12 December 2013
Security Council
SC/11210

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

7081st Meeting (AM)


In Presidential Statement on Sahel, Security Council Condemns Violence


against Civilians, Reaffirms Strong Commitment to Region

 


Considering the situation in the Sahel today, the Security Council reaffirmed its continued commitment to address the complex security and political challenges in that region, which were interrelated with humanitarian and developmental issues, as well as the adverse effects of climate and ecological changes.


In a presidential statement (document S/PRST/2013/20), the Council also strongly condemned the abuses of human rights and violence against civilians, by terrorists and other extremist groups, and reaffirmed its strong commitment to the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of countries of the Sahel region.


Underscoring the importance of a coherent, comprehensive and coordinated approach encompassing governance, security, humanitarian, human rights and developmental aspects, the Council reaffirmed its request to the Secretary-General to ensure early progress towards the effective implementation of the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel.


Welcoming the high-level meeting on the situation in the Sahel on 26 September 2013 and the joint visit of the Secretary-General and the President of the World Bank Group, with the participation of the African Union, European Union and African Development Bank, to the Sahel region from 4 to 7 November 2013, the Council welcomed the announcements in planned funding, aimed at supporting major national and regional development priorities.


In addition, the Council underscored the importance of national and regional ownership of the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel and recognized the need for the Strategy to be implemented in close consultation with Member States of the Sahel, West Africa, and the Maghreb, as well as regional, multilateral, and other bilateral donors and partners.


Prior to the adoption of the presidential statement, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefed the Council on his visit to the region.  The vast size and long porous borders of the Sahel meant that its challenges could be addressed successfully only if the countries of the region worked together, he said.


Terrorist acts and other transnational crime were threatening security in the region, he added.  It was also vital to address the food crises that plagued the Sahel.


Noting that the World Bank and the European Union had committed to providing more than $8.2 billion to the region, he also welcomed the African Development Bank’s establishment of an Action Fund which would jumpstart underfunded projects and contribute to longer-term development.


“The world will support the Sahel,” Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank, stated in his briefing, calling for a coordinated and regional approach.  The World Bank had committed funds for the creation of social safety nets and support for the private sector to encourage entrepreneurship.  It was also important to support the economic empowerment of women and the Bank had committed $200 million to address that issue.


The people of the Sahel had struggled for too long, he said.  There was nothing pre-ordained about that state of affairs.  They wanted good jobs, education and access to quality health care.  They hoped for a better life for their children.  Their lives could be transformed through a sustained commitment by the international community to their vision for a better life.


The Council also heard from Romano Prodi, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Sahel, who stressed the link between security, governance and humanitarian development.  The United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel had identified agriculture, energy, infrastructure, education and health as the five priority sectors, he added.


The region was competing for international attention with other equally serious crises, he said.  However, simply maintaining attention to the region was not enough.  Considerable resources were necessary and it was vital to mobilize resources multilaterally and bilaterally.  The Sahel Action Fund, which was being formalized by the African Development Bank, was a step in that direction.


Other speakers today underscored that there could be no lasting security without inclusive development, including Michel Reveyrand-De Menthon, the European Union Special Representative for the Sahel.  The conflict in Mali, he added, was an illustration of the security and development crisis.


At the same time, he noted, the effort to reinstate peace in Mali would be in vain if it was not followed by efforts from neighboring countries.  Cooperation between the countries of the Sahel and the Maghreb was crucial.  Many States of the region had committed to developing coordination mechanisms and the European Union would fully support those initiatives.  Instead of a vast space where insecurity was rampant, the Sahel, he hoped, could be a place of cultural and economic development.


The “constraints of Sahel’s history and geography” called for a united approach, Téte António, Permanent Observer for the African Union, said.  He welcomed the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the region, which encompassed humanitarian, security and development aspects and said that the African Union would work to set up a joint secretariat for that strategy.


A crucial tool, he noted, for dealing with the region’s transnational security challenges was the Nuakchott Process, which was based on regular meetings among the heads of security services.  The African Union would consider measures to strengthen that process.


