Prevention of conflicts and mediation: today’s needs are very great [fr]
Maintenance of international peace and security: prevention of conflicts and mediation
Intervention by M. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 12 June 2019
I would first like to express my admiration and gratitude to our speakers, who are all extraordinary and tireless peacemakers. The briefings delivered by Secretary-General António Guterres, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon and Ms. Mary Robinson are particularly inspiring to all of us, as they reflect their exemplary commitment.
With several days left before I leave New York in order to take on new responsibilities in Paris, it is a great honour for me to broach, in their presence, one of the major questions that has mobilized all of us during the five years that I have had the privilege to spend in this role. The question is: How can the United Nations better prevent conflict?
I warmly thank the Kuwaiti presidency for convening this meeting on such an important subject, and I welcome the presence of the Kuwaiti Minister for Foreign Affairs.
I would like to begin by commending the Secretary-General for giving top priority to conflict prevention.
France fully supports his vision, according to which we need to do more to head off conflict. We welcome the Secretary-General’s reforms, which should enable the entire United Nations system to be more effective in preventing crises. I am thinking in particular of the strengthening of United Nations mediation capacities, for example through the creation of the High-level Advisory Board on Mediation. I also note that members of the Standby Team of Senior Mediation Advisers are being deployed increasingly on the ground, sometimes at very short notice. Their activities, often discreet, are immensely valuable. I would also like to highlight the indispensable work carried out by the Office of Mr. Adama Dieng, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide.
We can see that the new impetus spurred by the Secretary-General is starting to bear fruit. For example, in Madagascar last year, the mediation conducted by Mr. Abdoulaye Bathily, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Madagascar, in close coordination with the African Union and the Southern African Development Community, made it possible to avert a political crisis that could have had tragic consequences. In that case, the unfailing commitment of the United Nations ensured that all international actors spoke with one voice, which was decisive. The elections were a success and helped to consolidate the Malagasy democracy after the upheavals that had shaken the political life of the country over the past 10 years.
I will give a second example. Early in the year, in the Central African Republic, the United Nations and the African Union facilitated the negotiation of the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation, thanks in particular to the strong and perfectly coordinated commitment of Mr. Jean-Pierre Lacroix and Mr. Smaїl Chergui. In addition, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic played a valuable role in the negotiation process and continues to play a key role in supporting the implementation of the agreement in the difficult context with which we are all familiar.
In that regard, I would like to welcome more generally the contribution of the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General who support the political processes in Mali, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in the Middle East. Those who, in addition, are responsible for a peacekeeping mission play a vital role in promoting peace.
In addition, strengthening the partnership between the United Nations and the African Union contributes to enhancing the effectiveness of our preventive diplomacy. In Burkina Faso in 2015 and in the Gambia in 2016, the coordinated and united action of the United Nations, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States was critical to success. As I have had the opportunity to say on many occasions in this Chamber, this partnership is of strategic importance to us, and we are therefore determined to give it our full support.
Our mobilization concerning conflict prevention and mediation must remain stronger than ever, because today’s needs are very great.
Turning to the Middle East, the dangerous exacerbation of tensions in recent weeks in the Gulf highlights the need to defuse any risk of escalation through the gradual structuring of a regional dialogue. The efforts of France tend to that end. The regional dialogue must address all legitimate concerns that threaten the peace and security of the region and beyond. Dialogue is also necessary to promoting the implementation of political solutions in the conflicts of the region, under the auspices of the United Nations, to which the Council must lend its unanimous support. I emphasize the essential role that the countries of the region play and must play in conflict prevention. I particularly commend Kuwait’s initiatives to build bridges in the region and foster dialogue.
After years of bloody conflict in Syria, and on the eve of a new humanitarian catastrophe with the ongoing Idlib offensive by the regime and its allies, there is an urgent need for us together to implement resolution 2254 (2015) to achieve a national ceasefire and a political solution in support of the efforts of Mr. Geir Pedersen, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria. Mr. Martin Griffiths, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, also has our full support, with particular regard to his work on the implementation of the Al-Hudaydah agreements, among others. I also wish to reiterate our support for Mr. Ghassan Salamé, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya, with a view to reaching a ceasefire agreement in Tripoli, prior to the resumption of discussions between the parties.
The need is also very great in Africa. I will cite a few brief examples. The situation in the Sudan is extremely worrying. We are horrified by the brutal repression of peaceful protesters, the perpetrators of which will be brought to justice, and we call for the resumption of dialogue between the Transitional Military Council and the opposition. We welcome the resolute and clear position of the African Union and hope that the United Nations can fully support the mediation efforts of the African Union.
In the light of the high priority we attach to the situation in the Sahel, we are also of the view that Burkina Faso must now enjoy increased attention in the light of the challenges the country is currently facing. France therefore fully supports the process initiated Maintenance of international peace and security by the Secretary-General to adjust the United Nations presence on the ground. We hope that the United Nations response will be ambitious and commensurate with the expectations of the Burkina Faso authorities in the areas of humanitarian assistance and development, as well as in training security forces, respect for human rights and international humanitarian law and support for the fight against terrorism.
With regard to Cameroon, we are very concerned by the deterioration in the north-west and south-west of the country. We must all join our voices to encourage the authorities of Cameroon to launch an inclusive political dialogue, establish détente measures and deepen decentralization.
Finally, I would like to speak briefly on several challenges and issues for preventive diplomacy and mediation in the coming years.
The first challenge is the meaningful participation of women in mediation processes. We absolutely need more women mediators. In that regard, I welcome the contribution of the FemWise-Africa network, which makes it possible to deploy women mediators in the field. Mediation must also fully involve women at all stages of the process and at all levels. We know that peace agreements reached with the meaningful participation of women are stronger and more sustainable. Those same agreements must include provisions on the rights of women and children. And we are counting on the guidelines being developed by the Office of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed conflict, Virginia Gamba de Potgieter, to be able to learn all the lessons from previous mediation processes on that matter.
The second challenge is that of post-conflict peacebuilding. We should provide more support to countries and societies emerging from conflict by investing in reconciliation, transitional justice and reconstruction in order to prevent them from relapsing into crisis situations. The Peacebuilding Fund is an essential tool in that regard, and as Council members know, France fully supports it. Similarly, it is essential to continue to focus on mechanisms that detect early warning signs of potential deterioration and record specific indicators in order to help prevent relapse.
The third challenge is the impact of climate change on international security. That issue must become a central element of the conflict prevention agenda. France is firmly convinced of that point. The Security Council, and more broadly the entire United Nations system, must have a comprehensive overview of all the dangers that the impact of climate change poses to international security. In that regard, we recommend that a report of the Secretary-General be drafted to provide a regular assessment of those risks, as well as recommendations for the development of tangible actions to respond to and prevent conflicts related to climate events.