10 December 2012 - Security Council - Sahel - Statement by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

(UN translation)

The French
delegation aligns itself with the statement that will be
delivered by the observer of the European Union.
I would like to thank all today’s speakers for
their statements. I thank Morocco for its initiative in
convening today’s meeting about a region that has
had the attention of the Security Council for almost
a year. What is happening in the Sahel represents a
challenge to international peace and security. The
international community has finally begun to take
stock of the challenge, as was ref lected by the presence
of many Heads of State and Government at the highlevel
meeting on the Sahel convened by the Secretary-
General on 26 September in New York.

Now that the Security Council is seeking solutions
to the crisis in Mali and ways to support African
regional organizations, we must not lose sight of the
rest of the region, where there are ongoing problems
of humanitarian, security, development and human
rights scope that call for lasting solutions and increased
coordinated responses. I would like to make three

The first is a simple statement. The situation in the
Sahel is one of stark contrasts. While it seemed that
in 2012 the humanitarian situation improved, despite
the new problem of 400,000 refugees displaced by the
Malian crisis, the outlook is more worrying on the
security front as well as in development and wealth
distribution, which is more or less uneven country by
country. The region is also plagued by the well-known
common scourges of food crises, underdevelopment,
illiteracy, a lack of security, illicit trafficking and
political instability. Every year 250,000 children die
from malnutrition, but the Sahel has also become a
haven for international terrorists, as well an active area
for extremist movements that seek to impose their laws
on societies from the north of Nigeria to the outskirts
of Dakar.

The crisis in Libya made for large movements of
populations, returns to countries of origin, and a wide
dispersal of weapons that have benefited armed and
terrorist groups. Still, those armed groups, funded
by illicit trade or hostage-taking, were f lourishing
well before the Libyan crisis, f louting Governments
of the Sahel too depleted to combat threats beyond
their immediate borders. Let us not forget that in West
Africa the cocaine trade for the European market has
quadrupled in recent years, generating $300 million
annually and reaching a new height of 2.5 million
African users.

My second observation is that solutions to the
challenges faced by the Sahel cannot be imposed from
outside. They must derive from local and regional
sources. It is their responsibility, and their initiatives are
already bearing fruit. In the humanitarian realm many
countries of the Sahel were able to respond promptly
to the food and nutrition crisis at the end of 2011, by
taking preventive measures that averted catastrophe.
Projected harvests for next year are encouraging.

Our role, through the United Nations and bilaterally,
is to continue to support such efforts and to help those
States to break the wretched and ever shorter cycles
of food crises and to finally succeed in bringing down
malnutrition statistics, which are unacceptably high.
In 2012, France donated €30 million for relief of the
most affected populations in the Sahel. We also support
the Alliance Globale pour l’Initiative Résilience au
Sahel et en Afrique de l’ouest, which was developed by
the European Commission, the Economic Community
of West African States (ECOWAS) and the countries
of the Sahel to respond to humanitarian crises in the
Sahel, with the goal of putting together an ongoing
response mechanism for that recurring crisis.

Only integrated action that also addresses
the security of the Sahel countries will create an
environment conducive to sustainable economic growth
that will benefit the entire population. Therefore, the
proposed military operation to liberate northern Mali
must include medium- and long-term measures aimed
at helping those States secure their borders and combat
transnational organized crime.

In that context, on 12 July the European Union
launched the EUCAP Sahel mission, aimed at
strengthening the national security forces of the
Niger, as well as regional cooperation. That is why
France has contributed more than €10 million a year to programmes for justice and governance cooperation
with Sahel countries through our bilateral file on
special priority funds. Ultimately, as the Sahel occupies
a transition area between West Africa and North Africa,
no initiative in the region makes any sense unless the
Maghreb countries are involved as full participants.
Thirdly, in that context France welcomes the
appointment of Mr. Romano Prodi as Special Envoy of
the Secretary-General for the Sahel. Given its universal
nature, the United Nations is the sole entity able to bring
all the States of the region together without exception,
and through them the many regional structures. We
believe that Mr. Prodi’s first priority should be to
finalize and implement the United Nations integrated
strategy for the Sahel region that the Council has been
awaiting for more than a year.

While that work is complex, the strategy has been
too long in the drafting. It is now time for action. We
believe that the Special Envoy’s mission represents a
unique opportunity to pursue internal efforts to organize
the work of the agencies, funds and programmes with
presences in the Sahel region so that they can all finally
work to a common end. The United Nations strategy
must seek to achieve the same regional objectives, while
taking into account the specificities and approaches
adopted by each country in the context of the strategy
for the Sahel that was adopted by the European Union.
A further significant undertaking of the Special
Envoy is to ensure regular coordination between the
United Nations system and the other protagonists
involved in the Sahel region, starting with the African
Union, the core countries, the Maghreb countries, the
Economic Community of West African States, the
European Union and the major bilateral donors. In
particular, we call for the closest cooperation between
the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General and the
African Union High Representative for Mali and the
Sahel, President Buyoya, whose appointment bears
testimony to the efforts of the African Union to bring
its full weight to bear in seeking a solution to the crisis
in the region. We welcome those efforts.

We thank Mr. Prodi for his initiative to convene the
meeting of 7 December in Rome, which will make it
possible to develop a clearer and more efficient division
of labour among the various international stakeholders
that are involved in the Sahel region. Mr. Prodi can
count on France’s support in fulfilling his mission.

Dernière modification : 26/02/2015

Top of the page