The stabilization of Mali is of crucial importance for the Sahel (12/11/2014)
Sahel - Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 11 December 2014
I should like to thank the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Sahel for her briefing and to reiterate France’s full support for her mission.
The stabilization of Mali is of crucial importance for the Sahel. After having mobilized the attention and energy of the Security Council for two years, Mali is now entering a period that could be historic. The peace negotiations under way in Algiers are bringing together the Malian parties for the first time under the auspices of the international community as a whole. In that regard, I should like to welcome the investment of all international partners in these negotiations, in particular Algeria and the United Nations.
An inclusive and truly applied peace agreement in Mali would have beneficial consequences for the entire Sahel region and beyond, and there would be a clear improvement of security in the region. At this crucial time, the United Nations and, more broadly, the international community as a whole have a major responsibility to fulfil. We must continue to encourage the parties in Mali to negotiate in a spirit of compromise in order to conclude a lasting and inclusive peace agreement.
France is very committed to helping the countries of the Sahel to meet the challenges they face. In addition to its involvement in the European Union and the United Nations, in 2013, France revised the Sahel-Saharan strategy it had launched in its national capacity in 2008. Our strategy is to develop a comprehensive approach combining issues security, governance and development. The French Sahelo-Saharan strategy covers the cooperation of France with six countries — Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, the Niger and Chad.
The strategy focuses in particular on the following four priorities : first, to contributing to improving the living conditions of the population, through, inter alia, access to basic services, opening up remote areas, expanding the State’s territorial network and sustainable economic development ; secondly, strengthening the capacity of States to give them the means to fight against terrorism and large-scale trafficking ; thirdly, fighting against radicalization by supporting the development of education and the media ; and fourthly, encouraging and facilitating regional security cooperation. The French Sahelo-Saharan strategy represents more than €400 million — $500 million — in bilateral development assistance each year. As part of this strategy, France makes 160 technical and security experts available to these countries.
The French military Operation Barkhane represents the contribution of France to the fight against terrorism and to the improvement of security in the Sahel. Operation Barkhane was launched on 1 August 2014 at the request of five countries of the Sahel and in close collaboration with them. It mobilizes more than 3,000 soldiers, substantial air assets and hundreds of vehicles. Operation Barkhane’s efforts are regional in scope in order to deal with the movement of terrorist groups in the Sahel. It has two objectives : first, to fight against the terrorist threat at the regional level — last night, during an operation near Gao, French forces killed one of key terrorist leaders in the Sahel, the former military chief of the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, who was personally responsible for several murders and takings of hostages ; and secondly, helping to build the security capacity of the Sahel States.
The United Nations integrated strategy for the Sahel should help all stakeholders to coordinate their efforts for the Sahel. The variety of initiatives over the Sahel — from the United Nations, the European Union, the Economic Community of West African States, the World Bank, the African Union — is the sign of a strong mobilization of the international community. I welcome in this regard the creation of the Group of Five Sahel, which aims to coordinate the efforts of the key countries concerned.
To be effective, it is important that these strategies be coordinated. In that context, the Ministerial Coordination Platform for the Sahel, implemented at the time of the Secretary-General’s visit to the Sahel in November 2013, is a unique framework, which, now chaired by Mali, is the only forum that brings together all the States of West and North Africa, as well as concerned international and regional organizations. I welcome the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General’s efforts to bring about convergence of the regional and international efforts for the Sahel. I particularly welcome the strengthening of cooperation between Ministerial Coordination Platform and the Group of Five Sahel countries.
The United Nations integrated strategy for the Sahel should result in concrete projects in all areas. In the area of governance, a significant number of elections in the Sahel and West Africa will be held next year. The United Nations objective will be to assist States that seek such support in organizing the elections in a transparent and credible manner.
On the occasion of the fifteenth Francophonie summit, held on 29 and 30 November in Dakar, President François Hollande praised the courage that the people of Burkina Faso have demonstrated in recent weeks. Their example shows that it is the people who must decide their futures. We hope that the Burkina Faso people will now master this transition process and ensure that reconciliation is achieved and that free and fair elections will be held within a year.
Next, in the area of security, the Secretary-General recalled that the terrorist attacks in the Maghreb and the Sahel increased from 60 per cent in 2013 compared to 2012. The United Nations has as its mission to assist States in the region and African organizations to strengthen their cooperation in the fight against terrorism. We support the operationalization of these initiatives in the context of African architecture of peace and security.
Finally, in the humanitarian and development field, in 2014, it is estimated that there are more than 20 million people suffering from food insecurity in the region. Five million children are threatened by a risk of serious malnutrition. The development of desert areas should be a major focus of the efforts of the international community. In each of these areas, Mr. President, you can count on France’s strong commitment.