7081st Meeting (AM)
Considering the situation in the Sahel today, the Security Council reaffirmed its continued commitment to address the complex security and political challenges in that region, which were interrelated with humanitarian and developmental issues, as well as the adverse effects of climate and ecological changes.
In a presidential statement (document S/PRST/2013/20), the Council also strongly condemned the abuses of human rights and violence against civilians, by terrorists and other extremist groups, and reaffirmed its strong commitment to the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of countries of the Sahel region.
Underscoring the importance of a coherent, comprehensive and coordinated approach encompassing governance, security, humanitarian, human rights and developmental aspects, the Council reaffirmed its request to the Secretary-General to ensure early progress towards the effective implementation of the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel.
Welcoming the high-level meeting on the situation in the Sahel on 26 September 2013 and the joint visit of the Secretary-General and the President of the World Bank Group, with the participation of the African Union, European Union and African Development Bank, to the Sahel region from 4 to 7 November 2013, the Council welcomed the announcements in planned funding, aimed at supporting major national and regional development priorities.
In addition, the Council underscored the importance of national and regional ownership of the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel and recognized the need for the Strategy to be implemented in close consultation with Member States of the Sahel, West Africa, and the Maghreb, as well as regional, multilateral, and other bilateral donors and partners.
Prior to the adoption of the presidential statement, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefed the Council on his visit to the region. The vast size and long porous borders of the Sahel meant that its challenges could be addressed successfully only if the countries of the region worked together, he said.
Terrorist acts and other transnational crime were threatening security in the region, he added. It was also vital to address the food crises that plagued the Sahel.
Noting that the World Bank and the European Union had committed to providing more than $8.2 billion to the region, he also welcomed the African Development Bank’s establishment of an Action Fund which would jumpstart underfunded projects and contribute to longer-term development.
“The world will support the Sahel,” Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank, stated in his briefing, calling for a coordinated and regional approach. The World Bank had committed funds for the creation of social safety nets and support for the private sector to encourage entrepreneurship. It was also important to support the economic empowerment of women and the Bank had committed $200 million to address that issue.
The people of the Sahel had struggled for too long, he said. There was nothing pre-ordained about that state of affairs. They wanted good jobs, education and access to quality health care. They hoped for a better life for their children. Their lives could be transformed through a sustained commitment by the international community to their vision for a better life.
The Council also heard from Romano Prodi, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Sahel, who stressed the link between security, governance and humanitarian development. The United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel had identified agriculture, energy, infrastructure, education and health as the five priority sectors, he added.
The region was competing for international attention with other equally serious crises, he said. However, simply maintaining attention to the region was not enough. Considerable resources were necessary and it was vital to mobilize resources multilaterally and bilaterally. The Sahel Action Fund, which was being formalized by the African Development Bank, was a step in that direction.
Other speakers today underscored that there could be no lasting security without inclusive development, including Michel Reveyrand-De Menthon, the European Union Special Representative for the Sahel. The conflict in Mali, he added, was an illustration of the security and development crisis.
At the same time, he noted, the effort to reinstate peace in Mali would be in vain if it was not followed by efforts from neighboring countries. Cooperation between the countries of the Sahel and the Maghreb was crucial. Many States of the region had committed to developing coordination mechanisms and the European Union would fully support those initiatives. Instead of a vast space where insecurity was rampant, the Sahel, he hoped, could be a place of cultural and economic development.
The “constraints of Sahel’s history and geography” called for a united approach, Téte António, Permanent Observer for the African Union, said. He welcomed the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the region, which encompassed humanitarian, security and development aspects and said that the African Union would work to set up a joint secretariat for that strategy.
A crucial tool, he noted, for dealing with the region’s transnational security challenges was the Nuakchott Process, which was based on regular meetings among the heads of security services. The African Union would consider measures to strengthen that process.
Also speaking were the representatives of Morocco, Pakistan, United States, Republic of Korea, Australia, Guatemala, China, Argentina, United Kingdom, Togo, Rwanda, Luxembourg, Russian Federation, Azerbaijan, and France.
The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 12:25 p.m.