I would like to thank the briefers for their valuable inputs to today’s discussion.
Estonia remains extremely concerned about the continued terrorist attacks against the national, regional and international security forces in the Sahel region. It is of utmost importance to concentrate all efforts on creating favourable conditions for the return of the State and security presence including the police and the judicial presence. We commend the G5 Sahel Joint Force in their efforts and encourage them to continue taking the ownership in making peace a reality in the Sahel. Moreover, the role of the African Union and ECOWAS in coordinating and mobilizing the joint counter-terrorist operations is crucial.
I would like to stress the importance of coordination between various actors operating in the region. We welcome the steps taken in this direction through the organisation of joint meetings. From the Estonian side, we remain committed to the efforts and contributions that would help bring security and stability in the Sahel region. We contribute with personnel to MINUSMA, the French-led Barkhane operation and EUTM Mali and financially to the EU Trust Fund for Africa. Estonia is also part of the recently launched Task Force Takuba operating in the Liptako-Gourma area.
We note positively the assurances that the G5 Sahel Joint Force and the region’s states have given when it comes to adhering to the human rights principles and the international humanitarian law framework when conducting the counter-terrorist operations. We welcome the steps that the Joint Force has taken thus far and we encourage further and concrete steps to be taken on the ground should the violations occur. All human rights violations and abuses must be investigated and the perpetrators held fully accountable.
No true peace will be achieved unless the root causes of instability are being addressed actively and in earnest. While the international support and efforts in alleviating the humanitarian situation and civilian suffering need to continue, it is clear that the political will and ownership of the region’s governments is the key here. Concrete action on reducing poverty and marginalization of certain groups as well as empowering women and youth will help to achieve sustainable peace in the region.