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18 December 2013 - Security Council - Peace and security in Africa: Combating drug trafficking in the Sahel and in West Africa - Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, permanent representative of France to the United Nations

(UN translation)

I would like to thank the Secretary-General, Mr. Fedotov and Mr. Djinnit for their statements. This meeting is being held just after the Elysée Summit for Peace and Security in Africa, organized by France, and enables us to send a strong message to the States in the region. Drug trafficking in the Sahel and West Africa is a threat to peace and stability. The Security Council has taken stock of this issue. The initiatives taken by the States of the region must therefore be supported by the United Nations.

I would emphasize three points: the threat, France’s commitments and the role of the Security Council.

First, let us assess the situation. Without repeating the statistics provided to us this morning, it is clear that drug trafficking is a threat to the Sahel and West African countries and their security, stability and development and, beyond that, to international peace and stability. West Africa and the Sahel, as we have heard, have become hubs for the transit of cocaine, while cannabis is perennial and heroin and synthetic drugs are emerging. The drug trade’s links with various criminal groups and, on occasion, the funding of terrorist activities fuel rebellions and destabilize existing Governments, as we have seen in several countries in the region, in particular Mali and Guinea-Bissau. As a zone for the transit — and now for production and consumption — of drugs, the States of the region face disastrous consequences in terms of corruption, illicit economic activity and public health. Faced with this emerging threat, the States of West Africa and the Sahel have alerted the international community and seek support for their initiatives. The Secretary-General, in several of his reports, has relayed those concerns.

Secondly, France has committed itself to responding to that request. At the Elysée Summit, held in Paris on 6 and 7 September, Heads of States and Government expressed their shared determination to curb the production, processing, consumption and trafficking of drugs on the two continents, combat illegal financial flows, and enhance legal and security cooperation. France will continue to lend its support to the security and safety of African maritime waters and border areas, following the Yaoundé summit and Rabat conference. France has also committed itself to bringing these issues to the heart of the European Union, in particular by calling for the adoption of a European Union maritime safety strategy in the Gulf of Guinea to deal with the cross-cutting challenges affecting those waters.

Finally, on the role of the Security Council, Council members have shown, through this debate, their commitment to fighting drug trafficking and transnational crime. In the presidential statement adopted today (S/PRST/2013/22), the members of the Council support the initiatives undertaken by the States of the region and ask the United Nations to help with their implementation, particularly within the framework of the Integrated Strategy for the Sahel, in cooperation with other relevant organizations, such as the European Union. They call in particular for concrete measures to be taken to facilitate maritime interception operations, surveillance of border areas, prosecutions, trials and sentencing of traffickers, fighting corruption and money-laundering, and, lastly, for the adoption of health-related measures aimed at combating the demand for drugs.

Beyond that, the Security Council should have a better understanding of the impact of drug trafficking and organized crime on the situations on its agenda. That is why in the presidential statement the Council asks that it be kept better informed about such threats by UNODC, particularly when it is considering the mandates of peacekeeping operations and political missions. It also urges UNODC and the Department of Political Affairs to include, in their regular briefings to the Council, information on the work of the United Nations system task force on transnational organized crime and drug trafficking as threats to security and stability. France will continue to provide support, in its national capacity, within the European framework and through the Security Council, to the initiatives of its friends in the countries of West Africa


Learn more on transnational threats to international peace and security.



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