Security Council: Ambassador Wittig on Peace and Security in Africa (The Sahel)

Dec 10, 2012

(Security Council: Statement as delivered by Ambassador Wittig on Peace and Security in Africa (The Sahel))

"Thank you, Mr. President !

I wish to thank you on the onset for having convened today’s briefing. Germany attaches great importance to the situation in the Sahel. We therefore highly appreciate your timely initiative to debate the current challenges the Sahel region is facing. Germany aligns itself with the EU statement to be delivered later.

Let me also thank the Secretary General for his remarks, as well as Mr Prodi and Mr Guterres for their very helpful briefings. Furthermore I would like to welcome the representatives of the regional and subregional organisations as well as the representatives of the OIC, the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

Mr. President,

The situation in the Sahel has been brought to the attention of this Council only by the end of last year. Yet, longstanding structural problems have been hampering the development of the region for a long time.

The current crisis in Mali has highlighted the challenges and threats to peace and security the Sahel is facing. Tackling these highly complex challenges includes the fight against terrorism, transnational organised crime and proliferation, providing an immediate response to the humanitarian crisis as well as promoting socio-economic development, good governance, democracy, rule of law and  respect for human rights. In a long-term perspective, it also includes finding responses to environmental challenges caused among other things by climate change.

Mr. President,

Allow me to elaborate on some of those challenges:

The rise of terrorism and the establishment of a safe haven and training ground for terrorists in the region are of paramount concern and require immediate attention and action. In this context, Germany would like to reiterate its support for the listing of relevant terrorist groups and their affiliates under the Al-Qaida sanctions regime.

The ongoing proliferation of arms in the region is equally worrying. The international community as well as established regional mechanisms should continue to support national efforts in the region to combat proliferation.

Germany engages in projects on arms control both bilaterally and within the framework of the EU border management program. Germany has always advocated for a comprehensive approach to combat the destabilizing accumulation and illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons. We are currently funding various projects on stockpile management and security as well as on demobilisation and integration in various African countries.

Mr. President,

Climate change and its adverse effects represent another serious challenge to stability and peace in the Sahel region. So far, this aspect has been neglected, but without any doubt needs greater attention.

Besides security, development and environmental issues, the humanitarian situation in the Sahel region remains of great concern and calls for immediate action. The international community needs to urgently step up its assistance. Since the end of 2011, Germany has so far pledged 80 Mio. US$.

Mr. President,

let me also address some possible ways of tackling the challenges in the Sahel:

First, the importance of capacity building and institution building cannot be stressed enough. These elements are key to enabling functioning state institutions not only to adequately address national challenges individually but also to strengthening effectively their cooperation with neighbours as part of joint strategies and programs. In this regard, we would also like to underline the importance of support through subregional and regional organisations and the UN. My country remains active in supporting a number of capacity building projects, such as providing technical assistance within the framework of the Customs Data Project or with regard to the UNODC Global Container Programs.

We would also like to recall in this respect the establishment of the West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use earlier this year - a noveltyin this region. This centre is designed to respond to climate change and to preserve sustainable livelihoods in the region.

Secondly, I wish to underline the importance of improving national, international and multinational cooperation and coordination, including with the European Union and its integrated Strategy for Development and Security in the Sahel. The EU Strategy has already been translated into concrete action and I would therefore strongly encourage close coordination and collaboration between the UN and the EU in order to create synergies already during the elaboration of the UN Sahel strategy.

Mr. President,

Finally, we all agree on the need for a comprehensive overarching approach which we hope to see in the UN Sahel Strategy.

The High Level Event on the Sahel in September gave us a first glimpse on the outline of this strategy and we welcome the meeting of the Special Envoys for the Sahel last week in Rome under the guidance of Mr. Prodi as a further step towards the resolution of the multiple crises in the Sahel region.

At this point, I would like to thank the Mr. Prodi for his efforts and assure him of my government’s full support to his endeavours.

Thank you, Mr. President !"

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