I am pleased to send my greetings to this important meeting and I am encouraged by the active engagement of the countries of the Sahel in efforts to reach a regional solution for peace, security and development.
I will continue to rely on the advice and leadership of countries of the region as we work to implement the United Nations integrated strategy for the Sahel. I also want to recognize the involvement and investment of international and regional organizations, as well as bilateral actors, in tackling the many structural challenges to peace, security and development in the region.
I would like to thank once again all those who took part in the High Level Meeting on the Sahel held at United Nations headquarters on 26 September.
As emphasized by many participants at the meeting, we need to ensure a framework for closer cooperation among all actors.
Following recent consultations in Dakar, my Special Representative for West Africa, Said Djinnit, has established a coordination mechanism with all UN entities operating in the region. These efforts will also rely on reinforcing our partnership with the World Bank, the African Development Bank and regional institutions, such as ECOWAS and the African Union, as well as other key partners including the European Union.
Our strategic priority is to link interventions with national and regional strategies and programmes. In the process, we can also identify gaps that require additional support.
ECOWAS will have an essential role to play throughout the implementation of the strategy. I look forward to working closely with the governments of the region and other partners to help ensure that the coordination mechanism effectively serves the peoples of the Sahel.
We will be guided by the advice and priorities of the countries of the region. At the same time, the people of the Sahel should be able to count on a strong international focus to enable peace and security, human rights and development throughout the region.
You can count on my continued full support for these goals. I wish you a productive discussion and look forward to the outcomes of your meeting.