23 December 2016 - Peacekeeping in Liberia [fr]
Security Council meeting on Liberia - Extension of the mandate of the UNMIL - Explanation of vote by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - 23 December 2016
France abstained in the voting on resolution 2333 (2016).
We commend the outstanding progress achieved by Liberia since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2003. For the past six months, the Liberian authorities have been fully responsible for maintaining security on their own terrority. In that regard, I hail the leadership and vision demonstrated by President Ellen John Sirleaf. Following a long period of peacekeeping, Liberia has entered the peacebuilding phase. That is why the Security Council today recognized that the situation in Liberia no longer constitutes a threat to international peace and security. We congratulate the Liberian authorities and people yet again on that success.
Yet while the Security Council recognizes that the situation in Liberia no longer threatens international peace and security, it has, sadly, not learned its lesson. In substance, the resolution poses two major problems.
The first is that it maintains Liberia’s culture of dependency on the Blue Helmets. By extending the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) for 15 months, the Security Council paradoxically maintains the presence of a military peacekeeping force in that country just as it recognizes that there is no further threat to peace and security there. The Security Council thereby risks preserving a culture of dependency and preventing the development of Liberian national capacities.
France has always stressed that the Security Council should take account of the prospects of the third presidential elections in Liberia since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, to be held in October 2017. We recall that it is precisely for that reason that, in June, the Security Council authorized in resolution 2295 (2016) the quick reaction force — which is currently stationed in Côte D’Ivoire and will soon be deployed to Mali — to be deployed temporarily to Liberia if required. The early deployment of the quick reaction force ahead of the autumn elections, as it did successfully in the Central African Republic early this year, would have been a solution well adapted to the needs and circumstances. But that proposal was not heeded. This year, the Council noted with satisfaction the success of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire, whose imminent scheduled withdrawal it approved. Liberia is another success story for United Nations peacekeeping, which we believe the Security Council should have recognized.
The second problem with the resolution is that wastes valuable peacekeeping resources. For the past six months, the police and military contingents of UNMIL have had no tasks to carry out. By artificially maintaining more than 700 military and police personnel, as well as numerous United Nations helicopters, in Liberia for the next 15 months, the Security Council will deprive the United Nations of valuable resources to respond to serious crises elsewhere, particularly in Africa. The Security Council is keeping five United Nations helicopters even as the Blue Helmets in Mali, who are deployed in the most deadly peacekeeping operation in the world, are crying out for resources to protect themselves and undertake medical evacuations.
With regard to working methods, we can only regret the absence of genuine negotiations among Council members. Our proposals, as well as those submitted by many of our partners, were barely into account. We consistently offered solutions that would have allowed us to strike a compromise among the various positions. With other States, we introduced solutions that were quite different from our initial positions. In particular, we were open with respect to the timetable and modalities for the UNMIL drawdown, but our proposals were never taken into serious account.
We hope that we shall all find lessons to learn from this episode, and that in the future we are able to strengthen the Council’s unity on this key topic.