PM outlines French support for Africa’s peace and security

Senegal – Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa – Speech by M. Edouard Philippe, Prime Minister (excerpt)

Dakar, 18 November 2019

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As soon as they can, jihadist groups will take advantage of our weaknesses, our lack of coordination and our shortcomings in terms of resources, commitments and training. We mustn’t give them any chance, any foothold.

This means constantly assessing the effectiveness of our mechanisms, by testing them against the world as it is and then drawing the right conclusions. I see at least three.

The first is that the dangerous world we’re living in creates a shared destiny for us:

This shared destiny is long-standing. We had the opportunity to commemorate it last week, during the celebrations of the First World War Armistice, by paying tribute, as every year, to the soldiers who came to distant Europe to fight and die alongside the poilus [French infantrymen]. This shared destiny is fuelled by many economic and cultural exchanges. It’s fuelled by our respective communities and our dual nationals.

But this shared destiny is also what currently drives thousands of young people to flee war, poverty and a lack of prospects and risk their lives to reach Europe. We all know that this illusion of a better life often turns into a trap, and that the migration suffered by both the countries of origin and the reception countries represents a common failure. A failure that fuels fear, resentment and sometimes hatred. We also know we won’t resolve the issue in the long term by hiding behind seas or erecting walls.

The second conclusion is that only together will we be able to move forward. “No one can boast of getting by without others,” says a Malian proverb. Indeed, we need everyone’s commitment in order to move towards total stabilization.

From MINUSMA, which is contributing throughout Mali to political dialogue.

We need the EUTM, which supports and strengthens the operational effectiveness of the Malian forces.

We need the African Union’s commitment to UN operations, and I welcome its willingness to shoulder its responsibilities in African peacekeeping operations.

You see, in a world where unilateral “fait accompli” strategies seem to be on the rise, Africa has a lot to tell us about multilateralism, of which it provides many examples. Multilateralism isn’t always easy. But to paraphrase a famous quotation, it’s the “worst” – I put the term in inverted commas – system of conflict resolution, except for all the others. In other words, we don’t know of any better one in the long term.

The last lesson is that conventional armies, however courageous and numerous they may be, can never completely defeat the enemy we’re fighting. They can drive it back, neutralize it, but not make it disappear. Armies can do a lot. But they can’t heal the divisions that fuel inter-community clashes, or guarantee a society’s cohesion. Our strategy must therefore combine several aspects: a military aspect, of course, but also a diplomatic aspect, a development aid aspect and an aspect relating to economic and social prospects.

On the basis of this diagnosis, France, under the direction of the President, has committed itself:

First of all it’s committed its forces. Almost all the forces France has deployed in Africa are deployed alongside their African and European allies.

France is also supporting the strengthening of local security and defence forces, in particular national schools with a regional remit. I’m thinking of the recent [National] School of Cybersecurity in Dakar, and the Air Force School in Thiès, where Senegalese officers teach students from across the region. I’m also thinking of the International Counter-Terrorism Academy in Côte d’Ivoire, which hosted its first students this summer; and finally, the G5 Sahel Defence College, founded in Nouakchott in 2018.

These defence efforts are significant. They’re necessary. We’re giving ourselves the financial resources for them. But as I’ve said, they’re not enough. That’s why the President has pledged to bring our development aid to 0.55% of GNI by 2022. This will represent an outlay of €7 billion a year, of which Africa will be the first beneficiary. In 2020 we’ll submit an estimates bill to the French Parliament to set this commitment in stone. This development aspect naturally complements our military effort; the two are linked: countries need stability to develop. And economic, human and social development is a powerful stabilizing factor.

Part of the solution also lies in the commitment of our European partners. That’s the purpose of the initiative the President launched with the Biarritz Partnership. I’d like to return to three aspects of it that highlight how unprecedented it is.

The first is its Franco-German origin. The Partnership arose from what is, in a way, the glue or the engine of Europe. The idea for it was French, but it’s European in nature.

The second aspect is that all the partners are set to get involved in it. The Sahel countries of course, but also the coastal countries, from Côte d’Ivoire to Benin. Even if those countries are not directly confronted by the spread of the terrorist threat, they are part of the solution when it comes to combating it. So we must invite them to do this, in a spirit of reciprocal commitment between the countries of the region and the international partners.

Third aspect: the Partnership is embarking on an overhaul of the way we perceive security. It’s considering it in the broad sense, in a way, devoting special attention to domestic security forces and to strengthening the criminal justice system.

Let me add that the Partnership was conceived to work in a very fluid way, complementing the Sahel Alliance, which must remain focused on its goal: to support development in fragile or remote areas.

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe this sixth Dakar forum is a very good way of “answering the call of the world’s rebirth”, to paraphrase Léopold Sédar Senghor. A rebirth which, in my opinion, must involve a strengthening of multilateralism and the defence of peace and security here in Africa. It must also involve us being able collectively to offer everyone a future, and stop emigration being the sole and inevitable pathway. This future “rebirth of the world” requires Africa especially, its wisdom, its expertise, its youth, its entrepreneurs, its artists and of course its leaders. And this same Africa full of promise is gathered here in Dakar, to answer the call, and I’m absolutely delighted about it.

Thank you./.

Published on 04/02/2020

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