Statement by H.E. Ambassador Koro Bessho, Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, at the Briefing on Peace and Security in Africa (G5 Sahel Joint Force)


Thank you, Mr. President.
 
Thank you for convening this very important meeting today.
 
I also thank today’s briefers for their insightful and powerful statements, and especially the leaders of the G5 Sahel for their initiative and commitment.  I especially appreciate the presence here today of H.E. Mr. Abdoulaye Diop, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Mali, to take part in this discussion.
 
Japan thanks the Secretary-General for his report in accordance with resolution 2359.  We look forward to participating actively in discussions on possible UN support to the G5 Sahel Joint Force, which was presented in the report.  I would to point that these discussions should take into account all aspects of the situation, including the broader societal transformations which the G5 Sahel Joint Force is meant to support.
 
Lasting security in the Sahel is ultimately a function of political, social, and economic development.  This was clear during the Council’s recent mission to the Sahel, which focused on the implementation of the Malian Peace Agreement, the political foundation for our current and future work on Mali and other G5 Sahel States.  
 
This is in line with resolution 2359’s emphasis on counter-terrorism efforts in the region being pursued with a view to supporting the Peace Agreement.
 
Indeed, throughout the year, we have reaffirmed that the nexus between peace and security, humanitarian [affairs], and development requires an integrated and preventative response. 
 
The Sahel is facing a growing threat.  Japan commends the efforts by the G5 Sahel States and France to counter terrorism.  Japan also believes that preventive efforts are required to mitigate the threat in the future.  As the Council observed during its mission, security-centered and short-term measures alone will not bring lasting stability.  More focus is needed on addressing the root causes of conflict that bedevil Sahel countries in both cross-border and local contexts. 
 
By root causes, I mean the chronic underdevelopment, insufficient local governance and state institutions, and lack of education and job opportunities, particularly for youth, that open the door to exploitation by terrorist and organized crime groups.  The Secretary-General’s report, the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel (UNISS), the AU Strategy for the Sahel Region, and the advice of the Peacebuilding Commission all identify the same problems. In essence, human security is at stake. 
 
Addressing the root causes in a comprehensive manner is at the core of conflict prevention and sustaining peace.  This is not easy and it requires time.  But there are no shortcuts to this approach.  As the Secretary-General has noted, the Joint Force must be paired with deeper reflection on development and institutions. 
 
With these principles in mind, since 2013 Japan has provided approximately $1.3 billion dollars in development and humanitarian assistance to the Sahel, both bilaterally and multilaterally, within the framework of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development - TICAD.  These efforts promote development and security institutions, weakening the influence of terrorist and criminal groups.  They include activities as diverse as supporting laws on migrant smuggling in Niger and terrorist financing in Burkina Faso, developing human rights-compliant criminal justice responses to terrorism in Chad, and enhancing border control in Mauritania and Mali. 
 
We would particularly like to highlight the International Ministerial Conference on Border Management and Border Communities in the Sahel, which was convened in March 2016 under the auspices of the G5 Sahel States, with the support of UNDP and Japan.  The conference resulted in the Bamako Declaration, in which the G5 Sahel States called for development-focused efforts in border communities, with particular emphasis on youth and conflict prevention.  
 
The G5 Sahel States will continue to need international and UN support to implement these development priorities and enhance social cohesion and community security, particularly in border communities.  The Joint Force will be focused in the short-term on combatting terrorism and organized crime, and we appreciate their important work.  At the same time, its operations must ultimately contribute to long-term solutions in the Sahel.
 
I thank you, Mr. President.