The cooperation with the host State is not an option but a pressing necessity [fr]
United Nations peacekeeping operations
Statement by Mrs. Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 18 June 2019
I thank you, Mr. President, for having convened this interactive meeting on a particularly pertinent and important issue, namely, cooperation with host States, which, as we all know, is a crucial component of the success of peacekeeping operations. I would also like to pay heartfelt tribute, through Lieutenant General Leonard Muriuki Ngondi and Major General Cheryl Pearce, to all their military components carrying out their missions in often highly challenging and adverse conditions.
I would like to make two preliminary remarks.
First, cooperation with the host State is crucial and sine qua non to ensure that peacekeeping operations can achieve their objectives, respecting, of course, the sovereignty of the host State and taking account of the need to protect the Blue Helmets and all United Nations personnel in general, both civilian and uniformed.
Secondly, cooperation with the host State is not an option but a pressing necessity enshrined in the guiding principles of peacekeeping. Such cooperation entails rights and duties for both the host State and the United Nations. In that connection, I would like to highlight three principal points, followed by questions pertaining to these for our briefers.
First, the host State’s consent to the deployment of a peacekeeping operation must be sought not only as a matter of principle, but also for operational purposes. The political dialogue between the United Nations and the host State is essential, but it must also be pursued on the ground between the Blue Helmets, on the one hand, and the military and police of the host State on the other. It is clear that such respect and dialogue are a means of guaranteeing the mission’s effectiveness and its acceptance by the local population. This cooperation can take many forms, such as the exchange of information on the risks and threats that affect the civilian population as well as peacekeeping personnel; or operational coordination, if provided for in a mission’s mandate.
Here I would like to ask our briefers a question: what feedback can they give regarding their experiences at these two levels of strategic and operational cooperation in the context of their respective missions?
The second point that I wanted to highlight is that the host State must respect its commitments under a status-of-forces agreement, which ensures the freedom of movement and protection of the Blue Helmets deployed on host State territory. There is no context in which violating a status-of-forces agreement is acceptable. I believe that the Security Council must monitor this and ensure that dialogue between a deployed mission and host State authorities is ongoing, in order to resolve, at an early stage and as rapidly as possible, any difficulties that may emerge.
Thirdly and finally, the principal mandate of a peacekeeping operation, as we know, is often the protection of civilians. Nevertheless, it is the host States that have primary responsibility for protecting their people. Peacekeeping operations can help States in difficulty to protect their populations against a particular threat, but they cannot replace the host State, which must do everything in its power to protect its civilians, including through the police and the military as well as the legal system, by systematically prosecuting perpetrators of violence against civilians and attacks on the rights of the population, even if such perpetrators were to be found within the ranks of the security forces themselves. I have another question for our two briefers: what do they expect from the Security Council in terms of supporting cooperation with the host State, particularly in the area of the protection of civilians?
Another remark I would like to make on this point is that while the Security Council demands exemplary conduct from its peacekeepers, similar behaviour is expected from the security forces of the host State receiving United Nations support. This is a major requirement that is sometimes difficult to meet in areas where a State may have been destabilized or have limited capacities. France stands ready to provide all necessary support to such States to help them achieve this goal.
Finally, cooperation between the host State and the peacekeeping operation may involve helping to strengthen the host State’s security and defence forces, particularly in terms of training personnel and providing equipment. The goal is then to shift the responsibility to protect onto the security and defence forces so that the host State is able to fully ensure the security of the civilian population. I wish to pose one last question here: what options could we collectively explore, in terms of the capacity-building of security and defence forces, to bolster cooperation between a force and the host State? We are often told that a United Nations force can withdraw once the host State’s defence and security forces are fully operational.