The International Coalition for the Sahel


The Coalition for the Sahel was announced during the Pau Summit of 13 January 2020, by the Heads of State of France, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, in the presence of the United Nations Secretary-General, the President of the European Council, the European Union High Representative, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the Secretary General of La Francophonie.

A more collective and inclusive response to the Sahel crisis

The seriousness of the crisis in the Sahel, the urgent need to act and the scale of the needs required a stronger, more inclusive response. This is the goal of the Coalition for the Sahel. The creation of the Coalition of the Sahel, which had long been called for by the G5 Sahel, is a strong sign of solidarity with the Sahel States.

It enhances the visibility of the international engagement and is a guarantee of long-term support. It increases and optimizes this international support, facilitating exchanges and interactions, and thereby the establishment of a common approach.

The goal is also to address all the causes of the crisis. The solution is not just security: efforts must be made as regards redeploying government administrations and services, as well as development needs.

The Coalition for the Sahel promotes a comprehensive approach at regional level including all levers and actors involved in the Sahel, whether they be military, security, political or development actors, but does not replace existing decision-making processes.

The Coalition also helps facilitate full access for humanitarian aid and ensure that international humanitarian law is observed.

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The Pau Summit ©HL.Hablin/AFP

From L to R: Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, President of Mali, Louise Mushikiwabo Secretary Geneeral of the OIF, Roch Kaboré, President of Burkina Faso, Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger, Mohamed Ould El-Ghazouani, President of Mauritania, Idriss Deby , president of Chad, Charles Michel, President of the European Council and Moussa Faki Mahamat, President of the African Union Commission de la Commission de l’Union africain

Extract from the joint statement by the Heads of State, 13 January 2020, Pau Summit:

"[…] this joint action is aimed at protecting civilians, defending the sovereignty of the G5 Sahel states […], preventing the terrorist threat from spreading into bordering countries – the goal being to restore stability, the essential precondition for development.” "

Click here for the press conference and joint statement by Heads of State (in French)

A Coalition based on 4 complementary pillars

In a poor security and humanitarian situation, the Coalition for the Sahel offers a new framework for international action, across four complementary pillars which are each steered independently.

Pillar 1: fighting armed terrorist groups

The aim is to fight against armed terrorist groups by coordinating all of the efforts led by African armed forces and the G5 Sahel Joint Force with the partners – Barkhane, MINUSMA, Takuba Task Force – with priority given to the Three-Borders region (Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso). Faced with a poor security situation and the possibility of the threat expanding beyond the borders of the G5 Sahel countries, the aim is to create the conditions required for stabilization and development work.

Pillar 2: Building the capacities of the armed forces in the region

The Partnership for Security and Stability in the Sahel (P3S), initiated by France and Germany during the G7 Summit in Biarritz in August 2019, aims to identify security needs and increase efforts in the fields of defence and internal security.

Within the framework of the P3S, the Coalition’s second pillar aims to coordinate all the defence capacity building actions for G5 countries, and in particular all training and equipment assistance for national armed forces and the G5 Sahel Joint Force. The European Union is supporting the G5 Sahel, particularly through the “African Peace Facility” and the EUTM Mali military training and strategic advice mission (the mandate of which has been renewed for four years beyond 18 May 2020). The EUTM Mali strategic review enabled a strengthening of the mandate and a geographical expansion of the mission in Burkina Faso and Niger.

Pillar 3. Supporting the return of the State and administrations in the territory; improving access to basic services

In the effort to identify the priority needs of the Partnership for Security and Stability in the Sahel (P3S), this pillar aims to coordinate all available training and equipment assistance for national internal security forces (police, gendarmerie, national guard) and the G5 Sahel Joint Force’s provost marshals. The aim is to bolster the sovereign functions of the State. Enhancing the State’s presence also entails rebuilding the legal capacities and local administration of the G5 countries, with priority for the most fragile areas. A key priority is also to provide access to public and basic services for populations affected by crises. This is a component of stabilization which requires meeting short-term needs at the same time as longer-term development projects are set up (a close link with pillar four).

The European Union is also providing support under Pillar 3 through the European Union Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF) the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP), and EU civilian missions (EUCAP Sahel Niger and Mali).

Pillar 4: Assisting development

Development assistance is currently coordinated through two main bodies: the G5 Sahel, created in 2014, and the Sahel Alliance, launched on 13 July 2017 by France, Germany and the European Union.

