9 October 2014 - Security Council - United Nations peacekeeping operations - Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
I thank the Military Adviser for Peacekeeping Operations, Lieutenant General Maqsood Ahmed, and the Force Commanders of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force for their briefings. I would like to make two points today.
First, our regular exchanges on peacekeeping are important because peacekeeping, which is at the heart of the Charter of the United Nations, now represents a substantial and symbolic part of the work of the United Nations. Peacekeeping touches upon questions of war and peace and life and death, and therefore triggers our moral and political responsibility.
The number of Blue Helmets and the budgets for peacekeeping operations have been multiplied by 10 in 10 years. The budget today amounts to $8 billion, nearly four times the general budget. It is important to keep those facts in mind.
Many only know the United Nations through the Blue Helmets, who have become symbols of the Organization. France pays tribute to their courage and dedication that sometimes comes at the price of blood, as unfortunately recently occurred in Mali, where soldiers from Chad, the Niger and Senegal were killed.
Starting as an ad hoc concept to serve the purposes of the Charter, peacekeeping operations have gradually emerged as an invaluable tool, and our expectations of them have not stopped growing. They have a vital function, focused or refocused, as in South Sudan recently, on protecting civilians. Their mandates are more comprehensive and complex, extending support to political transitions and stabilization, as in Mali, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic. In parallel, deployment occurs in intra-State conflicts or non-stabilized environments where political processes are disturbed by non-State actors, which increases the difficulty of their work, as the briefers have explained.
Therefore — this is my second point — we have a duty to ensure that peacekeeping operations have the resources they need to achieve success and that they use them with the utmost professionalism with a view to efficiency. That implies several requirements. First, we must meet the needs in terms of troops and equipment, especially through the multiplier effect. I am thinking in particular of air assets, but also medical support and engineering units, which are often lacking.
We need contingents that are immediately available, responsive, well equipped, well trained and capable of taking initiative. We encourage Member States that have such capabilities to close those gaps, as Mexico is preparing to do following its recent decision to re-engage in the uniformed components of peacekeeping operations, or Angola, which just made offers to serve to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
A second requirement is to strengthen the logistical and operational support in missions that need it. French forces are working in that direction in Mali and the Central African Republic. The European Union plays its role in Mali and in the Central African Republic, and by providing decisive financial support to the African Union Military Observer Mission in Somalia. But the functioning of those Missions emphasizes the progress still needed, including in terms of mission support. No doubt the Force Commanders will be able to give us additional, particularly valuable comments on that point.
The third requirement is to adapt the peacekeeping operations procedures to their mandates, so that they can better do what we ask them. That is even more crucial in the least stabilized contexts, where the interests of efficiency must be combined with those of force protection. The balance between the protection of Blue Helmets and their efficiency is also particularly important in the context of the protection of civilians, as General Dos Santos Cruz clearly explained.
We are convinced that inaction is not an option, as it does not respond to any concerns because it leaves complete freedom of action to those who want to derail the peace process and who attack civilians and peacekeeping soldiers. A dynamic attitude and proactive is the best way to meet the dual objective of protecting civilians and protecting military personnel. The Force Commanders of MONUSCO and MINUSMA will be able to give us some useful examples in that connection.
In addition to this change in attitude and methods of operation, and this is our fourth requirement, we need to allow peacekeeping operations to incorporate modern technology. This is a very promising track. By increasing the capacity for observation, information-processing and the protection of peacekeepers, technology makes it easier to understand the environment, to anticipate and act ahead of spikes of violence and thus protect itself and populations. Here I would give the example of the observation drones used by МONUSCO. I would be very grateful to the Commander of MONUSCO if he would share with us his experience in this area; possibly the other Force Commanders could share with us their views on the technological contributions from which their forces could benefit.
The fifth requirement is to foster inter-mission cooperation and thereby increase synergies. This is another promising area of action; a good example is the cooperation between the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire and the United Nations Mission in Liberia in West Africa. This cooperation should not be limited to equipment issues, but should also include exchange of information, planning and the sharing of best practices. I would be grateful if the briefers could comment on this.
Lastly, the human aspect must never be neglected. Missions must be adapted to the local context and be capable of building close ties with the people they are meant to protect. The use of French should be fully taken into account, and I wish to recall that we need to have more French speakers in peacekeeping operations deployed in French-speaking areas at all levels, from rank-and-file soldiers to Special Representative of the Secretary-General, as well as in New York. This is a powerful factor in operational efficiency.
I should like to commend the unwavering commitment of Mr. Hervé Ladsous, at the head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, and of his team in meeting all these challenges. With their impetus, peacekeeping has become even more professional and modernized, through, inter alia, the adoption of operational standards, the creation of the post of director of partnerships in charge of the mission of inspection of peacekeeping operations, and the provision of modern technology.
The peacekeeping review that the Secretary-General has decided to launch will be decisive in defining the profile of a peacekeeping mission that is more reactive and more dynamic in order to meet new challenges. France will contribute to this actively and will remain mobilized on this issue, in keeping with the 2009 New Horizon report, which made it possible to continue the process of reflection on policy and doctrine in this area. The report was a joint effort on the part of France and the United Kingdom.
I would like to once again reiterate the strong commitment of France to peacekeeping, to which my country contributes fully in the form of the Blue Helmets, who are serving, for instance, in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, in their national capacity or under the European flag in support of peacekeeping operations such as those in Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and the Central African Republic. Today 7,800 French soldiers are involved in peacekeeping operations, including nearly 1,000 who are serving directly in the United Nations and 6,000 under a United Nations mandate. Since January 2013, 13 of our countrymen have paid the ultimate price, and I would like to pay tribute to their memory and to that of all their Blue Helmet comrades who have fallen on the field of glory in the name of the ideals of the United Nations.