What's In Blue

Posted Wed 11 Dec 2013

Briefing and Presidential Statement on the Sahel Strategy

The Security Council is likely to adopt a presidential statement tomorrow (12 December) on the Sahel region following 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). The Council is also expected to be briefed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, the EU Special Representative for the Sahel Michel Reveyrand de Menthon and AU Permanent Observer Tete Antonio on the 4-7 November joint mission to Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad.

Even though some Council members thought it was too soon to adopt another presidential statement on the Sahel after having adopted one on 16 July (S/PRST/2013/10), it seems no one opposed Morocco’s idea to draft another statement. (Both France and Morocco have drafted outcomes on the Sahel.)

The negotiations have gone relatively smoothly as the draft draws largely upon agreed language from the 16 July presidential statement. Morocco circulated a first draft of the statement on Friday (6 December), and Council members held one round of negotiations on Monday (9 December). One minor issue of contention appears to have been the desire of some Council members not to welcome decisions of regional meetings in which they have not taken part. As a result, some of the language used in the draft “welcoming” regional developments was apparently changed to “taking note” of them. Bilateral negotiations were subsequently held and two more versions were circulated and negotiated via email before an agreement was reached on the draft text this afternoon.

In the draft statement the Council reiterates its continued concern about the alarming situation in the Sahel region and reaffirms its continued commitment to addressing the complex security and political challenges in this region, which are closely linked to humanitarian and developmental issues, as well as the adverse effects of climate and ecological changes.

The draft likewise welcomes the convening by the Secretary-General on 26 September of the High-Level Meeting on the situation in the Sahel, on the margins of the General Assembly and expresses its appreciation of the efforts of the Special Envoy in raising awareness of the challenges facing the Sahel region and in mobilising international support for the region.

In addition, following the request of a Council member, it seems the draft statement includes language commending the ongoing efforts undertaken by Sahel states and relevant regional organisations in addressing the humanitarian challenges in the Sahel, strengthening resilience in the region, and applauding the efforts of the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel.

Following another Council member’s request, it appears the draft statement also underlines the importance of prompt and effective implementation of resolutions 1267 and 1989 as key instruments in the fight against terrorism, while commending the initiative of the 1267/1989 Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee and its Monitoring Team to engage with member states of the Sahel and to integrate the sanctions regime into national and regional responses.

A Council member also requested the addition of a paragraph commending the 1373 Counter-Terrorism Committee’s initiative to organise a special meeting on “Enhancing Cooperation and Technical Assistance to States in the Sahel Region to Strengthen their Capacity in the Global Fight against Terrorism” held on 20 September. This appears to have been incorporated into the final draft.

Prodi’s briefing to the Council, which was requested in the 16 July presidential statement, is expected to be the last one in his current capacity as Special Envoy. (The team in charge of implementing the integrated strategy is expected to relocate from Rome to Dakar, and be headed by another individual at the Assistant Secretary-General level.) At tomorrow’s briefing, he is expected to focus on the steps taken towards the strategy’s goals—inclusive and effective governance, national and regional security mechanisms and the integration of humanitarian and development plans to build resilience. He is also expected to brief Council members on the two mechanisms he has proposed: 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.

Given the public nature of tomorrow’s briefing, Council members are likely to deliver statements that focus on the positive developments as opposed to raising critical questions about the strategy that have been discussed in closed consultations in the past.

The rest of the briefers are expected to focus on the mission led by the UN and the World Bank to the region, where they were joined by EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs; AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma; and African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka. 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.

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