Africa, Middle East, Europe: a busy schedule for the Council in February [fr]
Monthly review of the work of the Council (February 2017) - Statement by Mr. Alexis Lamek, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 28 February 2017
Under your impetus, Sir, the Security Council’s work in February was marked by very rich activity on all the subjects on its agenda, from Africa to the Middle East and Europe. More sadly, this month was also tragically marked by the sudden loss of the Permanent Representative of Russia, Vitaly Churkin, to whom we again pay tribute.
1/. I would like to refer first to the meetings we have held on crises in Africa.
The consultations of 3 February with the Secretary General upon his return from the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa were a highlight of this month. They provided an opportunity for an informal and in-depth exchange with the Secretary General, who expressed his willingness to make the strengthening of the relationship with the African Union a priority. We share his desire to continue to work better with the African Union and are committed to continuing this effort, both with the proposals to be submitted on the basis of resolution 2320 (2016), as well as with a view to future joint consultations between the Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council.
Several country situations in Africa also caught the attention of the Council this month,
In particular, at the 8 February meeting on Côte d’Ivoire, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Côte d’Ivoire confirmed that the country continues to consolidate peace and stability and to make progress in areas related to national reconciliation and social cohesion. In that context, the transfer of the responsibilities of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire to the Ivorian authorities continues, in accordance with the mission’s withdrawal plan. That meeting also recalled the enduring challenges. As illustrated by the incidents in January and February within the armed forces, more efforts are needed to reform of the security sector. President Ouattara’s commitment is particularly encouraging. In this and other areas, the United Nations country team will continue to support the authorities’ efforts towards stability and development. We hope that the international community will provide financial support for the transition plan presented last fall.
As regards the Central African Republic, we must remain vigilant. President Touadera and his Government, with the support of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and other partners, are pursuing their efforts on behalf of stability and reconcilation, but they face armed groups that refuse to participate in good faith in dialogue and reform, and that pursue criminal activities. That is unacceptable at a time when the Central African Republic has the historic opportunity to move towards long-term stability. In that context, we welcome MINUSCA’s affirmation of its posture and strengthening of its credibility. Armed groups must understand that pursuing criminal activities at the expense of State-building and suffering imposed on civilians will lead them nowhere .
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Council met last week at our initiative to discuss the situation in Kasai and the lack of progress in the implementation of the 31 December political agreement. Testifying to our shared concern, the members of the Security Council adopted a press statement calling on the Congolese Government to immediately conduct a credible and impartial investigation and to bring to justice those responsible for the violence. The statement also calls on the Congolese parties to implement without delay the agreement of 31 December, in particular by appointing a Prime Minister. Two months after the signing of the agreement, it is more necessary than ever to maintain the good political will that made the agreement possible if more insecurity is to be avoided in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The statement also reflects the Council’s willingness to closely monitor developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and — most importantly — to take action against Congolese actors whose statements or conduct would undermine the proper application of the agreement and the organization of elections.
2/. At the initiative of the presidency, the activities of the Council have also been marked by several European dossiers, starting with the ministerial debate on European conflicts, as well as the annual briefing by the chairmanship-in-office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, presented by the Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs and, yesterday, the briefing on the situation in Kosovo.
As members know, France is deeply committed to a resolution of the crisis in Ukraine, which must include re-establishing Ukraine’s control over the entirety of its internationally recognized borders, including in Crimea. Along with our German partners, France remains determined to pursue its efforts under the Normandy format. Every result achieved on the ground matters. In our view, there is today no alternative solution but to support the implementation of the Minsk agreements, which is the only way to make progress towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict. We are also convinced of the central role on the ground of the Special Monitoring Mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, as well as of the need to allow it carry out its mandate without hindrance. The resumption of fighting in recent days and the incidents targeting observers should lead us to step up our engagement on this issue, which the Security Council must continue to follow closely.
3/. I should now like to turn to some issues relating to the Middle East that continue to be of concern to us.
Turning first to Libya, the Council’s consultations on 8 February made it possible to express a solid convergence of views among members of the Council with regard to supporting the efforts of Prime Minister Faiez Mustafa Serraj to make the institutions established under the Skhirat Agreement more effective and representative, with heightened positive support from neighbouring countries and with the full support of United Nations mediation, which remains central. We hope that this positive momentum will be pursued in support of a political solution that is fully inclusive. We welcome the fact that the Secretary-General and the Council are fully engaged to that end. France will not let up in its efforts in that regard.
With regard to the peace process in the Middle East, the two-State solution has never been so threatened. The recent announcements by the Government of Israel concerning the settlement policy — announcing the construction of more than 6,000 new housing units — and the adoption by the Knesset of a law retroactively legalizing previous settlements on Palestinian land give rise to great concern. France hopes that the next report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of resolution 2334 (2016) will make it possible to take stock of the consequences of those announcements to the contiguity of and accessibility to Palestinian territories.
Lastly, on Syria, after a few weeks’ calm following the signing of the Russian-Turkish agreement on the ceasefire, the situation on the ground is once again deteriorating. The regime and the militias that support it are once again bombing civilian facilities, including hospitals, in numerous Syrian locales. Terrorist attacks are also continuing, in particular in Homs three days ago. More than 1,000 people have died since 22 December. We therefore hope that the monitoring mechanism developed in Astana will make it possible to establish full respect for the ceasefire throughout the whole of the territory, including full, unhindered access for humanitarian assistance, especially to the 13 areas still under siege by the regime.
It is against that worrying backdrop that the intra-Syrian negotiations have resumed in Geneva, under the auspices of the United Nations and including representatives of the regime and the opposition. We hope that the Syrian regime will at last accept to engage in good-faith discussions on the parameters for the necessary political transition, in line with resolution 2254 (2015).
Another area of major concern with regard to Syria has to do with the fact that it continues to be a theatre for the repeated use of chemical weapons against civilians. To put an end to that, France and the United Kingdom, along with the United States, have strenuously endeavoured in recent months to bring the Council together around a response to those crimes, and have prepared a draft resolution on which the Council will soon act. We hope that the members of the Security Council, as they did in the case of resolution 2118 (2113), will assume their responsibilities and sanction the perpetrators of those criminal acts in violation of the universal prohibition on the use of chemical weapons.
Allow me to conclude by once again commending you, Mr. President, for the professionalism with which you have led the work of the Council during the month of February. I should also like to highlight the ongoing efforts of the successive presidencies to improve the working methods of the Council, both in terms of effectiveness and transparency. In that regard, we welcome the numerous elements to the press that have been agreed, which have made it possible for everyone to better understand the Council’s deliberations in private consultations. We know we can count on the upcoming British presidency in pursuing that initiative and making the Council as effective a tool as possible in the service of peace and stability.