Meeting on West Africa, Sahel Region, Speakers in Security Council Express Concern over Successive Coups, Call for Strengthening State Institutions
Despite positive political developments in West Africa and the Sahel — including recent elections in the Gambia and Senegal — the Security Council heard today that a series of coups d’état requires strengthened State institutions and a return to constitutional order to consolidate democratic gains, as members also highlighted proliferating terrorist activity and urged increased support for regional security arrangements to address persistent insecurity.
Khatir Mahamat Saleh Annadif, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), briefing the Council on the Secretary-General’s report on the Office’s activities (document S/2022/521), highlighted the juxtaposition in the Sahel region between citizens freely exercising their right to vote and military stakeholders trying to dominate the political space. He also detailed other challenges threatening the region, including increasingly irregular rainfall that is negatively impacting agriculture and generating conflict around increasingly rare resources. Further, extremist violence — exploiting often-inadequate State structures — is spreading southward, transforming from a phenomenon of isolated incidence to a real threat in coastal countries.
“There is no magic potion to provide an effective rebuttal to this problem of insecurity,” he said, underlining the need to establish democratic, responsible governance, including decentralized administrations that can provide for the daily needs of local populations. While recent efforts in several West African countries to reinforce the foundations of democratic governance and promote dialogue to reinforce social cohesion are encouraging, recent reports indicate that freedom of the press is decreasing in many countries alongside a narrowing civic space. Further, allegations of human rights violations and instrumentalization of the judiciary undermine confidence in both institutions and the electoral process. Against that backdrop, he said that UNOWAS will continue to advocate for cross-cutting, holistic solutions, with the United Nations integrated strategy for the Sahel playing an essential role towards this end.
Rabab Fatima (Bangladesh), Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, expressing concern over recent military takeovers in the region, also underscored the importance of strengthening democratic institutions in countries under transition. The unprecedented level of insecurity in the Sahel requires sustained, coordinated support by the United Nations system to build and sustain peace in the region, including through the implementation of the United Nations integrated strategy for the Sahel and improved cooperation among country teams. She also noted the Secretary-General’s calls for predictable, sustained financing for counter‑terrorism operations and urged increased support for the implementation of the Regional Strategy for the Stabilization, Recovery and Resilience of the Boko Haram-affected Areas of the Lake Chad Basin Region.
Rabia Djibo Magagi, Coordinator of the Alliance for Peace and Security said that, while people in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger frequently hear about the increasing power of national armies, “we are powerless in the face of massacres of civilians, which are increasing exponentially”. “We must do things differently,” she stressed, calling for people’s protection to be at the heart of any response to the security crisis in those countries. This requires knowing where to invest most urgently — either in a principally military response whose limitations are apparent, or in children’s education and health facilities forced to shutter due to lack of staff and resources. People in the Sahel “feel left to our fate”, she added, calling on the Council to convince Governments to stop talking about the need to eradicate terrorism, and rather, talk about “eradicating the reasons that lead young people to pick up weapons and kill others”.
In the ensuing discussion, while Council members welcomed successful efforts to consolidate democracy in the Sahel — including recent elections in Senegal and the Gambia — they expressed concern over the deteriorating security and humanitarian situations in the region. Many stressed that transition processes following a spate of coups d’état must result in credible elections and a return to constitutional order, welcoming recent negotiations between the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Mali and Burkina Faso regarding timetables for transition. Members also spotlighted the need to strengthen regional security cooperation to address heightened threats from terrorism spreading throughout West Africa and the Sahel.
Ghana’s representative, also speaking for Gabon and Kenya, welcomed democratic progress in the region, but — spotlighting the roll-back of democracy in countries such as Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso — underscored the urgent need to restore constitutional order in the Sahel. Transitional authorities in Mali must implement an electoral timetable to ensure a definite return to constitutional rule, he said, also calling for funding and logistical support for regional arrangements, such as the Accra Initiative and the G5 Sahel joint force, to address increasing terrorist activity that is now expanding to neighbouring countries such as Côte d’Ivoire, Benin and Togo.
The representative of India also sounded caution over the southward expansion of terrorism from the central Sahel region, encouraging countries of the region to re-energize their security cooperation and calling for sustained, predictable support for regional security initiatives. He went on to say that, while positive developments in electoral and administrative reform “augur well for the next electoral cycle in 2023”, the consolidation of democracy has been overshadowed by successive coups in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso.
