Mediation is a clear demonstration of the increased power of diplomacy for peace [fr]
Maintenance of international peace and security
Statement by Mrs. Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, Chargée d’Affaires a.i.
Security Council - 29 August 2018
Mediation is a clear demonstration of the increased power of diplomacy for peace, as the Secretary-General has said. That is a cornerstone our Organization and a key part of the Security Council’s duty to maintain international peace and security.
The United Nations is the forum for great mediators. Therefore, I would like to pay tribute to Kofi Annan for his work as Secretary-General and as mediator in several crises — notably, in Kenya, Syria and Burma. He was the embodiment of a good listener, impartiality and personal authority, which are indispensable for a mediator. He knew how to achieve the key to successful mediation: establishing unity where there are divisions and a common framework that expands stakeholders’ outlook in order to overcome conflicts and free them from the prison of binary win-lose logic and zero-sum games.
Mediation is one of the essential tools provided by Chapter VI of the Charter of the United Nations for the peaceful settlement of disputes. The Gambia and Colombia are recent success stories that underscore the usefulness of that tool in conflict prevention, management and resolution.
In that context, France fully endorses the Secretary-General’s vision, according to which we must be collectively more effective in preventing the emergence and deterioration of crisis situations. France therefore welcomes the efforts the Secretary-General has made to strengthen the mediation capacities of the United Nations, namely, through the establishment of the High-level Advisory Board on Mediation in September 2017. France also welcomes the other measures that have been taken in recent years, such as the establishment of the Mediation Support Unit and the Standby Team of Senior Mediation Advisers and the development of United Nations Guidance for Effective Mediation.
The United Nations plays a key mediation role in many crisis situations today. I have in mind in particular the cases of Syria, Yemen and Libya, where United Nations representatives are directly responsible for conflict resolution processes. I would also mention Mali, the Central African Republic, Iraq, Colombia and West Africa, where the special representatives of the Secretary-General and regional offices are playing a crucial role through their good offices.
Despite that progress and the indispensable role played by the United Nations, the increased number of conflicts in the world and the increasing complexity and global nature of conflicts make mediation efforts much more complex. In Mali, for example, the implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, with the support of international mediation, is facing both obstruction by criminal and terrorist groups and difficulties encountered by the various parties in joining their efforts to develop solutions to the crisis.
Elsewhere, mediation efforts are too often hampered by political or ideological positions that limit mediators’ room for manoeuvre. The lack of political will and ownership by stakeholders is also a major challenge for mediation processes.
Finally, global challenges are now a potential source of increased conflict that cannot be ignored. I would mention climate change, which is exacerbating traditional sources of conflict, as evidenced, for example, by the tensions between breeders and farmers in West and Central Africa.
Against that backdrop, the Security Council must, more than ever, redouble its efforts to support ongoing mediation efforts. As I mentioned earlier, the Security Council itself has entrusted the United Nations with the responsibility for managing the political processes in Syria, Yemen and Libya. However, those political processes can succeed only if the Security Council is united in supporting the United Nations mediators and if its members remove certain political or ideological obstacles that undermine such processes.
In that context, France reiterates its full support to the United Nations mediators. In Syria, after years of bloody conflict, today hope lies in the political process launched by Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura in Geneva, the only forum in a position to achieve a negotiated political solution in line with resolution 2254 (2015). In Yemen, France also fully supports the efforts of Special Envoy Martin Griffiths and the holding on 6 September of the Geneva conference with all the parties. Lastly, in Libya, France reiterates its full support to Special Representative Ghassan Salamé and his appeal to the parties to meet the commitments made in Paris last June.
Apart from the unity of the Security Council, other elements seem essential to the success of mediation initiatives. In particular, it concerns their inclusiveness, especially the effective participation of women in all stages of the political process, which is an essential prerequisite for ensuring the emergence of lasting peace. It is also a matter of working with civil society and all those that support non-violence in society in order to fully benefit from the tremendous momentum in serving peace that they represent, be they young people, professional organizations or religious leaders.
The effectiveness of mediation efforts can also be enhanced by strengthening the links and coordination between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations. The latter bring the United Nations close to the field and an in-depth knowledge of the local environment.
Finally, today it seems to be necessary to further increase our ability to anticipate crises by strengthening early-warning mechanisms, but also by using preventive diplomacy. Preventing a conflict rather than having to resolve it must be a priority, and the case of the Gambia is an example to follow. The joint efforts of the United Nations, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States made it possible to prevent the post-electoral crisis from turning into a conflict, whose main victim would have been the people.
I will conclude my statement by emphasizing that, while mediation is an essential element of crisis prevention and resolution, it must of course be supported by the promotion of respect for international law, in particular human rights law and international humanitarian law, and recourse to international justice and arbitration. International law remains an enduring linchpin of the multilateral order and an essential instrument for preventing or resolving crises and for restoring peace.