Emergency situation in the Sahel [fr]

Peace and Security in Africa: G5 Sahel - Security Council - Intervention of Ms. Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative, chargée d’Affaires a.i. - Tuesday 15 August 2017.

" We also believe that the international community has a moral and political duty to support the African States in the region that have joined together to fight terrorism by supplying resources to complement the Council’s peacekeeping operations", Anne Guegen, 15 August 2017.


I thank Assistant Secretary-General Wane for his very illuminating briefing.I would like to begin my statement by reiterating France’s full solidarity with Burkina Faso in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on a restaurant in Ouagadougou, which led to the deaths of 18 people. Our condolences go also to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and to Togo and Mali following the death yesterday of a Togolese peacekeeper and seven Malian civilian and military personnel during attacks against MINUSMA camps. Those attacks, sadly, remind us of the intensity of the terrorist threat faced by the countries of the Sahel today, as well as the need for an urgent response.

The terrorist threat in the Sahel not only jeopardizes the stability of the countries of the region; it also has a direct impact on the security of many other countries — in Europe and throughout the rest of the world. It calls for mobilization by the entire international community in support of the efforts of the countries of the region, while not neglecting any dimension of the crisis. France is fully playing its part in that effort by deploying to the field the 4,000 soldiers of Operation Barkhane, who are carrying out counter-terrorist actions in the region at the request and in support of the countries of the Sahel. Twenty of them gave their lives doing so. In addition, during the Summit of the countries of the Group of Five for the Sahel (G-5 Sahel) held in Bamako on 2 July, President Macron launched an alliance for the Sahel aimed at addressing the deep-rooted causes of terrorism in the G-5 Sahel countries, including projects in the areas of education, agriculture and renewable energy, as Assistant Secretary-General Wane just mentioned to us.Moreover, the security situation in the Sahel remains directly linked to the situation in Mali. In that regard, it is crucial that the Malian parties speed up the concrete implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, without which there will be no lasting peace or stability in the Sahel.

The specific modus operandi of terrorist groups in the Sahel, which take advantage of borders and sustain themselves on trafficking of all sorts, especially in drugs and human beings, requires us to provide a concerted and comprehensive response. It is precisely with that goal in mind that the G-5 Sahel countries set up the joint force, which is intended to provide a coordinated response on the security and economic fronts, as well as at the humanitarian and developmental levels. Their initiative was endorsed by the African Union and by the Security Council, with the Council providing clear and unanimous political support in the framework of resolution 2359 (2017). The establishment of the joint force is also fully in line — and this must be pointed out — with the Council’s views in favour of establishing an African security architecture bringing together the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations in the framework of a partnership approach.

The G-5 Sahel joint force will support and complement MINUSMA’s efforts in Mali by conducting counter-terrorist activities in the Sahel region as a whole that are outside the mandate and geographic scope of MINUSMA. That will enable MINUSMA to focus on its priority tasks and implement its mandate more quickly. The joint force will also act in coordination with the French forces of Operation Barkhane, which supports its operationalization. It will be important that the force’s operations take place fully in line with international humanitarian law and human rights law, as set out in its concept of operations.

We welcome the determination and the concrete actions taken by the G-5 Sahel countries to operationalize the joint force as soon as possible, with the aim of carrying out by October initial operations in the Liptako-Gourma priority zone, located in the shared border area between Mali, the Niger and Burkina Faso. The finalization in the coming days of the construction works at the Sévaré central command post is an important first step in that direction. The commitment of the G-5 Sahel countries each to allocate $10 million annually for the financing of the force, in addition to their current contributions to peacekeeping in the region, also reflects the high priority they attach to this issue. We must support their efforts.

While it is the G-5 Sahel countries’ responsibility to take a leading role in establishing the joint force, we also believe that the international community has a moral and political duty to support the African States in the region that have joined together to fight terrorism by supplying resources to complement the Council’s peacekeeping operations. We are therefore pleased that the European Union has already announced a contribution of €50 million intended in part to finance the operations of the joint force’s command structures. France is also making a national contribution of major material assistance amounting to more than €8 million, in addition to Operation Barkhane’s engagement on the ground.

Lastly, along with our European partners, we will continue to support the G-5 Sahel countries in mobilizing the backing of international donors. After a first such event, held in Paris in June, Germany and France will hold a second workshop in Berlin on 18 September, in order to solicit European countries’ contributions in support of the force’s initial deployment. Beyond that, the donor conference to be held in December and provided for in resolution 2359 (2017) will pool the entire international community’s contributions, this time with the goal of enabling the joint force to reach full operating capacity by March.

However, France, together with a large majority of Council members, still firmly believes that United Nations support to the G-5 Sahel joint force is essential. To start with, on the political front, it is an irreplaceable guarantee that lends international legitimacy and legality to the G-5 Sahel countries’ commendable efforts to fight terrorism and its underlying causes. Operationally, it is also the best way to ensure, first, that the actors involved in combating terrorism in the region are well coordinated; secondly, that our resources are being used as effectively as possible; and thirdly, that the joint force will receive the invaluable logistical, medical and mechanical support from international forces that it needs in a complicated situation. We should understand that without that support, the joint force’s operations will have a very limited scope.

Lastly, France will continue to work to ensure that the Council follows up diligently on this issue, which affects the security of us all. In that regard, we will soon propose sending a Security Council mission to the Sahel with, among other things, the aim of assessing how far the joint force is operationalized on the ground. During France’s presidency of the Council, our Minister for European and Foreign Affairs will also convene a ministerial-level meeting on the G-5 Sahel that will enable us to continue our consideration of the international community’s modalities of support to the joint force in the follow-up to resolution 2359 (2017) and the Secretary-General’s report on the subject, which is due in October.

The G-5 Sahel States have courageously shouldered their responsibilities by uniting in their effort to combat terrorism, which concerns us all. The establishment of their joint force is giving rise to great expectations on the part of the Governments and peoples of the region who want to see terrorism and its causes eradicated. The Council’s responsibility is to ensure that those expectations are not disappointed and to live up to the commitment of the G-5 Sahel and its duty to maintain international peace and security. It can count on France’s determination and involvement in that.

Dernière modification : 28/09/2017

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