is a tribute to the United Nations. That effort must continue in 2015 to help the country get out of the rut that it finds itself in.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, vigorous action on the part of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the Force Commander has served to enhance the image of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo. Crucial deadlines lie ahead in early 2015, including on commitments with regard to military actions against armed groups, starting with the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda, if they do not disarm; the reconfiguration of the United Nations presence, taking into account the strategic review under way; and the role of the United Nations in the light of the presidential elections.
Boko Haram’s crimes can no longer go unpunished. France supports the countries of the region. It encourages regional initiatives to halt that terrorist organization.
The crisis in Gaza this summer was a new and tragic reminder that the status quo is not an option. France believes that the Security Council must play its part in relaunching the peace process and in guiding the parties to a negotiated settlement. France will continue working with all parties in search of a consensus text, with that in mind.
The year 2015 will be marked by two important events that we should not miss: the review of peacekeeping operations and the seventieth anniversary of the United Nations. In last month’s wrap-up session (see S/PV.7325), my delegation spoke about the review of peacekeeping operations, which I will not repeat, except to highlight its timeliness and state that it provides a unique opportunity to improve an instrument that, although it was not foreseen in the Charter, has become the most familiar face of the United Nations after, of course, our Secretary-General. France will make every effort in that regard.
The year 2015 will also mark the seventieth anniversary of our Organization. France intends therefore to promote its initiative with regard to the veto in cases of mass atrocities. It also calls for significant progress on the issue of the expansion of the Security Council.
Finally, I will mention a subject close to the heart of my delegation, namely, the attention focused on human rights issues in the daily work of the Council, and in particular, the situation in North Korea. Violations by the North Korean regime, as reported by the Commission of Inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, constitute, both in their severity and their magnitude, a threat to international peace and security. That situation justifies the full mobilization of the Security Council.
I conclude by again thanking our Chadian presidency, expressing my gratitude to the outgoing five States and rejoicing in soon be able to welcome, around the table, the five newly elected members, to whom I wish good luck and pledge the full cooperation of my country.