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Peacekeeping reform would be among the top priorities of the Security Council’s work in June, François Delattre (France), its President for that month, said at a Headquarters press conference today.
“We would like to make the French presidency an opportunity to deepen the understanding of what peacekeeping means today and reflect on what it will mean tomorrow,” he said, emphasizing that France’s would be one of the busiest presidencies of 2016 with a full programme of work, “maybe even the fullest of the year”.
Elaborating on the Council’s peacekeeping-reform agenda, he pointed to emerging threats from non-State actors and stressed that the protection of civilians must be an integral part of all peacekeeping missions. That would be the main focus of a 10 June open debate, over which France’s Foreign Minister would preside, he added.
He went on to state that the Council would also need to renew several peacekeeping mandates, including that of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), and the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). “This means that Africa would be centre stage of the presidency,” he said, adding that, as illustrated by recent events, peacekeeping mandates now faced particular difficulties and challenges. On a more positive note, he said MINUSMA had “unprecedented levels” of technical capacity and renewing its mandate would be quite important. The focus must remain on capacity-building and increasing troop levels.
On 6 June, he continued, the Council would hold a debate on regional cooperation, which was pertinent to peacekeeping missions and the work of the United Nations in the Middle East, particularly Syria, Yemen and Libya. Additionally, the Council would consider a report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Lebanon.
More immediately, the Council would hold an important open debate on sexual violence in conflict tomorrow, to mark the first ever International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, to be celebrated on 23 June. Tomorrow the Council would hear briefings by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Zainab Hawa Bangura, his Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said it was France’s belief that the status quo was backtracking as settlement construction continued and public opinion hardened. However, the French presidency could not give up, stand aside or hope for miracles, he said, reiterating that a two-State solution was the only viable option and calling on all sides to relaunch political discussions. “We want to see a specific timeline with clear goals before the end of the year,” he added.
June would also be a month of elections, firstly those for the General Assembly presidency, then for non-permanent Security Council members on 28 June, he said. France also looked forward to continuing discussions on the appointment of a new Secretary-General and holding informal meetings on the candidates. “We’re looking at things quite positively as pertains to the General Assembly’s work,” he added.
Asked about the situation in Libya, he said the highest priority was for all forces in that country to unite in order to strengthen border control, fight trafficking in migrants, and battle Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh). The positive dynamic currently under way must be fuelled even further, he added, noting that while many initiatives had been undertaken to unite the Government and integrate banks and oil company assets, much more remained to be done in uniting the Libyan people.
When asked how the Council planned to increase MINUSMA’s troop levels, he said that effort would be based on the Secretary-General’s report.
Questioned as to whether the Council planned to meet on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said a draft resolution was circulating, and described the proliferation of nuclear weapons as concerning and unacceptable.
On Burundi, he said the major goals remained the same: to promote truly inclusive dialogue among Burundians within a framework of respect. He Underlined the need to strengthen the country’s police force as part of the increasing international presence, and the need for “eyes and ears” to follow the situation on the ground.
Asked whether he thought convoys in Syria would be allowed to access those in need, he said the Council would hold consultations on the humanitarian situation there. The deteriorating situation was particularly alarming despite the commitments made by the International Syria Support Group, he said, pointing out that the cessation of hostilities was being repeatedly jeopardized. Hundreds of civilians had been killed in a recent bombardment, and civilian-protection commitments were not being respected. The Syrian regime continued to prevent and deny access, he said, underlining the importance of ensuring free and unhindered access for all humanitarian convoys.