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Joint declaration of the members of the European Council with the Member States of the G5 Sahel

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Introduction

The members of the European Council and the Member States of the G5 Sahel, through the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission on the one hand, and the Presidents of the G5 Sahel countries on the other hand, have decided to adopt this declaration in order to reaffirm their joint commitment to the security, stability and development of the Sahel.

This commitment will drive engagement at regional and international level in close cooperation with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Chair of the African Union Commission and the current Chair of the Economic Community of West African States, who play a crucial role in the efforts of the international community in support of the Sahel.

Background

  1. The leaders express their utmost concern about the increase in terrorism and the deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in the Sahel region. The serious crisis affecting the G5 Sahel and Lake Chad Basin countries could spill over into neighbouring countries and even as far as the coastal states of the Gulf of Guinea. Terrorism is putting heightened pressure on the G5 Sahel countries and the countries of the Lake Chad Basin, both in the more densely populated areas and in the more peripheral regions. It is exacerbating local tensions and is fuelled by weaknesses in socio-economic development, in the capacities of states and, in some cases, of security and defence forces, weaknesses in institutions in remote areas and weaknesses in the structures of governance.

  2. The leaders strongly condemn the terrorist and criminal attacks which are targeted against civilian populations, state representatives, security and defence forces, and socio-economic infrastructure, and which undermine social and community cohesion. They agree on the need to step up efforts to: (i) propose a robust integrated response to the security challenges, particularly the terrorist threat; (ii) find political solutions to the local grievances and conflicts which are being exploited by terrorist groups; (iii) respond to the root causes of the conflict, to the challenges of security and sustainable development and to the aspirations of the population to inclusive socio-economic development; (iv) support natural resource management and adaptation to climate change; (v) preserve and promote constructive and comprehensive cooperation in the area of migration, bearing in mind its root causes and the constraints and limitations faced by the G5 Sahel countries; and (vi) improve and strengthen coordination and synergies between the different actors and initiatives in the pursuit of common objectives.

  3. This commitment is testimony to the new momentum we share when it comes to achieving stability and development in the Sahel region. It also reflects the efforts made by the G5 Sahel and its Member States to provide themselves with appropriate, up-to-date conceptual tools to guide and orientate public policy actions at national level, security and defence policies, and development cooperation, in particular the ‘G5 Sahel Development and Security Strategy’ of September 2016 and the ‘Integrated Framework for Priority Action (IFPA)’ of February 2020. Our joint commitment is also in tune with the series of major events that have been organised recently. The leaders wish to stress the importance of establishing a strategic geopolitical partnership between the EU and the G5 Sahel which focuses on the notion of local ownership and recognises the simultaneous importance of security, development and governance. They also note the substantial financial support provided by the EU and its Member States, including EUR 4.5 billion from the EU for the period 2014-2020. In this context, they stress that the priorities identified by the G5 Sahel countries need to be taken into account when support is allocated.

Conclusions

  1. Convinced that a secure, stable and just environment is a sine qua non for thriving development, and vice versa, the leaders express their determination to extend and intensify their support for security and stability, development, good governance, rule of law and respect for human rights in the Sahel region. The scale of the crisis and its humanitarian consequences also call for an urgent response based on an integrated approach that links short-term and long-term actions.

  2. The leaders emphasise that the G5 Sahel States held primary responsibility for creating the security conditions necessary for the redeployment of State administrations and services. The settlement of disputes over access to and use of natural resources is also the responsibility of the states of the region and should be considered as a significant tool for reducing local conflicts linked in particular to pastoralism. In this respect, the continued implementation by all actors of the 2015 Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali resulting from the Algiers process remains a priority.

  3. Welcoming the significant efforts made by all parties since 2013, the leaders solemnly call for a renewed and increased commitment to the Sahel. They underline the centrality of the UN’s efforts and coordination role, including the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel and its Support Plan, the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the UN Office for West Africa. They recall the African Union’s coordinating role in silencing the guns and bringing peace to the continent. They welcome the adoption of the G7’s Sahel Partnership Action Plan, the growing engagement of ECOWAS, the WAEMU and the AU in responding to regional threats and their mobilisation of resources to fund counter-terrorism in the Sahel, the strengthened collaboration of donors in the framework of the Sahel Alliance, the declaration of the Pau Summit and the adoption by the Sixth Ordinary Session of the G5 Sahel Heads of State Conference of the IFPA for the G5 Sahel, all of which underline the importance of coordinated action by regional and international stakeholders and increasing role of local actors, focused mainly on the priorities of the G5 Sahel beneficiary countries. The leaders welcome the joint establishment of a ‘Coalition for the Sahel’ as a framework for political and strategic engagement with the Sahel. They underline the importance of a strong joint commitment by all actors and of actions in the four pillars of the coalition, to be pursued and implemented in an integrated and comprehensive manner.

I. The fight against terrorism

  1. The G5 Sahel States commit themselves to make the G5 Sahel Joint Force fully operational, welcome the EU’s support mobilised to this effect and call on other partners to join it. They point out the crucial need for predictable, sustained and flexible support in the procedures. The Heads of State reiterate their appeal to the UN Security Council that the G5 Sahel Joint Force be placed under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter and benefit from permanent funding. The leaders welcome the signing of the technical arrangement between the G5 Sahel, the EU and the UN for provision of operational and logistical support to the Joint Force in the five G5 Sahel countries, a sign of the excellent cooperation between the three organisations. They commend the role of MINUSMA, calling for it to be renewed and its mandate strengthened. They also commend the role of the Barkhane operation, and other forms of bilateral support aimed at strengthening the capacity of the G5 countries to manage their own security. The leaders also call for greater support for the Chadian battalion of the Joint Force, which is a crucial element of stability in the Central sector, and for the deployment of the Multinational Joint Task Force. They welcome the involvement of several EU Member States in the Takuba task force. They invite the other EU Member States to join this initiative. They also welcome the efforts made by the AU and ECOWAS in the fight against terrorism, and call on their member states to engage, individually or jointly, in this fight. They reiterate the need to strengthen efforts to prevent radicalisation in order to combat more effectively sources of recruitment for extremist groups.

