Effective peacekeeping implies strengthening African peace operations [fr]
Peacekeeping operations - Statement by Mr François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council – 9 May 2018
I would like first to thank the Polish presidency for having organized this important debate on a topic to which, as the Security Council knows, France is resolutely, consistently and deeply committed. I would also like to thank Mr. Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, and the Force Commanders for their particularly enlightening briefings.
Allow me to thank the Force Commanders for their service, their professionalism and their daily commitment to executing their mandates. I would like also to pay tribute to all their military and civilian personnel, of whose deep commitment all of us here are aware. France would like once again to pay tribute to the memory of all those who have sacrificed their lives in their commitment to serving the United Nations. The Force Commanders should know that their officers, non-commissioned officers, airmen, sailors and soldiers and, in particular, they themselves have our full confidence.
As the Secretary-General recalled at the launch of his Action for Peacekeeping initiative, which France fully supports, peacekeeping is a particularly complex, difficult, sometimes frustrating but crucial and irreplaceable undertaking (see S/PV.8218). While peacekeeping must above all be part of the political goal of peacemaking, our ambition to protect civilians who are victims of conflict, violence and massive violations of human rights also demands that, together, we be more effective and more able to make a real difference on the ground.
Our collective ambition must therefore be that our operations — the United Nations operations — be conducted and implemented in optimal conditions. We must therefore provide Force Commanders with the necessary means and resources to execute their mandate smoothly and effectively. As members knows, France will continue to spare no efforts to that end.
It is therefore necessary that the troops that we entrust to United Nations peacekeeping operations be fully operational and effective. In particular, that requires complete and high-quality predeployment training. France is fully committed to supporting such operations by training nearly 30,000 French-speaking African soldiers each year, who themselves serve as strong troops for peacekeeping operations.
The requirement for fully operational and effective troops also implies better equipment that is adapted to the terrain and the threat, as well as a better operational posture. We fully believe that better operational performance will reduce the number of Blue Helmets killed or injured in operations, which is still far too high. In that regard, we fully support the recommendations of the Santos Cruz report.
Finally, we are convinced that effective peacekeeping entails bolstering relations between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations, in particular by strengthening African peace operations. That is a key priority for us at the highest political level. We would therefore be interested in the opinions of our briefers on that issue.
In conclusion, my question today is addressed to the three Force Commanders and focuses primarily the deployment and use of new technology to better protect their assets and their soldiers, while we are aware that such technology will never replace the central role of the men and women whom they command. Peacekeeping forces are all too often targeted by armed groups with indirect fire or improvised explosive devices, which, as we all know, still cause too many casualties in their ranks and prevent them from carrying out their primary mission of protecting civilians. My questions are therefore very simple and straightforward: How can we help them better? What do they need to better anticipate threats and indirect fire? What early-warning and protection technology do they require?
On behalf of France, I would like to thank the Force Commanders once again for their exemplary commitment, with all our due respect.