G-5 Sahel : progress on the ground is real [fr]
G-5 Sahel - Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 23 May 2018
I thank the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Ms. Bintou Keita, the Permanent Secretary of the Group of Five for the Sahel (G-5 Sahel), Mr. Maman Sidikou, whom I welcome and thank particularly for his exemplary commitment, as well as the Permanent Observer of the African Union, Ms. Fatima Kyari Mohammed, and the Permanent Observer of the European Union, Mr. João Vale de Almeida, for their very informative briefings. They demonstrate once again the full mobilization of the international community in support of the G-5 Sahel and the fight against terrorism in the Sahel.
Almost six months after the adoption of resolution 2391 (2017), significant progress has been made in the operationalization of the Joint Force. Following the Brussels conference and the signing of the technical arrangement, the G-5 Sahel now has the necessary support to move forward with the deployment of the Joint Force. Progress on the ground is real, in particular through the operationalization of command structures, the deployment of the majority of troops expected in the Central Sector, the adoption of the operational and administrative framework of the force and the conduct of new operations. The endorsement of the human rights compliance framework is also a very positive development, since it is an essential dimension for the success of the Joint Force and its work in the service of the people. Finally, the ongoing strengthening of the Permanent Secretariat and the instruments at its disposal — particularly financial — is a step in the right direction and must be supported. All of that serves to make the Joint force a potential model for an African intervention force.
Despite our lofty ambitions and the sustained momentum, we must be realistic and reasonable in our short-term expectations. The Joint Force still faces many challenges, including with regard to the availability of critical equipment such as communications links between its command structures and its contingents on the ground. It cannot be operationalized overnight. It is important that the G-5 Sahel States continue in the coming months to make the best use of the support provided to finalize the operationalization of the force as a matter of priority. That includes the effective deployment of all troops, as well as the transfer of authority to the Force Commander. The establishment of a police component is also crucial in order to guarantee the judicial nature of the activities of the Joint Force and the indispensable link with the criminal justice system of each of the G-5 States. Finally, all allegations of human rights violations must be investigated and, if proved, prosecuted in accordance with the principles set out in the compliance framework.
The fulfilment of pledged contributions is an important condition for the G-5 Sahel States to make progress in the operationalization of the Joint Force. Our responsibility, as partners of the G-5 Sahel, is therefore to do everything possible to ensure that such support is provided as quickly as possible, which is unfortunately not always the case today. When it comes to the Joint Force, we cannot promote expectations that are disconnected from the pace of implementation of our own support. Indeed, we must advance on both fronts.
The coordination of bilateral aid is also crucial at a time when the G-5 Sahel is facing a large influx of goodwill, with limited means of absorption. That is the point of the outstanding work carried out by the European Union through the coordination hub at the request of, and in close cooperation with, the G-5 Sahel States. That work must be continued and supported, in full association with the G-5 Sahel Permanent Secretariat. France, for its part, continues to provide material and operational support to the G-5 Sahel States.
The activation of the support provided for under the technical arrangement, thanks to an initial contribution from the European Union, is also very important. It allows for the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) to provide the Joint Force with logistical and operational support directly on the ground, which cannot be provided through other funding channels, including bilateral funding. However, MINUSMA could do even more if additional funding were secured. We therefore call on donors that have not yet made their contributions to participate in the financing of this useful mechanism.
It is clear that the military response is only part of the solution and that there can be no lasting stabilization of the Sahel without making political and development progress. That is a crucial point. On the political front, we must more than ever use all the levers at our disposal to encourage the Malian parties to implement their commitments, including before the next elections. In recent weeks there have been several encouraging signals in that direction, including the inauguration of the Kidal Operational Coordination Mechanism, which must now be confirmed and enhanced. In terms of development, our objective must be to coordinate the actions of the various donors around limited and targeted priorities — defined in conjunction with the partners of the G-5 Sahel and aimed at ensuring a direct impact for the most vulnerable populations. That is the thrust of the Alliance for the Sahel’s approach, which fits perfectly into the broader framework set by the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel.
France intends to persistently bring the issue of the fight against terrorism in the Sahel to the Security Council. The situation on the ground justifies that more than ever. The latest report of the Secretary-General (S/2018/432) presents relevant and appropriate recommendations to provide the Joint Force with support that is predictable, sustainable and commensurate with the challenges. We will continue to work in that arena, taking into account the pace of the operationalization of the Joint Force on the ground and seeking to maintain consensus within the Council on that issue. But expectations remain high, and we must meet them.
In the short term, it is important to call on the international community to provide all the pledged support as soon as possible, as well as to encourage the G-5 Sahel States to continue their mobilization towards the effective deployment of the Joint force. At the end of this meeting, France will submit a proposed press statement of the Security Council along those lines.