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5 December 2012 - Mali - Remarks to the press by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

(in French and in English)

Ce matin, le Conseil de sécurité s’est réuni dans des conditions très particulières car nous avons entendu à la fois l’Union africaine, la CEDEAO et le Mali. Au cours des consultations, les membres africains du Conseil ont lancé le même message : il faut agir, il faut agir rapidement.

On peut tirer de cette réunion une conclusion : il y a au sein du Conseil de sécurité un consensus sur l’urgence d’agir. Il y a aussi un consensus sur le fait que c’est avec une double approche. Tout d’abord une approche politique, et je dirai que c’est la plus importante : il faut qu’il y ait un processus de réconciliation entre le nord et le sud. Les premières nouvelles sont d’ailleurs relativement encourageantes. Mais il faut également qu’il y ait en parallèle la préparation du retour de l’armée malienne sur le territoire national dans le nord. Ce n’est pas une intervention militaire, c’est le retour de l’armée malienne.

Dans cette double perspective, processus politique et processus militaire, la France va présenter dans les jours qui viennent un projet de résolution qui autorise le déploiement d’une force de la CEDEAO à Bamako pour préparer et entrainer l’armée malienne et pour encourager le processus politique.

J’espère que cette résolution sera adoptée dans les jours qui viennent.

What we have heard today at the Security Council was very interesting because we heard exactly the same words coming from the African Union, the ECOWAS, the Mali and afterwards, during the consultations, from the African members of the Security Council: we should act, and we should act quickly to restore the national integrity of Mali. That was a very strong call.

There is a consensus in the Council on the fact that we should answer quickly to this call. There is also a consensus about the fact that we should have a dual approach, a political one and a military one, and that the political one is the most important. Everybody is referring to the military approach but actually the most important point is reconciliation between the north and the south. What people are calling “military” is simply bringing back the Malian army to its barrack in the north. The force that the ECOWAS is going to send will assist the Malian army to go back to the north. At the same time, we know it will be possible only if there is a real political process, if the Malian army is greeted by the population.

In the coming months we will have this dual track: on one side preparing the Malian army which needs to be rebuilt nearly from scratch. It will take several months and it will be done by the ECOWAS, by the European Union and the other participants, including France. On the other side, the political track will be the political negotiations. Actually the political negotiations have already started. We think it is because of the pressure of the coming military operation.

So in the coming days, France will table a resolution which is based on this dual track and I hope it will be approved in the coming days.

Q: During the discussion at the Security Council, the Malian Minister and the ECOWAS talking about the extreme emergency deploying this force and then we heard M. Feltman talking about the force as the last resort. There is a huge gap between these expectations and when and if it is going to happen.

It will happen when it is right, when everybody is ready. We are in a time where it would be to the Malians to restore the territorial integrity of Mali. So the first thing we have to do is to rebuild the Malian forces. It will take some time. But we need to send immediately an ECOWAS force in Bamako because it will send also a strong signal to encourage the political process and we need to have a political process to allow the Malian forces to go back to their barracks in the North.

Q: The African Union has made clear that the historical precedents for voluntary funding for this kind of things shows that it is not always the most effective way to go. What is your view on the Secretary-General recommendations in that regard, and how do you feel about proposals to have not one resolution but two resolutions to deal with this problem?

We already have had two resolutions on Mali, and I don’t know how many Presidential Statements… We need one resolution, I don’t think we need two resolutions.

On your first question, the Secretariat is going to provide in the coming days a financial document about the options in terms of logistical support, because this support has been provided to the AMISOM. In this case, it is a much smaller operation and there is no reason why we should not have a logistical support provided by the UN. We are expecting a report in the coming days, presenting the options that will have to be endorsed by the Council.

Q: Le Secrétaire général a pris ses distances avec l’option militaire, et notamment une offensive militaire. Vous nous parlez d’un consensus. Est-ce qu’il n’y a pas des différences de vue entre le Secrétaire général et certains pays, dont la France, sur l’opportunité d’une intervention militaire ?

Il y a évidemment des nuances, comme vous l’avez senti. Mais pour citer la phrase « que l’opération militaire ne serait qu’un dernier ressort », cet élément de phrase a été contesté par plusieurs pays, pas par la France.

Je crois qu’il ne faut pas dramatiser la notion d’intervention militaire. On a l’impression que cela va être la charge à travers le désert... Le Mali, c’est quelques villes. On nous dit que l’ennemi est lourdement armé. Ce n’est pas vrai. Il est armé, mais ce sont des bandes de bandits, qui n’ont pas d’entraînement militaire. Le vrai risque, en termes militaires, est qu’ils fuient Tombouctou et Gao dans le désert, comme c’est dans doute le plus probable. Ensuite, il faudra tenir le terrain. Nous devons permettre à l’armée malienne de faire ce qu’elle a fait pendant des décennies : tenir le territoire.

Q: The Africans seem to be quite put out by the possibility that there is going to be this long delay before an authorization for a military force. They want it authorized by the end of the year. They wanted it to start operating and going to the North. They seem to think that they are ready, but obviously the UN does not.

If you look at the framework document they have sent to the Council, the logic will be: first, rebuilding the Malian army, and afterwards going there. There is no other solution. The ECOWAS forces are not ready to fight in the desert. Moreover, we are in Mali, it will be to the Malians to do the job.

Q: Could you give us more details of the resolution? Is there a timetable? When will they be ready?

There will be a regular report sent to the Council, on the basis of some benchmarks to assess the operational capabilities of the force.

Q: The Assistant Secretary-General Mr. Simonovitch, when he was asked about the Mali force, said that the UN Human Rights due diligence policy would apply…

Of course.

Q: So here’s my question: you keep saying how the Malian army would regain its barracks. Is France comfortable with the current Human Rights’ record of Malian army, given the coup, given the people still involved and how will it be? Will it be in a resolution?

The question of being comfortable or not doesn’t make any sense. We have said, and it will be in a resolution, that the UN have raised in the report the issue of the Human Rights, and we do think that it is of course a legitimate issue. We have asked the UN to provide solutions. First we are going to rebuild the Malian army, which means training the people, vetting the people. So how the UN should be part of the process? We will have several months: it will be to the UN to work on the training of the Malian army.

Secondly, from some of the Secretary-General’s questions, we have the impression that we are in total new ground. We are not in a new ground: for instance there is a policy in DRC where the UN stops supporting a unit if this unit is committing Human Rights violations. So why not do it? We have learned lessons from Somalia and we have to implement them. We are ready to put all the guidelines in the resolution -Human Rights, humanitarian guidelines…- that the Secretary will deem necessary.

Q: About DRC, since you mentioned that policy: during the final M23 reports not only mentioned M23 violations but also on FARDC committing rapes. What do you think DPKO should do to make sure that these units don’t come back to Goma…?

No it is not DPKO’s work, this is for the Human Rights teams of MONUSCO. First they have to assess the situation, to check the allegations. It has always been the case. Afterwards, if these allegations are verified, the UN should cease their support at these units.

Thank you.



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