10 January 2017 - Prevention of conflict and lasting peace: Peace and development are linked [fr]
Open debate “Prevention of conflict and lasting peace” - Speech by Matthias Fekl, Minister of State attached to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, responsible for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism, and French Nationals Abroad - Security Council - 10 January 2017
Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Madam President, France welcomes today’s debate on a major issue for the international community at the initiative of your presidency. Mr. Secretary-General, France welcomes your determination to make peacekeeping and international security, and especially conflict prevention, a key focus of your agenda, and thanks you for your first report before the Security-Council. In a chaotic and uncertain world, we need, more than ever, the benchmarks and the multilateral framework that only the UN can provide. We look forward to working with you, especially on this critical issue, in the years to come.
Our debate today will provide an opportunity to define the framework for our action for the coming years under your mandate and France has three main messages to convey in this respect.
The first message, the first priority is to step up prevention measures and continue to invest in peacekeeping operations.
The UN was founded on the goal of prevention, and this has been recalled prior to my intervention. In the 1st article of the Charter, its founders entrusted it with the goal of “taking effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to peace.”
France supports all initiatives to strengthen the UN’s prevention and mediation role.
Why? Because the current crisis situations that the Security Council must tackle are now different in nature and are increasingly sectarian, transnational and asymmetric.
How? First of all, by better anticipating potential crises thanks to an early warning system: this is the case today in Gambia for example. The aim is to collectively improve the Security Council’s capacity for anticipation and action, being an irreplaceable body. The Secretary-General has a key role to play. You must be able, Mr. Secretary-General – as you are authorized to do so under Article 99 of the Charter – to alert us to all situations that you believe could jeopardize international peace and security. Similarly, the regular reports by the High-Commissioner for human rights and by the special advisor on the prevention of genocide are very helpful to our work. The Security Council must make more systematic use of the information provided to it.
Secondly, we must strengthen our collective response through mediation and good offices. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the agreement signed on December 31 thanks to the Congolese bishops is a great example of this. France lent them its full support and worked to ensure the swift adoption of a Security Council presidential statement in support of this agreement.
Improved prevention sometimes also means, we know it, exerting more pressure:
Sanctions – or the mere threat of sanctions – form part of the Security Council’s tools. They have helped bring parties back to the table, stem the spiral of violence and stabilize explosive situations that would have deteriorated without them. In Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia, for example, sanctions were helpful in supporting the peace process and could be lifted once a more sustainable period of stability had been achieved.
Sometimes our efforts are subject to limitations, as in Burundi, where mediation efforts came up against the government’s refusal to initiate constructive dialogue with international partners.
This is the problem with prevention efforts: finding ways to take action when there’s still only the premise of a potential deterioration in the situation without being blocked by arguments relating to non-interference in internal affairs and respect for the sovereignty of states. This Council must be able to take action when necessary. In order to address this dilemma and these risks, France has taken the initiative to propose limiting the use of the veto if there is a risk of mass atrocity.
When prevention measures fail and the cycle of violence intensifies, it is then our responsibility to stop this escalation and to intervene. This is what France did, at the request of its partners, in Mali and in the Central African Republic.
In this context, peacekeeping operations are a key Security Council tool for helping to re-establish peace and for consolidating this peace. When a crisis erupts, security must be swiftly restored in order to allow for a political settlement. Without security, no real progress is possible, we know it.
These operations must have the resources to meet the demands of the environment in which they operate and be able to rely on the political processes, thanks to robust and flexible mandates. MINUSTAH in Haiti, MINUSMA in Mali, and MINUSCA in the Central African Republic are perfect examples of this.
The second message, the second priority is to help vulnerable countries develop their own capacities and address their weaknesses upstream. In this regard, we have to improve the integration of the different UN system’s components action.
France champions a cross-cutting, integrated approach that incorporates security-related, humanitarian, political, and development activities over the long term, in a continuum that includes prevention, peacekeeping and consolidation of peace.
The observation is simple and widely shared: peace and development are linked. Many civil wars and conflicts are rooted in issues of development and governance – the very issues that are central to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly Goal 16.
To prevent conflicts, we must make it possible for the most vulnerable countries to deal with the causes of the vulnerabilities that fuel crisis and terrorism: by fighting unemployment, in particular that of young people; by compensating for a lack of public services and public infrastructures; by establishing an inclusive government and a strong administration; by supporting a judicial system that makes high-quality justice accessible to all; by respecting human rights; and by easing tensions over natural resources.
France resolutely supports the 2030 Agenda, and that is why we were among the first to present our national program to implement the sustainable development goals at the High-level Political Forum last July.
Wherever France is engaged militarily, we simultaneously engage in cooperation and development aid efforts in all these areas.
The results speak for themselves. By taking action along the entire spectrum, we were able to establish a constitutional process and the holding of elections in the Central African Republic; to train security and police forces in Mali and Niger; and to end the crisis and restore growth to Côte d’Ivoire.
Allow me to insist on the role of climate change. While it is rarely the direct cause of conflicts, it exacerbates vulnerabilities, aggravates their more immediate causes, threatens progress, and in the future may become a direct cause of conflicts; even if it is not always the case today. It hits the poorest populations and the most fragile states the hardest. Sub-Saharan Africa and small developing islands are its leading victims.
That is why the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement is necessary and urgent, including for peace and security. Major regional initiatives such as the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel deserve our full support.
The third and last message, the third priority is on the coordination of the different tools among them, according to the context and the emergency because here is the right question.
Under your leadership, Mr. Secretary-General, the UN’s cooperation with outside actors must also be strengthened and we know it will be. I am thinking of national authorities, whose participation in preventive actions and development is vital, but also international, regional and sub-regional organizations, including the European Union and the African Union, who are major partners for the UN. And I am thinking of international financial institutions such as development banks, civil society and private partners.
This framework laid out today must be applied concretely and immediately in our response to the challenges facing peace and security.
To conclude, I want to stress a few priority crises that must draw our attention:
Resolving the Syrian crisis will demand exemplary partnership and the full mobilization of members of the Security Council in support of inter-Syrian negotiations. These must be carried out fully within the framework of the UN process and be in line with the Geneva communiqué and resolution 2254.
Libya must be the target of particular vigilance, given the heightened risk of civil war. Mediation by the UN Support Mission in Libya is essential in this regard, in support of the national unity government’s efforts at inclusiveness.
In the DRC, UN and Security Council support for the swift and complete implementation of the 31 December agreement is necessary to ensure that the process under way is a success. The coming weeks will be crucial in this regard.
In Mali, the Security Council must do more to allow MINUSMA to accomplish its mission and to provide it with the necessary manpower and equipment. We must also keep up pressure on the parties to swiftly implement the Algiers agreement. This is urgent.
This is a pivotal moment. The need to prevent conflicts and the links between peace and development has become obvious, and it is therefore incumbent upon the international community and the UN in particular, to translate wishes into action. Mr. Secretary-General, you can always count on France’s full support for the actions you take in this regard, whether it be on the ground or here, within the Security Council.