Liberia: France welcomes the end of the mandate of UNMIL [fr]
Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 19 April 2018
France welcomes the end of the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), but I would like to begin by thanking Mr. Zouev, Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions, and the Deputy Permanent Representative of Sweden for their very insightful briefings. I would also like to thank Mr. Chid Liberty for his relevant and particularly encouraging remarks.
As I mentioned, France welcomes the end of the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Liberia. Its withdrawal demonstrates that it has fulfilled the duties entrusted to it. Although the United Nations is so often and so unfairly pilloried, this is another peacekeeping success story for the Council and for the United Nations as a whole. It can be added to the list of recent success stories in Côte d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone and Haiti.
UNMIL was established in 2003 with a mandate to enforce the ceasefire. Throughout its 15 years in the country, it has made a significant contribution to stability in Liberia. I would like to take this opportunity to pay a well-deserved tribute to all the United Nations personnel who participated in the Mission and contributed to its success on the ground day after day, particularly the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Farid Zarif. I would also like to pay tribute to the memory of the 202 Blue Helmets who lost their lives in Liberia. The considerable progress that the country has made since 2003 goes a long way to making their sacrifice worthwhile. UNMIL’s success should serve as a source of inspiration to the Council as it deploys other peacekeeping missions in difficult situations where they face challenges in fulfilling their mandates. It reminds us that the recipe for success lies in a strong commitment on the part of the Council, which kept the Mission in Liberia for 15 years, as well as in the implementation of a genuine national reconciliation process on the ground, without which long-term stability would be impossible.
UNMIL’s departure does not signal the end of the United Nations in Liberia. On the contrary, it provides an opportunity for the Organization to adopt new support strategies with frameworks and instruments that can better meet the current needs of the Liberian people. The United Nations country team on the ground, in close cooperation with the Liberia configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, will therefore continue to provide support. It is also essential that the broader international community continue to support Liberia, alongside the new United Nations mechanism. As Mr. Liberty so eloquently stated, that is the key to sustaining the excellent results gained so far, promoting development in the country and creating jobs. It is also fully in line with the Secretary-General’s vision of mobilizing the international community throughout the conflict cycle, which we fully support.
Liberia was recently able to demonstrate how far it has progressed along the road to democratization and stabilization. The peaceful holding of the most recent elections is a major achievement, to the credit of all Liberian stakeholders. It marks the first peaceful transition between two democratically elected Presidents since the civil war began, which tells us that Liberia has turned the page and is now a truly mature democracy. The recent transfer of power in Liberia also represents a response to the deep aspirations of the Liberian people. It is a truly historic moment. France has expressed its willingness to support President Weah in achieving the ambitious goals that he has outlined for his country. We therefore call on all of Liberia’s partners to support the new Government’s national development plan.
Regardless of the progress that has been made so far, we should not underestimate the challenges that Liberia still faces on the road to sustainable development and peace. They include the fight against corruption and the issues of national reconciliation and governance, especially through the rebuilding and operationalization of the Liberian armed forces. Other challenges include the problem of ensuring respect for human rights, especially the situation of women, which cannot be considered satisfactory until considerable progress has been made in combating gender-based violence. Liberia’s lasting stabilization will also require major efforts to combat impunity and energetic action to address the root causes of conflict.
Our meeting today celebrates UNMIL’s true success in the service of Liberia and its people. That success, however, is only one stage on the long path to sustainable development and stabilization in Liberia. As President Macron emphasized to President Weah when he visited Paris at the end of February, France will stand firmly beside its Liberian partners in order to ensure that Liberia continues advance in that direction.