Towards more effective peacekeeping [fr]

Security Council - High-level debate of the United Nations Security Council on peacekeeping - Intervention of M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs - Wednesday 20 September 2017.

"First, we must strengthen States’ capacities, also known as reforming the security sector. The fact that it is so often discussed without actually being accomplished has made the term something of a bogeyman.However, if supported by a credible political process, it is key to achieving sustainable security", M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, 20 September 2017

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At the outset, I should like to thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for having convened this debate on an issue that you know to be so important to my country. The issue of peacekeeping reform comes in response to two requirements that are more important than ever before: on the one hand, the need for results, so as to respond to the growing complexity of crises and the expectations of peoples, and, on the other, the need for resources in a world in which they are limited and in which effectiveness is no longer just an option but an imperative.This twofold requirement can be seen in all areas of public action, but the Charter of the United Nations conferred upon us a unique responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.

This responsibility creates immense expectations and requires that we commit to ceaselessly analysing our actions; our capacity to address crises; our successes, because they do exist; and our limitations. Here I will not resort to facile criticisms of peacekeeping to the effect that it is useless, ineffective and too costly, for we must not overlook the considerable progress that has been made in recent years or the reality that United Nations peacekeeping operations often are
the sole guarantors of a minimum level of security and a minimum level of civilian protection
.Here I wish to pay tribute to the 120,000 military, police and civilians who are deployed throughout the world in difficult theatres of operations and who daily serve on our behalf as messengers and actors for peace. However, we must also pay attention to criticism. We must not underestimate it; it must be our compass for tirelessly seeking better responses. It is this constructive criticism exercise that must enable us to move towards more effective and efficient peacekeeping, strengthen what we can do better, change what we can do differently and stop what we do not know how to do.It can be difficult, in certain theatres, to see an end to peacekeeping operations. The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been deployed in that country for 18 years, and prospects for withdrawal remain remote. In South Sudan, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, which was created to support the emergence of the youngest State in the world, now faces a civil war and a humanitarian crisis that it is having great difficulting addressing. In Mali, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, which was deployed to stabilize a country facing terrorist threats, has the sad record of being the deadliest United Nations operation.This simple list shows the limits that we have reached. The United Nations has become the answer to all ills, and it is expected to deal with, at the lowest cost possible, the full spectrum of crises and ensure the protection of civilians, stabilization, security, justice, reintegration, human rights, humanitarian assistance and support for the political process. This is no longer tenable.

The other obstacle is the temptation to substitute, in cases where peacekeeping has been established by importing solutions from outside. We thought that by deploying 10,000 or so soldiers in support of a peace agreement we could settle conflicts for good. We have now seen the limitations of that approach in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A
massive peacekeeper presence no longer guarantees that we will be able to have a decisive inf luence on the choices of the stakeholders involved in a crisis or conflict.
With that in mind, I believe that it is time to update our way of thinking and consider two avenues.

First, we must strengthen States’ capacities, also known as reforming the security sector. The fact that it is so often discussed without actually being accomplished has made the term something of a bogeyman. However, if supported by a credible political process, it is key to achieving sustainable security. We must acknowledge that we have not succeeded in that area. We must continue to reflect on it and come up with new responses so as to better engage and involve host countries and those that are the most affected in taking charge of their own security. That was what we were hoping for in supporting the initiative of the Group of Five for the Sahel (G-5 Sahel), five States that are dealing with the threat of terrorism and every kind of trafficking and that have decided to overcome their differences, pool their limited resources, coordinate their efforts and take joint action. They are also some of the poorest countries in the world, facing a threat that concerns us all. We therefore have a collective responsibility to support them. That is the first avenue — strengthening State capacities.

The second concerns more generally the importance of finding the tools best adapted to evolving threats and complex crises, such as President Macky Sall
referred to earlier.
Today in Mali we are dealing with a paradox. On the one hand, we have the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), established under Chapter VII, which has considerable resources but no mandate to combat terrorism, for reasons with which we are familiar. On the other hand, there is the Force conjointe du G5 Sahel, which has a mandate to counter terrorism but few if any resources, and must plead for support from its partners without any guarantees or visibility. That is not good enough, and if granting MINUSMA a counter-terrorism mandate is not the solution, we must come up with something else. Of course, as has been pointed out several times, the United Nations does not have a monopoly on crisis management. The European Union and the African Union and its subregional organizations have become key players in settling crises. We must make better use of the added value of all of them to ensure a coordinated, committed response. We must reinvent the linkages among those tools. In that regard, I can only echo the Secretary-General’s analysis and the paths that he highlighted in his opening address to the General Assembly. We must all focus on our core tasks and, to that end, we must find ways to help our regional partners become more effective.

In the past 12 months the United Nations and the African Union have worked hard to come up with meaningful options for an African response to the security challenges facing the continent. Some issues, including the critical one of financing, are still pending and must be refined. I can hear the reluctance and even hostility to this on the part of some, but I firmly believe that that is where the future lies. I am aware of the major efforts that the African Union has undertaken, and France stands ready to work together with our African partners to fulfil the commitments made in the Security Council, when the time comes. I would like to assure the Council of France’s support for its efforts regarding the topic that brings us together today. France will remain committed to working for more effective peacekeeping for the benefit of the world’s most vulnerable peoples.

Dernière modification : 26/09/2017

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