Also speaking were the representatives of Morocco, Pakistan, United States, Republic of Korea, Australia, Guatemala, China, Argentina, United Kingdom, Togo, Rwanda, Luxembourg, Russian Federation, Azerbaijan, and France.


The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 12:25 p.m.


Presidential Statement


The full text of the presidential statement S/PRST/2013/20 reads as follows:


“The Security Council reiterates its continued concern about the alarming situation in the Sahel region and reaffirms its continued commitment to address the complex security and political challenges in this region, which are interrelated with humanitarian and developmental issues as well as the adverse effects of climate and ecological changes.  The Security Council reiterates its strong condemnation of the recent terrorist attacks perpetrated in the region.  The Security Council also strongly condemns the abuses of human rights and violence against civilians, notably women and children, committed in the region by terrorist and other extremist groups.


“The Security Council reaffirms its strong commitment to the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of countries of the Sahel region.


“The Security Council underscores the importance of a coherent, comprehensive and coordinated approach encompassing governance, security, humanitarian, human rights and developmental aspects to respond to the threats to peace and security across the Sahel region as well as to address the root causes of these challenges and reaffirms its request, in this regard, to the Secretary-General to ensure early progress towards the effective implementation of the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel.  The Security Council stresses the importance of coordinating political, security, development and humanitarian efforts throughout the Sahel region.


“The Security Council welcomes the convening by the Secretary-General on 26 September 2013, of the High-Level Meeting on the situation in the Sahel, on the margins of the sixty-eighth General Assembly of the United Nations.  The Security Council expresses its appreciation to the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy for the Sahel for their efforts and personal engagement in raising awareness of the challenges facing the Sahel region and mobilizing international support for the region.


“The Security Council commends, in this regard, the joint visit of the Secretary-General and the President of the World Bank Group, with the participation of the African Union, European Union and African Development Bank, to the Sahel region from 4-7 November 2013, in support of the countries of the region and of the implementation of the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel.  The Security Council welcomes the announcements in planned funding, aiming at supporting major national and regional development priorities and tackling the other specific and complex challenges of security, stability and resilience and calls upon regional, multilateral and bilateral partners to ensure strengthened and sustained engagement in favour of the Sahel region and to avoid duplication through effective coordination.


“The Security Council underscores the importance of national and regional ownership of the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel and recognizes the need for the Strategy to be implemented in close consultation with Member States of the Sahel, West Africa, and the Maghreb as well as regional, multilateral, and other bilateral donors and partners.  In this regard, the Security Council welcomes the holding of the Ministerial meeting on the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel, in Bamako, Mali on 5 November 2013, as an important step in that regard, as well as the full support of the Member States of the region for this strategy.


“The Security Council takes note of the outcome of this Ministerial meeting, including the decision to establish a coordination platform that would meet biannually and under the chairmanship of Mali for the upcoming two years, as well as the announcement to establish a flexible technical Secretariat to support coordination efforts of the region, co-chaired by the United Nations Secretariat and the African Union Commission, and comprising the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Community of Sahelo-Saharan States (CENSAD), the World Bank Group, the African Development Bank (ADB), the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), the European Union and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.  The Security Council encourages all actors involved, including major bilateral donors, to make this coordination platform fully operational.


“The Security Council reiterates its call on Sahel, West African and Maghreb States to enhance interregional cooperation and coordination in order to develop inclusive and effective strategies to combat in a comprehensive and integrated manner the activities of terrorist groups, to prevent the proliferation of all arms and to fight against transnational organized crime including illicit activities such as drug trafficking in the Sahel region, and its increasing links in some cases with terrorism.  The Security Council welcomes, in this regard, the holding of the Second Regional Ministerial Conference on border security between Sahel and Maghreb States held in Rabat, ( Morocco), from 13-14 November 2013 and takes note of the outcome of this Conference (S/2013/707).