The fourth pillar aims to respond to challenges regarding employment, poverty, education, healthcare and infrastructure in Burkina Faso, Chad Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

These contributions are spearheaded by the Sahel Alliance (25 members including 11 observer members; over 873 projects totalling €17 billion), in collaboration with the G5 Sahel Executive Secretariat. The Executive Secretariat helps to identify activities, ensure good coordination between actions and distribute roles and/or geographical areas. It therefore guarantees the overall efficiency of development actions, in coherence with the political, security and military aspects. The aim of this pillar is also to support the return of government services and decentralization, so as to build confidence between public authorities and local people.

The Coalition Secretariat

To implement these 4 pillars, the Secretariat of the Coalition for the Sahel (SCS) aims to be a platform of services dedicated to the international partners engaged in the Sahel. Acting as a real political interface aiming at promoting a cross-cutting vision of the Sahel’s issues, the Secretariat will:

1. Organize political dialogue in order to better coordinate international actions in the Sahel;
2. Ensure more effective sharing of information on the actions conducted by Coalition partners;
3. Foster discussion on cross-cutting inter-pillar action conducted in the Sahel;
4. Communicate on progress being made by the Coalition in order to mobilize its partners and the public and to incorporate a cross-cutting vision of the Sahel’s problems into international political debate.

France has offered to support these increased coordination and partner mobilization efforts by running the Secretariat of the Coalition for the Sahel until its transfer to Brussels, scheduled for 2021. The Secretariat is composed of representatives of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Ministry for the Armed Forces and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and is placed under the authority of Frédéric Bontems – who replaced Christophe Bigot as Secretary-General. The SCS is gradually taking on a more international dimension through the exchange of diplomats, and aims to further this development when it moves to Brussels. The Coalition Secretariat therefore encourages partners of the International Coalition for the Sahel and members of the G5 Sahel to second personnel there.

The work of the Secretary General of the Coalition: a photo report

Image Diaporama -
Image Diaporama - Signature du Memorandum of Mutual Understanding

Signature du Memorandum of Mutual Understanding entre Frédéric Bontems, Secrétaire général de la Coalition Sahel, et Maman Sidikou, Secrétaire exécutif du G5 Sahel, le 20/10/2020.

Image Diaporama - Visite de Christophe Bigot, ancien Secrétaire (...)

Visite de Christophe Bigot, ancien Secrétaire général de la Coalition Sahel, à Abuja le 02/03/2020, rencontre Ministre des Affaires étrangères nigérian, Geoffrey Onyeama © Ambassade de France au Nigéria

Image Diaporama - Visite de Christophe Bigot, ancien Secrétaire (...)

Visite de Christophe Bigot, ancien Secrétaire général de la Coalition Sahel, à Bamako le 24/10/2019 : remise de véhicules au ministre de la Sécurité et de la protection civile et au Général de division © Ambassade de France au (...)

Image Diaporama - Visite de Christophe Bigot, ancien Secrétaire (...)

Visite de Christophe Bigot, ancien Secrétaire général de la Coalition Sahel, à Ndjamena au Tchad, le 13/03/202 © Ambassade de France au Tchad 0 : rencontre du PR Idriss Déby

Image Diaporama - Visite de Christophe Bigot, ancien Secrétaire (...)

Visite de Christophe Bigot, ancien Secrétaire général de la Coalition Sahel, au siège de l’OTAN le 04/03/2020 © OTAN

De gauche à droite : SEMA, SE M. Mircea Geona (Secrétaire général adjoint de l’OTAN), le Général Grégoire de Saint-Quentin (SCOPS), SE Mme Muriel Domenach (RP FR auprès de l’OTAN)

Strong commitments

During their meeting on 27 April 2020, French and G5 Sahel ministers restated their solidarity and mobilization faced with COVID-19. They applauded the major results on the ground since the Pau Summit, in the fields of security, development and the return of the sovereign functions of the State. They welcomed the launch of the Coalition for the Sahel by the EU and the G5, and called for its expansion.

On 28 April 2020, the European Union and the G5 Sahel countries, with the support of the United Nations and the African Union, reaffirmed their joint commitment at the highest level for the security, stability and development of the Sahel. The President of the European Council and the G5 Sahel Heads of State launched the Coalition for the Sahel and called for it to be expanded to include other international partners. They underlined the importance of the measures envisaged in the four pillars of the Coalition and the need for a comprehensive and coordinated approach.

Further detail on the different meetings is available on the Sahel Coalition website

Beyond the N’Djamena Summit: a new roadmap

The N’Djamena Summit on 15-16 February 2021 mapped out a new roadmap for the Sahel. Based around the need to move beyond the security response, it illustrates the will for a civilian and political leap forward in order to restore lasting peace. The G5 Sahel Member States also reiterated that they would like France and its partners to remain in the region.

