Anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide - 8 July 2015 [fr]
8 July 2015 - Security Council - Bosnia and Herzegovina / Srebrenica - Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
I thank Deputy Secretary-General Jan Elliasson and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Zeid Al Hussein, for their briefings.
The General Assembly’s commemoration on 1 July, organized by the Bosnia and Herzegovina in the presence of the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly, represented an extremely powerful and moving and moment of gathering and remembering. Today, it is the Council’s turn to recall the victims of the massacre and to show its solidarity with the families who lost a loved one, friend or neighbour in Srebrenica. It is important for us, too, to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica and to pay tribute to all the innocent victims on all sides of the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is also essential to collectively learn from the past to improve our future actions. When such a massacre takes place, it always represents a terrible collective failure. The United Nations shares responsibility because it failed to fulfil its founding mission in Srebrenica for the maintenance of international peace and security and for the protection of the civilian population.
We know that prevention must be at the heart of our actions when human lives are in danger. Since the genocide in Srebrenica, the United Nations has developed its own mechanisms to prevent such tragedies from recurring. Preventing means above all warning. A first step was the establishment of the joint Office for the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect, now headed by Mr. Adama Dieng, which I welcome. The Office acts as an early warning mechanism for the Security Council by bringing to its attention any situation that could degenerate into genocide.
Prevention also means acting. The second step was the adoption in 2005 by the Heads of State and Government of the key concept of responsibility to protect. Narrowing the scope of the concept or questioning it would be irresponsible and an affront to the victims of multiple massacres and genocides. Ten years after the adoption of the Millennium Declaration (General Assembly resolution 55/2) and the recognition of the concept of the responsibility to protect, it is our duty to continue to implement that principle.
Prevention also means judging. In 1948, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide anticipated the establishment of an international criminal court. Fifty years later, we finally adopt the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court. Meanwhile, the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has helped to bring to justice the main perpetrators of violations of international law in the territory of the former Yugoslavia committed since 1991. At the heart of the reconciliation process, the Court remains an essential vehicle for memory and reparation.
Despite such progress, it is clear that there are still many tragic situations in which the United Nations remains powerless. In Syria, crimes against humanity and war crimes are committed every day before our eyes, and the Security Council remains paralysed. In such critical situations, the Council must be able to respond and assume its responsibilities. In is to that end that France is pushing for the five permanent members to voluntarily commit to renouncing the use of the veto in cases of mass crimes. The use of the veto is not a privilege; it is a responsibility. It is therefore up to the permanent members first of all to show that they are responsible within the framework of the Council.
Twenty years ago, on 11 July 1995, more than 8,000 adults and children were massacred in Srebrenica. Those events have been described as genocide by both the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Court of Justice, and mark one of the most tragic and dramatic events in the Bosnian war. To this day, as has been recalled, it is the worst massacre in Europe since the Second World War.
Unfortunately, the Security Council today could not adopt a draft resolution to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide and to pay tribute to all the innocent victims on all sides of the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As I said in my explanation of vote, France deeply regrets the fact that Russia opposed a text, whose basic value of which is commemorative, because of the fracture lines which the local populations themselves want to put behind them. The draft resolution would not only commemorate the event, which is critical, but also underline the importance of rapprochement among the States of the region centred on a shared European future. It was in that spirit that we helped to write and supported the draft text, which recalls that the future of the Balkan populations, like that of the entire European continent, is not to perpetuate the problems of a tragic and painful past but rather to build a common destiny based on reconciliation.
As a French and European citizen, I welcome the progress made in recent years in the region to ensure a better future for the generations born after Srebrenica. I also welcome the fact that all Balkan States are moving towards the European Union and joining in a common project based on peace and tolerance. These strong values guided the founders of the European project, whose aim was reconciliation from the outset. Sixty years later, we have covered a very impressive distance that is undoubtedly unprecedented in history. France, with the European Union, hopes that all the Balkan countries will become full parties to the European project.