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26 January 2012 - Security Council
Peace and security in Africa/Sahel - Statement by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

(UN translation)

I would like to thank Mr. Lynn Pascoe for his statement and for the assessment work that has been carried out by the United Nations, in close cooperation with the African Union and on the basis of the needs expressed by the authorities of the States of region.

The assessment report’s (see S/2012/42) presentation of the impact of the Libyan crisis on the Sahel region leads to two observations: first, about the seriousness of the large number of security and humanitarian challenges in the region and, secondly, about the need for the United Nations to adopt a more integrated approach to help the States of the region to overcome those challenges.

Let me turn first to the challenges for the region.

In both the humanitarian and security fronts, the States of the Sahel region face recurring problems that require addressing with greater coordination and solutions focused on the underlying issues.

Population movements, which often include migrants returning to their countries of origin following the crisis in Libya, as well as the spread of weapons in the region are, as has been pointed out, additional destabilizing factors in an already fragile region. While the problems of the Sahel clearly predate the Libyan crisis, they have nevertheless not been the object of sufficiently effective responses. Among the underlying problems are recurring food crises, acts of terrorism by Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and Boko Haram, and trafficking in weapons, drugs and even human beings — the common denominator being that they all concern issues that cross borders and, to varying degrees concern all the countries of the Sahel. Quite often, States lack the resources to address problems beyond their borders that contribute to destabilization in their region. In that regard, it is especially relevant that the Security Council address the question of the Sahel in all its aspects, which is something it has never done.

Given the cross-border threat of those threats, it is crucial that the States of region carry out cooperation in the areas of security and development, in particular when it comes to border controls. Solutions must first of all come from the States themselves. The latest ministerial conference held in Nouakchott this week shows that this process is under way. The international community should act to help by supporting the Governments of the region and providing assistance for their initiatives. The matter of the crucial role of coordination leads me to my second point, namely, the role of the United Nations.

We are convinced that the United Nations has a role to play in the Sahel.

At this moment, no regional organization in Africa brings together all the countries concerned by the problems of the Sahel. Only the United Nations, by virtue of its universality and neutrality, includes all the States of the Sahel and neighbouring States of the region. It is therefore essential that the United Nations adopt a more integrated approach internally to help the States of the region in the areas of security and development. It should do so by aligning its agencies, funds and programmes to work in the same direction. Moreover, we believe that such a strategy should not entail the establishment of additional bureaucratic mechanisms. Optimally, it should rely on, and strengthen, existing structures. In that regard, we call on the Secretariat to keep the Council informed of efforts made in that regard.

I should also like to recall that in 2011 the European Union devoted significant short and long term budgetary resources to a strategy for the Sahel that provided for many concrete partnership projects focused on development, security and political dialogue. The European Union is therefore committed. It has appointed a coordinator and is currently placing every tool at his disposal, while making national ownership the guiding principle. In its approach, the United Nations should take into account the European Union initiative, so as to avoid pointless duplication. Only in that way, will we be able to ensure that the efforts of the United Nations are adapted to the realities on the ground and the efforts of other partners in the international community.

In conclusion, I should like to point out that France has just circulated a draft statement to the press, which we hope will later be adopted in order to demonstrate the commitment of the Security Council on this issue.



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