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Foreign Ministers of the Coalition for the Sahel meet by videoconference on 19 March 2021. Here, High Representative for the Coalition for the Sahel, Djimé Adoum (L) and French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian ®. Photo: J. Sarago / MEAE

The Foreign Ministers of the Coalition for the Sahel met on Friday, 19 March 2021 to confirm this new roadmap with clear targets:

  • specific counter-terrorism actions
  • capacity building of national defence and security forces
  • support for G5 Sahel governments in undertaking reforms on rule of law and more transparent and inclusive governance.

These efforts will require action from the government, administration and basic services, as well as the creation of interministerial political mechanisms in G5 Sahel countries.
The meeting was also an opportunity to confirm the transfer of the Coalition’s Secretariat to Brussels.

The Coalition in action

The sixth ordinary summit of the G5 Sahel was held on 25 February 2020 in Nouakchott, in the presence of the G5 Heads of State. The Secretariat of the G5 Sahel, renamed the Executive Secretariat, reaffirmed its commitment to consolidating cooperation in the field of fighting against terrorism and continuing joint military efforts.

The first Sahel Alliance General Assembly, which was held on the sidelines of the summit, was chaired by the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian. This General Assembly was an opportunity to mobilize the international community around joint commitments for development in the Sahel region. The Sahel Alliance committed to taking action first and foremost in the most fragile areas of the Sahel region, to working towards better coordination between the security and development pillars and enhancing the coordination and flexibility of methods of intervention.

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General Assembly of the Sahel Alliance © Sahel Alliance / Aude Rossignol

L to R: Siaka Dembélé, president of the Alliance of Local Powers of the G5 Sahel countries, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, Mauritanian minister for Foreign Affairs, Alpha Barry, Burkina Faso minister for Foreign Affairs, Jutta Urpilainen, EU Commissioner for international partnerships; Jean-Marc Gravellini, Alliance Coordination Unit Head, Arancha González Laya, Spanish minister for Foreign Affairs, for the European Union and for Cooperation, Abdel Aziz Ould Dahi, Mauritanian minister for the Economy and Industry, Jean-Yves Le Drian, French minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Lassané Kaboré, Burkina Faso minister for the Economy, Finance and Development; Axel von Trotsenburg, World Bank Managing Director of Operations, Rémy Rioux, CEO of the AFD

The General Assembly of the Sahel Alliance was an opportunity for the Sahel region’s partners to adopt the principle of an integrated territorial approach to coordinate, ensure coherence and where necessary concentrate efforts in priority areas. The aim is to start with a joint identification of fragile areas and areas in crisis and define joint or shared objectives through and for the actors in the 4 pillars.

The Takuba Task Force

The Takuba Task Force was launched on 27 March 2020. Some 11 European States, together with Mali and Niger, adopted the political declaration creating this force which will be brought under the command of Operation Barkhane with a view to fighting terrorist groups in the Liptako region on the border between Mali and Niger. The Task Force will mainly be composed of European special forces. It will also provide backing in the form of advice, assistance and support for Mali’s armed forces in coordination with G5 Sahel partners, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the European Union’s civilian and military missions (EUTM Mali, EUCAP Mali and EUCAP Niger).

The signatories of the political declaration are Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

The Takuba Task Force should reach its initial operational capability (IOC) in summer 2020 and its full operational capability (FOC) in early 2021. The Takuba Task Force will be able, through its structure, to act quickly and adapt according to the changing threat of terrorist groups. It will play a key role in quickly ensuring local armed forces are autonomous.

Other examples of progress on the ground

  • From 3 to 23 March 2020, the Barkhane force, together with the armed forces of Mali (FAMa) and Niger (FAN), carried out Operation MONCLAR in the Liptako region on the border between Mali and Niger. This operation fell under a larger operation carried out by the G5 Sahel Joint Force, involved in Operation SAMA with the support of MINUSMA. This joint operation, which saw unprecedented numbers of troops involved, helped achieve very significant results.
  • In March 2020, the European Union delivered equipment to Niger destined for the G5 Sahel Joint Force in order to build the capacities of the troops from Niger. In late March 2020 in Bamako (Mali), Expertise France (with financing from the European Union) also handed over satellite telephone communication equipment to the G5 Sahel Joint Force.
  • The Barkhane force’s support also led to a significant donation of school equipment to Chad on 17 March 2020. In late March 2020, the French State, through the Security and Defence Cooperation Directorate, also handed over technical equipment to Chad to support operations currently led by the President of Chad against armed terrorist groups. Mali has also received several training courses and equipment donations.

October 2020