On that point, Mexico’s representative stressed the need to resolve governance problems and strengthen State institutions in the region, as this vacuum is used by extremists. Expressing concern over an excessively military approach to addressing this threat, however, she said such approach must be complemented by the provision of basic services and respect for human rights law; otherwise, these efforts will be doomed to fail. Towards this end, regional efforts must urgently address the pandemic, food insecurity and climate change.
Similarly, the representative of Brazil, Council President for July, spoke in his national capacity to highlight the close link between the political, security, economic and humanitarian dimensions of a crisis, as lack of progress in one domain directly impacts the others. Citing the Secretary-General’s report, which demonstrates how the coup in Mali has impacted the fight against terrorism, he welcomed agreement between that country and ECOWAS on a timeframe for returning to constitutional order, along with progress towards a transition timeframe in Burkina Faso. Adding, however, that authorities in Guinea have not accepted an ECOWAS mediator, he urged them to engage with the opposition and regional partners with a view to return to civilian rule.
Also speaking were representatives of Ireland, United States, Norway, United Arab Emirates, Albania, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, France and China.
The meeting began at 10:04 a.m. and ended at noon.
KHATIR MAHAMAT SALEH ANNADIF, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), said that, in the Sahel region, there is a juxtaposition between citizens freely exercising their right to vote and military stakeholders trying to dominate the political space. While noting that his “message today is a hopeful one”, he also said that it “conveys the urgency of the current time”. Increasingly irregular rains are affecting agriculture and generating conflict around increasingly rare resources, and in many areas of the Sahel, extremist groups are exploiting weaknesses exacerbated by often-inadequate State structures. Extremist violence is spreading southward, moving from a phenomenon of isolated incidence to a real threat in coastal countries. “There is no magic potion to provide an effective rebuttal to this problem of insecurity,” he said, underlining the need to establish democratic, responsible governance, including decentralized administrations that can provide for the daily needs of local populations.
Detailing the efforts of several West African countries to successfully reinforce the foundations of democratic governance and promote dialogue to reinforce social cohesion, he said that UNOWAS and United Nations agencies and funds in the subregion will continue to support these importance processes. However, while these and other initiatives are encouraging, recent reports indicate that freedom of the press is decreasing in many countries alongside a narrowing civic space. Further, allegations of human rights violations and instrumentalization of the judiciary undermine confidence in both institutions and the electoral process. He also pointed out that, despite States’ prioritization of military action to address violence, continuing news of civilian massacres “conveys the tragedy unfurling now in this part of the world”. The impact on the humanitarian situation has been severe, and there is currently an unprecedented food crisis in West Africa due to a rain deficit and increasing commodity prices related to recent geopolitical events.
Against that backdrop, he said that UNOWAS will continue to advocate for cross-cutting, holistic solutions, and that the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel will play an essential role towards this end. Noting that UNOWAS will soon celebrate its twentieth anniversary, he spotlighted the efforts of the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission, which remains a model of efficient United Nations support for peacebuilding and the peaceful settlement of disputes. He also recalled agreements pertaining to the transition regimes in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea reached at the 3 July summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), expressing hope that these efforts will be built upon to lay the foundations for change towards sustainable development. However, he condemned the continuing underrepresentation of women in decision-making processes, stressing that this inequity is not only an injustice to women, but also a threat to the common future. As such, he called on international and national stakeholders to ensure that national legislation designed to ensure fairer participation for women is adopted as a matter of priority.
RABAB FATIMA (Bangladesh), Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, expressed concern over the recent military takeovers in the region, echoing calls made by the African Union and ECOWAS for a return to constitutional order. She underscored the importance of strengthening democratic institutions in the countries under transition — further expressing concern at the persistence in violent incidents perpetrated by non-State armed groups, as well as ISIL/Da’esh and Al-Qaida affiliated terrorist groups such as Islamic State in Greater Sahara, Islamic State West Africa Province and Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin. The expansion of these terrorist groups to coastal countries — notably in the Gulf of Guinea and their growing nexus with organized criminal networks and pirates to facilitate trafficking of drugs, and arms and ammunitions — is another worrisome trend.
