Despite Political, Security Gains, Broad Socioeconomic Challenges Remain in Sahel, Secretary-General Tells High-level Meeting on Region

26 September 2013

Despite Political, Security Gains, Broad Socioeconomic Challenges Remain in Sahel, Secretary-General Tells High-level Meeting on Region

26 September 2013
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Despite Political, Security Gains, Broad Socioeconomic Challenges Remain in Sahel,

Secretary-General Tells High-level Meeting on Region

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the high-level meeting on the Sahel, in New York on 26 September:

Last year we met here to discuss the situation in the Sahel.  Since then, our collective efforts have helped improve the political and security situation in Mali and address some of the broader challenges in the Sahel.  We have begun to better balance emergency response with longer-term development planning.  We are better linking measures to relieve malnutrition with interventions on water, sanitation and health.  Communities and households are becoming more resilient.

But many obstacles remain.  Political instability, unconstitutional changes of Government and State fragility have significant economic and social consequences.  Authorities have limited capacity to deliver basic services and foster dialogue and citizen participation.  Education, agriculture, health, justice and protection services are underfunded.  Eleven million people are food insecure.  Five million children under five are at risk of acute malnutrition.

Terrorist acts, and transnational organized crime, including arms and drug trafficking, threaten stability.  We must particularly beware the evolution of appeal of radicalism and violent ideology among the region’s youth.   These challenges are interconnected.  We need to commit to the region through a holistic and unifying framework, capable of addressing humanitarian imperatives and long-term structural needs.

The United Nations integrated strategy, developed under the leadership of my Special Envoy for the Sahel, Romano Prodi, who is here with me, prioritizes governance, security and resilience.  It also focuses on collaboration with international financial institutions to promote regional initiatives that fall beyond the realm of traditional United Nations engagement.

The strategy recognizes the importance of human rights and efforts to combat impunity and corruption in securing sustainable security and development.  It focuses on building confidence among Sahel States and enhancing the engagement of border communities.  It underscores the need for accountability and the participation of the most vulnerable people and communities.  Partner support is indispensable to help people through the transition from relief to early recovery and on to development.  The Strategy needs adequate resources and the engagement of the whole United Nations system.

My Special Representative for West Africa, Said Djinnit, has established coordination mechanisms with all United Nations entities operating in the region.  We will also work to coordinate efforts with other development actors, including by reinforcing our partnership with the World Bank, the African Development Bank and regional institutions.  We have a proposal for an Action Fund, managed by the African Development Bank, designed primarily for non-traditional donors.  Our strategic priority is to link interventions to ensure a coherent and coordinated approach that is closely aligned with national and regional strategies and programmes.

National leadership and ownership are paramount.  To that end, I plan to visit the Sahel region with the Presidents of the World Bank and the African Development Bank, and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.  We will meet with officials from all the countries of the subregion to hear their concerns and priorities.  The visit can be a way forward in establishing a platform for coordinating our efforts in the Sahel.

Speed is of the essence.  We need to get projects up and running and get help to where it is most needed.  We must maintain international focus to enable peace and security, human rights and development for all the people of the region.

I wish you a fruitful discussion.

Thank you.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.