posted on Tue 25 Jun 2013 5:25 PM
Briefing and Consultations on the Sahel

Tomorrow afternoon (26 June) the Security Council expects to be briefed by the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Sahel, Romano Prodi, on the 14 June report of the Secretary-General on the situation in the Sahel region and the UN integrated Sahel strategy attached (S/2013/354). No outcome is expected following the meeting, although Morocco and other Council members have expressed interest in working on a draft presidential statement welcoming the integrated Sahel strategy for possible adoption in July.

The briefing on the Sahel strategy comes eleven months after the adoption, on 5 July 2012, of resolution 2056 in which the Council asked the Secretary-General to develop and implement, in consultation with regional organisations, a UN integrated strategy for the Sahel region encompassing security, governance, development, human rights and humanitarian issues. (The Sahel strategy itself was circulated to Council members on 14 June.)

Prodi was appointed as Special Envoy on 9 October 2012, and, in light of the events in the Sahel and the regional impact of the crisis in Mali, Council members stressed in December 2012 the need for a “coherent, comprehensive and coordinated approach by all UN entities involved in the Sahel region and their cooperation with one another with a view of maximizing synergies” (S/PRST/2012/26). The deadlines for the submission of the strategy to the Council were extended several times. The last time a deferral was requested by the Secretariat was during consultations on the May Programme of Work on 2 May. When Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, requested deferring the submission of the report to 14 June, France, Luxembourg and Morocco asked the Secretariat to speed up the process as much as possible and to keep the agenda item as a footnote to the May Programme of Work.

Now that the strategy has been finalised and they have had a chance to study it, Council members will have a chance to get greater clarification on a number of areas during the consultations following the briefing. One element they might be interested in getting more detail about is the two proposals that constitute the Sahel-owned Development Plan. These include a coordination platform focusing on regional infrastructure priorities (related to water management, telecommunications, education and other areas) and a fund to match identified infrastructure needs with available resources. Council members might want to know more about how this Development Plan will interact with already existing cooperation structures, trust funds and other multilateral arrangements. Also, Council members might be interested in how the coordination platform for infrastructure needs (‘hardware’) will interact with other needs presented in the strategy that involve capacity building and knowledge sharing (‘software’).

Council members may also want to know more about how the consultation process on the strategy was conducted, both within the UN and with other stakeholders. As the strategy will be implemented by the same institutions that put it together, Council members might want to hear about what could be done to ensure the efficiency of the implementation process.

Along the same lines, there may be interest among Council members in knowing how the UN is planning to streamline its action in the Sahel. As the ad hoc mechanisms put in place by the UN in a reactive manner are combined through a more coherent approach, Council members might want to know how the current institutional framework is going to be affected by this new division of labour.

Finally, although the UN integrated strategy includes a set of actions to tackle the three strategic goals (inclusive governance, capacity building to address cross-border threats and resilience), Council members might request further detail on how these actions can be transformed into programmes and projects with clear priorities that form the basis of an overall action plan, and what role the Council might play in the oversight of this plan.

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