JOINT A-3 STATEMENT (GABON, GHANA, KENYA) BY HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN, AMBASSADOR AND PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF GHANA TO THE UNITED NATIONS DURING THE SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFING AND CONSULTATION ON G5 SAHEL 18th May 2022 Security Council Chamber New York
I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the A3 members of the Security Council namely, Kenya, Gabon, and my own country Ghana.
We welcome the report of the Secretary-General and thank ASG Martha Pobee and Amb. Eric Tiare, the Executive Secretary of the G5 Sahel Joint Force for their comprehensive briefing and insightful perspectives on the situation in the Sahel.
We also welcome the participation in this meeting of Dr. Solange Bandiaky-Badji, who spoke on behalf of Rights and Resources Initiative.
The G5 Sahel Joint Force is indeed a critical component of the regional-led initiatives in dealing with the security situation in the Sahel. Despite its importance, the A3 notes with concern that the Force has not been able to effectively deal with the volatile security situation in the Sahel which has been characterized by increasing attacks by violent extremist groups. We note that factors such as the logistical and funding challenges have negatively impacted the operational effectiveness of the Force.
The A3 therefore regrets the announcement by the Malian Transitional authorities of the country’s withdrawal from the G5 Sahel Force. As we are already aware, Mali is at the centre of the crisis in the region and a required partner in addressing the transnational crisis. The complex nature of the security situation in that country and the region require regional and multilateral efforts as no one country can do it alone. The decision by the Malian authorities to further isolate itself from the region and international community is therefore very regrettable.
We urge the member countries of the G5 Sahel Force to quickly resolve the concerns over coordination within the Joint Force by dealing with the political and leadership crisis among the members. We also hope that the delayed meeting of the Defense Ministers of the G5 Sahel Joint Force, which should have taken place since November 2021, and the annual Heads of State summit held in February of every year would take place as soon as possible and without further undue delay and in recognition of the new developments within the contributing countries of the Joint Force.
Notwithstanding the above challenges, the A3 welcomes the recent visit by the Secretary- General to the region to engage relevant actors and assess the situation on the ground. We further commend the overall efforts of the international community in addressing the security challenges in the Sahel including the support for the Joint Force. While commending MINUSMA for its support to the G5 Sahel Force, we acknowledge that MINUSMA itself is constrained in its mandate. We look forward to the renewal of the MINUSMA mandate in June with elements that would enhance its logistical capabilities and effectiveness in dealing with the security challenges.
9. In light of the complex political situation in the Sahel, as well as the additional security risks posed to the Force following the withdrawal of Mali, and mindful of the need for urgent action in support of strengthening the G5 Sahel Joint Force, the A3 would like to highlight the following:
As indicated a few moments ago, the security situation in Mali cannot be addressed by the Malians alone and would require support from the region and international community. We therefore call on the Malian authorities and the other member States of the Force to re-engage in dialogue for a speedy resolution of the noted challenges.
Addressing the political uncertainties in the Sahel remains critical to a sustainable resolution of the challenges. In this regard, getting the countries in the region under military regimes, including Mali, to adhere to the transitional timeline endorsed by ECOWAS for the swift return to constitutional rule remains the best way forward. We, therefore, continue to encourage the ongoing dialogue between the host authorities and ECOWAS.
The withdrawal of Mali from the Force, now more than ever, requires this Council and other partners to speak with one voice on the appropriate support mechanism for other regional-led initiatives to fill the security gaps while also finding the much-needed appropriate support mechanism to strengthen the Force. Initiatives such as the Nouakchott Process on the enhancement of security cooperation and the operationalization of the African Peace and Security Architecture in the Sahelian - Saharan region of 2013, the Accra Initiative of 2017, and the Communique of the Extraordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) of 2019, which is aimed at mobilizing an ECOWAS Standby Force in addressing the threats in the region needs the required support.
We therefore welcome the UN-AU conference held in New York in December 2021, which decided to establish a joint strategic assessment with a view to seeking ways to strengthen support for the G5 Sahel, its Joint Force and other security, development and governance initiatives. The appointment of Mr. Mahamadou Issoufou, former President of Niger, to lead the Independent Panel in the conduct of the assessment is a welcome development. We call for a speedy commencement of work of the Panel and express optimism that the joint assessment would outline a practical approach in dealing with the economic, governance and security challenges including the activities of terrorists and insurgents.
The A3 remains hopeful that the G5 Sahel Joint Force could yet prove to be a useful body for countering the terrorist threats in the region. In this regard, capacity building support to address the challenges of information flow, as well as continuous training that gives them confidence to respond to the changing situation and enhances their operational effectiveness is recommended. Additionally, support from the international community in ensuring that the Force is embedded with mentors and trainers that have counter-terrorism experience is critical.
While welcoming bilateral support from partners of the G5 Sahel Joint Force, we also believe that the Force would benefit from predictable funding from UN assessed contributions as proposed by the Secretary-General to ensure efficiency. The proposal for a UN support Office for the Force is therefore worth considering.
vi. Indeed, the withdrawal and reconfiguration of the French troops including Operations Barkhane and Takuba, which forms part of its Sahel-wide counter-terrorism force as well as the withdrawal of Chadian troops, requires of the Council careful appraisal of the present dynamics. Assessing the security gap created and a recommitment of member States to increasing troop contribution to the Force together with support from the international community is therefore necessary.
We condemn the attacks by the terrorist and violent extremist groups which has led to the loss of many civilian lives including military personnel. The surge in these terrorist attacks continue to exacerbate the security situation in the region and require urgent attention. The potential spill-over effect of the crisis in Libya including the return of Foreign Terrorist Fighters and influx of small arms from that country into the Sahel region also require critical attention. We re-iterate the call by the African Union for the strengthening of the capacity and cohesion of the G5 Sahel Force and the MNJTF in order to eliminate foreign fighters, mercenaries and terrorist groups in the Sahel region and prevent their possible spread to other parts of the Continent.
The deteriorating human rights situation in the Sahel including violations against civilians, both by terrorist armed groups and reportedly by armed and security forces in the region is worrying. While encouraging swift investigation and prosecution of perpetrators by the host authorities, we also welcome support for the G5 Sahel Joint Force in enhancing its compliance and accountability to International Humanitarian Law (IHL), International Human Rights Law (IHRL) as well as Conduct and Discipline standards. The impact of climate change on security as well as the COVID-19 pandemic continue to exacerbate the humanitarian as evidenced in the increasing spate of displaced persons and the refugees in the region. We, therefore, endorse the Secretary-General’s call for donors to respond more generously to the humanitarian appeal for the region.
Lastly, there is also the need to pay critical attention to addressing the root causes of terrorism, particularly by supporting programmes for strengthening governance and development institutions.
In conclusion, Madam President, the A3 believes that continuous support for regional led and complementary initiatives aimed at tackling the security situation including bilateral and multilateral support for the G5 Sahel Force remains one of the most effective ways in countering the security challenges in the region. Given the increasing peace and security challenges in the Sahel, the A3 underscores that peacebuilding efforts, now more than ever, need to be prioritised and reinforced for the Sahelian countries.
I thank you for your kind attention.