What's In Blue

Posted Fri 12 Jul 2013

Sahel Presidential Statement

The Security Council is likely to adopt a presidential statement on Monday (15 July) on the Sahel region following its discussion on the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel last month. The Sahel Strategy, which was included as an annex to the Secretary-General’s 14 June report on the situation in the Sahel (S/2013/354), consists of three strategic goals: enhancing inclusive and effective governance in the region; ensuring the capacity of national and regional security structures to address cross-border threats; and developing long-term resilience through integrated humanitarian and development efforts.

It seems that the Secretariat encouraged Council members to formulate a formal outcome as a signal of support for the strategy. The negotiations have gone relatively smoothly. Morocco circulated a first draft of the statement on Monday (8 July), and Council members held one round of negotiations on Wednesday (10 July) to discuss the statement. Bilateral negotiations were subsequently held before agreement was reached on the text late this afternoon.

It appears that in the draft statement the Council reaffirms its commitment to address the inter-connected political, military, humanitarian and developmental challenges in the Sahel region. In this sense, the Council will likely underscore the role of coordination among UN entities – as well as the importance of national and regional ownership – in ensuring the effective implementation of the Sahel Strategy.

The draft may likewise welcome the deployment of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). It also seems that the draft will underscore the threats posed by terrorism, drug-trafficking, and arms proliferation, while highlighting sanctions as an important counter-terrorism tool. It seems there were some minor differences over how to refer to these areas but it was not difficult to find agreement on appropriate language as these are not new issues.

One area of difference that was resolved late this afternoon concerned language on human rights in the draft. It seems that at the request of one member a paragraph including previously agreed language was added to the draft condemning, inter-alia, arbitrary executions, human trafficking, and recruitment of child soldiers. Although most of the other Council members were agreeable, apparently Russia had reservations about how these violations should be listed.

One Council member had requested that a paragraph be added on humanitarian aid in the Sahel, but a few other members countered that this might detract from the focus on security in the Sahel. A compromise was found, as humanitarian assistance was noted in the draft but not in as pronounced a way as originally proposed. A request to reference the importance of an inclusive approach to economic and social development in the Sahel was likewise accommodated.

It also appears that the Council will signal the importance of maintaining focus on the challenges facing the Sahel over the long-term in the statement. The draft apparently welcomes the intention of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to convene a high-level meeting on the margins of the opening of the upcoming UN General Assembly session in September. It also will likely welcome a joint visit by the Secretary-General and the President of the World Bank to the region this year, while also looking forward to a briefing by Ban after this trip. Finally it seems that in the draft statement the Council will request the Secretary-General to inform it of progress in implementing the strategy before the end of the calendar year, as well as also requesting a written report on its implementation by 30 June 2014.

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