|Statement by Ambassador Li Baodong at the Security Council Ministerial Meeting on the Sahel Region Situation|
Photo by Lin Qiong/Xinhua News Agency
I wish to thank Morocco for the initiative of holding today's ministerial meeting to discuss the situation in the Sahel region. I am pleased to see you, Sir, presiding over today's meeting. I thank Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; Mr. Romano Prodi, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Sahel; and Mr. António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, for their respective briefings, and Mr. Charles Koffi Diby for his statement. I welcome the presence of high-ranking representatives of regional and subregional organizations.
The Sahel region holds an important strategic position. It runs across the African continent from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Horn of Africa in the east. Peace, stability and development in the Sahel region have a direct bearing on the long-term peace and stability of the African continent. At present, the Sahel is facing a severe food crisis, and conflict in Libya and Mali have further exacerbated the humanitarian situation and added to the already heavy economic and social burdens of the countries of the region. Arms trafficking, transnational organized crime, and terrorist and extremist activities represent severe challenges to regional stability.
With a view to addressing the various challenges facing the region, I would like to make the following four points.
First, an integrated strategy is important for dealing with the current situation. The various problems of the Sahel region are interlinked and mutually reinforcing, and therefore require an integrated approach. We hope that, as urged by the Security Council, the Secretary-General will broadly seek the views of the countries of the region and regional and subregional organizations in order to develop an integrated United Nations strategy as soon as possible, with clearly defined objectives and practical measures.
Secondly, the key to long-term peace and stability in the Sahel lies in resolving the fundamental problems underpinning the current situation, which arose in response to a complex series of factors, including lack of development and poverty. The international community, especially the donors and the international financial institutions, should enhance their funding and technical assistance to the countries of the region, addressing economic and social development as a priority. The priority for the time being is to tackle the current food crisis in the Sahel and to resolve thefunding gap in the humanitarian assistance, to be provided by the United Nations.
Thirdly, any effort to resolve the crisis in the Sahel must be based on full respect for the ownership of the countries and organizations of the region. The countries of the region, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States have been working actively to address the various economic, security and humanitarian crises in the region. The international community, in its efforts to assist in the process, should fully respect the sovereignty and independence of the countries of the region in order to fully include the initiatives and plans development by regional countries and regional organizations.
Fourthly, given the complex and diverse nature of the challenges facing the Sahel region, it is important that the international community adopt a coordinated approach. The primary focus for the Council should be on threats to peace and stability in the Sahel. In addition, various United Nations agencies should work together in responding to the current crisis, based on a clear division of labour. China hopes to see synergies generated between the good offices of the United Nations and countries and organizations of the region, and supports the work of Special Envoy Prodi to that
At present, a solution to the Mali question brooks no delay. The international community must take swift and effective action to assist Mali, in full respect for its sovereignty, in dealing with the separatist, terroristic and extremist threats. We support the efforts of the Malian transitional authorities to promote a political process and to quickly and fully restore constitutional order and maintain national unity and territorial integrity.
China has actively supported the initiatives of African countries and regional organizations to strengthen cooperation and maintaining peace and stability on the continent. The Council should pay close attention to the call and proposal of Mali, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States concerning the deployment of an international force to Mali.
The Chinese Government attaches great importance to the situation in the Sahel and has been working actively and through various means to support the efforts of countries of the region to achieve stability and development. China has consistently provided assistance, within its capacities, to the countries of the region. In the past year, China has provided emergency food assistance to many countries of the region and strengthened cooperation efforts with the African Union and countries of the region in the fight against terrorism.
China is ready to continue to play its role in order to find an early and comprehensive solution to the current crisis in the Sahel.