16 July 2013

West Africa: Security Council Calls for Cooperation to Combat Terrorist Threats in the Sahel

The United Nations Security Council today called for increased cooperation between countries in the Sahel, West Africa and the Maghreb to combat the growing threat posed by terrorist groups, transnational crime and drug trafficking throughout the Sahel region.

In a statement read out during a formal meeting by Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo of the United States, which holds the 15-member body's presidency for the month, the Council said interregional cooperation and coordination would help develop "inclusive and effective strategies" to combat these threats in "a comprehensive and integrated manner."

"The Security Council emphasizes the importance of regional and international coordination in addressing the threat of terrorism in the Sahel region, including information sharing and close cooperation," she said.

Through its statement, the Council expressed concern over the alarming situation in the Sahel, where terrorist organizations, including Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and the Movement for

Unity and Jihad in West Africa, and reiterated its "strong condemnation" of recent terrorist attacks perpetrated in the region.

The Security Council also expressed its continued concern over the serious threats to peace and security posed by armed conflict, proliferation of arms, transnational organized crime including illicit activities such as drug trafficking in the Sahel region and its increasing links, in some cases, with terrorism.

The Council also "strongly condemned" human rights abuses against civilians, notably women and children.

Inclusive economic and social development is necessary, along with stronger States institutions to ensure long-term security, development and stability in the Sahel, the statement said.

In this context, the Council welcomed the deployment of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), following the transfer of authority from the African-led International Support Mission in Mali to MINUSMA on 1 July.

MINUSMA's core task is to support the political process in Mali, in close coordination with the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The Council underscored the importance of a comprehensive and coordinated approach encompassing governance, security, humanitarian, human rights and development aspects to address the root causes of challenges to peace and security, and welcomed the development of the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel, which focuses on addressing extremism, poverty and drought in the region.

Council members also welcomed the proposal put forward by the Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Sahel, Romano Prodi, to partner with relevant international and regional financial institutions to promote innovative approaches for the region and requested the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA) to establish an effective and detailed coordination mechanism to prioritize activities and to ensure coordinated implementation by the UN system of the UN Strategy.

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