I thank the briefers for their insights.
In this Council, Norway has backed the Secretary-General’s call for a UN support office for G5 Sahel. We have done so out of a conviction that regional peace operations with AU mandates can supplement UN peace operations- such as MINUSMA- especially in cross-border, counter-terrorism responses.
We regret that a lack of resources has hampered the G5 Sahel’s effectiveness and cooperation- and, we’re also not blind to the consequences of Mali’s withdrawal, and the presence of the Wagner Group
- Yet, if provided with sufficient political will and resources, the G5 Sahel could hopefully still offer a model for future regional cooperation. This also goes for the UN OHCHR-supported compliance framework for the G5 -- which should continue its commendable efforts in promoting respect for human rights and international humanitarian law.
The security and humanitarian crises in the Sahel have had a devastating impact on civilians, including children. Their protection must be a priority.
We hope experiences drawn from the G5 Sahel will be part of ideas brought forward by the “Issoufou Panel”. Norway supports this Panel actively- and will approach its recommendations with an open mind. We realise that it cannot magically fix all problems. But we hope that the Panel will present innovative – yet practical and realistic – proposals. Which should also have firm ownership in the region.
The goal should not be to reinvent the wheel – or to introduce another strategy to the Sahel region. Instead, it could build on what is already there; the G5 Sahel, Accra Initiative, MJTF, Nouakchott process, ECOWAS efforts, or other building blocks. And propose ways to improve it all holistically. In doing so, the Panel could also draw inspiration from other contexts-- such as the close and operational UN-AU partnerships in Somalia.
We must support good and legitimate governance, as an essential bulwark in combatting violent extremism. As mentioned by ICG President Comfort Ero last week, the tools proposed could also include dialogue with militant leaders – which should not be excluded as a possibility when trying to prevent terrorism. As Dr. Ero said: “It sometimes is worth exploring”. And we are following efforts in Niger with interest.
Let me leave you with some examples on how Norway will continue to support G5 Sahel both during and after our term here in the Council:
First: We will continue our efforts in the region to address food insecurity and effects of climate change -- including through a collaboration between the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, and Niger's National Institute of Agricultural Research.
Second: Norway will continue to address humanitarian needs in the region- and work for humanitarian access. Norway has taken an active role on this - as a co-host for the upcoming Lake Chad Conference in January.
And third and finally: Together with other peace-building processes in the region, we will continue to support the Peace Agreement in Mali. We will focus on continuing to help women and youth to take their rightful place in the follow-up process.
Norway will remain a consistent supporter of the G5 Sahel-- also in the years ahead.