Fostering stability and ensuring sustainable peace in West Africa, Sahel and the Lake Chad basin are paramount.
There is clearly deep concern about the deteriorating security situation in parts of the mentioned regions - in Central Mali and Burkina Faso in particular.
And so, now, as the international community, we must step up our efforts. We must assist the national authorities in providing security, and hope for the future, for their people.
But, it is becoming increasingly clear that security can only be one part of the equation.
The root causes of insecurity must be addressed through local and regional sustainable development programs, conflict prevention, and peacebuilding.
The support from the Peacebuilding Fund to address cross-border issues in the region is a step in the right direction.
We need to scale up such initiatives. But, for that to be possible, financing must be available. And all efforts must be well co-ordinated.
More emphasis on inclusive governance in these regions is also necessary, to reestablish public confidence in the authorities and institutions.
I appeal to all relevant partners to ensure full and meaningful participation by women in all aspects. Youth must also be heard and meaningfully involved- their future is on the line.
The humanitarian situation in the Lake Chad region is severe. Clashes between armed forces and non-state actors make it increasingly difficult to reach those affected by the crisis. The international community must assist.
Norway remains committed to contributing. Including through follow up to the Lake Chad conferences in Oslo in 2017 and Berlin in 2018. It is vital to deal with the root causes of the crisis while efforts towards stability are ongoing.
We are therefore encouraged by the UNDPs recent launch of the Regional Stabilization Strategy for Lake Chad.
To touch briefly on an issue which will be discussed in more detail in this afternoon’s session: We commend the work by the Mano River Union and its member-states (Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire) toward a new five-year strategic plan to enhance stability and accelerate the economic growth.
We applaud the Mano River Union’s emphasis on aligning its work and goals with global and regional agendas such as the 2030 Agenda and the African Union Agenda 2063.
The African Union, ECOWAS, the G5 Sahel, the Mano River Union and the Multinational Joint Task Force are essential parts of the African security architecture. One that is only growing in importance.
Norway strongly supports this growth.
Effective and well-coordinated African institutions are essential in ensuring peace, security and sustainable development on the African continent. The affected countries must be in the front seat. Supported by their regions, organisations and partners.
Norway knows from experience, through engagement in a multitude of mediation and facilitation efforts around the world; that actors with local knowledge and regional networks are often best placed to facilitate and sustain peace. But they must also get the required support.
The UN has a key role to play.
Norway considers the implementation of UN reforms at country level very important to foster greater coherence among different actors and across pillars.
In New York, the PBC is an important bridge between the security and development pillars, but more can be done.
In this regard, Norway welcomes the joint session of ECOSOC and the PBC held yesterday to ensure a combined approach on both the development and sustaining peace tracks. And we encourage even greater coordination and co-operation.
There are clearly both challenges and opportunities to be found in enhancing regional and sub-regional approaches. Particularly in such a complex situation as the one in the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin.
One thing we know for sure is that it will be vital to sustain international assistance to overcome these issues, and ensure coherence in both regional approaches and in our partnerships.
Norway is, and will remain, a consistent partner in these efforts.