“The Security Council commends the ongoing efforts undertaken by Sahel States and relevant regional organizations in addressing the humanitarian challenges in the region as well as in strengthening resilience.  The Security Council also commends the support provided by countries in the region and by other donors and calls for their continued assistance to Sahel States to this end.  The Security Council applauds the efforts of the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, with the support of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, other humanitarian actors and agencies, to continue to draw attention to the scale of the challenges facing the Sahel region, provide humanitarian assistance to the affected populations and build and strengthen resilience at local, national, and regional levels with the aim of reducing the impact of disasters.


“The Security Council welcomes the efforts of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Sahel, Special Representatives for West and Central Africa as well as the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA) and the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) and other United Nations entities operating on the ground in support of States of the Sahel region.


“The Security Council reiterates the importance of a coordinated approach by all concerned United Nations entities involved in the implementation of the United Nations Strategy for enhanced cooperation with a view of maximizing synergies.  In this regard, the Security Council welcomes the work undertaken by UNOWA in coordination with the Office of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Sahel region and relevant United Nations entities working in the Sahel region to establish an effective and detailed coordination mechanism to prioritize activities and to ensure coordinated implementation by the United Nations System of the United Nations Strategy.


“The Security Council considers sanctions an important tool in countering terrorism, and underlines the importance of prompt and effective implementation of its relevant resolutions, in particular, Security Council resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1989 (2011) as key instruments in the fight against terrorism.  In this regard, the Security Council commends the initiative of the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee and its Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team to engage with Member States of the Sahel, Maghreb and adjoining regions to consider ways in which the sanctions regime can support and enhance the inputs of affected States, in order to be integrated into national and regional responses to the Al-Qaida threat in the region.


“The Security Council welcomes the efforts of the Counter-Terrorism Committee and its Executive Directorate to ensure the full implementation of resolutions 1373 (2001) and 1624 (2005) and to facilitate technical assistance to Member States, including of the region and, in this regard, commends the initiative to organize a special meeting with Member States and subregional, regional and international organizations on “Enhancing Cooperation and Technical Assistance to States in the Sahel Region to Strengthen their Capacity in the Global Fight against Terrorism” held at United Nations Headquarters on 20 September 2013.


“The Security Council looks forward to the Secretary General’s written report on the progress towards the implementation of the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel to be presented no later than 30 June 2014.”


Background


The Security Council met today to discuss peace and security in Africa.


Briefings


BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, speaking via video teleconference, briefed the Council on his November visit to Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chadwith the President of the Commission of the African Union, the Presidents of the World Bank and the African Development Bank and the European Commissioner for Development.  “During the visit, the World Bank and the European Union had committed to providing more than $8.2 billion to the region,” he noted.


The international community had taken an important first step in Mali, he added, at the regional meeting where African ministers, as well as regional and international organizations and financial institutions, came together to improve coordination and address the Sahel’s fragility.  They welcomed the African Development Bank’s establishment of an Action Fund which would jumpstart underfunded projects and contribute to longer-term development.


Strengthening the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) was a priority, he added.  While Mali had made progress toward re-establishing constitutional order, he remained concerned about the security situation in the North.  Across the region, terrorist acts, trafficking of arms, drugs and people, as well as other transnational forms of crime, were threatening security.  Further, the international community must do more to address the food crises that plagued the Sahel.  The region’s vast size and long porous borders meant that such challenges could be addressed successfully only if the countries of the region worked together.


JIM YONG KIM, President of the World Bank, said the joint trip provided a historic opportunity to bring international attention to an often neglected region — and show a unified front of support for the Sahel.  The message should be unequivocal:  “the world will support the Sahel”.  He had come away with a better idea of the region’s challenges.  “If we work together, we can offer sustained and potentially transformative solutions to the problems of the region,” he said.  What was needed was a coordinated and regional approach.  The Coordination Platform was exactly what the region needed and he welcomed Mali’s leadership in coordinating that platform for the first two years.


