8024th Security Council Meeting: Peace and Security in Africa

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SIX OFFICIAL 15-Aug-2017 01:39:45
The Group of Five Sahel States (G5 Sahel) Joint Force to combat trans-border terrorism and organized crime could make a significant contribution to stabilizing the region by working in tandem with other ongoing initiatives, a senior United Nations peacekeeping official told the Security Council at 8024th meeting.
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El-Ghassim Wane, Assistant-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, emphasized the importance of coordination as he briefed the Council on progress being made by the G5 Sahel (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger) in making the 5,000-strong Joint Force operational along Mali’s border with Niger and Burkina Faso by October.

Recalling the 21 June adoption of resolution 2359 (2017), by which the Council welcomed the Joint Force’s deployment, he said success would depend in good part on deeper regional partnership, as well as joint work with African Union and United Nations strategies for the Sahel, the peace process in Mali and support from the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

With a projected first-year budget of €423 million, he stressed that international support would be needed — over and above pledges made by France and the European Union — to fully fund the Joint Force, with a donor conference to be held in Berlin in September and a planning conference in Brussels in December. For its part, MINUSMA was making its own preparations, he said, adapting existing coordination mechanisms to include the Joint Force.

He underscored other significant challenges of force generation, training, equipment, tactical support, intelligence and communications technology, sanitation evacuation capabilities and camp protection. Success for the Joint Force would hinge on the support of the population, and it would, therefore, be essential to ensure strict respect for international humanitarian and human rights law.

Following the briefing, Council members condemned recent terrorist attacks in the region, notably on 13 August in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in which at least 18 people were killed, and another on 14 August against two MINUSMA camps in Douentza, Mali, in which a Togolese peacekeeper had died.

Mali’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Group of Five Sahel countries, said terrorism had only strengthened the determination of regional Governments to work together to eradicate that scourge. He spotlighted various developments in the deployment status of Joint Force units, including building and office renovations. Mobilizing funds for the Joint Force remained a major priority, he said, stressing also that development — particularly for women and young people — remained a long-term undertaking.

France’s representative, noting that her country had deployed 4,000 soldiers in the Sahel to counter terrorism, said the region’s security situation was directly linked to that in Mali, where terrorist groups trafficked in drugs and human beings across borders. Tackling the problem would require a comprehensive response from the G5 Sahel countries, she said, emphasizing the crucial need for United Nations support.

In that vein, Senegal’s delegate called for international solidarity in providing “massive and swift” financial and logistical support to the Joint Force. Coordination with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union would help the Joint Force become operational, he said, stressing, however, that military efforts would not be enough to address the many challenges facing the Sahel region.

Ethiopia’s representative said that, given the United Nations’ lack of capacity to fight terrorism, it was appropriate for the Organization to support regional bodies that were ready to do so. The international community had a moral responsibility to contribute to the G5 Sahel effort, he said, and arguably a political one as well.

Also speaking were representatives of Italy, Uruguay, Sweden, Bolivia, Japan, Kazakhstan, United States, China, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, Ukraine and Egypt.

The meeting began at 10:04 a.m. and ended at 11:45 a.m.
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