29 June 2016 - "This resolution strengthens MINUSMA´s capacities"
Mali / Syria- Remarks to the press by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - 29 June 2016
Just a few words because we will have a very busy morning as you know with the adoption of 3 resolutions: UNAMID, UNDOF and MINUSMA followed by important consultations on Syria with Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura.
I will also take this opportunity to brief the Security Council about the signing of the historic agreement on Colombia a few days ago in Havana where I had the privilege to participate as President of the Security Council, and where the U.N.´s representation was unprecedented with the SG, the PGA and the President of the Security Council; which says a lot about the degree of support and involvement of the U.N. in Colombia.
Just a few words on Mali. We are about to adopt, I hope unanimously, a more robust mandate for MINUSMA to protect civilians in Mali against terrorist groups.
2 key elements in this resolution, to oversimplify:
1/ MINUSMA´s strategic priority is now the implementation of the Peace Agreement. It is crucial that all parties speed up the concrete implementation of the Peace accord to bring peace dividends to the population of Mali. That´s one part.
2/The other part is, as you know, that MINUSMA is facing an extremely challenging environment, maybe the most challenging of any Peacekeeping operation. It is confronted with a resilient terrorist threat. So this resolution aims at strengthening MINUSMA force to give the blue helmets all the means they need to better protect the civilians and to better protect themselves against these threats, which is a key priority for France.
And against this backdrop, there are two pillars in this resolution:
Number one, this resolution strengthens MINUSMA´s capacities, in terms of manpower and equipment. It increases the troop ceiling by over 2,500 soldiers and police officers. This will allow the deployment of additional forces but also additional highly specialized European contingents, in particular in terms of Special Forces and intelligence. That´s the first pillar.
the second pillar as I said is that the resolution provides MINUSMA with a more robust mandate. This is what we wanted, this is what many of our friends were asking. The resolution authorizes MINUSMA to use all necessary means, including the use of force, to deter and counter asymmetric attacks in a more proactive manner. This is absolutely key. The Security Council responds to a clear request from the Malian government and the African troop-contributing countries.
Maybe just a few words on Syria, in my national capacity. I had a very interesting meeting yesterday evening with Staffan de Mistura. We are on the same page and France fully supports him.
The reality on the ground is deteriorating:
The cessation of hostilities has become close to a diplomatic fiction quite frankly if you think about the indiscriminate bombing of civilians that continues in Idlib, Aleppo and the suburbs of Damascus and elsewhere. ;
Number two, despite some improvement, the humanitarian access remains too little too late in so many respects. Let me say it again, it is not a favor we are asking from the Damascus regime, it’s an obligation under international law to provide for complete humanitarian access.
Number three, in this gloomy context again we fully support Staffan de Mistura´s efforts. As he repeated last week before the General Assembly, conditions have not been met yet for credible intersyrian talks in Geneva to resume. We support his position and will make this clear today. We trust Staffan de Mistura´s judgment as to when these inter-Syrian talks should resume and we should not pressure him in this respect, we trust his judgment. The UN´s credibility is at play.
The clock is now ticking for the Vienna process. The target date of August 1st for the implementation of a political transition process in Syria is approaching. And we take this date very seriously, as Staffan de Mistura does. So It is more important than ever that the members of the Security Council who have some influence on Damascus join efforts and increase the pressure until the three legs I was referring to - cessation of hostilities, humanitarian access and inter-Syrian talks - can improve.
Q: Will France increase its troops in Mali?
A: You know how important our involvement in Mali is. We took some important initiatives to make sure that some of our European colleagues will join us. This is the case, there has been a very important response from many of our European colleagues. I say that because most of us are a bit gloomy with respect to the EU right now and Mali is a good illustration of the fact that Europeans are able to join efforts and to bring a very important contribution to peacekeeping and in this case it is in the difficult environment of Mali, so this is a very good point.
Q: What about the Quartet report? Are you expecting it today, and if it doesn’t come again today, are you still going to have the meeting tomorrow as planned?
A: I think so, to answer to your second question. On the first, yes, we hope we will have the Quartet report, the sooner the better. It would make sense to have it before the consultations of tomorrow.