Safety and performance of UN peacekeepers: Training is a crucial element [fr]
Investing in peace: improving safety and performance of United Nations
Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 7 May 2019
First of all, I would like to thank the Indonesian presidency of the Security Council for holding this important open debate, which focuses on an element that is key to ensuring the success of peacekeeping operations.
I would also like to especially welcome the presence of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, whose participation in presiding over this open debate illustrates Indonesia’s determined commitment to the topic that has brought us together today.
I also convey my sincere thanks to the Secretary-General, the Force Commander of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mr. Björn Holmberg for their valuable contributions.
We can never stress enough how much we need Blue Helmets who are well-trained, well-equipped and fully aware of the mandate they have to deliver in order to optimize the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations. In Mali, for example, adequate equipment would have prevented the deaths of several Blue Helmets, and the ongoing improvement of the quality of equipment is therefore a top priority.
In many theatres of operation, better predeployment training of staff officers is needed. More generally, increased interoperability among those staff officers would allow them to mount a more effective response to threats against civilians and would strengthen the security of the peacekeepers themselves.
In addition to military and police personnel, all peacekeeping personnel must be trained, in particular the mission leadership. Today’s peacekeeping operations are complex and multidimensional and require the integration of the work carried out by civilian and military components. In post-crisis countries in which State authority must be restored, such close cooperation should extend to the United Nations country teams and bilateral and multilateral partners. It is therefore a new ecosystem in which peacekeeping operations function, and they must adapt to it. Training is a crucial element in achieving that.
Significant progress has been made in recent years. The Peacekeeping Ministerial held on 29 March, attended by the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, demonstrated that Member States are ready to make the necessary efforts to strengthen future peacekeeping operations. Most of us made robust commitments last September by subscribing to the Declaration of Shared Commitments on United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, under the Action for Peacekeeping initiative. France will continue to lend its full support to the Action for Peacekeeping initiative, which has already been a significant success for the United Nations and the Secretary-General.
Training is above all the national responsibility of all of us as troop-contributing countries, and we must collectively make the necessary efforts in that regard. France wishes to do its part and, in addition to training its own troops, is making a significant effort to support other troop-contributing countries in the training of their contingents.
We must now work to implement the Declaration of Commitments as quickly and completely as possible. The failure of the negotiations of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations must not stop us. We must continue the momentum of mobilization around the Action for Peacekeeping initiative. We must make the most of the meeting of the heads of general staff in July and the conference on peacekeeping in a French-speaking environment, to be held in the fall in Morocco, to make steadfast progress in that regard. Moreover, the launch and development of the light coordination mechanism for the purpose of deconfliction deserves our full attention. The mechanism should enable the Secretariat to be fully informed of the various training activities carried out by States for troop-contributing countries.
In the Security Council, France is already implementing its peacekeeping commitments. For mandates in which we are penholders, we strive to be exemplary with a view to setting in motion a positive dynamic. We have already put many of those commitments into practice. We systematically consult troop-contributing countries throughout the year, and not only at the time of mandate renewal; we organize field evaluation visits before each renewal; we consult the host State; and we work to prioritize mandates, where possible
.On the issue of training and capacity-building, France is especially committed in the area of training French-speaking troop-contributing countries. France supports six peacekeeping operation training centres in Africa, three in Latin America and one in Asia, which contribute to building the capacity of future contingents deployed in peacekeeping operations. We are also strengthening the skills of those contingents in specialized areas, such as mine clearance, health, judicial police, logistics and civil protection, thanks to our network of national and regional schools and our network of 320 experts working as closely as possible with the defence and security forces of many countries.
Through those different activities, we are committed to training more than 30,000 African military personnel next year to qualify them to serve in peacekeeping operations. That is a considerable effort with real operational significance. We also emphasize so-called refresher courses during missions to ensure follow-up to training provided previously. France has just conducted a trial exercise with a mobile training team for the Guinean battalion of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali. Lastly, for the fifth consecutive year, and in coordination with the Department of Peace Operations, France will organize a training session for United Nations trainers in Paris for approximately 40 French-speaking staff officers.
I would also like to highlight the crucial importance of multilingualism, which is not only in the United Nations DNA but is also necessary for the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations. It is essential for Blue Helmets to speak the language of the country in which they are deployed, as it enables them to be in close contact with local populations and authorities, which is one of the conditions for successful peacekeeping. That is why we provide special support for teaching French to future contingents through the En Avant method, which offers a method of learning French that is adapted to the peacekeeping environment.
We also organize French language courses for 7,500 trainees per year and provide translations of reference documents. In that context, France, in association with the International Organization of la Francophonie, published a practical guide in French in March, entitled “Etre acteur des opérations de paix”, which the French Minister of the Armed Forces co-presented here in New York. It is an important educational tool designed to promote the presence of Francophone contingents in peacekeeping operations.
I would like to conclude by underlining the extent to which the protection, participation and empowerment of women are at the heart of France’s priorities in all areas of peacekeeping operations. France today ranks fourth in the world for women’s participation in the armed forces. The personnel of all our current military operations, both nationally and in peacekeeping operations, are at least 7 per cent female — and, of course, we would like to take that commitment further. That is why the Minister of the Armed Forces, Ms. Florence Parly, launched a new gender parity plan in March within the armed forces to encourage the participation of women and fully value their role, and in particular to double the number of women general officers by 2025.I again thank you, Madam President, for presiding over this debate.