Effective Security Council action: put an end to mass atrocities

Preventing and Ending Atrocity Crimes: Tools for More Effective UN Security Council Action - Statement by Mr. Jean-Baptiste LEMOYNE, Secretary of State to the French Minister of European and Foreign Affairs - Side-event at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly - 22 September 2017

"We need a Security Council that is able to take appropriate and efficient actions without being paralyzed by the exercise of veto, when mass atrocities are conducted." Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne

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First of all, let me express our deepest condolences and our full solidarity with our friends of Mexico, since they have been hit by two terrible earthquakes a few days ago. We stand side-by-side with you.

Dear colleagues, dear friends,

France is proud to co-sponsor this event with its partners Liechtenstein and Mexico. It illustrates the commitment we share to ensure that Security Council succeeds in preventing and ending atrocity crimes.

Indeed, as President Macron said very clearly in his speech on Tuesday, we need a Security Council that is able to take appropriate and efficient actions without being paralyzed by the exercise of veto, when mass atrocities are conducted.

This is why France, jointly with Mexico, has been proposing for more than four years the suspension of veto in case of mass atrocities, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and large-scale war crimes through an informal, voluntary and collective agreement by the five permanent members of the Security Council.

To do so there is no need to amend the Charter. This initiative is based on voluntary self-restraint in the use of veto from permanent members States of the Council in case of mass atrocities. It is based on our deep conviction that veto is not a right or a privilege but a responsibility.

And I would like to stress that this initiative relies mainly upon commitment. In that regard, two years ago, France made an unprecedented pledge before the international community that France unilaterally was renouncing the use of the veto against a credible draft resolution aiming to end mass atrocities. Security Council action and its effectiveness require the commitment of the permanent Security Council members on this same path.

Almost one hundred countries support this initiative. This means that more than half of the United Nations Member States have understood its benefits.

And this initiative remains entirely relevant, as nothing guarantees that we won’t be facing new tragedies such as those we’ve been recently facing during long years of war in Syria, and particularly in Aleppo, or the use of chemical weapons towards civilians by the Syrian regime. Many times in 2016, most often at the instigation of France and always with its support, actions to end this tragedy were engaged in the Security Council. Despite the broad support of the Security Council Member States, they were unable to be completed on account of the series of vetoes.

These failed opportunities to address these atrocity crimes send a disastrous three-pronged message: to the attackers, first, who think that they can continue to do irreparable harm; to victims, second, who can no longer do nothing but despair; and to the international community, whose organs show incapacity to take action in this conflict.

I would also like to pay tribute to the ACT code of conduct, which constitutes a very useful initiative, in full complementarity with the French and Mexican proposal.

We are deeply convinced that these ideas gain ground, day after day, month after month, among the Member States, with the support of civil society. This is by reaffirming and reinforcing our commitments to these initiatives that we will increase pressure on those who remain skeptical or opposed to it.

This discussion today shows that France, Mexico –which I would like to thank very much–, Lichtenstein and the ACT group, as well as their dozens of partners, can legitimately consider that they have already succeeded by bringing ground-breaking ideas in the debate on atrocity crimes. We already succeeded to make a breach in the fatalism and pessimism that have shrouded the action of the international community in that regard.

Of course, more work needs to be done to rally more support from the international community. We must not underestimate the difficulties and obstacles so that our initiative can become reality.

But as during the past years, you can count on our full and total commitment to prevent and put an end to mass atrocities.

And I have also a pen if anybody wants to sign again. Thank you very much.

Dernière modification : 22/09/2017

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