12 December 2013 - Security Council - Peace and security in Africa/Sahel - Statement by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
I would like to thank the speakers for their presentations on the challenges in the Sahel and their proposals to respond to them.
The countries of the Sahel are facing transnational complex challenges in all areas — governance, security, the humanitarian situation and the serious challenges of development. As the speakers stated, those phenomena know no borders and thus call for a common approach. It is right that the United Nations integrated strategy for the Sahel, which the Secretary-General launched in September 2012 at the request of the Security Council, seeks to adopt a comprehensive approach to those challenges.
The expected reinforcement of the United Nations Office for West Africa at Dakar will play an essential coordinating role between all players for its implementation.
However, that strategy would be meaningless if it were not supported by the mobilization of the entire international community. In that context, I welcome the significant pledges for the countries of the Sahel that were announced last November by the World Bank and the European Union. France, the top bilateral donor in the region, has decided to raise its commitment to €900 million for the years 2014-2015, which amounts to more than $1.2 billion. We also believe that the action fund for the Sahel proposed by Mr. Prodi and to be managed by the African Development Bank could make a useful contribution to international efforts within the framework of the United Nations integrated strategy. For those investments to be effective, however, they must be aligned with the needs of the States concerned, and such proposals must be quickly translated into concrete projects for the peoples of the Sahel.
An estimated 10 million people in the region have suffered as a result of food insecurity in 2013. It is our collective duty to improve the access of those people to basic services, such as transportation, water, food, education and health. The development of desert spaces must also be a major focus of our efforts, in particular through support for shepherding activities and the development of the infrastructure that will allow such spaces to be opened up.
To address those challenges, one word strikes me as essential: trust. Without trust among all of the States of the region, we will not be able to offer a coordinated response to the transnational challenges. Trust among all the States concerned — among the States of West Africa as well as those of the Maghreb — is crucial in order to collectively attack the region’s challenges. That is indeed the meaning of the presidential statement that we have just adopted (S/PRST/2013/20) at the initiative of our Moroccan colleagues.
With particular regard to the matter of security, terrorist and trafficking groups in the region recognize no borders, which makes a coordinated approach all the more necessary. In that context, we welcome the two conferences on borders, held in Tripoli in 2012 and in Rabat in 2013. We also hail the cooperation and coordination mechanism established as part of the United Nations integrated strategy for the Sahel, which was agreed on 5 November in Bamako by the ministers of all the States in the region. That platform, chaired for two years by Mali, with a secretariat provided by the African Union and the United Nations, has the advantage of bringing together all the States of West Africa and the Maghreb, as well as the relevant regional and international organizations. The major country partners would find it useful to associate themselves with that mechanism.
Both in its national capacity and as part of the framework of the United Nations integrated strategy for the Sahel, France stands committed alongside the States of the Sahel to strengthening security in the region. That is why we are hosting a meeting next week on drug trafficking and its consequences for peace and security in West Africa and the Sahel. The deleterious effects of drug trafficking, which encourages corruption and undermines the governance of States, deserve a strengthened collective response.
Moreover, I would like to reiterate our commitment to the peoples of the Sahel as they face the challenges before them. After the emergency in Mali, it is high time for the international community to confront the root causes of the crisis in the Sahel. There can be no security in the Sahel without development. The reverse is also true. Improved security is indispensable for the region’s development.
Learn more about transnational threats to international peace and security.