Francoise Simard has been leading UNAMID’s Rule of Law section for the past three years in El Fasher, North Darfur. Ms. Simard has worked in various UN missions around the world such as Guatemala, Rwanda, Haiti, Kosovo and Ivory Coast, besides having held senior posts within the legal profession. In this interview, she expresses her viewpoints on the importance of establishing sustainable peace across Darfur
Q: Tell us a bit about your work with UNAMID
A: It is very challenging. Many of the problems of Darfur, including the conflict itself, are linked to the absence or weakness of the rule of law. So as Chief of Section, both from a professional and moral perspective, you feel the pressure to do something and improve the situation so the people, especially those who are most vulnerable, feel protected. However, both human and financial resources are necessary to achieve this end. Unfortunately, these resources are in short supply. Since I joined UNAMID, I have worked ceaselessly with my staff to address the myriad rule of law challenges across the region with limited resources. We managed to bring the national authorities in Khartoum on board and most of our projects are now nationally owned and, therefore, have greater potential for successful outcomes.
Q: What do you feel are some of your biggest achievements in your career with UN peacekeeping.
A: In a UN environment, you never claim individual achievements, because we work in teams. Nonetheless, you can rightly claim to have made a contribution. Ivory Coast by far was my biggest contribution to the goals of the mission. We were able to harness good synergy with our donors and develop justice reform, mobilise appropriate resources, and so forth. In Darfur, despite the ongoing conflict and its effects, we can, nonetheless, claim modest achievements. Formal and informal courts have been re-established, to a certain extent. We are working to build the capacity of the judicial and corrections systems here. However, much more remains to be done.
Q: In your opinion why is it important to invest in peace?
A: It is the reason the UN was created – maintenance of international peace and security. I cannot imagine a world without peace. Everything would come to a standstill. Peace is priceless and its importance cannot be over-emphasized. The more the UN invests in peace and prevention, the less expensive it becomes for donor countries to support developing and poor countries in terms of development and humanitarian assistance.