For its part, the World Bank had committed $1.2 billion to the region, he said, in addition to the Bank’s existing country programmes.  Those funds would go towards the creation of social safety nets and support for the private sector to encourage entrepreneurship.  Just last week, the Bank’s Board had approved $228 million for the Senegal River Basin Multi-purpose Water Resources Development Project, which would improve water availability for agriculture in the region.  It was also important to support the economic empowerment of women and the Bank had committed $200 million to address that issue.  It was able to provide such funds through its International Development Association (IDA) and he appreciated donors’ contributions in that regard.


He went on to say that the people of the Sahel had struggled for far too long.  Their suffering involved the “intricately linked curses” of high fertility and the highest rate of maternal mortality.  There was nothing pre-ordained about that state of affairs.  The people of the Sahel had high aspirations.  “We must respond appropriately,” he stressed.  They wanted a good job, education and access to quality health care.  They hoped for a better life for their children.  In closing, he said that in Burkina Faso, people paid 74  United States cents per kilowatt hour for electricity — almost seven times that paid in Washington, D.C.  “Think of its growth rate if they had affordable energy”, he said, calling on participants today to show solidarity through effective pragmatic support.  Lives could be transformed only through a sustained commitment to their vision for a better life.


ROMANO PRODI, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Sahel, said that the region was competing with other equally serious crises and struggling to maintain international attention.  The current global economic climate limited traditional funding and donors.  Further, security and governance were intertwined and progress in one was difficult without the other.  Without developing a stable security situation, development and humanitarian activities would not have an impact.


After consultations, he added, with respective Heads of State, senior Government officials and local experts from Sahel universities and research institutions, he had identified key sectors to start the development process.  The priorities were agriculture, energy, infrastructure, education and health.  The implementation of the development strategy should follow a similar process.  The recent visit of the Secretary-General to the region was an important step in that regard and would go a long way in bringing attention to the region.


But simply maintaining attention to the region was not enough, he cautioned.  Considerable resources were necessary and it was vital to put in place a mechanism that could mobilize resources multilaterally and bilaterally.  In that regard, the African Development Bank was in the process of formalizing the hosting of an innovative fund called the Sahel action fund.


Pilot projects were under way in energy and more such projects were being identified in education and infrastructure.  Given the precarious situation of the people in Sahel, the process must also focus on introducing new and innovative technologies as those had the capacity to catalyse developmental efforts.


TÉTE ANTÓNIO, Permanent Observer for the African Union, welcomed strides made in stabilizing the situation in Mali, including by MINUSMA, which had made it possible to hold peaceful elections this year.  He reiterated the African Union’s appeal to Malian stakeholders to step up efforts to overcome the difficulties that had hindered implementation of the Ouagadougou Agreement.  The question of Kidal must be addressed, he said, underlining there could be no lawless zone in Mali and reaffirming the Union’s support to Malian authorities to promote reconciliation among all sectors of the population.


He went on to underline the importance of an integrated international approach in the Sahel, welcoming the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the region, which encompassed humanitarian, security and development aspects.  He also noted the importance of greater security cooperation among regional countries and their international partners.  The African Union continued to strengthen security cooperation among Sahel countries through the Nuakchott Process, which was based on regular meetings among the heads of security services to decide on modalities for common action.  That process was a crucial tool for taking up the region’s transnational security challenges.  In the coming weeks, the African Union would consider measures to strengthen that process.


Underlining the importance of long-term socioeconomic development, he welcomed the recent high-level joint visit, which reflected the international commitment to address the region’s multidimensional challenges.  He underscored the need for close coordination among the various initiatives for the Sahel, saying that the African Union would work to set up a joint secretariat on the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel.  It had set up a mission to contribute to the process under way in that country.  On 19 and 20 October, it had held workshops with the Union’s specialized liaison offices and would soon organize a high-level meeting to coordinate action.  The constraints of history and geography of the Sahel called for a united approach to the challenges ahead.  With that, he urged the United Nations to accompany efforts to achieve peace and security in the region, along with the States in the region.


MICHEL REVEYRAND-DE MENTHON, European Union Special Representative for the Sahel, said that the countries of the region were facing a series of interlinked challenges.  The joint visit had demonstrated the international community’s intention to scale up its efforts to help the countries tackle the insecurity, terrorism and their root causes.  It was clear that there could be no lasting security without inclusive development.  The European Union had built its Sahel strategy and adopted it three years ago based on that idea.


