The European Union welcomes the discussion by the Security Council on the situation in the Sahel, at a particularly decisive moment for the region, which is further aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In support of this very timely debate, the European Union wishes to draw the attention of the members of the Security Council to the following points.
In addition to the elements contained in the UN Secretary General’s report, the EU wishes to underline the importance of the close partnership between the EU and the G5 Sahel countries, its support to the Sahel, a region of strategic priority for the EU, and an integrated approach that encompasses all our external action instruments. This commitment is all the more crucial in the context of a deteriorating security and humanitarian situation, which is further aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This partnership was recently renewed at the 28 April high-level meeting between the EU and the Heads of State of the G5 Sahel countries, with the participation of the United Nations and the African Union, and in the joint declaration adopted on that occasion. The meeting and the declaration called for a new collective impetus, based in particular on the following points:
To support these advances and their implementation, the European Union has announced additional support measures amounting to EUR 194 million in the areas of security, justice and development, which will complement the ongoing support provided to the G5 Sahel Joint Force. The EU has also reinforced the mandate of the military mission EUTM Mali to better respond to needs on the ground.
In addition to this package, the European Union has adopted an action plan to fight COVID-19 that provides for specific support measures, in a total amount of EUR 449 million for the five Sahel countries.
In order to be effective, this renewed and intensified EU engagement must be part of a wider mobilisation. The implementation of the P3S and the Coalition for the Sahel requires a stronger commitment from the entire international community, in particular from the partners that are already mobilised in the Sahel.
The causes and dynamic of the Sahel crisis are manifold and the challenges are not limited to security. Addressing the challenges of development and social cohesion requires a political response. The implementation of the 2015 Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation is, more than ever, a condition for the stability of Mali and of the region as a whole. The deployment in the north of Mali of the ‘reconstituted army’, for which MINUSMA played a decisive role, is an important but still fragile and partial step. The return of the army must be accompanied by the return of state authority and basic services in the most vulnerable areas, in particular through further decentralisation. As a guarantor of the Algiers Agreement, the EU is and will remain fully engaged with all stakeholders, including through the Comité de suivi de l’Accord (CSA), for the full implementation of the Agreement.
The importance of MINUSMA’s support to the G5 Sahel Joint Force must be stressed, as stated in the Secretary-General’s report. This support is essential for the full operationalization of the G5 Sahel Joint Force. Under the tripartite agreement between the EU, the UN and the G5 Sahel, MINUSMA should continue and strengthen its support to the Joint Force and extend it to all its battalions, including those deployed outside Mali. Such support is essential for the full operationalization of these battalions. A smooth flow of goods and services to the Force’s battalions is one of the key points for their effective deployment and, in the long-term, for their autonomy. The EU also reiterates its commitment to continue working closely with the United Nations and MINUSMA.
The new measures covered by the EUR 194 million announced by the EU on 28 April include:
The main objective is to support the return/maintenance of the State and its services throughout the entirety of the countries, including in the most vulnerable areas, and under the security-development continuum.
Our Common Security and Defence Policy missions EUCAP Sahel Mali, EUTM Mali and EUCAP Sahel Niger (almost 900 experts deployed) are in line with the most urgent priorities identified in advance in consultation with the G5 Sahel authorities and under the two pillars of the P3S and Pillar 4 of the Coalition for the Sahel, presented in detail below:
Like the EU Member States, which are asked to align their ongoing or future support actions with these priorities, regional or international actors involved in the security, stability and development of the Sahel are invited to join these initiatives, which aim to bring together the efforts of the international community. The EU welcomes the fact that several countries have already signalled their interest.
This will be more specifically addressed in a ministerial-level conference that should take place by videoconference in the coming days.
For its part and without further delay, the EU has taken steps to ensure the monitoring and piloting of ongoing and future projects and efforts under its responsibility within the P3S and within the Coalition for the Sahel and is already fully part of the work of the Sahel Alliance.
In the same way as EU support is indexed to progress in governance and reforms in the security sector, increased vigilance is given to the compliance with international standards on human rights and international humanitarian law in the region. This applies in particular to the defence and security forces, which are bound to lead by example, notably in a destabilised and permissive environment. The partnership between the G5 Sahel and the United Nations (UN-OHCHR), supported by the EU, for the implementation of the G5 Sahel Joint Force Human Rights and IHL Compliance Framework has particular relevance in this context. The support to the operationalisation of the police component and provost brigades of the Joint Force must strengthen the judicial process of operations and the fight against impunity.
It is essential to put the protection of civilian populations at the heart of our joint action. In this regard, the EU and its Member States will remain very attentive to the follow-up of investigations and persecutions which will be applied to allegations of violations in this area, a fortiori in the context of the monitoring and programming of ongoing and future projects. It will also be important to ensure that victims and witnesses of violations receive the necessary support and assistance from the national authorities. The EU will also be able to support the authorities in putting in place preventive, responsive and accountability measures.