At UN debate, leaders from Africa’s Sahel region spotlight efforts to keep peace, combat terrorism

23 September 2016

Peace and security are vital conditions for security and development, leaders from Africa’s Sahel region told the United Nations General Assembly today, laying out their plans to end conflict, counter terrorism and press ahead with meeting the Gaols of the 2030 Agenda.

The President of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, said that hostilities had effectively ceased between the government and the signatory movements of the Darfur Peace Agreement and reconciliation in Mali, but the peace process remains fragile because of activities terrorist groups.

“Despite the efforts of the signatories of the Agreement, the peace process still faces serious obstacles related to the activities of terrorist groups in the northern regions which indiscriminately carry out asymmetric attacks against peaceful civilians, the Malian defense and security forces, contingents of the UN Integrated Multidimensional Stabilization Mission (MINSUMA),” he said.

Against such a backdrop, it is necessary to increase the process of cantonment and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration so as to isolate armed groups that had not signed the agreement and those affiliated with terrorist networks. The Government is ready to fully undertake its responsibility for the new mandate and work with MINUSMA.

He welcomed the high-level meeting on Mali that had taken place this morning between all stakeholders, where his country spotlighted the urgency of accelerating implementation of the peace agreement. “The people and Government of Mali are grateful for the United Nations support of the peace process,” he said, stressing that no country in the world was free of terrorism and no cause could justify violence against civilians. Mali encouraged international cooperation between Member States to neutralize the hydra of terrorism and its networks.

In his statement, Mahamadou Issoufou, the President of Niger, Said that while not all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) had been achieved, significant progress had been made in areas such as poverty reduction, education and maternal and child healthcare. Nevertheless, many African countries, especially the sub-Saharan region, have much more work ahead in these areas.“Still, the 2030 Agenda is a stepping off point” for finishing the work of the MDGs and instituting wider measures to tackle climate change, socio-economic development, and, particularly, strengthening activities toward and support for the least developed countries (LDCs). He also called for efforts to restructure the international financial institutions.

“Programmes at the centre of the SDG’s must make it possible for Africa to be better integrated in to the global trading system,” he said, stressing that UN studies have shown that if such participation were to increase by just one per cent, Africa could generate some $200 billion in resources, which could be put to use bolstering continent-wide development.

On wider issues President Issoufou cited the important need to step up measures to tackle terrorism. As non-State actors and armed groups continued to sow destruction in many regions, it has become clear that the current peacekeeping architecture is unable to keep pace. As such, the international community must undertake a review of some UN peace mandates of some UN peacekeeping missions to ensure that they are better able to provide civilian protection.

“It is unthinkable that [those placed in the field] to protect civilians are in fact powerless, impotent, and do nothing under the pretext of having a clearly defined mandate,” he declared, emphasizing that the institution tasked with establishing peacekeeping missions “cannot remain passive in the face of civilian massacres.”


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