The G5 Sahel member countries’ heads of state and the French President met in Pau, France, today, 13 January 2020, to discuss the situation in the G5 Sahel region.
The heads of state reaffirmed their shared determination to fight together against the terrorist groups operating in the Sahel-Sahara Strip. They paid tribute to the civilian victims of the atrocities committed by those terrorist groups and to the African, French and international soldiers killed while accomplishing their mission.
The G5 Sahel heads of state expressed the desire for France’s military involvement in the Sahel to continue and called for a strengthening of the international presence alongside them. They expressed their gratitude for the crucial support provided by the United States and the desire for it to continue.
They repeated that this joint action is aimed at protecting civilians, defending the sovereignty of the G5 Sahel states and preventing the terrorist threat from spreading into bordering countries – the goal being to restore stability, the essential precondition for development. In the face of a threat that violates international peace and security, they recalled that this action is in line with the United Nations Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements in force.
The heads of state agreed to step up and coordinate their efforts to bring about a swift solution to the Libya crisis, which continues to fuel instability in the Sahel. To this end, they recalled the international community’s responsibility and the urgent need for all parties to deal with the issue as a matter of priority, and expressed their support for the goals of the international conference in Berlin to restore stability and security to Libya.
The heads of state welcomed the actions already taken and emphasized the need for greater coordination in implementing the initiatives under way in the Sahel and for increased international commitment.
To this end, the heads of state agreed to hold a discussion with the partners already involved, in order to establish a new political, strategic and operational framework that will represent a new step in the fight against terrorist groups in the Sahel and in the collective shouldering of responsibility.
In light of these discussions, this new framework will take the form and name of “Coalition for the Sahel”, bringing together the G5 Sahel countries, France – through Operation Barkhane and its other forms of commitment –, the partners already involved and all countries and organizations that wish to contribute to it. This framework will be organized on the basis of four pillars combining the efforts made in the following areas:
1. The fight against terrorism:
the heads of state signalled their firm desire to fight together against all the armed terrorist groups active in the region, concentrating their immediate military efforts on the three-borders region under the joint command of the Barkhane force and the G5 Sahel Joint Force, and targeting ISGS as a matter of priority.
Alongside this effort, this coalition’s joint command will gradually bring in all volunteer and partner countries, whose military contributions will join Operation Barkhane, such as the future grouping of European special forces, known as Task Force Takuba, which will come under this first pillar. The Joint Force’s concept of operations will be revised so that it can act with increased room for manoeuvre beyond the area 50km on either side of the borders.
The military coalition will be able to develop the operational capabilities of the Sahel forces throughout the G5 Sahel region, in order to reduce the threat from terrorist groups and ensure more effective border control.
2. Strengthening the military capabilities of the states in the region:
the heads of state welcomed the launch by France and Germany of the Partnership for Stability and Security in the Sahel (P3S) initiative and expressed the wish for military and practical training, logistical support and equipment for the G5 Sahel countries’ armies to be speeded up and broadened. This pillar will draw, among other things, on the efforts already made by the United Nations and the European Union’s training missions. It may include support for the deployment of the G5 Sahel countries’ armies with the backing of the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
3. Support for the return of the state and administrations on the territory:
the G5 Sahel heads of state pledged to take all measures aimed at speeding up the return of administrations and public services across all the territories concerned by the issue, particularly penal and judicial systems, which are essential for the return of the rule of law.
In a spirit of shared responsibility, these commitments will be supported in the framework of the P3S, which will focus its involvement particularly on the training and deployment of staff, including at local level, in the areas of civil administration, internal security (police, gendarmerie, customs) and justice.
4. Development assistance:
the heads of state welcomed the initial results of the Sahel Alliance, which was launched at Germany and France’s instigation in July 2017, and called for countries and organizations which are members of the Alliance to proceed with an initiative which is even more closely coordinated with security action, called for more systematic use of joint programming and for reciprocal delegation mechanisms taking into account the priorities of the G5 Sahel member countries.
Similarly, the heads of state urge international partners to translate into action the commitments made at the Nouakchott donors’ conference in December 2018 for the implementation of the G5 Sahel’s Priority Investment Programme (PIP).
The heads of state also call on the G5 Sahel states’ partners to increase their assistance and support to allow us to tackle the new humanitarian challenges of internally displaced people, refugees and the closing of schools and health centres.
A summit bringing together the G5 Sahel states and France will be held in Nouakchott in June 2020 as part of Mauritania’s presidency of the G5 Sahel. Between now and then, these commitments will be followed up at foreign and defence ministers’ level.