Security in the Mediterranean: multifaceted challenges [fr]
Security challenges in the Mediterranean - Speech by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 17 November 2017
I would like to begin by thanking the Secretary-General for his edifying briefing and his personal commitment to addressing the problems that have brought us together today.
I would also like to thank the Italian presidency for taking the initiative to hold this important discussion on our common challenges in the Mediterranean. This subject is strategically important when it comes to regional and international security and stability.
It is also a humanitarian priority — almost 3,000 people have died in the Mediterranean since the beginning of the year.
I would like to begin by underlining the urgency of tackling security challenges in the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean — a crossroads between Europe, Africa and the Middle East — is facing an unprecedented multiplication of regional crises. It is home to multiple humanitarian, security and development challenges, which affect particularly vulnerable populations. It is our responsibility to take collective action against these threats.
The fight against terrorism is the first major challenge and a top priority for France. Increased efforts are needed to address the common challenges posed by terrorism: the return or relocation of foreign terrorist fighters, the use of the Internet by terrorist groups and the financing of terrorism, which will be the focus of an international conference organized in Paris by President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron in April 2018.
The links between transnational organized crime and terrorism must also receive our full attention. In both Libya and the Sahel, various trafficking activities carried out by criminal networks are fuelling terrorist groups.
The fight against terrorism also involves continuing to work to protect cultural heritage. Resolution 2347 (2017), adopted in March on the initiative of France and Italy, underscored how the destruction, looting and illicit trafficking in cultural property is contributing to these conflicts. We are looking forward to returning to this topic at the meeting on 30 November.
A second manifestation of the security challenges in the Mediterranean is the migration crisis, which is affecting Europe and leaving millions of people completely destitute.
A purely security-oriented approach to the migration issue would be neither desirable nor effective. The migration challenge demands increased European and international cooperation and should encompass the entire migratory route — from the countries of origin to the countries of destination — while respecting the rights of the persons concerned.
That is why our President, in close connection with Italy, has made migration one of France’s top priorities. In that regard, I wish to pay tribute to Italy for its considerable efforts to host refugees. On the initiative of President Macron, an international meeting was held in Paris, on 28 August, which led to the adoption of a plan of action on migratory issues in the central Mediterranean, with a particular focus on the countries of origin, Chad and the Niger.
We remain very concerned about the inhuman treatment of migrants who are passing through Libya. We reiterate our appeal to the Libyan authorities to make every effort to ensure that migrants are treated with dignity and respect for their human rights. The EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia, which is saving tens of thousands of lives every year and whose mandate was recently renewed, illustrates the European Union’s commitment to fighting the smuggling of migrants in the central Mediterranean.
To address these issues over the long term, we must promote a cross-cutting approach, based on cooperation among Africa, the Middle East and Europe. Mediterranean crises will not be resolved without a coherent, long-term political approach that combines security, development and solidarity.
Climate change exacerbates development issues in the Mediterranean region and its effects are potential sources of instability and conflict. That was one of the observations made by the Council during its mission to the Lake Chad basin, which I personally found striking.
In the Sahel, France promotes a conmprehensive response based on the pillars of security, development and good governance, as well as education and the prevention of violent extremism. In that spirit, we actively support the Group of Five for the Sahel initiative to establish a joint force to lead cross-border operations in order to combat the transnational threat posed by terrorism and trafficking in States of the region. We work with the other partners of the Sahel Alliance to further mobilize the principal donors to promote development and good governance in the countries of the Sahel. The political track and implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali must progress in parallel. Finally, we will continue to mobilize the international community to support the Joint Force, in line with the ministerial meeting of 30 October 2017 and looking ahead to the Brussels conference. In that regard, we will soon put forward proposals, taking into account both the needs expressed on the ground and the sensitivities around this table.
The crises in the Middle East require political solutions that are inclusive of all populations. That is why France fully supports a negotiated transition in Syria, in accordance with resolution 2254 (2015) and the Geneva communiqué (S/2012/522, annex). France calls on the international community to support the efforts of the Special Envoy, Staffan de Mistura, ahead of the Geneva negotiations at the end of the month. That is the only political process that is likely to lead to a lasting political solution.
In Libya, the solution lies in national reconciliation and the restoration of State authority throughout the territory. That is also the best long-term solution to overcoming terrorism and to responding to the challenges of migration. As we said yesterday before the Council (see S/PV.8104), we fully support the efforts of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ghassan Salamé.
In Gaza, the humanitarian crisis, coupled with an environmental crisis, also has political causes. The intra-Palestinian reconciliation process must continue. We commend the efforts of Egypt in that regard. That process must enable the Palestinian Authority to fully exercise its prerogatives in the Gaza Strip, including in the area of security, and to facilitate the lifting of the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip. In our view, that intra-Palestinian reconciliation is inseparable from the resumption of the peace process on the basis of the two-State solution.
Finally, the protection of the rights of all, including people belonging to minorities, is critical to preserving pluralism and diversity in the Middle East, which we strongly support. Together with Jordan, France organized the international Paris conference in September 2015, which resulted in the submission of an action plan in support of victims of ethnic and religious violence in the Middle East. As we recalled this year at the Madrid conference, France is fully committed to the implementation of that plan. It contributed €10 million euros to the emergency fund.
It will be essential to continue the fight impunity for violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. Following the adoption of resolution 2379 (2017) in September, we welcome the establishment of an investigative team to document the crimes committed by Da’esh in Iraq. Strengthening the role of women, in particular through their effective participation in political processes, must also be an integral part of the response. France will continue to ensure the protection of children, who remain the first victims of conflicts.
The scale of the challenges seen today calls for the Security Council and the entire international community to play an greater role.
Beyond the mobilization of the General Assembly with the negotiation of the agreements on migration and refugees, the increased mobilization of the Council is essential. France continues to be committed to strengthening its cooperation with countries on both shores of the Mediterranean — both European countries and those of the Maghreb, with whom we maintain particularly close historical and cultural ties. In that spirit, France supports the economic development of countries on the southern shores of the Mediterranean, in particular in the context of the Tunisia 2020 initiative.
In conclusion, responding to the multifaceted challenges of the Mediterranean area requires a comprehensive and integrated approach: prevention, peacekeeping and peace-building efforts must be mutually reinforcing in order to be fully effective. Solidarity with countries neighbouring conflict zones, which are at the front line of population displacements, is also necessary. More than ever, we must tackle the challenges facing the Mediterranean area. We owe that to the people concerned, to ourselves and to the melting pot of culture, civilization and coexistence that the Mediterranean represents.