It’s in challenging environments that peace operations are the most relevant
Peacekeeping - Intervention by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - International Peace Institute - 11 February 2016
Let me start by thanking the International Peace Institute and the French Ministry of Defense, its Department for International Relations and Strategy in particular, for organizing this, I believe, very timely and important roundtable. Discussions, as was said before, have been very productive and lively, and even frank, which is good. I am confident these exchanges contribute to a shared understanding on this important topic, and also operational conclusions as to how to deliver better results.
Let me focus these brief wrap-up remarks on 2 main principles, and a few operational conclusions:
Principle #1: the case for an appropriate division of labor.
I will not develop this point, but I just wanted to make 2 simple ideas clear, under everybody’s watch, because they have been discussed during this workshop:
1) The UN is not the relevant actor to conduct counter-terrorism missions. There are other more relevant actors who can tackle this threat: we want to pay tribute to AMISOM in Somalia, and the Regional Force against Boko-Haram in the Lake Chad region. The mandate of France’s operation Barkhane, besides supporting MINUSMA, is to fight terrorist groups in the Sahel. I think that it is one important thing.
2) Of course, this does not mean that the UN is irrelevant in challenging environments. Quite the opposite actually: it is in challenging environments that peace operations are the most relevant. The strategic context has evolved. Protecting civilians and supporting political processes are the core of modern peacekeeping. Protecting civilians and supporting political processes: that’s what we are working on day after day at the Security Council.
Principle #2: “positive thinking” on UN deployment in challenging environments.
Here again, 2 brief ideas:
1) Without conducting CT operations, the UN is already deployed in many challenging environments. MINUSMA in Mali; but also UNDOF at the border of Syria; in Somalia, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan… many places that Jeff Feltman recalled this morning. Who would claim that deployments in Somalia, Libya or between Israel and Syria are less challenging than deployments in Mali for example?
2) Secondly, a strong point: deploying in challenging environments is contributing to a political process. In all these situations, the UN either contributes to stabilizing the country, reaching political agreements between all stakeholders, implementing peace-building programs, such as Security sector reform or disarmament of armed groups, or all of the above at the same time. Who would be able to carry out these vital tasks if not the UN quite frankly? And I think we are convinced of that and we need to spread the word to make sure that everybody outside of our world is convinced.
3) Now, let me just try to draw a few operational conclusions very briefly, which I will summarize with the expression: the need for “enhanced deployment”.
We believe there is room for improvement in at least 6 areas:
1) A better understanding of the context and planning for missions: there should be no surprises. Prior to the deployment, the UN should fully assess the threats and challenges of the theater, of a given theater. A better interaction with regional organizations is key; we also support in this respect, the creation of a strategic planning and capacity cell as proposed by the Secretary-General.
2) Clear mandates and appropriate postures in the field: we also fully support these recommendations in the HIPPO and UNSG reports. UN Peace Operations should be conducted in the appropriate framework, which implies a clear mandate for the use of force, when necessary. The intervention brigade of MONUSCO, for instance, is a clear example of how a mandate can match a specific situation.
3) Adequate resources for UN Missions: TCCs and PCCs should know what they are engaging in. UN Missions should be equipped with appropriate human skills and equipment to match the mandate and the threats in the field. In this regard, we support what we call the triangular cooperation between the Security Council, the Secretariat and TCCs/PCCs, and we also support, in this respect, the creation of a strategic force generation cell by the Secretariat.
4) Raising situational awareness: Peace Operations should have the capacity to adequately monitor what happens in their environment. This is why the development of autonomous intelligence capacities is so critically important. We encourage the deployment of such capacities, as MINUSMA has done recently.
5) Enhancing the security of UN personnel in the field, by definition a priority: both passive and active protection should be pursued. Camps and barracks should be adequately protected. But more active prevention measures are also necessary, like the work of UNMAS in counter-IEDs activities; this is critical, for example, to securing logistical convoys. And here, chère Agnès Marcaillou, I really want to thank you and your staff for your outstanding job.
6) Last, but not least, addressing challenging environments requires comprehensive approaches and positive interaction with the local population. Winning hearts, as we like to say, is the most challenging, but also the most effective answer to asymmetric threats. This requires active communication by the UN and a capacity to interact with the local population. You will not be surprised that my final word is on the need to deploy French-speaking personnel in francophone countries. I believe it is very important.
Two words to conclude:
UN Peace Operations illustrate the flexibility and adaptability that are at the heart of the United Nations. They are not described as such in the UN Charter. They were created because they appeared to be necessary. They have been an evolving concept since the first UN deployment in 1948.
These operations, by nature, will keep evolving, adapting to challenges and expectations. It is up to each and everyone of us to work collectively in the active implementation of these measures, which are largely drawn from the HIPPO and the SG’s report.
Let me finish by saying that I am really happy that these working sessions were so productive, and again my warmest thanks and congratulations to all of you