What's In Blue

Posted Fri 27 Oct 2017

Briefing on the Operationalisation of the G5 Sahel Joint Force

On Monday (30 October), the Council expects to hold a ministerial-level briefing, chaired by the French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian, to discuss ways in which the international community can support the joint force of the G5 Sahel. Briefers will include UN Secretary-General António Guterres; Chairperson of the AU Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat; and Malian Foreign Minister Abdulaye Diop, as rotating President of the G5 Sahel. The other members of the G5 Sahel (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania and Niger) are expected to participate in the meeting.

The Secretary-General’s 16 October report on the activities of the force (S/2017/869), which describes the challenges encountered in its operationalisation and four possible options to support the force, will be an important focus of the meeting. At the meeting, Council members are expected to state their positions regarding these options. In his report, Guterres provides two options that imply the establishment of a dedicated UN support office financed through assessed contributions, similar to the UN office (UNSOS) supporting the work of the AU Mission in Somalia. In anticipation of Council divisions on this issue, he also includes two proposals that would support the joint force through UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

The four options are:

1. Security Council mandated UN support package
2. Security Council mandated UN logistical and soft support package
3. Support requiring an adjustment to the MINUSMA mandate
4. Support that could be provided by MINUSMA under its current mandate

The Secretary-General’s report urges Council members to be ambitious, and Guterres has expressed his strong conviction that only with predictable and sustainable funding and support can the joint force contribute to lasting stabilisation of the Sahel region.

This message was echoed by all the stakeholders that Council members met with during their 18-23 October visiting mission to Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania, including by senior government officials in these three countries and the leadership of the G5 force. The interlocutors the Council met with noted that significant logistical and operational support tasks (i.e. air transportation, medical and casualty evacuation capacities, and life-support services) can only be provided through an in-theatre presence. Furthermore, as the Secretary-General emphasises in his report, the approval of UN support to the force would warrant the establishment of a robust compliance framework under the Human Rights Due Diligence Policy.

While the US and others have expressed their preference for supporting the force bilaterally, most Council members are willing to provide support through the UN. An important objective of the visiting mission was to inform the thinking of Council members on this issue, particularly those that have been reluctant in the past to agree to the provision of this kind of support. The impact of the visiting mission on their thinking is expected to feature in their statements.

Sign up for What's In Blue emails