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19 June 2013 - Security Council - Conflict prevention and natural resources - Statement by Mr Martin Briens, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

(UN translation)

At the outset I would like to echo previous speakers in condemning the cowardly attack that took place this morning in Mogadishu and express our condolences to the families of the victims, to the United Nations staff and to the Somalian authorities. I would like to thank the Deputy Secretary-General, Mr. Jan Eliasson, Mr. Kofi Annan, Ms. Rebeca Grynspan and Ms. Anstey for their briefings.

The issue of managing and controling natural resources, in particular those of the the extractive industry, is a key issue with regard to maintaining international peace and security. A number of conflicts are related to the issue of natural resources, and that trend will accelerate in the coming years given the increasing pressure upon such resources. We would therefore like to thank the United Kingdom presidency of the Security Council for organizing this debate on what is really a major issue at the heart of the Security Council’s mandate, especially within the perspective of conflict prevention.

International conferss upon States special prerogatives with regard to natural resources; they have sovereign rights over those resources. The Security Council’s role is not to question such rights in any instance, but to consider situations in which natural resources play a role in conflicts. There are many such situations. We therefore regret the fact that the Security Council cannot adopt a text on the issue because of the objections of one delegation.

In some cases, it is the way in which natural resources are managed that can lead to conflicts. There are many such examples. The civil wars in Liberia, Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo all share a sommon aspect: resources such as diamonds, gold, minerals and oil. In other cases, the exploitation of natural resources or of wildlife can fuel conflicts through the purchasing of weapons and payments to armed groups, as for example in the Kivus.

Unfortunately, those factors can some together, resulting in suffering for civil populations.Children are often recruited to work in mining. Ms. Bangura, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, has also pointed out in her most recent report the correlation between armed activities related to illegal mining and sexual violence.

While tensions around natural resources have major consequences on the stability of a region, that should not allow us to forget that the sound management of natural resources is essential in the reconstruction phase and would prevent a relapse into conflict. By benefitting economic development, the sound management of resources also contributes to peacebuilding. We see that, for example, with the normalization of relations between the Sudan and South Sudan with regard to the oil sector, which is one of the necessary preconditions for stabilizing their relations and, beyond that, for their development. In the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, addressing the issue of sharing resources and arable land is an matter that is vital to putting an end to the repeated crises in the region.

Clearly, the issue of natural resources and their management is far from being the only cause of conflict, but it is a deep-rooted and lasting one that, as we have seen, can affect all phases of a conflict. Good management of such resources is an important element in good governance, which in its turn is essential for maintaining stability. It is important that local people be able to enjoy the benefits of their resources in order not to fuel tension. The Security Council has a responsibility to encourage initiatives that ensure proper, lasting and responsible management. It must support measures that can establish the basis for lasting peace.

Aware of all those challenges, the international community has gradually established means to ensure proper management of natural resources, and we must support those initiatives. To combat the pillaging of natural resources, France supported, in the General Assembly and the Security Council alike, the establishment of the Kimberley Process certification scheme, which establishes a certification mechanism for the source of diamonds. Those efforts must be carried out at the level of States as well as that of private-sector companies, and they can also be supported by civil society. Frances supports the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, which on a voluntary basis brings together Governments, mining companies and non-governmental organizations. The initiative has as a goal to ensure that those resources serve development and not fuel ongoing conflicts. That is also a historic step forward in combatting corruption, given that it aims to make Governments accountable to public opinion for their use of mining-sector resources. Private companies play a key role in the effective, transparent and responsible management of such resources. It is important to continue to encourage them to sign on to the United Nations Global Compact, through which they would align their operations with the 10 universally accepted principles concerning human rights, labour standards, the environment and combating corruption.

I should like to conclude by emphasizing that the United Nations system, including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, can play a very useful supporting role vis-à-vis States that wish to establish transparent institutions responsible for managing their natural resources and to avoid the illegal exploitation of those resources, thereby promoting sustainable development. But to fully benefit from the involvement of the various players in the United Nations system, we must enhance coordination. I would like to note that the current example of the involvement of the World Bank in bringing States of the Great Lakes region closer together through the Secretary-General’s Framework Agreement is promising.

In conclusion, we believe that in future it is important that the Security Council continue to review the issue of the management of natural resources, whose consequences for international peace and security, as we have seen, are considerable.

Learn more on Transnational threats to international peace and security.



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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU