Official speeches and statements - June 24, 2020
I thank the Secretary-General for his introduction, as well as the Secretary-General of the Arab League and the Special Coordinator for their briefings. I also welcome the participation of the Ministers of Palestine, South Africa, Indonesia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia, Vietnam and the UK.
We are at a turning point in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Almost thirty years ago, the signatories of the Oslo agreements had the courage to take the first steps towards resolving the oldest conflict on the agenda of this Council. With one week to go before the deadline of the 1st of July, the hope of achieving a comprehensive peace in the Middle East has never seemed so remote.
France shares the deep concerns expressed by the members of this Council and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, but also by the High Representative of the European Union on several occasions regarding the Israeli government’s declared threat to annex parts of the West Bank after July 1.
It would be a serious breach of international law, in flagrant violation of the principle of non-acquisition of territory by force enshrined in the Charter.
Any annexation of territory in the West Bank, regardless of its perimeter, would also irreversibly undermine the peace process and the two-state solution.
Finally, such a decision would further undermine the stability of a region undermined by crises and Israel’s relationship with its Arab neighbors.
Our mobilization is therefore essential to prevent any annexation decision, which would be in the interests of neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis.
France calls on the Israeli Government to refrain from any unilateral measure that could lead to annexation.
France will not recognize any modification of the June 1967 lines, except those agreed by the two parties, in accordance with international law, the resolutions of this Council and the parameters on which the two-State solution is based.
As Minister Le Drian said, because of its gravity, a decision on annexation cannot go unanswered. In particular, annexation would not be without consequences for the European Union’s relations with Israel.
Unless we are able to relaunch a peace process immediately, our collective responsibility - and first and foremost the responsibility of this Council, which has defined and endorsed the parameters for resolving the conflict - is to preserve the conditions for future negotiations and the possibility of an agreement between the parties.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not be resolved through unilateral decisions. France, together with its European partners, will continue to promote the path of negotiations, and more broadly multilateralism and the defense of an international rule-based order. We stand ready to play our full part in relaunching an ambitious political process and resuming credible negotiations based on international law, the relevant resolutions of this Council and internationally agreed parameters.
Those parameters are clear and well-known: two States, living side by side in peace and security along secure and recognized borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of both States. An annexation, regardless of its perimeter, would undoubtedly be an irreversible step in the opposite direction: that of a single State, which would put an end to the national aspirations of the Palestinians and to the Israeli democratic project.
We must collectively warn against this prospect, and reaffirm our readiness to accompany the parties on the two-State path, which is the only one likely to lead to a just and lasting peace in the region.
I add my voice to the acknowledgements given to Ms. Gamba and Ms Fore. I would also like to thank Mariam, and through her, the youth of Mali and all those who work daily on the ground to improve the situation of children.
Fifteen years ago, the age of Mariam, my predecessor Ambassador de la Sablière and his counterpart from Benin submitted an ambitious and innovative resolution to the Council. Resolution 1612 structures our collective action to put an end to the infamy that brings us together today. Since 2005, our efforts have resulted in the release of more than 150,000 children, thanks to the commitment of this Council, successive SRSGs, UNICEF and civil society.
Our discussions have highlighted this collective success, which illustrates what the multilateral system can do best when the Security Council is vigilant, united and equipped with effective tools.
Grave violations against children however continue at alarming levels, fueled by the escalation of conflict.
This is why we must make the best use of the tools that this Council has put in place. Its Working Group must continue to meet regularly, develop contacts with those involved in child protection and carry out field visits. In this respect, I pay tribute to Belgium for its dynamic chairmanship of the Working Group. Since 2001, the Council has also asked the Secretary-General to release an annual infamous list. It is a heavy responsibility that is to be exercised on the basis of rigorous and objective criteria.
For its part, France will continue to play an active role and promote the universal endorsement of the Paris Principles and Commitments.
In the field, France supports projects for children in emergency situations. In particular through UNICEF and the Education Cannot Wait fund, we support projects in Lebanon and the Sahel.
Protecting children from recruitment and indoctrination by terrorist groups is imperative. Empowerment, through education and training, is one of the best ramparts against these forms of exploitation. This is why France has made education a priority of its external action. It has significantly increased its bilateral aid in this area and actively supports UNESCO, in particular to strengthen the resilience of young people in the face of violent extremism in the Sahel. France has also strengthened its support of the Global Partnership for Education with a historic contribution of €200M.
Because girls are particularly vulnerable, France supports the establishment of a protective environment for girls in schools. This is one of the objectives of the "Priority for Equality" Initiative, which operates in the Sahel countries.
Finally, in the face of the unacceptable increase of mutilation and sexual violence, our action includes a section devoted to care. This is why we support for instance several projects in Iraq but also the Mukwege/Murad Fund for survivors of sexual violence.
I would also like to thank David Shearer and Edmund Yakani for their very enlightening presentations. I would like to emphasize three points: the COVID-19 pandemic, the increase of intercommunal violence and the need to continue the peace process.
First, the consequences of the COVID pandemic in South Sudan are extremely concerning, in particular on an already fragile health system, as David Shearer has highlighted. The people of South Sudan, who were already suffering from a serious humanitarian crisis and lack of access to basic healthcare, is particularly vulnerable, we all know it.
However, measures to fight COVID must not result in limiting humanitarian access or the mobility of UNMISS. The violations of the SOFA in recent months, as well as the recent attacks against humanitarian workers, cannot be tolerable. The protection of civilians, including humanitarian and medical personnel, is an obligation that applies to all. We also call on the government to take action to combat hate speech and calls for violence against UN personnel.
Secondly, the increase of intercommunal violence since the beginning of the year is also very concerning. Intercommunal violence aggravates the humanitarian crisis, in particular by pushing new displaced people on the roads. The sexual violence and violence against children are unbearable and must be brought to justice. The establishment of the hybrid court, provided for in the agreement with the support of the African Union, should contribute to fighting impunity and reducing the scale of violence.
In this context, I would like to command the efforts of UNMISS to increase its mobility and to deploy as best as possible in these conflict zones, in particular through temporary bases. Conflict prevention actions at the community level are also more relevant than ever.
I would also like to reiterate that the sanctions regime remains essential to fight violence, to limit the proliferation of weapons and to deter perpetrators of human rights violations.
Finally, France calls on the transitional government to spare no effort in order to implement the revitalized peace agreement. The peace process must continue, despite the severe constraints of the COVID pandemic. An agreement on the distribution of the seats of the governors is urgent. As we know, lack of authorities at the local level favors intercommunal violence. Progress on security arrangements is also expected. Furthermore, this peace process must progress with respect for fundamental freedoms, in particular for journalists and civil society. It must also fully involve women and young people. This is a sine qua non condition for lasting peace.
Before I conclude, I would like to express France’s support and appreciation to all United Nations personnel, as well as to all humanitarian and medical personnel in South Sudan. In this particularly difficult period, their work is more necessary and more admirable than ever.