Statement by First Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy at the UN Security Council Meeting on Peace Consolidation in West Africa
We thank Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel Mohamed Ibn Chambas for his insights.
Let me reiterate to you our assurances that Russia is in full support of your personal efforts, as well as of the activity of the United Nations Office under your lead, that addresses regional crises, issues of political mediation, assists in improving state institutions, searches for ways to foster economic development and combat terrorism. The scale of your engagement deserves the highest praise.
It is positive that the political situation in the region remained generally stable. During the first six months of this year, many countries of the region held elections that proceeded without any serious violations – Nigeria, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Benin. We expect that electoral cycles that are in progress in other West African countries will also be held in the environment of law and order.
At the same time, the situation with security in Sahara-Sahel and a number of West African countries remains precarious. Terrorist 'internationale' that gained a firm foothold there is enhancing its capacity and striving to extend the geography. New radical groups and leaders appear. The root cause of the situation is the external intervention and subsequent collapse of statehood in Libya in 2011. Pressing internal contradictions of political, social and economic, inter-ethnic and inter-confessional nature that remain in the countries of the region nourish the activity of a diversified network of jihadist structures. Collective steps by the regional States and international partners to address these challenges have not yet brought them to the turning point in combatting extremists.
Mali is home to a lasting conflict, aggravated by interference on the part of various regional terrorist groups and by a vacuum of power in the North. Extremists that have become deeply rooted in the country start acting at the area of neighbor States – Niger, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire. The number of jihadists’ victims is growing.
Worrisome assessments contained in the Secretary-General’s report and conclusions we made after the March visit of the Security Council to the region prove that the prospect to withdraw MINUSMA at this stage do not deem feasible.
In Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Burkina Faso, “Boko Haram” expands its terrorist activity. ISIL-affiliated terrorist group “Ansar al-Islam” manifests itself in Burkina Faso.
International and African community keeps the situation in Sahara-Sahel in the focus of its unwavering attention. An important aspect of work at this track is an integrated UN strategy aimed at increasing efficiency of state governance, sustaining capacity of national and regional security mechanisms, holding events in the area of development in the countries of the region. Financial, military and humanitarian assistance granted via various international programs, UN missions and on a bilateral basis keeps coming to the region.
G5 Sahel continues efforts to ensure full-scale deployment of the Joint Force to Combat Terrorism Threat, Transnational Crime and Drug Trafficking. By now, the Joint Force has already carried out several operations on the ground.
We commend the activity of UNOWAS and UN specialized agencies aimed at providing broad-based assistance to West African countries. It is of principal importance that such efforts are made in close coordination with the African Union, Economic Community of West African States and other organizations.
We believe it important to improve efficiency of the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel and the related Support Plan. When implementing these documents, it is crucial to account for the opinion of the States these initiatives were designed for.
Another vital aspect we cannot do without is proper coordination of multiple assistance programs for the region. Their effectiveness i.a. depends on whether mechanisms that are present there – as part of the UN system in the first place – act within their area of responsibility and with account for the principle of “division of labor”. We believe only collective targeted efforts, that are taken within relevant formats and that do not create a “conflict of competences” can help us achieve the desired result.
Our country continuously takes active part in solving problems of West Africa and the Sahel. We make steps to establish effective cooperation with G5 Sahel. In April 2019 Permanent Secretary of G5 Sahel M.S.Sidikou and his delegation made their first visit to Moscow. During this visit agreements were made to enhance full-fledged practical cooperation.
On a bilateral basis, we set forth action to provide assistance to States of the region and strengthen operational capability of their armies and enforcement bodies. In particular, Russian educational facilities continue to train military and police officers from Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso. We intend to keep providing assistance to our West African friends.