December 2013 Monthly Forecast

Posted 27 November 2013
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Peace and Security in Africa

Expected Council Action

In December, the Council expects a briefing by the Secretary- General’s Special Envoy for the Sahel, Romano Prodi, on the implementation of the UN integrated strategy for the Sahel (S/2013/354), as requested in a 16 July presidential statement.

Key Recent Developments

In resolution 2056 of July 2012, the Council asked the Secretary-General to develop and implement, in consultation with regional organisations, a UN integrated strategy for the Sahel region encompassing security, governance, development, human rights and humanitarian issues. On 26 June 2013, after considerable delays, Prodi presented the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in the Sahel, which included the integrated strategy.

The strategy was based on the idea of integrating humanitarian and development programs, ensuring that lifesaving activities meet immediate needs while building the resilience of people and communities as part of a long-term development agenda. It comprised three strategic goals: inclusive and effective governance; national and regional security mechanisms; and the integration of humanitarian and development plans to build resilience. It also included the establishment of two mechanisms: a coordination platform to identify priorities and avoid overlapping by multilateral donors and an action fund to act as a “clearing house” to match regional infrastructure needs with available resources.

In a 16 July presidential statement (S/PRST/2013/10), the Council welcomed Prodi’s efforts to develop the UN strategy, draw attention to the situation in the Sahel and mobilise resources and support for the Sahel’s immediate and long-term needs. It also welcomed the proposal to partner with relevant international and regional financial institutions to promote innovative approaches and initiatives for the Sahel region.

On 26 September, the Secretary-General convened a high-level meeting on the Sahel on the margins of the General Assembly. Participants included member states (including several heads of state and government) and representatives of regional and international organisations. According to a summary of the meeting, the speakers expressed concern over the remaining challenges to stability in the Sahel, including the surge in terrorist acts, arms and drugs trafficking, other transnational forms of organised crime and the spread of violent ideology across the region, particularly among youth. They also emphasised the need to intensify efforts to tackle the structural causes of instability and fragility in the Sahel and increase the resilience of the people, communities and states in the region to recurring shocks.

Between 4-7 November, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim led a mission to Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad. They were joined by Andris Piebalgs, the EU Commissioner for Development; AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma; and African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka. During the joint mission, major financial pledges to the region were announced: $1.5 billion from the World Bank in new regional investments over the next two years and €5 billion from the EU to six countries in the region over the next seven years. The mission coincided with the first ministerial meeting of the coordination platform for the UN integrated strategy, which included the international organisations cited above, as well as governments of the region. One of Prodi’s initiatives, the establishment of an action fund for the Sahel, to be administered by the African Development Bank, six months after the agreement on its creation, still needs to be fully negotiated.

One of the topics highlighted in the UN integrated strategy is the need for concerted efforts on trans-border threats. On 14 November, the second regional conference on border security took place in Rabat, Morocco to discuss ways of reinvigorating regional cooperation in North Africa and the Sahel region, beefing up security and combating terror and organised crime, including drug and weapons smuggling and illegal migration. At the meeting, 19 Sahel and Maghreb countries decided to create a joint border-security training centre.

Before the relocation from Rome to Dakar of the team in charge of implementing the integrated strategy, which will be headed by an Assistant Secretary-General, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa Said Djinnit has been convening meetings to ensure coordination. A September meeting of regional heads of national UN country teams decided on the establishment of three working groups (one for each of the strategy’s objectives) to map current UN programs in the region and identify gaps and priorities. Currently, the three working groups—headed by the UN Development Programme, the Office for West Africa (UNOWA) and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs respectively—are developing a concept note to inform subsequent regional initiatives.

Key Issues

Addressing trans-border security and governance problems, such as drug trafficking, organised crime and terrorism, in a more coordinated manner is a key issue. Avoiding regional tensions and conflicting priorities while addressing these problems is a related issue. 

Ensuring that the UN integrated strategy is effectively implemented and produces impact is a key issue. Avoiding duplication of efforts in the Sahel region between the Prodi team and UNOWA is an imminent issue.


The Council could receive the briefing and take no action, or it could:

  • ask the Secretariat to speed up the implementation of the UN integrated strategy, as well as the process of relocating the team that will implement it from Rome to Dakar;
  • ask the Secretariat and regional stakeholders to avoid the creation of structures  that duplicate existing efforts; and
  • establish an expert group to identify those involved in transnational organised crime in the Sahel, with the possibility of imposing targeted sanctions, as recommended in the Secretary-General’s report (S/2013/189).
Council and Wider Dynamics

Although the UN integrated Sahel strategy was received with some degree of scepticism by some Council members, there seems to be agreement that it is needed to tackle cross-border challenges. Since the consultations on 26 June, Council members have not received much detail on the work of two of Prodi’s flagship ideas: the coordination platform and the action fund. It seems that Council members are eager to get more information about those and about the institutional arrangements for the work of both mechanisms, in particular the involvement of the World Bank.

Council members are expecting internal rearrangements in the Secretariat to reflect and implement the integrated strategy and to avoid duplication of efforts.

Both France and Morocco have drafted Council outcomes on the Sahel.

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Security Council Resolution
5 July 2012 S/RES/2056 This resolution expressed the Council’s full support for the joint efforts of ECOWAS, the AU and the transitional authorities in Mali trying to re-establish constitutionality and territorial integrity.
Security Council Presidential Statement
16 July 2013 S/PRST/2013/10 This presidential statement reaffirmed the Council’s concern about the alarming situation in the region as well as the complex security and political challenges interlinked with humanitarian and developmental issues.
Secretary-General’s Reports
14 June 2013 S/2013/354 This report on the Sahel contained the UN integrated strategy for the Sahel.
26 March 2013 S/2013/189 This report contained the Secretary-General’s recommendations for a UN mission in Mali.
Security Council Meeting Record
26 June 2013 S/PV.6988 This was a meeting on the strategy for the Sahel as circulated in the annex to the Secretary-General’s report on the Sahel (S/2013/354).

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