The crisis in Mali, he added, was an illustration of the security and development crisis.  The European Union had provided its utmost support to Mali and believed that MINUSMA had a stronger role to play in reinstating rule of law and guaranteeing reconciliation in the framework of the peace process.  A strong commitment in the north of the country was also important and the Union stood ready to engage in the operational front.  The effort to reinstate peace in Mali would be in vain if it was not followed by efforts from neighbouring countries.


While the Sahel seemed to be a huge vast space where insecurity was rampant, it could be a place of cultural and environmental partnership and economic development.  Close cooperation between the countries of the Sahel and the countries of the Maghreb was crucial.  Many States of the region had committed to developing bilateral and trilateral coordination mechanisms.  The European Union fully supported those initiatives and would back them, in particular, to strengthen border area administration.


The Council then went on to adopt a presidential statement on the subject (document S/PRST/2013/20).


Statements


MOHAMMED LOULICHKI ( Morocco) said his Government had long drawn attention to the situation in the Sahel, having called for concerted action by States in Sahel and Maghreb to stem the harmful effects of violence.  The attacks on Mali had shown that the threats to stability were an immediate reality with “incalculable” consequences for the region.  The crisis must be solved through a national and regional approach.  Welcoming the United Nations Integrated Strategy, he said its implementation required ownership by regional States and international support for those efforts.  Through the Bamako ministerial meeting, the Heads of State of the Sahel and Maghreb had shown their commitment to changing the reality on the ground, having urged the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), financial institutions and bilateral partners to contribute to the Strategy’s success and set up a platform chaired by Mali.


He said Morocco had organized a ministerial conference to strengthen border management in the Sahel and the Maghreb, which was required for combating terrorism.  Cooperation on those issues required creating opportunities for economic development.  Common economic projects along the borders would allow for overcoming disputes and promoting stability.  On the serious humanitarian situation, he said the 150 million inhabitants of the Sahel had exhausted their efforts to resist climate change and would be tempted to migrate unless international support was provided.  He welcomed the launch of projects to provide drinking water and electricity, as well as the establishment of a regional food reserve, under the auspices of ECOWAS and the World Food Programme.


MASOOD KHAN ( Pakistan) said weak governance, a worsening humanitarian situation, food insecurity, the adverse impacts of climate change and the speed with which the crisis in Mali had taken root were all stark reminders of the vulnerabilities faced by countries in the Sahel.  Institutional weaknesses and a lack of resources only accentuated those problems.  Pakistan supported the Council’s measures to counter terrorism and transnational organized crime, underlining that tackling those required more regional cooperation, especially in border management.  The international community must work with regional organizations and countries to strengthen institutions.  Further, national ownership of programmes must be respected.  He called for strong national and international interventions, welcoming the new partnership between the Bank and the United Nations.  Implementing the Strategy required sustained support from national, regional and international actors, he said, adding that Pakistan would continue to provide full political support.


SAMANTHA POWER ( United States) said that her Government welcomed the commitment of the United Nations and the World Bank to act as partners in the Sahel region.  Countries in the Sahel continued to be plagued by cross-cutting challenges that fuelled cycles of violence.  Porous borders and ungoverned vast spaces provided terrorists with safe havens while social disruptions contributed to food insecurity and humanitarian crises.  Regional Governments must take the lead to identifying solutions to those diverse dilemmas and the United Nations system must embrace those efforts vigorously.  Better governance was the starting point for progress in every other arena and the United States was examining ways to step up its efforts to bolster democratic institutions in the region.


OH JOON ( Republic of Korea), commending the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel region, said that the high-level meeting held in September was an opportunity to raise awareness of the challenges and reaffirm the importance of the Integrated Strategy.  Further, the joint visit headed by the Secretary-General demonstrated the importance of an integrated approach to solving the Sahel crisis.  The pledges of more than $8 billion would be instrumental in empowering the people of the Sahel region.  His country believed that the political will of the local governments and regional ownership was crucial in this process.  Another important element was ensuring overall coherence and complementarity so that duplication of efforts could be avoided.


