- The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, with G5 Sahel’s Heads of States, French President Emmanuel Macron, and the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini - 18 September 2017
- © UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
The countries of the Sahel (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger) face multiple challenges: development, climate change, the growing threat of terrorism and organized crime. Faced with these challenges, the response must be multifaceted and integrated, covering political and security issues as well as humanitarian and development issues.
To coordinate their actions, the Heads of State of the region created the G5 Sahel in 2014. With regard to security, the G5 Sahel joint force was launched in 2017. It has 5,000 soldiers, divided into seven battalions. It is supported by the United Nations, the African Union and the European Union.
At France’s initiative, the UN Security Council assured a strong and united support to the G5 Sahel Joint Force with the unanimous adoption of resolution 2359 in June 2017. This resolution calls on the international community to provide a logistical, operational and financial assistance to G5 Sahel Member States’ initiative.
Six months later, on 8 December 2017, the Security Council unanimously adopted at France’s initiative Resolution 2391. This resolution provides an operational and logistical support to the Joint Force of the G5 Sahel, through the UN peacekeeping operation in Mali, the MINUSMA. The adoption of Resolution 2391 marks a turning point by strengthening the United Nations’ support to the Joint Force.
The Secretary-General reports every six months on UN support to the G5 Sahel joint force. These reports are then discussed in the Security Council. The Security Council also makes regular visits to the countries of the Sahel to assess the situation.
The action of the G5 Sahel joint force is complementary to the peacekeeping operation in Mali, MINUSMA, as it covers a wider area of action (the five G5 Sahel countries) and conducts anti-terrorist operations, which is not the role of MINUSMA. By combating terrorist groups, the joint force contributes to securing the Sahel region, which facilitates the implementation of MINUSMA’s mandate in Mali.
Both bilaterally and within the framework of the United Nations, France is resolutely committed to the fight against terrorism in Mali and the Sahel alongside the joint G5 Sahel force, with Operation Barkhane. 5,100 French soldiers are deployed in the region, at the request of the G5 Sahel countries, and are conducting counter-terrorist actions jointly with the armies of these countries. The aim is to enable the states of the region to guarantee their security autonomously in the long term.
At the Pau Summit on 13 January 2020, held in the presence of the UN Secretary-General, France and the G5 Sahel countries decided to strengthen their efforts and coordination in the fight against terrorism. A joint command mechanism between the G5 Sahel and Barkhane joint force was set up with a command post in Niamey, Niger.
On 23 February 2018, a conference in support of the G5 Sahel joint force was organised in Brussels by the European Union, the African Union, the United Nations and the G5 Sahel. Following this event, financial contributions totalling €414 million were pledged. These sums are being used to equip and train the armies of the G5.
Regarding development, on 6 December 2018, an international donors’ conference was held in Nouakchott to finance the G5 Sahel’s priority investment programme. On this occasion, France announced its support up to €220 million to work for the development of the region, including €90 million under the emergency stabilization programme.
The European Union (EU) is one of the first partners of the G5 Sahel. Its cumulative support to the joint force has amounted to €253.6 million since 2017. This support includes several components, such as support for equipment, infrastructure and services, including through MINUSMA, as well as for the implementation of the framework for compliance in human rights and international humanitarian law of the joint force. The EU is also contributing €124.8 million to the G5 Sahel’s priority investment program. A strategic dialogue is held annually between the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy and the G5 foreign ministers. Since 2014, total EU support for the G5 Sahel and its member countries has amounted to €4.5 billion .
Several European countries are militarily engaged in the Sahel, in particular within the mission of security and defense policy, EUTM Mali, whose mandate has just been renewed for four years, but also, for several of them, by contributions to special forces within the Task Force Takuba, which supports Barkhane’s efforts in support of the armies of the G5 Sahel.
At the Pau Summit on 13 January 2020, France and the G5 Sahel countries decided to set up a "coalition for the Sahel". Its purpose is to bring together the various aspects of international action in a coherent manner. It is organised into four complementary pillars: (1) combating armed terrorist groups, (2) strengthening the capacities of the armed forces, (3) supporting the return of the State through support for internal security forces and strengthening the penal chain, (4) coordinating development actors.
Because security and development must go hand in hand to help stabilize the Sahel, the Sahel Alliance was launched in 2017 by France, Germany and the European Union. It aims at improving the effectiveness of development aid in the area and being the interlocutor of the G5 on development issues. It coordinates the action of the major development partners in the region in order to speed up the implementation of actions that directly correspond to the needs expressed by the populations and that are able to deliver rapid and concrete results on the ground.
France contributes €1.6 billion to the Sahel Alliance projects portfolio, which has already mobilized a total of €12 billion . Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, visited Mauritania in Nouakchott on 25 February 2020, on the occasion of the Alliance’s General Assembly and the G5 Sahel Summit. The United Nations is a member of the Sahel Alliance through the United Nations Développement Programme.