Sanctions committees are at the heart of the activity of the Security Council [fr]
Debate on the working methods of the subsidiary organs - Statement by Mr. Alxis Lamek, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 11 February 2016
I thank you, Sir, for having organized this debate under your presidency on the working methods of the subsidiary organs, in particular the sanctions committees. We attach great importance to the proper functioning of the sanctions committees, which are now at the heart of the activity of the Security Council. With 16 active regimes, sanctions have become a critical tool for the Security Council that has proven its effectiveness. The pressure exerted by the international community through the sanctions regime established in 1977 on South Africa gradually led that country to end apartheid, allowing for the lifting of sanctions in 1994.
With regard to Iran, through five resolutions adopted by the Council the international community expressed its deep concern about the Iranian nuclear programme. Ten years after the Security Council was first seized of that matter, we have turned a new page in relations with Iran by lifting the sanctions regime following Iran’s implementation of its commitments in accordance with the Vienna agreement. A new system of restrictions and vigilance is now in force and will be presented tomorrow to Member States. It is an indispensable guarantee that the Vienna agreement will be fully respected. The pressure exerted by sanctions played a central role in creating the possibility to reach an agreement.
We must not let those success stories lead us to underestimate the complexity of this tool. Over the years, we have succeeded in adapting it and focusing it on each individual situation, lessening the consequences for civilians, inasmuch as possible, while increasingly ensuring human rights. Sanctions are a key tool in the process of resolving crises. They can be a tool to support States weakened by insecurity or the presence of armed groups in their territory. Countries such as Somalia, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo come to mind. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, the sanctions regime changed in line with the situation. Established in 2003, the arms embargo has been continuously modified, and since 2008 has targeted only non-governmental entities. With regard to individual sanctions against armed groups, the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo itself has requested that the sanctions regime be strengthened.
In Côte d’Ivoire, we were able to adapt the sanctions regime in order to support the country on its path to stability, which has been restored since the 2010-2011 crisis. In 2013, the rapid improvement of the situation in all areas justified the Security Council’s decision to lift the diamond embargo and ease the arms embargo. Subsequently, certain individuals were removed from the sanctions list in order to promote the political process and national reconciliation. Those adaptations have contributed to the recovery of the Côte d’Ivoire.
The scope of sanctions is also flexible as we seek to ensure that sanctions target the individuals, entities or sectors that directly pose a threat to the stability of States. Accordingly, the illegal exploitation of natural resources has become a criterion for designation in several sanctions regimes. Sanctions aimed at charcoal in Somalia, diamonds in the Central African Republic and natural resources and the trafficking of endangered species in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are just some examples of sanctions regimes that have evolved in order to better target the resources that armed groups use to finance themselves. Similarly, the sanctions regime pursuant to resolution 1267 (1999), which originally targeted Al-Qaida, has accordingly evolved with the terrorist threat to include Da’esh.
More flexible and more targeted, sanctions regimes must also offer tools that protect human rights. The establishment of the Office of the Ombudsperson in 2009 concerning the Al-Qaida regime was a major innovation that has largely demonstrated its usefulness and effectiveness. That mechanism, which allows individuals and entities subject to sanctions under the 1267 regime to seek recourse if they believe that the decision is unjustified, represents an important step forward in terms of transparency. While we seek to adjust sanctions regimes to ensure that they are the most effective possible, we must pursue efforts to improve the working methods of the sanctions committees. The Secretariat has undertaken noteworthy work in that regard, and we must continue to pursue and reinforce it.
As pertains to transparency, we endorse the proposals made in the concept note introduced by the presidency (S/2016/102, annex), as they will promote better understanding of the functions of the sanctions committees. We believe, for example, that the panels of experts mandated for the various sanctions regimes produce very valuable reports, the publication of which should not be called into question. We are also in favour of convening meetings with countries subject to sanctions regimes and the countries of the region, in particular neighbouring countries, because we hope that such meetings will allow for a better implementation of sanctions. The field visits of chairs of sanctions committees, where possible, are also useful in promoting better understanding of sanctions regimes by the countries concerned.
We know that chairing subsidiary organs is an important responsibility that falls on the shoulders of the non-permanent members of the Security Council. As for the rest of the Council’s activities, the election of new members earlier in the year will allow for better upstream preparation. As penholder on numerous sanctions regimes in Africa, we have always been and remain available to the chairs of the committees as they take up their functions along with the Secretariat, which plays an essential role.
We read with interest about the work of the Like-minded Group and that of the High-level Review of United Nations Sanctions. Many of the recommendations seem useful to us, namely, that of continuing to ensure fairness, to which we are committed nationally as well as in our capacity as a member of the European Union. Sanctions are primarily a political tool at the disposal of the Council to assist it in upholding its responsibility to safeguard international stability and security, which means that we must be all the more demanding with respect to the effectiveness and smooth functioning of the regimes that we establish.