8435th Security Council Meeting: Peace and Security in Africa

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20-Dec-2018 01:57:08
Peace in Sahel requires tackling causes of instability, Special Adviser tells Security Council amid calls to advance development, fight terrorism at 8435th meeting.

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The Sahel is awash with challenges — from food insecurity and terrorist-related security threats to the negative impacts of climate change — but it has the potential to change for the better through an ongoing focus on sustainable development, speakers in the Security Council agreed today.

Debating the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel, endorsed by the Council in 2013, and the United Nations Support Plan for the Sahel, unveiled earlier this year, Council members stressed the need for a holistic approach that brings together the political, security and development dimensions of a vast section of Africa that includes Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

Ibrahim Thiaw, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for the Sahel, said that with the subregion at a turning point, ensuring peace involves tackling the causes of instability. A purely security approach is not enough. Broad development programmes will be needed to transform economies, improve living standards and give young people hope. Solutions must come from local, national and regional stakeholders, assisted by external partners as needed. Perceptions of the region must also change, he said, with more focus placed on assets and potential in such areas as solar energy and wind power. Progress will also depend on good governance and a “rethink” of the way the United Nations operates on the ground.

Hafez Ghanem, Vice-President of the World Bank for Africa, speaking via video teleconference from Washington, D.C., stressed the need to address the economic and social drivers of conflict. The World Bank has committed more than $9 billion to the development and resilience of the G5 Sahel countries over the last five years. Such financing, together with policy advice and technical assistance, attempts to address the drivers of fragility and conflict, including lack of basic services, high unemployment and limited opportunities.

Rémy Rioux of Alliance Sahel said that since its launch in 2017, the organization has financed and coordinated more than 500 projects. The fight against violent extremism cannot succeed unless development is pursued with vigour, he assured. To harness the Sahel’s full potential, Alliance members pulled their knowledge to help local stakeholders and conduct outreach operations. He called for collective efforts to uphold security and advance development in the region.

In the ensuing debate, Côte d’Ivoire’s representative, Council President for December, spoke in his national capacity to underscore that the Sahel provides a snapshot of the challenges facing the subregion. He called for stronger cooperation with partners as a precondition for implementing Council resolutions on the Sahel. He also drew attention to the World Bank’s crucial role in financing projects and called for a long-term vision that takes into account people’s aspirations.

Equatorial Guinea’s delegate meanwhile said that ending the security threat in the Sahel requires not just military action, but also a focus on development. Welcoming efforts by the United Nations to recalibrate its Integrated Strategy through a more cross-cutting approach, he said the G5 Sahel’s Priority Investment Programme has done much to tackle the negative forces sowing the seeds of despair. In the long term, he added, it will be the development dimension that defeats terrorism – with the results having a positive impact throughout Africa.

France’s delegate said there can be no stability without full implementation of the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali. She called for a merciless campaign against terrorist groups, as well as deeper partnership among the various security presences in the Sahel: national armies, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), the G5 Sahel Joint Force, France’s Operation Barkhane and European missions.

The representative of the United States voiced particular concern over unrest in central Sahel driven largely by scarce resources. He noted his country’s involvement in multisectoral projects, with $460 million invested in the region in 2017. He welcomed that the G5 Sahel Joint Force is now operational and working to establish long-term security, stressing that the United States is committed to providing equipment, training and advice to fulfil capability gaps.

The representative of the Russian Federation advocated for an integrated approach that includes, among other things, building institutions, promoting youth job creation and human rights. Only through targeted, collective efforts that do not create a conflict of remit can the desired results be achieved. Condemning external interference, he said that if not for the violent coup d’état in Libya in 2011, Council members would not be discussing some of these issues today.

Also speaking today were representatives of the Netherlands, Kuwait, Peru, China, Poland, Sweden, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, United Kingdom and Bolivia.

Ion Jinga (Romania), Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, updated the Council on that body’s work since the 20 January 2017 presidential statement (document S/PRST/2017/2) on the situation in the Sahel (see Press Release SC/12689).

The meeting began at 3:05 p.m. and ended at 5 p.m.

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