Remarks by Ambassador Harold Agyeman, Permanent Representative of Ghana to the UN, at UN Security Council Briefing and Consultations on G5 Sahel

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November 16, 2022

Colleagues,

I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the A3 members of the Security Council namely Gabon, Kenya, and Ghana. We welcome the report of the Secretary-General and thank ASG Martha Pobee and Amb. Eric Tiare, the Executive Secretary of the G5 Sahel for their comprehensive briefing and useful insights on the situation in the Sahel. We also welcome the participation in this meeting of Prof. Zakaria Ousmane Ramadan who spoke on behalf of the Centre for Strategic Studies.

Colleagues,

Several developments have taken place in the Sahel since the last briefing to the Council six (6) months ago. The unstable political and security situation continues to impact the operations of the Force. Specifically, these include the withdrawal of the French Force, Operation Barkhane, from Mali; the termination of Mali’s membership of the Joint Force; the second military takeover in Burkina Faso on 30th September 2022, in less than nine months; as well as the increasing attacks by the terrorist groups leading to civilian and military casualties. We express our condolences to all the families’ and victims of the terrorist attacks in the Sahel region and observe that the challenges are further aggravated by funding and logistical gaps, which have undermined the effectiveness of the Joint Force.

Despite these challenges, the A3 believes that the Joint Force can continue to be an important actor in addressing the security concerns in the Sahel. We note the determination of the Member countries of the Force, anticipate the imminent reconfiguration of the Joint Force, and support continuing diplomatic efforts aimed at encouraging Mali to rejoin the organization. Beyond that, we also believe that funding and other logistical assistance from the international community and donor partners continues to be a necessary enabler. We share the view that this Council together with friendly countries, and other stakeholders should ‘walk the talk’ by sparing no efforts in rallying support for regional mechanisms in a manner that ensures that the Force is well resourced in all aspects to enable it to achieve its mandate. Additionally, the creation of a UN support office to assist the Force, is essential in the realisation of lasting peace in the Sahel.

We recognise the difference that the Peacebuilding Commission can make through its convening, bridging and resource mobilisation mandate to sustainably support the Sahelian countries in the implementation of the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel and its Support Plan. The A3 welcomes the written advisory of the PBC reflecting this effort and urge due consideration of its recommendations to address the broader challenges relating to national and regional peacebuilding. In light of the present dynamics in the Sahel and the ongoing joint strategic assessment of the region as well as the ongoing review of MINUSMA, it is important to consider how MINUSMA’s support for the activities of the G5 Sahel Joint Force can be recalibrated.

The A3 wishes to highlight the following points which we consider as critical in enhancing the responsiveness of the joint Force:

First, greater attention needs to be paid to addressing the political differences among Member countries of the Force. We underscore the need for convergence of democratic norms among the member countries of the Force to restore cohesiveness and effectiveness and encourage their commitment to remain engaged. We, encourage the relevant Member countries in the region to honour their respective transitional timelines aimed at restoring constitutional order and believe thatsupport from the international community towards regional-led efforts in tackling the political crisis facing the Force, including the return of Mali, is critical. Also of importance is the need to enhance cross-pillar coordination across the three pillars of governance, resilience, and security in the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel (UNISS).

Second, challenges facing the Force including technical and operational issues as well as inadequate infrastructure along supply routes require greater attention. We encourage Member States in the region to enhance their cooperation and make good their commitment to facilitating the timely issuance of tax exemption letters as well as intensify investment in infrastructure to address the storage capacity gaps facing the Force.

Third, the continuous support by MINUSMA to the six battalions of the Joint Force outside Mali in accordance with the tripartite is commendable. We, however, note with concern the logistical and operational challenges facing MINUSMA, which has increased following the withdrawal of the French forces and other TCCs from the Mission. We believe that the anticipated report on the ongoing strategic review of MINUSMA, to be submitted to this Council on 13th January 2023 would emerge with realistic, robust and forwarding-looking recommendations that would enhance its responsiveness to better support the Joint force.

Fourth, it is clear that the joint Force alone cannot adequately address the Sahelian crisis devoid of coordination and cooperation among other regional arrangements. It is our expectation that the ongoing joint strategic assessment of the Sahel will emerge with recommendations that would leverage the best elements of the G5 Sahel Joint Force, the Accra Initiative, the Nouakchott Process and the Multinational Joint Task Force, and consider recommendations for a unified and restructured regional force. It is our expectation that within the recommendations would be an element that addresses the dire funding and logistical challenges facing the Force. Also of concern is the additional burden placed on the Force following the spill-over effect of the crisis in Libya on the Sahel, and the possible return of Foreign Terrorist Fighters as well as the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. We urge for coordinated action among the regional countries including in DDR to address the concerning matter.

Fifth, it is equally important for greater attention to be given to pre-emptive measures aimed at addressing the drivers of insecurity in the Sahel. The adoption of a whole-of-society approach in addressing the dire socioeconomic conditions in the region is paramount. It is equally important to consider a multi-dimensional approach that combines security and development by implementing quick impact community projects. Addressing these challenges including the aggravating impact on climate and security in the region would require creating the right environment for women and the youth to acquire the requisite skills to gain meaningful employment and participate in critical decision making and in political processes. The Peacebuilding Commission’s initiatives targeting youth, women, and agricultural self-employment as well as climate-related peace and development interventions are therefore essential. The involvement of the local communities in tackling the root causes of instability in the region is critical since they suffer daily from the assaults of armed groups, the jolts of climate change and the pangs of poverty.

Lastly, we need to scale up humanitarian assistance considering the increasing level of displacements emanating from the dire security situation. The over 34.6 million Sahelians in need of assistance in 2022, which is about six million more than in 2021, underpins the urgent need for donor partners to heed to the Secretary-General’s call for increase in funding support towards the realization of the $3.8 billion Humanitarian Response Plan required for the region.

In concluding, the A3 believes that a multi-dimensional approach is indispensable in tackling the Sahelian crisis including sustained support for the joint Force. While welcoming bilateral support from friendly countries and donor partners to the force, the A3 believes that stronger political will by this Council in addressing the issue of predictable funding for the Force is equally critical if we want it to remain responsive to the security challenges in the Sahel.

I thank you.

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