Sahel: unanimous support to the G5 Sahel Joint Force [fr]
Sahel - Remarks to the press by Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs - October 30, 2017
I just chaired the Security Council session. The end of the French presidency, which ran through October, was devoted mainly to the G5 Sahel Joint Force.
Today marks the sixth step in the history of this force; let me remind you of the previous steps.
In June 2017, resolution 2359 was adopted approving the Joint Force and its operating concept. That was the first step.
The second step was the Bamako summit of G5 heads of state, attended by the French president. That was when France gave its bilateral support to the G5, and when the EU announced significant funding for it.
Then on September 19, during the UN General Assembly, the heads of state of the Sahel met with the secretary-general to activate the process.
The next step was the secretary-general’s report on October 16, which he mentioned earlier, and which provided very constructive options for multilateral support.
And then the Security Council traveled to the area.
This morning, we had this meeting at the Security Council. It will anticipate a final step: the planning conference to be held in Brussels on December 14.
The meeting I chaired on this issue was very positive – it underscored the fact that terrorism in the Sahel represents a threat to peace and security not only for the region but internationally as well.
Most important, this meeting made it possible to consolidate the vision of the Security Council members, which will facilitate a clear, strong, coordinated response.
The G5 Sahel Joint Force has a clear mandate: to combat terrorist groups and trafficking in the Sahel. It acts with the agreement of host countries, with the agreement of the African Union, and with the support of the Security Council, under resolution 2359.
The Joint Force is now an operational reality, with the first cross-border operation, Operation Haw-Bi, taking place today. It will be carried through to its conclusion before anticipating other actions. I was very interested to see the unanimous support to the G5 Sahel and the Joint Force by all of this morning’s speakers.
There were two shared concerns:
The first relates to the financial support that can be provided by the international community. The international planning conference in this regard will take place on December 14 in Brussels. But I want to take this opportunity to applaud the latest American announcement of $60 million in funding.
We also discussed how the international community can provide backing through the UN, notably from a logistical standpoint, for the implementation of proposals made by the secretary-general.
All of these discussions will now translate into commitments, in the form of a new resolution that will detail the coordination between MINUSMA and the Joint Force on the one hand, and the preparation of the planning conference that will be held on December 14 in Brussels, on the other hand.
Meanwhile, France remains fully engaged in this regard and will help move forward on the Alliance for the Sahel, announced by Chancellor Merkel and President Macron.
This initiative aims to strengthen coordination among the various donors on the ground to improve the stabilization and development of these countries, so that along with support for the Joint Force, support for development can proceed in an equally swift and effective manner.
Q: Mr. Minister, the Americans announced $60 million in aid, and at the same time, they firmly oppose support within the UN framework. What is your response and how do you explain this reticence to work within the UN framework?
I am delighted by the statement of American support. I had an opportunity to speak about this issue with the highest authorities, and particularly Secretary Tillerson, a little while ago. I think it will be reaffirmed at the Brussels meeting, where the Americans will be present. And with regard to MINUSMA’s logistical support for the Joint Force, we now have to consider how the secretary-general’s recommendations are going to be implemented. There are different ways of doing it. What a pity it would be if there were two chains of logistical support for parallel forces. So I think this reasoning will prevail in the end.
Q: Thank you Mr. Minister. It’s Pamela Falk from CBS News. I am following up on the question that Le Monde just presented to you: are you disappointed at the US, needless to say it’s money, but it’s pending Congressional approval, and it is defiantly or at least distinctively not multilateral. What is your message to the United States? And why does this need to be a multilateral force?
The G5 Sahel force is a joint force by definition, so it is multilateral. I just think that the American recognition of the utility of the force, the challenges facing it, is absolutely crucial. It is unquestionably an important development. The fact that we must seek the most effective way to combat terrorism seems to be a common sense, so I think that in the weeks to come, we will be able to refine the coordination between MINUSMA and the Joint Force, which is by its very nature a multilateral force.
Q: James Bays from Al Jazeera. On Syria, we have heard that the Special Envoy, Mr. de Mistura, is hoping to bring the parties back to Geneva. We have seen many rounds of Geneva talks but they got nowhere at all. How do you see the prospects for peace now?
We have to keep from losing the peace. Now we’re winning the war. And so it is important to have the best possible forum for discussions relating to a political transition, which we know is now critical and necessary, and that includes an election process, a new constitution, and prospects for rebuilding. Together with Mr. de Mistura and other actors, we must therefore consider what the best forum for discussions would be. We don’t think it would be Astana, that’s not its purpose. We see that Geneva is ruled out, so it’s the singular responsibility of the five permanent members of the Security Council to make proposals in this regard, and France will not fail to do so.