I thank Brazil for organizing this meeting and the various speakers for their presentations.
Communication strategies for peacekeeping operations can serve to protect civilians and fulfill mandates. They provide real-time information to the public about their security environment. They should contribute to the proper functioning of early warning and rapid response networks. Harnessing the potential of digital technologies, communication can help combat hate speech, incitement to violence and attempts to manipulate information.
In relation to the host state, strategic communication should promote mutual trust and regular dialogue, guaranteeing the effectiveness and acceptability of the peacekeeping operation. Sharing information about the situation on the ground and the expectations of stakeholders contributes to the fulfillment of mandates.
The work of listening and educating local authorities must continue to strengthen partnerships and protect civilians. Here I salute the exemplary role of Radio Okapi within MONUSCO in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mikado FM in Mali in keeping the public informed.
Peacekeeping operations face an increasingly hostile environment and become direct targets, including in the field of communications. Massive information manipulation campaigns are taking place in the Central African Republic and even in Mali. These social media campaigns aim to undermine the credibility and reputation of the peacekeepers. They complicate the operating environment.
Initiatives are being taken to improve the safety of Blue Helmets and their acceptance on the ground. UNMISS has set up a WhatsApp group with influencers to respond to misinformation about its activities. MINUSMA trains journalists to check the facts and broadcast reports in the local language to prevent attempts to manipulate information. Such initiatives should be multiplied.
To strengthen them, France is counting on the implementation of the Strategy for the Digital Transformation of Peacekeeping. It will support the development of capabilities within operations to detect, analyze and respond to potential elements of disinformation.
Finally, the United Nations must have adequate means to develop strategic communication.
The priority is to take an integrated approach to communication, mission by mission, at every level, around common messages. I mean, in particular, the promotion of the programs “Women, Peace and Security” and “Youth, Peace and Security”.
An integrated approach will also help strengthen coordination between the military, police and civilian components of operations. This approach should be extended to all UN agencies, funds and programs when a peacekeeping operation is in transition or withdrawal.
It is important to provide peacekeeping operations with the necessary means. Mastering information and communication technologies is essential, especially for the little ones. The Secretary General will be able to count on the support of France, which is already providing almost $700,000 in 2021 and 2022 for digital communications for peacekeeping operations.
But above all, women and men on the ground are the faces and voices of peacekeeping operations. Their communication should be active, contextually adapted and carried out in the local language. This requires the training of personnel, and the responsibility for this lies primarily with the troop-contributing countries.
France will continue to promote multilingualism in peacekeeping operations, in particular through the training of trainers for francophone contingents in partnership with the International Organization of Francophonie.
Much remains to be done. France will continue to support the Secretary General’s A4P+ initiative, including using the potential of strategic communication in the service of peace.