Peace operations must be dynamic and committed [fr]
Peace operations - Statement by Mr François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - General Assembly - 12 October 2015
The UN secretary-general took the initiative to launch a strategic review of peacekeeping operations and we are examining this proposal today, on the basis of the work carried out by the independent panel led by Mr. Ramos-Horta, whom I am delighted to welcome. France is grateful to him for having taken this initiative and congratulates the independent panel, as well as the secretariat, for having carried out this considerable amount of work within a short period of time.
I would like to make three observations:
The first observation seeks to support the conceptual framework proposed by the secretary-general. France agrees that priority should be given to reaching political agreements in order to find lasting solutions to crises. That’s the whole purpose of peacekeeping.
Similarly, France welcomes the recognition that the protection of civilians and the defense of human rights are the basic objectives of the peacekeeping operations. In this respect, we support the “Human Rights Up Front” initiative and the secretary-general’s intention to promote the UN’s active and early involvement, whenever there is a risk to civilians.
The two imperatives mentioned above speak for the need for dynamic, committed, and on occasion - where necessary - robust peacekeeping operations. The balanced approach put forward by the secretary-general in this respect seems to be the right solution. UN peacekeeping operations shouldn’t impose solutions by force but must know how to use it in order to help find political solutions, as well as to protect civilians if circumstances so require.
Mr. President, the second observation is that France also supports the main principles such as the immediate measures identified by the secretary-general which should guide UN action in crisis situations.
In the first instance, this involves the principle of leading by example. Peacekeepers embody the values of the Charter and our collective consciousness. They are dedicated to helping the populations. In this respect, the recent cases of sexual abuse are despicable. France supports the secretary-general’s proposals to further strengthen the zero tolerance policy applicable to peacekeepers, and guarantees that the same principle is applied to our national troops deployed abroad.
We must also support the principle of responsibility. It must be implemented at every level: from operations on the ground at the local level to the decisions taken at the Security Council at the strategic level. We believe that it makes sense to increase the accountability of the heads of mission; France will continue to ensure that this principle will guide decision-making in this forum, notably in terms of developing focused, coherent and sequenced mandates.
The principles of partnership and coordination also guide UN action. The partnership with the regional organizations, based on Chapter VIII, must be strengthened; the principle of coordination should help ensure improved coordination between the various UN funds and agencies on the ground.
Lastly, Mr. President, the third observation is that our main concern is basically to ensure that the UN is more effective and responsive on the ground, as the secretary-general has just stated.
This need for effectiveness can be swiftly implemented by using simple, inexpensive reorganization and procedural reform measures. The main thrust of this report is that we should empower the actors on the ground and make them more accountable; procedures should be adapted in order to increase the necessary flexibility. Expertise and capacity must be transferred from the headquarters to the field, and we are counting on the secretariat’s mobilization in this respect. Similarly, internal procedures within the secretariat should be thoroughly examined. Certain rules for the recruitment of civilian personnel are too slow and cumbersome, and it should be possible to improve certain rules relating to the provision of support and equipment to troops on the ground, with the aim, once again, of improving responsiveness.
Lastly, as indicated by the secretary-general and highlighted by the report, maintaining the security of PKO personnel is essential and this starts with improved governance of health-related issues in operations. Improved oversight and a framework of responsibility and accountability must therefore be introduced.
Mr. President, we could mention other priorities such as the use of new technologies and the strengthening of intelligence capacities which could also bring significant improvements to the peacekeeping operations.
France will continue to participate in and support UN peacekeeping operations and will play a full role in the efforts to increase their effectiveness.