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Swedish statement at the UN Security Council Briefing on the Sahel


National statement delivered by Ambassador Carl Skau on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on Peace and security in Africa: UNISS, an integrated response to peacebuilding and sustaining peace in the Sahel, 20 December 2018, New York.

Thank you, Mr. President,

And let me also thank Special Adviser Thiaw, the PBC Chair Ambassador Jinga, as well as Mr. Ghanem and Mr. Rioux for sharing your valuable perspectives with the Council this afternoon.

Mr. President,

We fully recognize the immense security challenges that the countries in the Sahel are facing, including the security situation in Mali and its implications on the region, as well as organized crime and terrorism.

We commend regional initiatives to address the situation, including through the Joint Force for the G5 Sahel and the Multi-National Joint Task Force.

Let me underline, in this regard, the importance of Mali moving forward on implementing the peace agreement and for this Council to actively support these efforts. I am therefore glad to announce that the first listing of spoilers of the peace agreement was just adopted, just over an hour ago, in the Sanctions Committee.

Mr. President,

This is not only about narrowly defined security concerns, the countries in the Sahel face many interconnected challenges including inequalities, poverty, lack of basic services, weak institutions, gender-based violence, climate change and increasing conflicts between farmers and herders.

A comprehensive approach is needed to address this broad set of challenges and the root causes to conflict. We therefore welcome the UN Integrated Sahel Strategy, as well as the adoption of a UN Support Plan as a vital step to deliver on this strategy. It offers an opportunity to now gather partners and operationalize, as well as coordinate across, frameworks that are already in place.

We commend the Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, UNOWAS and the Special Adviser Thiaw for their leadership and continued commitment to this important work. 

We further welcome steps taken by the AU to revise their own strategy for the region, given the important role of regional, local and national actors, and in this regard, we also reiterate our strong support for ECOWAS. It is important that regional efforts, as well as those of other important partners, are well coordinated within the framework of the new UN Sahel Strategy. 

Mr. President,

Despite the immense challenges, we agree with the Special Adviser that it is important to focus on the strong potential and the many opportunities that the region offers. This was also evident during the recent visit by our Special Envoy for the Sahel to the Liptako-Gourma region, together with the Special Adviser. For example, young people are energetic, dynamic and an asset for the promotion of development. Efforts should also be made to build on and capitalize on these and other opportunities.

In this regard, we welcome the Support Plan’s focus on climate-smart agriculture and renewable energy, as well as on inclusive growth and empowerment of women and youth. It is also very important to strengthen the social contract between states and people of the Sahel countries. This includes improving trust in security actors, investing in the provision of basic social services and fully respecting human rights.

In July, our Foreign Minister took part in the joint AU-UN mission to the region with a focus on women, peace and security, followed by a briefing to the Council. The debate organized on climate-related security risks that same month also placed a particular emphasis on the challenges in the Sahel.

Throughout our Council tenure, we have advocated for a comprehensive, regional approach to the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin regions, encompassing security, development and the full respect for human rights.

We are also contributing on the ground, in line with the priorities of the Integrated Strategy. In June, we increased our support for climate and security related efforts in the Sahel with approximately 40 million euros for the period of 2018-2021, in addition to existing bilateral and humanitarian support, as well as the support provided through the European Union. Within the Strategy, Sweden’s substantive multiyear, un-earmarked contribution to OCHA’s Central Emergency Response Fund, UNHCR, WFP and UNFPA is creating flexibility and sustainability.

Mr. President,

Sustainable peace is best pursued in broad partnership, including governments, regional organizations, international financial institutes, civil society and the private sector. It is crucial that all efforts undertaken by partners seek to align with the Integrated Strategy, to enhance inclusive local, national and regional ownership. Efforts should also encompass all segments of society, including removing obstacles for women’s inclusion. Continued political dialogue with governments on long-term sustainable development models is also crucial.

Having the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission participate in this meeting is in our view very useful. The PBC, with its convening power, plays a pivotal role for a coordinated and coherent approach to the implementation of the Integrated Sahel Strategy and the Support Plan, as recognized by this Council’s Presidential Statement on UNOWAS. We hope that this practice can be further built upon.

Finally, Mr. President,

Going forward, we would welcome regular written updates by the Special Adviser or UNOWAS on the implementation process of the UN Support Plan. Updates on project timelines, proposed trust funds and coordination efforts would be important to include in such reporting. The successful implementation of the Sahel Strategy would be an important step towards stabilizing this volatile region. The Strategy and the Support Plan must have continued, strong and unified international and UN support, including from this Council.

Thank you, Mr. President.


Lisa Laskaridis
Head of Press and Communication, Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN
Phone +1 212 583 2543
Mobile +1 917 239 0941
email to Lisa Laskaridis