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18 March 2009 - Security Council - Report of the panel AU - UN - Statement by H.E. Mr. Jean-Maurice Ripert, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

Peace and Security in Africa

(UN translation)

I wish at the outset to welcome you, Sir, and to assure you of the full cooperation of my delegation, on which you may count. I also wish to thank the Secretary-General and Mr. Romano Prodi, Chairman of the panel, for their statements, as well as all the other speakers. I am grateful to the Secretary-General for having established the panel and for having briefed us on the report (S/2008/813), and to the Libyan presidency for having organized today’s debate, at which the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Africa has honoured us with her presence.

Nearly 18 months ago, the President of the French Republic led a Security Council meeting at the level of heads of State and Government on the topic of Africa and challenges to international peace and security. That meeting enabled us, inter alia, to underscore the key role of the African Union in that area. That role has since been further strengthened through numerous interventions both to prevent crises and to help resolve them.

France and the European Union are and have long been fully involved in helping the African Union to enjoy the necessary resources to meet those challenges. I fully associate myself with the statement to be made by the representative of the Czech Republic on behalf of the European Union, which I would recall is the top financial partner of the African Union. The African Peace Facility of the European Union alone has allocated for €440 million since 2004, and a further €300 million for the next three years. We support the African Union in the operations it leads. We endorse the strengthening of its structural capacities, the building of an African Peace and Security Architecture and the formation of an available and trained African Standby Force, to which France, together with Italy in particular, provides major operational support. France supports nearly 20 African regional training centres throughout the continent. Moreover, the European Union has established with the African Union a genuine strategic partnership in the field of peace and security. I take this opportunity to recall that the emergence of the European Union’s foreign security and defence policies, which has enabled it to become effectively involved on the African continent in peacekeeping missions, makes it a reliable and trustworthy partner both for the United Nations and for the African Union.

The report (S/2008/813) before us today represents one phase of a process. In effect, the Security Council will have to incorporate three elements into its consideration.

The first is a general approach. The panel has presented guidelines on how to ensure better support to African Union operations. The Security Council must study in detail the recommendations that the Secretary-General will present to it in that regard. On issues of organization and financing, its expertise is irreplaceable.

The second element is how to implement the support sanctioned by the Security Council to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Resolution 1863 (2009), which we adopted in January, requested the Secretary-General to set up a trust fund to support AMISOM and the joint Somali security forces, and sanctioned the principle of a logistical support package to AMISOM financed by the United Nations. It is vital to concretely implement those measures. The Secretary-General has started to do so. We would hope that he also takes stock of that in his next report to the Security Council.

The third and last element is the need to take into account the consideration that the Security Council has just begun, at the initiative of France and the United Kingdom, on peacekeeping operations in cooperation with all other relevant actors of the United Nations system. Earlier, the Secretary-General reminded us of the United Nations system’s joint study of peacekeeping operations that he has just undertaken. At a time when the number of United Nations operations and troops is rapidly increasing, the Organization must collectively consider how to improve the efficiency of the peacekeeping operations and to harmonize peacekeeping, peacebuilding and development more effectively in the field. Peacekeeping forces cannot do everything.

Our first step, therefore, is to consider in detail the recommendations of the Secretary-General. However, at this stage France would like to give some general indications on how we could advance the process together. We must reconcile the necessary support to the African Union with the principle of the universality of the United Nations and with the special role that the Charter entrusts to the Security Council.

That has two types of consequences. First, in the political field, there can be no sharing of a priori roles that would lead to regionalization in maintaining international peace and security. Clearly, the African Union has a central role to play, but the Security Council has the responsibility to act every time that it deems it necessary. Moreover, we must be careful to avoid a formalization or institutionalization that paralyses our relations. It is in the field that we must strengthen those relations.

With regard to financing, we share the objective to achieve permanent financing for African Union peacekeeping operations, but recourse to mandatory contributions of the United Nations does not seem a good solution to us. For reasons of effectiveness and responsibility, the organization that finances the budget of an operation must control it and head its chain of command. Beyond that, we cannot ignore the severe constraints on the financing of the United Nations itself, which face a growing burden with an annual budget of nearly $8 billion to finance peacekeeping operations.

However, there are promising avenues, such as the establishment of a global standing trust fund with resources that can be readily mobilized, financed by voluntary contributions and set up to attract additional funds, in particular to meet needs not fully assessed at this stage, such as those directly linked to military equipment.

To conclude, I would like again to welcome the efforts of the panel chaired by Mr. Romano Prodi. Beyond the few differences noticeable today, it is necessary to stress that we are debating not the principle of how but the best way in which to support African Union peacekeeping operations and the African Union itself. France thanks the Secretary-General for the first indications that he has given us today, and we will study in detail and with great interest the report that he will submit to the Security Council on this issue in the coming months. /.

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