Statement at the UNSC Briefing on the Joint Force of the G5 Sahel
Statement18 May 2022
First, let me acknowledge our briefers this morning: I want to thank ASG Pobee and Mr. Tiare for their invaluable insights. I also want to thank Dr. Bandiaky-Badji for her excellent briefing on climate change as a driver of conflict in the Sahel. Your call to action, Dr. Bandiaky-Badji, really reminds us of the link between climate and security and I thank you for that.
It has been a very long six months since we last met to discuss the G5 Sahel given all that has passed. Indeed, when we last convened on the matter the main thrust of discussion was on support options for the Force itself.
Now the people of the Sahel are grappling with a situation that is deteriorating at a rate that defies belief. We share the Secretary General’s concerns, following his visit to the region, about the “multi-dimensional crisis of an extraordinary scale” which is facing the region.
The scale is underscored by the facts: the region accounted for 35% of global terrorism deaths in 2021; food insecurity is on the rise; and human rights continue to be, violated and abused. Ireland offers its sincere condolences to the governments and people of the region on the tragic loss of life over recent months.
We regret the decision by the Malian transitional authorities to withdraw from the G5 Sahel, including the Joint Force. The scale of the challenges facing the region are so immense and transnational in nature that they cannot be met by any country acting in isolation - but only on the basis of meaningful joint action and regional cooperation.
Long-term security and prosperity in the Sahel can only be achieved through effective, accountable and inclusive systems of democratic governance. We continue to urge transitional authorities in the region to work with the UN, ECOWAS and the African Union to ensure timely and peaceful transitions to democratically elected governments.
In November, Ireland acknowledged the progress the Force was making, particularly in terms of integrating respect for human rights and international humanitarian law within its structures and operations. It is not possible, as our ASG has said this morning, to effectively counter terrorism if these fundamental principles are ignored. We agree with the Secretary General when he says that G5-Sahel authorities should unreservedly commit to efforts to uphold and protect human rights. We simply cannot compromise on basic accountability and standards.
We know that military solutions alone will not suffice. No matter the level of political will, the resources allocated, and the supports the G5 Sahel Joint Force might receive - it is increasingly obvious that it cannot defeat the scourge of violence when the drivers of violence remain so prevalent and so unchecked.
While democratic values and institutions continue to be threatened, and while human rights violations are dismissed, and while displacement and food insecurity are allowed to become routine, and while sexual and gender based violence and attacks on civil society remain prevalent, and while lack of opportunity forms part of the fabric of everyday life, the cycle of violence will remain unbroken. This must be the lesson of the past number of months –more sustainable, inclusive and holistic solutions – such as preventative action to tackle root causes of instability, including the impact of climate change, are needed to address the challenges in this region.
We continue to believe that regionally led initiatives that are devised by the countries of the region, and supported by predictable and sustainable funding, are key to addressing long-term peace and stability in the Sahel. We firmly believe that no international initiative will produce results in addressing insecurity in the Sahel without the commitment, cooperation and determination of the countries of the region. We are pleased that former President Mahamadou Issoufou has agreed to chair a joint strategic assessment of security and development challenges in the Sahel and we look forward to the outcomes of this independent assessment.
Let me conclude by underscoring Ireland’s commitment to working closely and collaboratively on this Council and across the UN, to counter the threat of terrorism in the Sahel and, importantly, to address the factors that are fueling that scourge.