Swedish statement at the UN Security Council Briefing on peace and security in Africa
National statement delivered by Ambassador Olof Skoog on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on peace and security in Africa, report of the Secretary-General on the Joint Force of the Group of Five for the Sahel, 15 November 2018, New York.
Thank you very much, Mr. President,
And thank you very much to all our briefers this morning. I want to start by commending countries in the region for the very valuable efforts for peace and security in the Sahel. We understand that these efforts are carried out under very difficult circumstances and I want to take the opportunity to express our condolences for loss of lives, both among security forces and civilians.
We share the great concern about the deteriorating security situation in the region. We are especially worried about the situation in Central Mali and the spill-over of violence to Burkina Faso and Niger. The high number of civilian casualties and allegations of violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law are alarming. I think our briefers have rightly underlined the effect this has on the people, not least the youth, in the region.
We welcome the determination of the G5 Sahel countries to make a united effort to meet the security challenges. We are encouraged by the steps taken so far in the operationalization of the G5-Sahel Force, as well as the extensive support provided by partners, including not least the European Union. We know from experience from the Security Council how efforts and regional cooperation are huge and important boosts to any UN effort towards peace.
It is now crucial to swiftly implement the remaining elements of resolution 2391. Conditions for outstanding troops must be deployed and the police component of the Joint Force established without delay should be a priority. To ensure the full functioning and credibility of the force, authority of battalions must be transferred to the Force Commander. A new timeline for reaching full operational capacity should be defined soon, as others have raised this morning.
The further development and clarification of the Joint Force’s strategic concept of operations is equally important. Clarity on the desired end state would demonstrate unity of purpose and bolster donor confidence.
As stated in the Secretary-General’s report, the respect for human rights and international humanitarian law will be a key determining factor for the success of the Joint Force. It is imperative that alleged human rights violations, including those related to the operations of the Joint Force, are prevented and investigated. Perpetrators must be held to account.
We appreciate initiatives aiming at increasing confidence between populations and the G5 countries’ security forces. We are encouraged by the continued work on the establishment of a robust human rights and international humanitarian law compliance framework.
The operational and logistical support provided by MINUSMA to the Joint Force is important. At the same time, we continue to emphasize that this support should not affect MINUSMA’s capacity to implement its own mandate and strategic priorities in Mali.
As we move forward, options for further UN support must be seriously considered. Predictable and reliable funding is vital for the Joint Force to be able to carry out planning and operations in an effective and sustainable manner. To achieve this, it is imperative that the force in turn lives up to existing standards and expectations.
Full implementation of the peace agreement in Mali remains key. Achieving long-term stability and sustaining peace in the region also requires taking a holistic and inclusive approach. The Joint Force needs to be embedded within a larger political and institutional framework, as also emphasized by the Secretary-General. We welcome the establishment of the Groupe de Soutien, but note that further efforts to enhance strategic direction are needed. This must be carried out in close coordination with regional structures and organizations.
Durable peace and stability requires a combination of security and development measures. In this regard we appreciate the joint efforts by regional actors, the African Union, the EU with the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel and the UN Support Plan. This plan now provides a unique opportunity for more coherent and coordinated international support. The upcoming donor coordination conference in December, which will discuss the priority investment plan (PIP) will be important. We note Secretary Sidikou's very good point that pledges must be translated into real support.
Earlier this week the Peacebuilding Commission’s annual session also focused on the Sahel, and the joint PBC-ECOSOC meeting on climate change. There was strong support to the priorities identified in the UN Integrated Strategy, including focusing on economic growth, governance and climate change. The importance of youth and increasing women’s participation was also highlighted. It is important that the PBC continues to engage in order to mobilize support, sustain international attention and coordinate efforts. The Peacebuilding Commission remains a unique platform for convening actors, bringing holistic understanding of the connection between security and development, and politically accompanying countries and regions in transition.
In July, Mr. President, the Deputy Secretary General and my Foreign Minister visited countries of the Sahel region. We then organized a high-level meeting on Women, Peace and Security in this council. The conclusions from this visit and the meeting, as reflected in the PRST on UNOWAS, emphasize the importance of enhancing the role of women in preventing conflict, in resolving conflict and building peace.
Sweden remains committed to supporting Mali and the Sahel in their efforts to enhance security and development and build sustainable peace. In addition to our substantial troop contribution to MINUSMA, a broad commitment includes support through the EU, as well as bilateral and regional development cooperation and humanitarian assistance. Strong international support, a united Security Council and an effective regional cooperation through the G5 will be key for the Sahel region’s further development towards peace and stability.
I thank you, Mr. President.