China’s View on the Sahel

I’m researching country strategies for dealing with the various crises of the Sahel (terrorism, drug trafficking, food insecurity, refugee flows, etc.) and I came across a statement made to the UN Security Council by Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong. I was impressed with how progressive the language was. There’s only a small (albeit perhaps telling) reference to national sovereignty in the third paragraph. Otherwise, China sounds ready to play a productive role:

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 end.

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