She said that the precarious security situation in the Gulf of Guinea and maritime insecurity in the Sahel remains a significant concern for the coastal countries. Noting the adoption of resolution 2634 (2022), she underscored the importance of efforts to address the root causes which aggravate conflicts. She encouraged greater support for the objectives of the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) Priority Investment Programme, emphasizing the pre-eminent role of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to comprehensively address the issue of climate change. Expressing concern over the unprecedented levels of insecurity, she urged sustained and coordinated support by the United Nations system to build and sustain peace in the Sahel, including through the implementation of United Nations integrated strategy for the Sahel and improved cooperation among country teams. She also noted the Secretary General’s calls for predictable and sustained financing for the counter-terrorism operations — also acknowledging the need to address the adverse effects of climate change.
She called for increased support for the implementation of the Regional Strategy for the Stabilization, Recovery and Resilience of the Boko Haram-affected Areas of the Lake Chad Basin Region, and encouraged sustained partnership among the Lake Chad Basin Commission — including its Governors’ Forum, African Union, Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), ECOWAS, United Nations and the Governors of the affected regions in implementing the regional strategy. While welcoming peaceful parliamentary elections in the Gambia, she noted more needs to be done to ensure equitable representation of women in Parliament. In Guinea-Bissau, she stressed the importance of inclusive dialogue for urgently needed reforms, as stated in the 2016 Conakry Agreement and the 2019 Stability Pact.
The Commission has been supporting Liberia’s peacebuilding efforts, including investments in social cohesion and national reconciliation, and will support efforts to ensure that the presidential and legislative elections scheduled to be held in 2023 are inclusive, transparent, free and fair. She further welcomed efforts to foster an inclusive dialogue in Sierra Leone in the run-up to the June 2023 general elections, expressing support for reserving quotas for women.
She acknowledged the critical support provided by the Peacebuilding Fund to countries in the region, with an active portfolio of over $177 million, with emphasis on reducing farmer-herder conflicts and preventing the expansion of terrorist threats. Through its regular portfolio and annual dedicated Gender and Youth Promotion Initiative, the Commission supports national initiatives on women and young people’s participation in decision-making processes, and also supports targeted socioeconomic initiatives linked to responses to community grievances or peace dividends.
RABIA DJIBO MAGAGI, Coordinator of the Alliance for Peace and Security, told the Council that eight civilians are killed every day in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger in violence linked to terrorism. While people in those countries frequently hear about the increasing power of national armies, she emphasized that “we are powerless in the face of massacres of civilians, which are increasing exponentially”. Every killing — regardless of the perpetrator — causes more people to flee and lose access to their agriculture land, which is the main source of economic activity in these countries. Pointing out that 10 million people are now facing food insecurity in the central Sahel — a 60 per cent increase compared with 2021 — she said that, while many are helping, current efforts are not enough. “We must do things differently, otherwise we are just playing catch-up,” she stressed, calling for people’s protection to be at the heart of any response to the security crisis in these three countries.
She went on to say that this means knowing where to invest most urgently — either in a principally military response whose limitations are apparent, or in children’s education and health facilities forced to shutter due to lack of staff and resources. Further, women are some of the first victims of conflict and part of the potential solution if they are involved, but they are currently almost entirely absent from decision-making. She stressed that dialogue and mediation are the path to bringing peace back to countries in the region, not weapons or sanctions “that are weakening people already scarred by insecurity”. People in the Sahel “feel left to our fate”, she added, calling on the Council to convince Governments to invest all their energy in better protecting their people and stop talking about the need to eradicate terrorism — which is a futile endeavour — but rather talk about “eradicating the reasons that lead young people to pick up weapons and kill others”.
GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) said that the threat of violence and insecurity — already catastrophic in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger — continues to intensify, also expanding southward to coastal States. “This expansion should not come as a surprise to any of us,” she stressed, noting that “we have been warned about it time and time again”. Regional leadership and cooperation are crucial to facing these threats and, while welcoming intensified collaboration under the Accra Initiative, she expressed concern that cooperation within the G5 Sahel has weakened at a time of deteriorating security. To prevent further spread of terrorism, a greater focus must be placed on addressing the underlying drivers of radicalization. Expressing concern over the impact of unconstitutional changes of Government on the stability of the subregion, she stressed the importance of ECOWAS efforts to support political transitions in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea. These transition processes must be genuinely inclusive and result in free, fair, transparent and credible elections and a return to constitutional order. Turning to the humanitarian situation, where climate shocks have contributed to the dramatic food crisis, she said that the United Nations system has a critical role to play in enabling regional countries’ calls for more inclusive and evidence‑based policymaking, integrated partnerships and scaled-up conflict‑sensitive climate finance.
HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana), also speaking for Gabon and Kenya, welcomed efforts at consolidating democracy in the region, including in the Gambia, Senegal and Benin, as well as the reforms being undertaken in Cabo Verde to improve governance and sustain social cohesion and the political dialogue initiated in Côte d'Ivoire to address political grievances. Despite the progress being made, he expressed concern about the roll-back of democracy in countries such as Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso. He underscored the urgent need to restore constitutional order in the region and welcomed progress made in the ongoing review of the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, and the operationalization of its Conflict Prevention Framework. Urging transitional authorities in Mali to spare no efforts in implementing an electoral timetable to ensure a definite return to constitutional rule, he welcomed the lifting of sanctions imposed on Mali and Burkina Faso. He further expressed concern over the deteriorating security environment in parts of the region which is reflected by heightened incidence of terrorist attacks, as well as the expansion of terrorist activities into the neighbouring countries Côte d’Ivoire, Benin and Togo.
He went on to express concern over the spill-over effect of the protracted crisis in Libya on the Sahel, calling for funding and logistical support for regional arrangements such as the Accra Initiative, the G5 Sahel joint force, and the Multinational Joint Task Force fighting the Boko Haram insurgency in the Lake Chad Basin. He noted the decline in kidnappings in the Gulf of Guinea, but remained alarmed by the deteriorating humanitarian situation as evidenced in over 6.2 million displaced persons across the Sahel. He reiterated the Secretary-General’s call for funding support help meet the approximately $2.9 billion target required for the implementation of the humanitarian response plan in the region. Condemning the persistent abuses perpetrated against women, girls and children, he underscored the importance of the ongoing African Union-United Nations-ECOWAS-G5 Sahel Joint Strategic Assessment on Governance and Security in the Sahel, as it can provide a holistic and comprehensive approach in combating the challenges in the region. Following today’s meeting, co-sponsors on UNOWAS will circulate an initial presidential statement, he added.
RICHARD M. MILLS, JR. (United States) said that, as the number of coups and transitional Governments has grown in West Africa, so has the importance of UNOWAS. He welcomed the Office’s efforts to support democratic processes and advise transitional Governments in the Sahel, especially in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso. Calling on authorities in Mali to urgently restore constitutional rule by holding timely elections, he also welcomed the agreement between that country and ECOWAS on a 24-month timeline for transition and called on the Government to implement related benchmarks during its duration. Expressing concern over increasing, credible allegations of human rights violations perpetrated by the Malian armed forces in conjunction with the Wagner Group, he said that these potential abuses and violations “are exactly why we warn countries against partnering with the Russian Federation-backed Wagner Group”. Turning to Guinea, he called on the transition Government to support the right to peaceful assembly and return the country to a constitutional, civilian-led democracy in partnership with ECOWAS. ECOWAS also plays a key role in Burkina Faso in supporting transition processes and security, he added, encouraging partners to prioritize productive engagement.
TRINE SKARBOEVIK HEIMERBACK (Norway) welcomed progress made by ECOWAS in negotiations with Mali and Burkina Faso on transition timetables and benchmarks, which resulted in the lifting of some economic and financial sanctions and the release of President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré. For the sake of both national and regional stability, the transition authorities in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea must now make good on their promises, she said, calling on Mali to respect the Council's new mandate for MINUSMA. While governance crises continue to hamper Governments from fulfilling their responsibilities, humanitarian responses cannot wait, she stressed. Despite military takeovers in several countries, insecurity is spreading — especially from Central Sahel towards coastal States, with terrorist attacks in Côte d’Ivoire, Togo and Benin. She expressed regret over the Malian decision to withdraw from the G5 Sahel cooperation — which further underlines the timeliness of the high-level panel on security and development in the Sahel. However, she stressed that the issue of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea shows joint security responses are indeed possible. Noting that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sixth Assessment Report shows particularly strong effects of climate change on security in West Africa and the Sahel, she welcomed UNOWAS’s work on that issue.
