The Coalition for the Sahel was launched in a spirit of partnership and mutual accountability to respond to regional security challenges in a concerted way. On the strength of the military progress recorded on the ground, the N’Djamena Summit of February 16, 2021, called for a civil and political surge to stabilize in a lasting manner the areas freed from the terrorist threat. Under these auspices, at its ministerial meeting on March 19, 2021, the Coalition for the Sahel adopted a roadmap intended to mobilize and coordinate the main commitments of its members, in an integrated approach around four pillars: the fight against terrorism; capacity building of defense and security forces; redeployment of the State and basic services; and development.
Almost a year after N’Djamena, while some commitments in the roadmap have progressed and need to be consolidated, it is clear that the evolution of the regional situation has affected this dynamic. Coups d’Etat hamper the conditions of the civil and political surge. In terms of security, while civilians are the growing target of terrorist and militia attacks, the extension of the activities of Sahelian terrorist groups to the West African coastal states requires a rethinking of the collective effort on a broader regional scale.
Moreover, the positions taken by the new transitional authorities of Mali towards members of the Coalition and their use of foreign mercenaries have radically affected the political, legal and operational context of the collective action, calling into question the spirit of N’Djamena and the ability of partners to effectively pursue the current military engagement on Malian soil. In a joint declaration of February 17, 2022, many Heads of State and Government took note of this profound change. They announced the coordinated withdrawal from Malian territory of their respective military assets, while expressing their desire to remain engaged in the region by adapting all four pillars to this new context.
Under these conditions, a strategic revision of the N’Djamena roadmap is necessary based on this first assessment and around new political orientations. In this regard, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs:
1. Note and welcome the progress report on the implementation of the roadmap presented by the High Representative of the Coalition. They invite the States of the region and their international partners to capitalize on these achievements, to take into account the necessary strategic developments, to adjust their priorities and timeframes, and to better articulate military, stabilization and development measures, while underlining that the primary responsibility lies with the States of the G5 Sahel.
2. Fully support the efforts of ECOWAS and the African Union for a return to constitutional order in Mali and Burkina Faso. They reaffirm their availability to maintain a dialogue with the transitional authorities, while underlining the need to organize free and fair elections as soon as possible. If the regional mediators deem it appropriate, the High Representative of the Coalition can support any positive dynamic. They note the willingness of the transitional authorities in Chad to carry out a fully inclusive national dialogue and encourage these authorities to work towards free and fair elections within the 18-month deadline.
3. Pay tribute to the fallen African and international soldiers and police in the fight against terrorism as well as to the civilian victims. They underline the sustained effort of the Chadian armed forces.
4. Express their deep concern at the risks induced by the growing presence of Russian mercenaries in Mali and their potentially destabilizing impact on the entire region.
5. Welcome the commitment of the States signatories to the declaration of February 17 to continue their joint action against insecurity in the Sahel region and its periphery following the gradual and coordinated withdrawal from Mali of Operation Barkhane and Task Force Takuba. They also note the willingness to conduct inclusive political and military consultations for this purpose with the aim of reaching joint decisions by June 2022, in compliance with their respective constitutional procedures and in close coordination with the States of the region. In this respect, they stress the importance of capitalizing on lessons learned and to address the primary causes of insecurity in the most vulnerable regions.
6. Wish to work collectively to adapt the terms of support for the efforts of West African countries neighboring the Sahel, based on a shared analysis and upon their requests, in order to prevent and contain the risk of extension of terrorist actions. They emphasize the importance of good coordination with relevant regional initiatives and organizations such as the Accra Initiative, the G5 Sahel, ECOWAS and the African Union. In this regard, they invite the African countries concerned to clarify their needs in terms of the fight against terrorism, conflict prevention, local development or stabilization of these vulnerable regions.
7. Undertake to maintain aid to the populations of the Sahel and continue to support, where possible, legitimate government structures for the delivery of basic services in line with the civil and political surge. They also reiterate the need to continue the long-standing support to the population and civil society of Mali, while adapting the terms of implementation to the situation induced by the decisions of ECOWAS.
8. Call on stakeholders to accelerate the implementation of the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement (PRA) in Mali. In this regard, they welcome the role of the European Union (EU) in the Monitoring Committee of the PRA, chaired by Algeria, and its general contribution to security, stability, development and humanitarian action within the framework of its Integrated Strategy for the Sahel, notably through the EUTM and EUCAP missions. They underline the essential contribution of MINUSMA to the stabilization of the country, the implementation of the PRA, the protection of the Malian population and human rights, and the creation of a secure environment for humanitarian aid.
9. Reiterate their support for the G5 Sahel and its Joint Force and welcome the support of African countries for its benefit. They recall the importance of the full provision of national battalions by the G5 States, with appropriate equipment. They also note the important logistical support from MINUSMA. They welcome the contribution of the G5 Defense College in Nouakchott and International Counter-Terrorism Academy in Abidjan.
10. Reaffirm the importance of the protection of civilians and the fight against impunity. They pledge to enhance support for governments and other partners in these efforts, aimed at more justice and better governance. In this regard, they welcome the progress made by the G5 Sahel Joint Force in the operationalization of its Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Compliance Framework with the support of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
11. Express their concern at the continued deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the region, including the serious food insecurity crisis, and plead to strengthen the mobilization in support of the international humanitarian effort.
12. Recall that only a global approach that addresses the causes of instability, such as poor governance, poverty, youth unemployment, insecurity, impunity, violations of human rights, climate change, food insecurity, gender inequality and irregular migration, can provide an appropriate and sustainable response to the region’s challenges. Given the evolution of the regional context, they insist on the importance of acting in a logic of prevention and stabilization to avoid the spread of conflicts and crises.
13. Stress the importance of ensuring effective inclusion of the most marginalized populations in decision-making processes. They recall in particular the role of women in mediation processes, in accordance with the United Nations “Women, Peace and Security Agenda”, recognizing the contribution that it could make to the stability of the region. They express their concerns about the risk of rolling back women’s rights. They call for increased efforts to support the needs of the most vulnerable, including people with disabilities and the displaced.
14. Welcome the opportunity offered by the General Assembly of the Sahel Alliance scheduled for April 4, 2022 in Madrid to refine and strengthen the terms of collective actions in development. On this occasion, they encourage the Assembly to analyze the impact of the new regional situation on the agendas of development cooperation and on the terms of intervention, in particular its impact on the integrated territorial approach, and in the border regions.
15. Encourage the Secretariat of the Coalition for the Sahel in its coordination effort with the G5 Executive Secretariat, the Coordination Unit of the Sahel Alliance and the Secretariat of the Partnership for Security and Stability in the Sahel within the EU. They invite the regular production of a progress report on the efforts underway on the four pillars, under the aegis of the High Representative and according to terms that respect the governance of each body. They encourage national monitoring committees to meet regularly and inclusively.
16. Ask the High Representative of the Coalition for the Sahel, in close coordination with his partners, to submit an update of the N’Djamena roadmap by June in order to adapt all the pillars based on the assessment conducted and the political orientations received.