Race against time to stabilize the Sahel region [fr]
Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 16 May 2019
I thank all the briefers for their especially enlightening remarks. I particularly welcome the presence around this table of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Burkina Faso, His Excellency Mr. Alpha Barry, in his capacity as current President of the Group of Five for the Sahel (G-5 Sahel). We truly appreciate the Minister’s presence and once again extend a warm welcome to him.
I would like to begin my statement by expressing our heartfelt condolences to the Nigerien authorities following the tragic human toll of the terrorist ambush that struck the armed forces of the Niger along the Malian border, and I would like to reassure them that France stands in complete solidarity with them.
I would also like to pay tribute to the memory of all the civilians, national staff and members of Government and international armed forces alike who have lost their lives during intercommunal and terrorist violence, which unfortunately strikes the countries of the Sahel on an almost daily basis.
Lastly, I would like to make a heartfelt mention of the two French soldiers who died a few days ago in an operation to free hostages in Burkina Faso, following the national tribute that was paid to them yesterday. We especially appreciated the Minister’s words in that regard.
In order to make progress, we must be clear about what we are seeing. The deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in the Sahel is being fuelled by the spread of the terrorist threat and the increase in intercommunal violence. Such a deterioration poses an unprecedented risk to the stability of West Africa as a whole. The G-5 Sahel countries are now the first to be affected, but others will soon face the same challenges if adequate responses are not urgently provided.
We are therefore collectively engaged in a real race against time to stabilize the Sahel. It requires the urgent implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, a merciless fight against terrorist groups operating in the region, as well as good governance and the creation of sustainable economic opportunities for the people. As we all know, we will succeed only if we proceed simultaneously along the security and development tracks.
The G-5 Sahel Joint Force is a key element of the security component of those efforts, which complements the other security presences deployed in the region, each of which has its added value. The Joint Force is unique in its nature, without any real precedent or equivalent on the continent. It demonstrates the shared will of the G-5 Sahel States to coordinate the response to a threat, let us make no mistake, that has consequences for us all. Our shared responsibility as the international community is to provide them with support commensurate to what is at stake.
The latest — and significant — gains made have enabled the Joint Force to take a major step in its operationalization. In that regard, I would mention the resumption of operations, sending a strong signal of resilience, following the attack on the headquarters in Sévaré. I am also thinking of the full operationalization of the human rights compliance framework, demonstrating awareness that the Joint Force’s activities can be effective only if it has the full support of the people. Lastly, I am thinking of the progress made in the deployment of the police component, which is essential for the proper functioning of the Force.
In this context, the full mobilization of the G-5 Sahel States is more crucial than ever so that the Joint Force is able to deliver on its full potential. Judicial proceedings against alleged perpetrators of any kind of infraction must also be brought to completion. The deployment of officers with provost duties as part of the Joint Force and the judicialization of the Force’s action must be finalized, with the support of the various partners, including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the European Union Common Security and Defence Policy Sahel and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).Beyond the commitment of the G-5 Sahel States, the success of the Joint Force will depend on the provision of effective and appropriate international support. Much has already been done, notably thanks to the unprecedented mobilization of the European Union, which has already been mentioned, in liaison with the Permanent Secretariat of the G-5 Sahel. The Permanent Secretariat, whose activities I commend, should eventually become the sole interface for international aid and the needs on the ground.
We also wish to continue improving the effectiveness of the existing international arrangements. In this context, we will, at the forthcoming renewal of MINUSMA’s mandate, propose clarifying the modalities for the use and delivery of support provided under the technical agreement to ensure that it better meets the needs of the Force. Our ultimate aim remains to strengthen multilateral support to the Joint Force by equipping it with a robust mandate and implementing a logistics package, because we know that only with predictable and sustainable support can we ensure the success of G-5 Sahel efforts in the medium term. The recommendations made by the Secretary-General in his report (S/2019/371) remain our compass in this regard. We are ready to take them to the Council as soon as the Joint Force makes its first significant progress on the ground.
In this difficult regional context, the situation in Burkina Faso deserves our full attention. The recent Security Council mission to the Sahel provided an opportunity to observe the mobilization of the Burkina Faso authorities on the ground but also the need for significant international support to enable them to restore stability. France fully supports the process begun at the initiative of the Secretary-General to adjust the United Nations presence on the ground, in the light of the needs generated by the deteriorating situation in the region. We hope that the United Nations response will be ambitious and meet the expectations of the Burkina Faso authorities in the fields of humanitarian aid and development, training of the security forces, respect for human rights, the promotion of the rule of law and support for the fight against terrorism. In our view, the Peacebuilding Commission is the appropriate entity to support this process, on which we expect the Secretariat to provide regular briefings.
The threats weighing upon the Sahel call for redoubled commitment and the full attention and mobilization of the Security Council. I assure the Council of France’s steadfast determination in this regard, and we will propose a press statement to that effect at the end of this meeting.