Sahel: Italy, “Security and development are key of our agenda”

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NEW YORK, MAY 16 – Italy has strenghtened its engagement in the Sahel adopting a multidimensional and sectorial approach. Security and development must be at the center of the international supporting actions in a country high in the Italian foreign policy and cooperation agenda like Burkina Faso, the Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Stefano Stefanile said during a meeting of the Peacebuilding Commission.

“Combining security with development and government is key and should be at the core of any international action in support of the country and the region”, he said.

The Peacebuilding Commission met as the Security Council put once again the spotlight on the Sahel. The five-year-old force ‘G-5 Sahel’ working to stabilize the region has shown great potential, but needs more support from the international community to reach full operational capacity, a top UN peacekeeping official said, calling for enhanced political and economic solutions to help tackle the strife-torn region’s myriad challenges. The members of the Council were briefed by the Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, Bintou Keita, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Burkina Faso, Alpha Barry, the High Representative of the African Union (AU) for Mali and the Sahel, Pierre Buyoya, the Special Representative on the Sahel of the European Union (EU), Angel Losada, and the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Yury Fedotov, on the activities of the joint force of the Group of Five for the Sahel (FC-G5S).

Dubbed the ‘G-5 Sahel’ after the group of countries that comprise it (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger) the Joint Force, proposed by the African Union and backed by the UN Security Council, aims to bolster coordination to “neutralize” armed groups in the region and strengthen Cooperation on economic development and security.

“The G-5 Sahel has taken additional steps to operationalize the joint force following the devastating terrorist attack on its headquarters in June,” Bintou Keita, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, told the Security Council today. She said she was particularly encouraged by the resumption of joint force operations in January, noting that the force has carried out four operations since the beginning of the year.

The members of the Security Council welcomed the recent steps taken by the G5 Sahel States towards the full and effective operationalization of the FC-G5S, including through the resumption of its operations on all boundary zones, the deployment of 75% of its operational capacity, as well as the increase of its civil-military cooperation activities. They encouraged the G5 Sahel States to ensure that the FC-G5S continues to scale up its level of operation in order to demonstrate increased tangible operational results.

They also welcomed further steps taken in the operationalization of a robust compliance framework to prevent, investigate, address and publicly report violations and abuses of human rights law and violations of international humanitarian law related to the FC-G5S (“the compliance framework”), as called for in resolution 2391 (2017) and with the support of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. They took positive note of the measures taken to this date by G5 Sahel States in response to human rights violations related to the operations of the FC-G5S, and called upon G5 Sahel States to ensure that those responsible for crimes involving violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law are held accountable and brought to justice without undue delay. (@OnuItalia).