France sets out priorities for UN Security Council presidency
French presidency of the Security Council – CAR/Syria/Mali/Sahel/protection of journalists – Press conference given by France’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (excerpts)
New York, 3 December 2013
Central African Republic
M. ARAUD – The first topic for us is the Central African Republic. I won’t reiterate the seriousness of the humanitarian situation, the efforts that France has been making for months now, since June, to mobilize the international community. We presented a draft resolution based on the Secretary-General’s report. We’re in the process of reaching a consensus on the text following intense negotiations. We should be able to adopt the draft resolution by Thursday. There’s an urgent need to take action.
This resolution will notably give a mandate to the African Union force, MISCA [AFISM-CAR], to protect civilians and stabilize the country. It will establish a trust fund to collect voluntary contributions in order to lend support to MISCA. It will authorize the French forces to support MISCA. It will ask the Secretary-General to present a report within the next three months on the possible transformation of MISCA into a UN peacekeeping operation should that be deemed necessary following a review of the situation on the ground. It establishes a commission of inquiry into human rights violations. It imposes an arms embargo. Lastly, it introduces a sanctions regime targeting individuals.
The resolution should, I think, be adopted on Thursday morning at the latest.
The second topic is Syria. Ms Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, briefed us this morning. Here again, we’re faced with a tragic humanitarian situation, undoubtedly the worst the world has had to deal with since the Rwandan genocide in 1994. We’re all working on the basis of the Security Council Presidential Statement adopted a few weeks ago. This is the only text that we have.
Ms Amos told us that some progress has been made but that it remains extremely limited and that there is still a long way to go. Humanitarian access is a priority.
At the end of the meeting, in my capacity as President, I drew the general conclusion that whatever our political divisions – which are significant and which remain – we all agree on the seriousness of the humanitarian situation, on the need to implement the Presidential Statement, on the fact that progress has been made but remains extremely inadequate and that the Security Council should continue working with Ms Amos, with the OCHA, to monitor the situation.
The OCHA has created a group in Geneva bringing together around 20 interested countries. Priorities have been set. The members of this group will work with the parties with which they are in contact to try and make progress on the selected areas.
Regarding chemical weapons, Ms Kaag, Special Coordinator of the Joint OPCW-UN Mission, will present her report tomorrow afternoon. This is a monthly report specified in Resolution 2118. The mission has only limited resources; it’s therefore largely dependent on contributions from member states. In this respect, the United States should be making a major contribution since the destruction of chemical weapons could take place on an American vessel. The Americans should also be providing packaging capacity in the form of containers. We’re very grateful to the United States.
There is still however a great deal of uncertainty about how the weapons should be destroyed. But the OPCW Director-General – since it’s the OPCW that is primarily responsible for this matter – should be providing details on 17 December on how we should transport the chemical weapons components through Syria and then out of Syria, and on their destruction.
Also on Syria, we are in principle expecting, by mid-December, the final report of the commission led by Mr Sellström on the use of chemical weapons in the spring and summer of 2013 in Syria. Once we have the report we will organize a consultation session on this basis.
Protection of journalists
The third subject is the protection of journalists. On 13 December, in conjunction with Guatemala, we’re organizing an unofficial “Arria-formula” meeting on the protection of journalists. We’re doing so under the shock of the deaths of two journalists, Mme Dupont and M. Verlon, near Kidal, Mali, on 2 November.
The General Assembly has just adopted a resolution on the issue. On France’s initiative and at its express request, the General Assembly symbolically declared 2 November – the day of the two journalists’ deaths – “International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists”.
For France, the meeting we’re planning on 13 December is about involving the Security Council again in this issue. Among the panellists, we’ll have the International Criminal Court’s Chief Prosecutor, Ms Fatou Bensouda, UNESCO’s Director-General, Ms Bokova – UNESCO plays an important role in this – and the Director-General of Reporters Without Borders, as well as journalists.
The meeting will be entirely open to the press; you are of course invited to take part. France is also thinking about the adoption of a Security Council press statement on the issue.
Fourth subject, the Sahel. On 12 December the United Nations Secretary-General will present the outcome of the round of visits he made to that region. He will speak to the Council with the President of the World Bank, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and European Union representatives. The visit has enabled us to step up the international community’s efforts vis-à-vis the development of the Sahel; the causes of the security crisis the region has gone through are also partly linked to the economic and climate crisis the region is going through.
For the moment, France doesn’t aim to produce a text, but a member of the Security Council told us it was pondering the issue. So it may be that a text will follow that meeting.
Furthermore, on 18 December we’re organizing a meeting devoted to drugs trafficking in the Sahel and West Africa, since all these issues are obviously linked: trafficking in drugs from Latin America undermines governance, develops organized crime and leads to the development of large-scale corruption throughout the region and even beyond, and threatens the very security of the European continent.
Speaking on this occasion will be the Secretary-General, the UNODC Executive Director and Mr Djinnit, the Secretary-General’s representative for West Africa. (…)./.