Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Peace and Security in Africa

Michael Barkin
Senior Policy Advisor
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 20, 2019


Thank you to the briefers for your remarks today. The situation in the Sahel demands the international community focus its efforts in an intelligent, deliberate, and collaborative way. Today’s briefing is a step in that direction.

Mr. President, we are concerned that the G5 Sahel Joint Force is struggling to become fully operational and we call on all donors to deliver on their bilateral pledges to the Joint Force.

The United States is doing its part to strengthen the Sahel. In Fiscal Year 2018, the State Department provided $111 million in direct security assistance to the G5 Sahel Joint Force, and another $200 million to the national forces of the G5 members. USAID provided a total of $249 million dollars in bilateral and regional development funding, as well as nearly $235 million dollars in humanitarian assistance.

But local and regional governments of the Sahel must also do their part to support efforts by the international community. The governments of the G5 member states should be leading this process. Regrettably, that has not been the case in Mali, which is the epicenter of instability in the region. We are disappointed with the nearly total lack of progress by the Government of Mali and the signatory armed groups in implementing the substantive provisions of the Algiers Agreement. More must be done. We call for the signatories and the governments in the region to breathe new life into the Algiers Agreement and to put the needs of the people first.

Respect for human rights and international humanitarian law also are critical components in building the foundations for a stable Sahel. To this end, the Joint Force must continue strictly adhering to the compliance framework to prevent, investigate, address, and report allegations of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Government forces, too, must abide by international humanitarian law. We call on the governments of Mali and Burkina Faso to fully investigate reports that their security forces committed human rights violations, including allegations of extra-judicial killings, and to hold those responsible accountable. U.S. government assistance efforts may be significantly restricted by legislation if these critical human rights concerns are not addressed.

Turning to ECOWAS, we thank President Kabore for convening members of ECOWAS last September to discuss terrorism. The summit united the region and international partners, and ECOWAS’ one billion dollar pledge to fight terrorism and address violent extremism is an important step to applying regional solutions to the Sahel’s security challenges.

We also welcome the joint French and German initiative – the Partnership for Security and Stability in the Sahel – and the ongoing efforts by the European Union to fill gaps in its bilateral assistance. We look forward to partnering together as the initiative develops.

Finally, we continue to hear calls to provide additional UN direct assistance to the Joint Force. We need to move past these requests and focus on calling on the Joint Force to fully leverage already existing mechanisms and to ask partners to honor the pledges they have made to the Joint Force, as well as to support to the individual G5-member militaries that supply forces to the Joint Force.

The G5 Sahel states must make progress toward effective governance, respect for human rights, accountability, and inclusiveness, including the meaningful participation of women, youth, and marginalized groups. Our collective efforts to stabilize the region depend on this progress – and our combined endeavors can achieve durable peace and stability and unleash the potential of this vital region and its people.

Thank you, Mr. President.