II. Strengthening security and defence capabilities in the G5 Sahel countries

  1. The leaders welcome the work done by the EUTM training mission conducted by the EU in Mali within the framework of the Common Security and Defence Policy, as well as the bilateral support provided by the EU Member States. They welcome the decision on extending its mandate to the other G5 Sahel states.

  2. In this connection, the leaders welcome the joint creation of the Partnership for Security and Stability in the Sahel (P3S) aimed at strengthening governance within the security sector and enhancing the national defence capabilities, in particular as regards territorial coverage, capabilities and mobility of defence and security forces, equipment, training, military advice, communications and information. Provision by an EU Member State of appropriate equipment will be done in accordance with the specific nature of its security and defence policy, national legislation and, where applicable, Common Position 2008/944/CFSP.

  3. The leaders emphasise the central role of the G5 Sahel countries in pursuing essential reforms in relation to the management and use of their defence and security apparatus, and the importance of ensuring the respect of human rights and international humanitarian law in conducting their actions.

III. Restoring the state presence and basic services, including internal security capabilities as well as justice and the criminal justice chain, throughout the territory

  1. The leaders underline the need for a holistic approach to address the root causes of terrorism and local violence, prevent further tensions and violence, tackle organised crime, including trafficking in human beings, effectively hold accountable and bring to justice individuals responsible for human rights violations and abuses, tackle exclusion and poverty, promote sustainable development, strengthen resilience of institutions and communities, strengthen justice and the criminal justice chain, promote good governance, and build peaceful, just and inclusive societies. They agree that gender equality and substantive and equal participation of women and young people in political, economic and peace processes, as well as in conflict prevention, are key factors in terms of enabling sustainable development and prosperity in the region. In that context, the leaders stress the importance of the Sahel Alliance as a means of achieving greater efficiency, enhanced respect for accountability and more joint financial initiatives through closer cooperation between donors.

  2. The leaders call for implementation by the G5 Sahel countries of the G5 Sahel Integrated Strategic Framework so as to identify and plan the measures necessary for redeploying state authority and basic services in the most vulnerable areas, and for concrete support in that regard through the civilian CSDP missions and the EU instruments. In that context, they note the contribution of the Sahel Alliance in terms of focusing its work on hotspot areas in order to enhance their support methods with a view to having a greater impact and achieving faster results. They also note the contribution of P3S, and stress the importance of the two civilian missions (EUCAP Sahel Mali and EUCAP Sahel Niger). They underline that the G5 Sahel states hold primary responsibility for creating the conditions for that redeployment, and in particular the devolution and/or decentralisation of capabilities and means to serve the local populations and communities by improving overall governance, and by ensuring respect for the rule of law.

  3. The leaders emphasise the central role of internal security forces, such as the Police and the Gendarmerie, in extending the presence of the state throughout the territory, as well as in ensuring the integrity of the criminal justice chain. The leaders welcome efforts to increase capabilities in these fields, which encompass equipment, training, and mobility, among other things, in order to boost their effectiveness.

IV. Increasing development efforts

  1. The leaders reiterate the importance of meeting the challenge of development in the region and welcome the substantial EU support in this sector. Long-term efforts are needed to tackle the root causes of terrorism and instability in the Sahel. The challenges of poverty, governance, gender inequality, access to basic social services and respect for human rights also need to be addressed, in particular by promoting economic development, investment and the creation of job opportunities for young people. The leaders agree that climate change and environmental degradation are an all-encompassing challenge to the region and must be addressed swiftly. Effective engagement of women and young people is essential in all climate, development and stabilisation efforts.

  2. The leaders note the efforts by the UN, EU, AU, ECOWAS, WAEMU, the development banks and bilateral donors and the conclusions of the General Assembly of the Sahel Alliance, held in the margins of the recent G5 Sahel Summit. They call for further strengthening of coordination efforts in affected areas, mobilisation of resources for the development of the Sahel and implementation of the G5 Sahel Strategy for Security and Development through the implementation of the Priority Investment Programme (PIP) in the three sectors in a just manner.

  3. The leaders stress the need to ensure an integrated approach, taking account of the priorities and concerns of the G5 Sahel countries, to effectively manage the engagement described above. They call for close coordination between the four pillars and their respective governance structures. The leaders call upon the other like-minded bilateral and international partners of the G5 Sahel countries to join the Coalition for the Sahel and contribute to the joint efforts under its respective pillars.

  4. The leaders thank the High Representative and the Commission for their key role in improving coordination, including within the framework of the P3S and also underline the importance the importance of closer coordination through the G5 Sahel Executive Secretariat and Presidency in order to achieve more substantial results, and encourage continued efforts in that regard, while stressing the need to deliver on the financing of the PIP. They welcome the EU’s ambition to update its Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel, which could lead to further positive developments for cooperation in the region.

  5. The leaders thank the Heads of State of the G5 Sahel countries for their commitment to seeking appropriate policies at both regional and national level in order to ensure that the Sahel can once again become a place of peace, stability, prosperity and harmony.

  6. Finally, the leaders express their concern over the global spread of COVID-19. They call for greater solidarity and international cooperation on this issue.

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