The independent panel was formally announced Saturday in New York on the sidelines of the annual General Assembly debate during a high-level event on the Sahel, held under the auspices of the United Nations, the African Union (AU) Commission, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel).
The Sahel stretches across Africa from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Indian Ocean in the east and runs through parts of Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan.
While the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has said that the Sahel faces “the worst humanitarian needs in years requiring an urgent scale-up of the emergency response”, the Secretary-General warned last week that rising insecurity, including the proliferation of terrorists and other non-state armed groups, coupled with political instability, is creating a crisis in the Sahel that poses a “global threat”.
The crisis is exacerbated by climate change…
“and if nothing is done, the effects of terrorism, violent extremism and organized crime will be felt far beyond the region and the African continent,” he said.
In his remarks on Saturday, the chairman of the AU Commission, the chairman of the ECOWAS Commission, the executive secretary of the G5 Sahel [a joint force established in 2017 to respond to the expansion of armed and violent extremist groups and deteriorating security in the region], and Mr. Guterres formally launched the High-Level Independent Panel on Security and Development in the Sahel, led by former Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou.
They highlighted the underlying challenges in the Sahel, including the rise of violent extremism, the growing fragility of the region’s economies due to the impact of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as complex political transitions.
They called for coordinated efforts at the international, regional and local levels in the Sahel and the wider region to address current security, governance and development challenges and adopt people-centered approaches to security based on inclusive political strategies.
Participants also called on the international community to scale up responses according to the needs of the region, including by providing much-needed technical, financial, material, and logistical support; They reaffirmed the support of the four organizations for the work of the High-Level Independent Panel and looked forward to the results of the Independent Strategic Assessment to be presented during the 36th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union.
to be held issued in February 2023.