GARY QUINLAN ( Australia) said the visit by the Secretary-General and World Bank President highlighted the importance of weaving the Sahel’s economic challenges into the peace process.  Australia believed the Sahel Strategy provided a solid framework towards peace and stability.  He welcomed the 5 November Bamako ministerial meeting on the Sahel and said greater cooperation between national Governments and regional and international organizations was vital to the Strategy’s success.  That cooperation was particularly true of efforts to combat terrorism and transnational organized crime.  A comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy had to include efforts to prevent terrorists and extremists from emerging, arming themselves and recruiting.  The Al-Qaida sanctions regime had enormous potential to help the Sahel States turn the tide against Al-Qaida affiliates in the region.  But the regime had to be genuinely accessible to States and integrated into their responses.  Building resilience in the Sahel was essential to breaking the cycle of humanitarian crises and protecting the most vulnerable from persistent shocks.  Australia had provided nearly $50 million in humanitarian assistance to the region over the past two years and helped communities build long-term resilience to disasters and address the causes of food insecurity.


GERT ROSENTHAL ( Guatemala) welcomed the goodwill shown by national authorities and civil society actors that had taken part in meetings during the recent visit.  Noting that it was the second joint visit to Africa by the Secretary-General and the World Bank President, he encouraged them to ensure that their organizations supported the region.  The challenges ahead included fragile institutions, precarious governance systems, unacceptable socioeconomic indicators, and insecurity, along with climate disasters and their impact on food security.  Guatemala supported the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel, he said, stressing the importance of national and regional ownership.  Further, the Strategy must be adapted to each country’s specificities.  He welcomed the decision to set up the coordination platform to monitor commitments.


LIU JIEYI (China), noting that the overall situation in Africa was characterized by stability, development and peace, said the African Union and regional countries were committed to seeking “African solutions to African problems”.  The Integrated Strategy and today’s presidential statement had shown the priority accorded to peace and security in Africa, including the Sahel.  Improving the region’s interrelated problems required integrated policies.  The global community should support regional countries’ efforts to maintain peace and stability, as well as respect their sovereignty and territorial integrity.  In implementing projects, it should respect the opinions of host countries so that assistance was more effective.  Finally, he urged an increase in international investment in the region, notably in infrastructure.  China attached great importance to its relationship with Africa.  Last week, the first Chinese contingent of 135 peacekeepers had arrived in Mali.


MARÍA CRISTINA PERCEVAL ( Argentina), underscoring the importance of an Integrated Strategy for the region, said that a series of regional, national, and international programmes, despite their good intentions, had not had the desired impact.  The Sahel was still plagued by crises and had one of the lowest human development indices in the world.  At the same time, the main responsibility for peace and security in the Sahel region rested on the countries of that region.  Further, in order to address the root causes of the crisis, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and international finance system must be instruments of sustainable development in a global economic system based on equity.


MARK LYALL GRANT ( United Kingdom), welcoming the adoption of the presidential statement, said that the Sahel region was at an important moment in its progress towards peace and prosperity.  In recent weeks, Mali had elected its new president and completed the first round of elections.  Mauritania had also held parliamentary elections.  However, challenges remained, and organized crime, drug trafficking, and humanitarian crises continued to impede progress.  Despite the success of the French-led intervention, the threat from extremists remained.  Therefore, the Integrated Strategy was crucial, because it set out a useful framework for the United Nations system and the wider set of international partners.  Security was one of the areas that his country perceived as critical and it had proposed a draft resolution to tackle ransom payments and kidnapping which financed terrorism in the region.  It was also vital to focus on State-building and resilience.


