France remains committed to efforts to improve peacekeeping operations [fr]
Open debate on peacekeeping operations - Statement by Mr Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Minister of State attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs - Security Council - 28 March 2018
I would like first to thank you, Mr. President, for organizing today’s debate. I believe that your contribution and those of the Secretary-General, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the Director of Groupe de recherche, d’étude et de formation femme-action serve as an effective guide for us on the path of the reforms that have been boldly launched.
France would like to pay heartfelt tribute to Peter, a Netherlander in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA); Aïchatou, a Nigerian, also in MINUSMA; Ratih, an Indonesian in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon; and Luis, a Chilean in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti. They are among the 100,000 soldiers, police and civilians who risk their lives every day in peacekeeping operations, protecting tens of millions of people around the world. Above all, their Blue Helmets are more than ever an embodiment of the United Nations. They are a beacon of hope, as Mr. Bakayoko saw for himself. I would also like to pay tribute to the memory of the approximately 3,700 peacekeepers who have died in the line of duty, including 113 of my compatriots. Their sacrifice in the service of peace will never be forgotten. And if I may, Mr. President, at a time when the entire French nation is applauding the heroism of Lieutenant Colonel Beltrame, I would like to include him in my tribute to those who give their lives so that others may live and survive.
Member States will understand why France will always remain committed to efforts to improve peacekeeping operations with steadfast resolve and conviction. Because those operations are inseparable from the founding principles of the United Nations, it is our collective credibility that is at stake. These reform efforts should strengthen the effectiveness of peacekeeping. The aim is of course to help to settle conflicts by political means in increasingly complex contexts, to protect civilians who are victims of conflict, violence and massive violations of human rights and, in short, to build collective action with Members of the United Nations in the service of peace and security.
As the Secretary-General emphasized, and I commend his vision and determination, that is a complex and difficult but crucial undertaking. If we consider the examples of Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia and Timor-Leste, it can succeed. However, at times it faces new political and security challenges in tackling asymmetrical threats. Needless to say, in the light of that, we must reflect and, above all, act. Peacekeeping operations are our common good. That is why, together with all those present, we would like to inspire a new ambition.
In order to achieve that, I believe that we must first reaffirm the cardinal principle that peacekeeping is a tool for achieving the political goal of peace. Peacekeeping operations must be part of that political horizon. The local, regional and multilateral stakeholders involved frequently lead those political processes, and peacekeeping operations must contribute actively to that in full coordination with them. I believe that coordination is key and should also be applied to relations among the various entities present in the field so that the link between security and development is not merely a concept for research efforts but also truly effective on the ground.
If we are to ensure the success of peacekeeping operations, we have a twofold task — better prioritizing and sequencing for mandates so as to prevent what the Secretary-General called a Christmas tree. That is particularly important for the multidimensional mandates that represent the connection to peacebuilding. Both the short- and long-term objectives must be well understood by all components of the mission, as well as by its external partners. The mandates must then be converted into concepts of operation and rules of engagement, implemented by all Blue Helmets as part of the principles of peacekeeping.
That goal of more effective peacekeeping clearly requires operations conducted in optimal conditions. The Netherlands presidency has rightly called on us to address the issues of establishing the criteria for success, the measurement of progress and performance evaluations. That involves all of us — the members of the Security Council, the Secretariat, force contributors, host countries and regional organizations. France is committed to that as a troop-contributor, the second-highest in Europe and among the permanent members of the Security Council. This is not about giving good and bad marks but about improving the overall level of peacekeeping. The development of evaluation, analysis and action tools and strategic reviews conducted by the Secretariat are of course part of that change. Troop- and police-contributing countries should also participate fully in that effort. I believe that better performance will be achieved once there is full respect for the procedures and the concept of operations of missions. That will make it possible to reduce the number of peacekeepers killed or injured in operations, which is still too high.
As noted by my colleague, the Brahimi report (S/2000/809), the report of the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (see S/2015/446) and the Cruz report have made relevant and operational recommendations to improve the overall performance of peacekeeping. The time for action is now. Today’s meeting marks an important moment in the process launched by the Secretary-General. We believe that there are three key components to improving performance.
First is training — before, during and after deployment, in the basic military operational areas as well as linguistically. Without interaction with local populations, peacekeepers will not be fully effective. That was the issue discussed at a ministerial conference held in Paris in late 2016 on peacekeeping in a francophone environment. France has made a great contribution in that regard. We train almost 30,000 French-speaking African soldiers a year, who provide major contingents to peacekeeping operations.
We intend to further develop our cooperation with the troop contributors and the Secretariat. We intend to increase our involvement in teaching French in military and police academies, particularly in Africa, South America and Asia. We also seek to promote the widest dissemination of doctrinal concepts drafted by the Secretariat to French-speaking contributing countries and thereby help them to strengthen their participation in peacekeeping operations by acquiring the necessary operational skills, which will promote increasingly effective and successful redeployment certification.
The second key to performance is better force generation, given the need to enhance mobility and force projection and, as has been said, to increase the presence of women in operations.
Thirdly, I believe that peacekeeping operations must enjoy the resources necessary to implement all the components of their mandates and use them in the best possible way. As the fifth-largest financial contributor to the peacekeeping budget, France is contributing fully. France systematically consults the troop-contributing countries ahead of the renewal of a mandate for which it is responsible. We are committed to doing this even more regularly throughout the year.
The exemplary nature of peacekeeping agents is critical for us. France fully supports the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual abuse. Preventing and suppressing sexual violence is essential. Any violation of the law must be firmly punished. Zero tolerance must extend to all behaviours that could hinder the smooth running of the mission.
Our ambition for peacekeeping must be fully reflected in the United Nations relations with regional organizations, which play a growing role in the promotion of peace and international security. The Charter of the United Nations is far-sighted in providing for it in Chapter VIII.
The European Union plays an indispensable role, as do, of course, the African Union and the subregional organizations of the continent. Their operations can play a role that is perfectly complementary to those of the United Nations, as eloquently noted by the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission. That can been seen with the Joint Force of the Group of Five for the Sahel, whose full operationalization should facilitate the implementation of the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali.
France welcomes and fully supports the development of such operations, which must have established planning and accountability systems, as well as predictable and sustainable funding mechanisms. France will continue to contribute to efforts in this direction. At the right the time, and as the President of the Republic said in Ouagadougou, within the Security Council France will support the African Union initiative to ensure independent and predictable financing for African peace operations.
This year marks the centenary of the end of the First World War. This conjuncture reminds us of our collective responsibility not to let history repeat itself again and again. That is why France is fully committed to ensuring that multilateralism, and in particular the United Nations, can meet today’s challenges. Peacekeeping is the manifestation of that ambition. It will naturally be at the heart of the Paris Peace Forum on 11 November, which will fully support the United Nations efforts to attenuate warfare. It will be the first iteration of an annual meeting involving States, international organizations and civil society to advance global governance by making it ever more effective and adapted to contemporary global challenges.
We who sit comfortably in this Chamber today owe that to populations held hostage by conflict. We owe it to our peoples, who demand action rather than resignation. We owe it to Aïchatou, Peter, Ratih and Luis, who as I speak are the very embodiment of the United Nations and of hope on the ground.