(translation of statement made in French)
I would of course like to thank Mr. Le Roy for his introduction to the report of the Secretary-General (S/2009/470). I should also like to welcome the presence among us of President Prodi.
My delegation would like to associate itself with the statement to be delivered shortly on behalf of the presidency of the European Union. For my part, I would like to highlight the following points.
First of all, everyone is aware of, and shares, the considerations upon which our discussion today is based. The increase in peacekeeping operations in recent years poses a significant challenge. The United Nations has had to act continuously, putting eight times as many Blue Helmets on the ground as it had a decade ago. In order to better enable the Organization to overcome those challenges, early this year France and the United Kingdom began an exercise in thinking about and modernizing United Nations peacekeeping.
Africa has a unique place in this process. On the one hand, it is the number-one recipient of peacekeepers. On the other, it is taking on increasing responsibilities in these peacekeeping efforts. These African efforts are being undertaken under the aegis of the United Nations, as one third of Blue Helmets are currently provided by African countries. This African effort is also taking place through the work of the African Union, including the gradual implementation of the African Peace and Security Architecture.
This stepping up of African endeavours in the field of crisis prevention and management is in line with the spirit of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter and thus merits the full support of the international community. It merits this support all the more because the African Union faces peacekeeping challenges that are unique to Africa and that relate to the fact that its institutional capacity is so recently acquired.
France, like its European Union partners, will assume its full role in supporting peacekeeping by African regional and subregional organizations. This support must have two facets, namely capacity-building and support for operations.
The European Union has developed a plan of action for African Union capacity-building. The Renforcement des capacités africaines de maintien de la paix (RECAMP) programme, in particular, is aimed at helping the African Union to put the African Standby Force in place in 2010. France also contributes to capacity-building in Africa through numerous training activities that are aimed at building regional, subregional and national peacekeeping capacities.
France and its partners in the European Union also support the operations undertaken by African organizations. This support is well known, but what I wish to underscore today is that it is taking increasingly varied forms. In the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), for example, we see a very clear case of this. France has contributed to the preparation and deployment of the Burundi contingent; the European Union naval operation, Operation Atalanta, is helping to secure AMISOM’s provisioning routes; European countries are among the primary financial supporters of AMISOM; and France provided health care support to the Mission during the mid-September attacks.
As the Secretary-General’s report shows, international support for peacekeeping in Africa should be maintained and stepped up. The United Nations has a role to play in this. France agrees with the Secretary-General’s opinion that our objective should be African Union ownership of its peacekeeping instruments, with full respect for the United Nations Charter. In this respect I would highlight in particular Article 24 of the Charter on the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security, and Chapter VIII on the role of regional organizations.
Along these lines, we agree with the importance of strengthening the strategic partnership between the African Union and the United Nations. In this respect, we thank the Secretary-General for his evaluation of the various possible modalities for the financing of African Union peacekeeping operations. Indeed, as we build African capacities, we must improve the ways to finance these operations.
In this context, we must draw lessons from the support modules established previously in Darfur and more recently in Somalia. These are exceptional cases both for financial reasons — namely, the current crisis and substantial increase in United Nations needs — and for reasons having to do with governance. Every organization, first and foremost the United Nations, has the primary responsibility for financing its activities.
This is why the United Nations practice of financing from assessed contributions leads to political, legal and financial problems which we believe to be serious. There are other modalities that are effective and realistic. They must be used. The European Union played a pioneering role in this respect by establishing in 2004 the African Peace Facility and allocating €740 million to it since then. We also welcome the Secretary-General’s thoughts on ways to galvanize potential donors for the African Union and harmonizing their procedures, in particular by helping the African Union establish a trust fund.
Finally, we recognize the importance of enabling the African Union to benefit from United Nations institutional experience, that is to say as regards the capacity of the African Union headquarters to plan, deploy, support and manage peacekeeping operations. We must of course not forget the responsibility of the African States themselves when it comes to strengthening their capacity as troop-contributing countries.
Allow me to therefore conclude by underscoring that building African peacekeeping capacity is a matter not solely for the United Nations, but also for Africa and all of Africa’s international partners. France is among them and will remain committed to this objective.