Conflits in Middle East : a multilateral solution by dialogue [fr]
Statement by Ms. Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, Chargée d’Affaires a.i.
Security Council - 20 August 2019
I thank you, Mr. President, for organizing today’s debate, which allows us to address all the issues related to the Middle East in a spirit of dialogue. Because the conflicts in the region have common roots and are interlinked, this cross-cutting approach is relevant as a complement to the individual issues on the Security Council’s agenda. I welcome the participation of the Secretary of State of the United States, Mr. Pompeo, and I fully endorse the incisive analysis presented by the German Secretary of State, Mr. Michaelis. I also wish to associate myself with the statement to be delivered by the Chargé d’affaires ad interim of the Delegation of the European Union.
I/ First, I would like to come back to the extent of the challenges facing the region.
First, I am thinking of the security challenges resulting from the persistence of the terrorist threat, despite the territorial victory over Da’esh in Syria and Iraq. Beyond the military response, the challenge of violent radicalization will not be solved without the implementation of inclusive political solutions, accompanied by an increased effort for the stabilization of liberated territories and for reconstruction where the political conditions are met. France will also continue to mobilize so as to dry up the sources of terrorist financing, in accordance with resolution 2462 (2019), adopted last March.
The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery to State and non-State actors is a threat to all, to which we must provide collective responses. I would like to reiterate here our vigilance with regard to compliance with the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons, given that both the Syrian regime and Da’esh have used them. France also reaffirms its full commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). There is currently no alternative to prevent nuclear proliferation in Iran. As we have already had occasion to say, we deplore the American withdrawal from the agreement. The remaining participants, including France, remain committed to preserving the JCPOA and continue to comply with their commitments.
We are extremely concerned about Iran’s recent actions in breach of its obligations under the agreement. There is no legal provision authorizing non-compliance with any part of its commitments. That is why we must all work to preserve this agreement and achieve Iran’s return to full compliance with its obligations. France remains resolutely committed to this goal, in collaboration with its partners. Beyond that, we must build together a long-term strategy, which cannot be reduced to a policy of pressure, sanctions and containment. Only a comprehensive approach will make it possible to resolve the various outstanding issues on nuclear energy after 2025-2030, on the continuation of Iran’s ballistic activities and on regional stability.
II/ Secondly, I am thinking of the political challenges facing the region, which is plagued by conflicts that threaten its stability and as a result of which the civilian population is the first to suffer.
We see this in Syria and Yemen, where violations of international humanitarian law are daily occurrences. The intensification of the Syrian and Russian bombardments in Idlib is particularly worrying in this regard. I therefore reiterate France’s call for an immediate cessation of hostilities and the full implementation without delay of the Sochi agreement between Russia and Turkey. France, like Germany, believes that the coordination of the so-called small group and the Astana group would facilitate progress.
In Yemen, rapid, full and unhindered humanitarian access to all populations must be ensured and the Stockholm Agreement implemented. Beyond that, Yemen requires an urgent resumption of political dialogue without preconditions.
In this context, beyond an emergency crisis response, we must work towards pluralistic and inclusive political solutions that guarantee the region’s stability in the long term. The priority must be to prevent new conflicts and to de-escalate them through dialogue. That imperative is particularly important given the current tensions in the Gulf. In that regard, we must work with the States of the region, which are on the front line, with our international partners and within the framework of the multilateral organizations concerned in order to establish an inclusive and balanced dialogue and, in the longer term, confidence-building measures, such as ensuring the freedom of navigation in straits.
We must also promote the development of inclusive political solutions under the auspices of the United Nations. We must work to bolster strong State institutions that respect the rule of law and human rights, and protect freedoms and all components of pluralistic societies in the Middle East. In that regard, I would like to encourage the Iraqi authorities to continue their efforts to rebuild the areas liberated from Da’esh and reconcile all Iraqis. In Syria, only a credible political solution will be able to reduce the destabilizing potential of the crisis and allow for lasting peace.
Women must participate fully in the peace process and in the implementation of those political solutions — it is a moral imperative and an additional opportunity to maintain peace and security.
III/ I would like to reiterate France’s commitment to multilateralism, the role of the United Nations and respect for international law.
Any unilateral decision that deviates from international law significantly weakens the order based on international legality and compromises our collective ability to successfully conclude peace processes.
In that regard, I would like to reiterate that lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians can be achieved only through a just and balanced solution, based on the establishment of two States living side by side in security, within recognized borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of both States, in accordance with internationally agreed parameters and the resolutions of the Council. In that connection, we support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, whose work on behalf of Palestinian refugees is essential for regional stability.
The Council has a critical role to play because it is the main guarantor of international law. Among other things, it must call on all belligerents in conflicts to respect applicable law, in particular international humanitarian law and human rights law, and to provide unanimous support for the efforts of the United Nations, including by supporting the Council and the Special Envoys and Representatives of the Secretary-General.France will continue to defend multilateralism as a way of ensuring and maintaining international peace and security. It is by calling multilateralism into question that today we weaken our security, particularly with regard to international institutions, mechanisms and instruments that combat impunity and non-proliferation.
In conclusion, France has no intention of renouncing its principles or its commitment to responding to the crises in the Middle East, or its desire to see the Council play a greater role in addressing them. The Middle East is a traumatized region, with too many countries devastated and societies ravaged by the scourge of war, from which our important Organization has the primary duty to protect us. The people of the region aspire to live in peace and security. That requires us to learn from the past and, above all, to not repeat our mistakes.
Maintenance of international peace and security. It is urgent that we stop this destructive violence. We can do so if we use the dynamics of competition and the balance of power among nations in order to seek collaborative and just solutions and implement a policy of balanced dialogue so that the countries and the peoples of the region can find points of convergence, define the modalities for sustainable neighbourly relations and opt for non-violent, pluralistic exercise of power. That begins with the adherence to, and implementation of, all the relevant Council resolutions.