Source: France-Diplomatie – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development
1. United Nations – Syria/Political and humanitarian situation – Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, permanent representative of France to the United Nations to the Security Council (New York, 16/12/2020)
I thank Mr. Lowcock and Mr. Pedersen for their briefings.
France takes note of the fourth session of the Constitutional Committee which was held in Geneva.
We call for the fifth session to be held on 25 January as announced by the Special Envoy on the basis of the agenda agreed by the stakeholders.
Indeed, it is high time for the parties to finally start substantive discussions on constitutional reform. The Syrian regime should also fully respect the rules of functionning of the constitutional committee.
France will remain vigilant against any attempt by the regime to undermine the process. It calls on the Special Envoy to keep this Council informed of any obstacle and to clearly assign responsibilities for those obstacles.
Beyond the Constitutional Committee, there is an urgent need to relaunch a credible political process based on all the elements of resolution 2254.
The Special Envoy has our full support in working on this issue, in connection with the main stakeholders.
In particular, concrete results must be achieved on the situation of detainees and missing persons.
It is also essential that all of the Syrians, including those in the diaspora, are at last given a voice in preparing for the holding of elections in accordance with the provisions of resolution 2254 and under UN supervision. France will not recognize the results of elections that will take place outside the Geneva political process.
Thirdly, France is concerned at the increasing hostilities on the ground.
We must work together on the implementation of a lasting and verifiable cessation of hostilities at the national level, in line with the calls of the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy as well as in line with the resolutions of this Council.
We warn against any new offensive, whether in the North-West or in the North-East.
The continued deterioration of the humanitarian situation should concern this Council.
There are now 13 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria, almost 2 million more than a year ago. We deplore the methodical reduction of cross-border crossings for the delivery of aid, which is all the more worrying given the current health crisis.
Obstacles to humanitarian access, particularly by the Syrian regime, are unacceptable, especially in the context of the pandemic. I am thinking of the obstacles to humanitarian access in the province of Damascus, in southern Syria, as well as in the northeast, where the regime has refused for two months to allow food aid to reach more than 200,000 people in Raqqa.
The protection of civilians, including humanitarian and medical personnel, must remain the first priority. I recall, of course, that respect for international humanitarian law is an obligation for all.
After 10 years of conflict, any attempt by the regime and its allies to lead us to believe in a normalization of the situation in Syria will fool nobody.
The figures from the High Commissioner for Refugees speak for themselves: of the 5.5 million Syrian refugees in the region, only 260,000 have chosen to return to their home country since 2016. They will not return as long as the regime continues to threaten their lives and deprive them of their property.
France is therefore working with all international actors, first and foremost the United Nations, to ensure that the right to voluntary, safe and dignified return of refugees and displaced persons be respected. But we will not participate in disinformation campaigns.
Furthermore, France, with its European Union partners, will not deviate from its position on normalization, sanctions and reconstruction in the absence of a credible political settlement. Those of us who believe that the time has come can already begin to fund the reconstruction.
Serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights will not remain unpunished. This is the rational behind our support for the fight against impunity, in particular for the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism. We are determined to provide this mechanism with the budget necessary to function properly.
Without a political solution to the conflict, there will be no lasting stabilization of Syria. It is high time for all members of this Council to hear this message and really committ to discussions to end this crisis.
2. United Nations – South Sudan – Statement by Ms Nathalie Broadhurst, deputy permanent representative of France to the United Nations at the Security Council (New York, 15/12/2020)
I would like to thank Mr. Shearer, Mr. Lowcock and the Chairman of the sanctions committee for South Sudan for their comprehensive briefings.
I would like to emphasize four points:
First, France is concerned by the lack of progress in the implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement. We welcome the progress on the distribution of portfolios at the state and county levels. However, we regret the delay in the formation of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly and the appointment of the Governor of Upper Nile, as well as the lack of progress on the participation of women and youth. In the area of security and the fight against impunity, the formation of the unified forces and the establishment of the Hybrid Tribunal need to advance more rapidly.
Secondly, the security situation has certainly improved since 2018, and the ceasefire remains generally respected by the parties, as you have indicated. But the relative decrease in violence in recent months should not cause us to lose sight of the fact that the conditions remain in place for a resumption of violence during the dry season. The factors of conflict are aggravated by the lack of a positive outlook on the implementation of the Peace Agreement but also, as we saw during the briefings, by the deterioration of the economic and humanitarian situation.
France therefore calls on all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law. We condemn the attacks against humanitarian workers. They caused 14 deaths in 2020. Such violence must not go unpunished. It is important that the groups responsible be sanctioned more systematically by this Council. At a time when humanitarian needs are immense, when some regions are on the brink of famine, humanitarian workers must be able to move around unhindered and without fear of being targeted.
The increasing number of kidnappings of civilians in the Equatoria region, which is attributable to the armed groups that remain active in the region, is also of concern. In this regard, France welcomes the mediation efforts of the Sant’Egidio community to engage the armed groups that are not signatories to the 2018 Agreement.
In a context that is extremely difficult, France commends UNMISS for its commitment, its adaptation efforts and all of its work. I refer in particular to the transfer of responsibility for civilian protection sites to the south Sudanese authorities. We will, of course, carefully examine the strategic review to ensure that the mission’s mandate is more oriented towards a realistic objective, taking into account the will of the parties. The protection of civilians and the facilitation of humanitarian access will, of course, remain at the heart of the mission’s priorities in any event. The South Sudanese authorities must increase their competence in this area, with of course the support of UNMISS at their side. I commend UNMISS for its work, and I recall in this regard that restrictions on its freedom of movement are not acceptable.
In conclusion, France also supports the maintenance of the sanctions regime established by resolution 2206, including the arms embargo, the implementation of which must be improved both by South Sudan and by the States of the region. Obstacles to the work of UNMISS, such as attacks on humanitarian personnel, are grounds for designation, which this Council must use in view of the challenges on the ground.