RAVINDRA RAGUTTAHALLI (India), noting that the “democratic traditions of West Africa and the Sahel have again found resonance” in recent successful elections in the Gambia and Senegal, welcomed efforts by countries in the region relating to electoral and administrative reforms to address long-standing grievances about political exclusion. While these developments “augur well for the next electoral cycle in 2023”, he pointed out that the consolidation of democracy has been overshadowed by successive coups in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso. Amidst the fragile political and security situation, ECOWAS’ efforts to consolidate democracy and promote good governance are welcome. He went on to emphasize that terrorist violence in the region is “indicative of some worrying trends”, including aggravation of internal displacement and the humanitarian crisis; southward expansion of terrorism from the central Sahel region; and exploitation of security gaps by armed groups amidst the ongoing reconfiguration of international security forces. Encouraging countries of the region to re‑energize their security cooperation, he also called for sustainable, predictable support for regional security initiatives, including through United Nations assessed contributions. He added that no artificial link should be drawn between climate change and security-related issues without any firm scientific basis.
MOHAMED ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates) expressed his deepest condolences to the families of the Egyptian peacekeepers who have fallen victim to the most recent terrorist attack in Mali, condemning all attacks against civilians and peacekeepers. Despite encouraging improvements in the regional maritime security situation since the last meeting on UNOWAS, he noted the alarming increase in cross-border threats posed by terrorist groups, requiring the Council’s special attention — considering those groups continue to expand their operations across the region. The international community must spare no effort to dismantle those terrorist networks, with a comprehensive approach that focuses on addressing the root causes of extremism. Moreover, it is essential to ensure synergy between international and regional counter-terrorism frameworks, as well as regional ownership of these initiatives. He noted efforts to incorporate local dialogue and reintegration initiatives into their counter-terrorism strategies, stressing the crucial role of ECOWAS in working with the countries in West Africa and the Sahel as they forge solutions to address challenges, citing the convening of the 3 July Summit in Accra. Council members must work together to address the interlinkages between climate change and security.
ALBANA DAUTLLARI (Albania) expressed concern over the alarming humanitarian situation in the Sahel, where food insecurity caused in large part by climate shocks has been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. She urged international partners to support the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan — which is only 20 per cent funded — and stressed that “we have to do more”. Also expressing concern over the security situation, she encouraged authorities to intensify collaboration under the Accra Initiative and strengthen cross-border cooperation. On the political front, while welcome developments have occurred — such as elections in the Gambia and Senegal — women are still underrepresented in decision-making processes. She called on Governments to address structural barriers obstructing women’s full, meaningful participation in the political process and to strengthen democratic governance, rule of law and justice systems. Sahel States must also investigate all allegations of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law perpetrated by non-State actors and defence and security forces. She added that independent, effective judiciary systems must ensure that impunity is finally addressed.
ANNA M. EVSTIGNEEVA (Russian Federation) echoed concerns over West Africa and the Sahel, including increasing terrorist challenges, organized crime and drug trafficking. In the first half of 2022, more people died in that region than in all of 2021. The number of internally displaced persons has increased, and schools and medical establishments have closed, requiring countries there to redouble efforts to re-establish State control, socioeconomic governance and cooperation. She called for implementation of the Accra Initiative and welcomed the agreement between Mali and ECOWAS, expressing hope it will rebuild trust, normalize relations and open the path to cooperation in fighting challenges. However, the withdrawal of forces without Bamako’s agreement has a negative effect on the security situation. She also voiced her rejection of the baseless insinuation which paints help from the Russian Federation in Mali and other countries in a negative light. Those countries receiving such help have not complained, she pointed out. Noting that the United States’ delegate spoke comfortably on behalf of countries like Mali — implying they want what Washington, D.C., wants — she cited the issues of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, stating she imagined States in the Sahel could not imagine such a nightmare. Without participation of Mali in the G5 Sahel joint force, it is impossible to fight terrorism, she stressed, noting that UNOWAS has a difficult set of tasks, and that maintaining sanctions on Guinea-Bissau in the current situation is absurd.
