Official speeches and statements - April 9, 2021
I would like to add my voice to express my deepest condolences on the passing of Prince Philip.
I first would like to thank UK for organizing this very important and timely meeting and thank the briefers for their very powerful interventions. As we have heard, the situation is escalating rapidly in Myanmar. Every day, news of civilians, including children, being shot, arbitrarily arrested and sometimes even tortured are reaching us. This has to stop. We are deeply concerned by the attacks on the right to freedom of opinion and expression as journalists and media workers are directly targeted.
I would like to recall our appeal for the immediate and unconditional release of all persons that were arrested in the wake of the military coup and for their support for the restoration of the legitimate civilian government, including the State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and the president of the Republic Win Myint, the end of the state emergency and the restoration of the legitimate civilian government. No one has physically met with the State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi since she was arrested, this is not acceptable.
Allowing a rapid, safe, unhindered humanitarian access is also a priority. The situation as described by the briefers and the Special Envoy in previous meetings is absolutely alarming. The long term impact of this crisis, combined with those of the pandemic will undermine all progress made by Myanmar on the path towards development and democracy.
The interventions from the briefers today demonstrate once again that the international community needs to act urgently. It is both a collective and a national responsibility.
I would like to reiterate our constant support to the work of the Special Envoy, as also expressed by the Council. Her visit to the region is timely but, as others, we think she should also be able to visit Myanmar as soon as possible and without precondition. She must be granted access by the military and be able to engage with all parties. I am also glad that this meeting allows for the CRPH to engage with the international community.
The Security Council has sent strong messages. But, so far, those strong messages have not been heard by the regime resulting from the coup. We must go further in order to increase the pressure. Unity is key at the Council, we all know it, but unity should not mean inaction.
The role of the United Nations to support the people of Myanmar is essential and the General Assembly should also remain mobilized and unanimous in its denunciation of the coup.
We also welcome ASEAN’s efforts and encourage them to increase their engagement to find ways to support Myanmar in this dire situation and work towards an inclusive political solution with all parties. We look forward to hearing the conclusions from the emergency summit that was announced for April 20th.
At a national level, as part of the EU, France has also supported the adoption of sanctions. The first ones were adopted on March 22nd against eleven individuals responsible for the coup among them ten high level members of the armed forces, including the commander-in-chief, his deputy, and the chairman of the election commission. We are already working with our European partners to go further and adopt as soon as possible additional sanctions targeting the economic interests of the military, while remaining cautious to avoid hurting the most vulnerable populations.
Finally, I would like to conclude with a special word for the Rohingyas. Their situation remain very worrying, being it the humanitarian situation, the conditions they live in or the constant violations of their rights. Let me remind all here that the Myanmar security forces responsible for the blind violence and repression today are the same ones responsible for atrocities against the Rohingyas. We must not let them continue.
2. United Nations - Mine action and sustaining peace - Statement by Ms. Nathalie Broadhurst, Deputy permanent representative of France to the United Nations, at the Security Council (New York - April 8, 2021)
[translation from French]
I too would like to congratulate you on your presidency of the Security Council in this month of April and thank you for organizing this important debate. I would also like to thank the Secretary-General as well as all the briefers for their extremely incisive briefings.
Anti-personnel landmines and explosive remnants of war are still today claiming one victim every two hours across the world. This is in addition to the increasing use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) which take an even deadlier toll. Over the last decade, IEDs have been responsible for the highest number of civilian deaths caused by explosive weapons. Civilians, local forces and troop contributing countries face daily these scourges of modern warfare. Anti-personnel mines and improvised explosive devices kill and maim, randomly wreaking havoc long after being laid, and are likely to harm civilians and military personnel alike.
The daily work of civilian and military mine clearers protects the most vulnerable populations. Mine clearance also contributes to creating the security conditions that allow peacekeepers to deploy in better conditions and humanitarian personnel to access conflict zones. Their action is indispensable, not only for the return of displaced populations and refugees, but also for post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction.
We are facing complex challenges. The new conflicts are intense, asymmetric, protracted and urbanized. The threat of improvised explosive devices is increasing. That is why we must equip actors on the ground with the necessary operational means. Peace operations are regularly plunged into mourning. Their mobility and therefore their ability to fulfil their missions are hampered. They have therefore developed new technologies, in particular jamming systems. Medical evacuations have also become faster, thanks to decision-making closer to operational levels.
We also need to step up our efforts in terms of troop training and outreach. And we need to tackle networks, which means coordinating actions at the national and regional levels. It also requires measures to prevent and combat the illicit procurement of components, explosives and materials that can be used to manufacture improvised explosive devices. These efforts are a key part of our action, and must be combined with mine clearance and security programs to protect civilian populations.
Here, I wish to commend the remarkable work of the UN Mine Action Service. I would also like to pay tribute to all the specialized NGOs, which work tirelessly in extremely dangerous areas. At the national level, France supports mine clearance programs, particularly in the Middle East and Africa, in close partnership with numerous partners.
The strengthening of means on the ground must go hand in hand with the implementation of a universal legal framework. The protection of civilian populations against the indiscriminate effects of certain means of warfare is a fundamental obligation, recalled in the Ottawa Convention and reinforced in the Oslo Convention. For over 20 years, France has been strongly committed to the implementation and universalization of these conventions. Strengthening resources on the ground must go hand in hand with the implementation of a legal framework that is universal.
Every day, lives are shattered because someone put a foot wrong. Time is of the essence in the face of the ever-increasing number of victims caused by these weapons. This is our moral, political and legal responsibility. You can be assured of France’s continued commitment in this regard.