French Presidency at the UN Security Council: What is at Stake?

On August 1st France became the president of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). France is one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, and took the spot from the former president, Colombia. In these troubled times, with crises rising and mandated missions being forced to come to an end, there is a lot at stake for the new UNSC presidency.

The most important situations for this new presidency will be in Syria and in Mali.

According to the UN Charter, the international community is committed to protect both state and individual sovereignty, which means that the international community has to protect human rights. In 2005, the UN established the Responsibility to Protect under the initiative of Kofi Annan which inplies that if a state manifestly fails to protect its citizen from genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity, the international community has a right to intervene in state internal affairs.

However due to the repetitive vetoes of Russia and China, Kofi Annan’s mission has failed, and the situation is getting even worst than in 1999 when NATO intervened illegitimately in Kosovo without a UN authorization.

A military intervention from the UN in Syria is not likely, but Gérard Araud, the permanent representative of France in the UN and so the current UNSC President, will make a claim for relief work in Syria from the international community.

The other key case concerns Mali, which is currently divided in two parts: the North controlled by extremist Islamists and the Christian South. Some fear that it will become the Afghanistan of Africa. In order to avoid this from happening, Araud will give a conference on peace and security in Africa, and will listen to the Malians’ requests.  Among those requests is their will to see a UN African force sent to them to help them retake the North.

This month also coincides with the end of the mission in Lebanon, which is very likely to be renewed, and the end of the transition period in Somalia. The President of the UNSC will have to draw the conclusions on these two issues.

While having to deal with crises and ends of previous missions, Araud will also have to bind the members of the UNSC to avoid another Syria. He will need to increase and react quickly to new crises in order to assert the effectiveness of the UN.

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