The well-attended virtual event was introduced and moderated by Professor Marie-Joëlle Zahar of the University of Montreal, with the participation of top-level panellists, including the French Special Envoy for Sahel, Ambassador Frédéric Bontems, the EU Special Representative for the Sahel, Ambassador Ángel Losada Fernández, former Canadian Ambassador to Mali, Ms. Isabelle Roy, and French Brigadier-General Cyril Carcy (ex-Deputy Commander of the Operation Barkhane).
The speakers discussed the current situation in Mali/Sahel and ways the international community can assist in finding peaceful solutions in the region. The panel addressed the various challenges Mali is facing, stressing that the region is dealing with several crises concurrently in the areas of governance, security, economic development, migration, climate change, COVID-19 and humanitarian issues. The panel also discussed Canada’s current and future role in Mali, including its recent involvement in UN peace operations, as well as activities in such fields as governance, health, human rights and education.
The international community is active on the ground, in support of Mali and other G5 Sahel countries and as part of the International Coalition for Sahel, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), Operation Barkhane (French-led anti-insurgent operation since 2014) and the EU Capacity Building Mission in Mali (EUCAP Sahel). Panellists concluded that political will and the coordination of the international community in the Sahel and with G5 Sahel countries remain essential to overcoming current challenges, and called for unity of international actions.