FERGUS ECKERSLEY (United Kingdom), while stating that peaceful elections in the Gambia and Senegal are “a welcome example of progress in West African democracy”, expressed concern over the political situation in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea. He encouraged UNOWAS to continue focusing on democratic processes throughout the region in coordination with ECOWAS and the African Union. The security situation in the region remains fragile, and while progress in the Gulf of Guinea is welcome, the situations in Nigeria, Central Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin are deteriorating. The presence of mercenary groups in the region — including the Wagner Group — is a dangerous, destabilizing factor. For its part, the United Kingdom is working to support long-term stability in the Sahel, including through its contributions to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Also expressing concern over food security — especially where humanitarian access is restricted and the effects of the global food crisis and climate change are compounding the situation — he noted that his country provided over $200 million in development assistance across the region between 2019 and 2021, and called on all actors to coordinate with UNOWAS to facilitate humanitarian access.
ALICIA GUADALUPE BUENROSTRO MASSIEU (Mexico) expressed concern over increased violence in the region affecting civilian victims in Mali and Nigeria and the attacks on MINUSMA. As long as weapons circulate, it will be impossible to reverse those trends. She expressed support for ECOWAS in the move towards transitions along with efforts by Mali on elections in 2024 and the partial lifting of regional sanctions. It is critical to resolve governance problems in the region and strengthen State institutions, as that vacuum is used by extremists. Voicing concern over an excessively military approach, she stressed that it must go hand in hand with the provision of basic services and respect for human rights law; otherwise, those efforts will be doomed to fail. Regional efforts must urgently address the pandemic, food insecurity and climate change. Further, a sustainable development strategy with women and youth is the best way to counter a worsening humanitarian situation, with over 6 million displaced and 13 million facing food insecurity.
WADID BENAABOU (France) supported efforts by UNOWAS and ECOWAS to promote stability and democratic governance in the Sahel, welcoming local elections held in Senegal in January and legislative elections held in the Gambia in April. Noting agreements made at the 3 July ECOWAS summit, he called for actors to respect commitments regarding organizing elections and returning to constitutional order in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso. Expressing hope that the upcoming legislative elections in Senegal and Guinea-Bissau occur in a calm environment, he emphasized the importance of ensuring that free, transparent elections — open to opposition and civil society with significant participation by women and youth — take place. He also highlighted the importance of inclusive dialogue and institutional reform to consolidating democratic processes and welcomed advances in political dialogue in Côte d’Ivoire. The spreading terrorist threats in the region is concerning, however, and civilians are its first victims. Welcoming the recent adoption of a resolution concerning maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea, he said that France will continue to provide security support to those countries in the region who so request. Security efforts must be accompanied by actions to promote governance and development, he added.
DAI BING (China) said the Commission has helped regional countries achieve peace with the help of Ms. Fatima, but the region is facing a complex security situation. Since the beginning of 2022, a number of countries have been actively preparing for elections, and the Gambia has held parliamentary elections. The international community must respect the sovereignty of regional States and support them in development paths that suit their national conditions. He cited the recent ECOWAS summit that lifted the sanctions against Mali. China supports the continent in finding African solutions to African problems, and in transition on the right path. Terrorist forces are spreading their activities from the Sahel to coastal countries, seriously jeopardizing regional stability and security, he said, noting that those nations have made great sacrifices in fighting the scourge. He expressed hope that the countries will seize the opportunity provided by the lifting of sanctions against Mali, calling on the international community to support humanitarian assistance and honour their commitments to capacity‑building and $100 billion in climate financing.
RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil), Council President for July, spoke in his national capacity to point out that the situation in West Africa and the Sahel demonstrates the close link between the political, security, economic and humanitarian dimensions of a crisis, as lack of progress in one domain directly impacts the others. “We have witnessed in the region ruptures of the constitutional order in several countries,” he said, noting that the de facto authorities emerging often justify their actions on the alleged need to combat security threats more effectively. The overthrow of constitutional order then generates a reaction in the domestic sphere — often intensifying pre-existing conflicts and security threats — and on the international level as sanctions are imposed. Citing the Secretary-General’s report, which shows how the coup in Mali has impacted the fight against terrorism, he welcomed agreement between that country and ECOWAS on a timeframe for returning to constitutional order and the holding of elections, along with ECOWAS’ decision to lift sanctions. Progress on a transition timeframe in Burkina Faso is also encouraging, but authorities in Guinea have not accepted an ECOWAS mediator. He urged such authorities to engage with the opposition and regional partners with a view to return to civilian rule.