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France to prioritise protecting civilians as UN Security Council chair

media The UN Security Council Reuters

France has pledged to prioritise protecting civilians and sexual violence in conflicts, peacekeeping in Africa and crisis management in the Middle East during its one-month chairing of the UN Security Council, starting 1 June.

Although the rotating chair of the UN's Security Council is an honorary position, it does allow the occupant place its priorities on the world body's agenda.

Top of the French priorities will be protecting civilians in peacekeeping operations and Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault will chair a meeting on the question, a statement by the Foreign Affairs Ministry said.

A meeting in early June will discuss sexual violence during conflicts, a sensitive subject since French soldiers have been accused of sexual abuse during peacekeeping missions in the Central African Republic and Burkina Faso.

Missions in Mali, Sudan/Darfur

Africa is also on France's to-do list, unsurprisngly given its influence on the continent.

The foreign ministry statement points out that the mandate for missions in Mali and Sudan/Darfur will come up for renewal and the African Union operation in Somalia will be up for authorisation.

It also promises to monitor the situations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Guinea-Bissau and South Sudan.

In north Africa and the Middle East, the mandate for the UN mission in Libya will come up for renewal and a resolution on controlling weapons there is to be drafted, as crises drag on in Syria, Lebanon and Israel-Palestine.

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