KODJO MENAN ( Togo) welcomed the United Nations Integrated Strategy, saying its drafting had been promising; however, its implementation had proven challenging, given the need to mobilize actors in multiple sectors.  Welcoming the recent joint visit, he also lauded the 5 November decision in Bamako to establish a platform to monitor progress every six months.  “These are praiseworthy initiatives”, he said, adding that people must be allowed to take ownership of programmes and partners must be in contact with them to better understand their needs.  As for funding the Strategy, he called on donors to provide support.  The situation in Mali offered a window to the threats in the region — a reminder that security and stability were the most pressing concerns.  Without addressing poverty, which undermined people’s resilience, threats would continue to take root in the region.


OLIVIER NDUHUNGIREHE ( Rwanda) welcomed the presidential statement, which underscored that the problems in the Sahel were multidimensional in nature.  Rwanda supported an integrated comprehensive approach to addressing the root causes of the challenges, some of which were related to governance.


Underlining his support for the African Union Mission for Mali and the Sahel, he said the Sahel region faced security challenges related to terrorist movements and the troublesome situation in Kidal.  Regional countries must strengthen their cooperation to better combat terrorism, transnational crime, and the trafficking of drugs and persons.  While the exchange of information during the Nouakchott Process was encouraging, capacity-building was needed to help countries better control their borders.  He urged the creation of quick-impact projects, especially to create jobs for young people, expressing hope that the ministerial meeting in Bamako had provided a new impetus for better coordinated implementation of the Integrated Strategy.


SYLVIE LUCAS ( Luxembourg) said that while the progress made in Mali to re-establish constitutional order was a positive step, the root causes of the regional crisis remained.  To respond to the security situation, the United Nations Integrated Strategy was crucial and would provide a unique opportunity to bolster cooperation between the international community and the countries of the region.  Within the framework of the close cooperation that Luxembourg had with many countries of the region, the country had always underscored the link between security and development and the protection of human rights.  To stabilize the Sahel, countries of the region should be called upon to tackle their common security challenges and take action against terrorism and transnational crime.  It was also necessary to create economic alternatives, especially for the young.


VITALY I. CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said that there were clear interlinkages between security and development in the Sahel region.  Steps taken by countries of the region should be partnered with broader efforts by the international community.  Reiterating the Russian Federation’s support for the United Nations Integrated Strategy, he added that his country intended to provide assistance to the implementation of the Strategy.  The Russian Federation was concerned about the continuing threat of the Sahel turning into a safe haven for terrorists and extremists, with mutually beneficial cooperation agreements between terrorist structures and armed groups and drug trafficking organizations.


AGSHIN MEHDIYEV ( Azerbaijan) welcomed the holding of the ministerial meeting in Bamako on the Integrated Strategy and the decision at that meeting to create a coordination platform for the Strategy, as well as a flexible technical secretariat to support coordination efforts in the Sahelo-Saharan region.  National capacity-building, strong early warning mechanisms and harmonized approaches were needed to effectively address cross-border threats.  He was encouraged by the determination of States in the region to bolster cooperation and coordination in order to develop inclusive interregional border security and collective anti-terrorism strategies.  Towards that end, the recent second regional conference on border security between the Sahel and Maghreb States was timely and important.  He supported ongoing national, subregional, regional and global efforts to promote ongoing political processes in Mali, and welcomed continued international support for national Governments in the region to help them address pressing needs and implement resilience-based approaches to sustainable development.  He welcomed the recent joint visit to the region of the Secretary-General and the World Bank President.


GÉRARD ARAUD (France), speaking in his national capacity, said the governance, security, humanitarian and development challenges in the Sahel understood no borders and, therefore, called for a common approach.  The United Nations Integrated Strategy sought to adopt a global approach to them and the recent bolstering of the United Nations office in Dakar would help coordinate efforts.  To be effective, investments must align with the needs of the concerned States and lead to immediate projects.  Recalling that 10 million people suffered from food insecurity in the region, he called for increasing their access to transport, food, water and health services.  Tackling such challenges required confidence, as a coordinated approach would never be achieved without it.  For its part, France was committed to strengthening security in the Sahel and next week would hold a meeting on drug trafficking and its security impacts in West Africa and the Sahel.  With that, he reiterated France’s commitment to the region’s people in facing their challenges.


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