President Issoufou: “The lack of international commitment in the Sahel is incomprehensible” en sub

Mr. President first of all, we are very happy to have you here At this 17th edition of the Rhodes Forum. Thank you very much for being here. Just yesterday during your intervention in the forum you have talked about the dysfunction
of the present global governance system and of course, we’ve talked
about the Libya intervention. Your country Niger, which is close to Libya, is therefore among those deeply
concerned about the situation. However, you were not consulted
and you were not heard. How could you explain that? Well, madame, I would like to take
the opportunity of your question to deeply thank the people responsible for the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute,
because you invited me to this 17th forum, which is very important, taking into account different challenges that our world has to tackle these days. These challenges really need more
multilateralism and of course we must be more effective.
We need a profound reform of different institutions. The actual ones that are undertaking
global governance, political and financial worldwide. The example that you have given
demonstrates that there is something that doesn’t work well
in the functioning of the institutions. For instance, the intervention in Libya
has been done without us being asked. Today we have to tackle
the consequences of this intervention the Security Council has taken the decision.
This leads us to say that now, more than ever,
the reform of this institution is necessary. Moreover, the world has talked of many different challenges. There has been much fuss about the famous return to the arms race.
There is the climate change that poses huge problems to humanity and poverty.
The global rise of inequalities and poverty. And then there is the migration issue which is increasing in a spectacular way. All these mean that the international community should imagine another type of governance
to tackle the different challenges that humanity has to face. When you’re talking about the necessity of reforms at the level of institutions, Internationally, do you believe that this should be done
at the Secu rity Council level? Well yes, the Security Council
of the UN has to be reformed, we have a particular African position
on the matter which we call the consensus of 2010 which suggests
that Africa should be represented, because Africa is a very big continent.
To imagine the size of Africa, you can include in Africa China, the US, Japan.
In the African continent, you can also include size-wise any other country, many countries.
This in regards to the size of the African continent.
Regarding the demographics, Africa has a more and more important
role to play, financially speaking. So this means that there must be a balance representation-wise, of our continent at the level of the security Council, and the Africans
do suggest that we can have two permanent members of the Security Council and five non-permanent members. But it isn’t just the reform of
Security Council which we need. We must reform the General Assembly of the UN. We must also reform the financial institutions that manage the international economy, for instance the Social Economic Council which is within the UN, but also this goes for the different institutions like the WTO, the World Bank, or the IMF. If we could elaborate a bit on Libya,
you underline the necessity to restore order before elections or
before anything else happens there. How can we bring back order? Well, effectively today we can see
a total absence of the state in Libya. Libya is no longer controlled, Libya is divided by different types of militia. So our top priority is to restore the state. Restore the order, and then we might examine some other options for instance, elections. How could we do that?
I think that Africa has a huge expertise. This expertise has been showcased
throughout the crisis in Sudan which was quite recent, and there
we managed to bring to the table the different political parties
of Sudan in conflict to establish a National Union Government.
We can try, based on this type of experience, to find one solution at the level of different parties in Libya so that we can forge
a government of transition that could allow us to restore the state and then, later organise elections.
That is why we have proposed to the UN to send a joint special correspondent between
the African Union and the UN for Libya. Well, what is the fate of this proposition? Well, this proposition has been made by the UN, and it has been approved at the level of the G7 that recently met in Biarritz in France. In the framework of the
General Assembly of September as well this question was mentioned. I think that the fate of that would be good. Well now I would like to talk about
security and terrorism in the Sahel region.
You have criticised the absence of the international community when it comes to
the management of these questions. What is your proposition when it comes to that? Now, when it comes to the terror threats and the different crime organisations, I would like to say that these threats have been amplified now as a result of the Libyan crisis and the international community is responsible for the amplification of these threats,
but vis-a-vis these threats, in the Sahel, we believe that
we are not adequately supported. We don’t feel the solidarity of the
international community for our people in the face of these threats and have therefore proposed a better engagement of the
international community in the fight against terrorism and organised crime.
What do we mean by this. This means, that the
international community must support the joint forces that we have established
at the level of the G5 of Sahel which comprises Mauritania, Mali, Burkina, Niger and Chad. We believe that this force should be under the Chapter Seven of the UN charter. This is a demand that we have submitted a long time ago, and unfortunately
have not received a positive reply. This would be a form of solidarity that we are expecting from the inte rnational community. Moreover, we are waiting,
with regards to the stabilisation of Mali, for a mission of the UN
to keep peace in the north of Mali. The current objective, the current priority is not just to keep the peace, but to combat terrorism. We wish for a change of the mandate for this mission,
that instead of just being a classical mission of keeping the peace, for that to be an offensive will include the goal of combatting terrorism. This is another demand that we made of the international community that we have unfortunately not received
a positive response yet. We are very disappointed because what we are doing, we are doing for the world as a whole. Security is not just about us. We want security for the whole world.
Security is a global asset. So, everybody should be involved in guaranteeing security for the entirety of the world. How do you explain this absence of awareness? When it comes to the international scene,
it’s something that doesn’t touch only upon the Sahel or Africa, but these issues have an impact on the entire world. This is a good question that I cannot answer.
I do not understand why, I do not understand the behaviour of the
international community in the face of the different threats facing the Sahel and also face the Chad basin or the rampant Boko Haram. Especially when we see that elsewhere
the international community was more reactive, for instance in Syria or Iraq there has been
a very strong coalition that has been established to fight ISIS, with all the necessary means and measures.
When I also see what has happened in Afghanistan since 2001/2002 there has been a strong coalition that was created there with many tools. When I see all that I wonder why do we have two different Politics? Why, on the one hand, is there a strong coalition,
while, on the other hand, in Sahel and in the Chad Basin, the international community doesn’t look into that issue. Unfortunately I cannot say why. Now, let me go back to the economy.
You have talked about the establishment of the free trade zone for the whole continent
which was launched operationally in July 2019. What are the real perspectives of this initiative for Africa? I think that Africa has very good perspectives. The rate of development economy-wise in Africa, relatively, is on the rise and
this is the case for many many years. Africa has an increasingly important demographic role. We have a bigger middle social class
which is very important. We have raw materials. We have minerals.
We have agricultural products. So, Africa has many important assets.
In order to exploit these assets Africa has established an agenda named Agenda 2063. Setting objectives every 10 years.
The first plan in the framework of this agenda is the plan 2013-2023 This includes many different projects and programs to make Africa progress so that there can be development for the whole continent. One of these projects is the Free trade zone
for the whole of Africa that you have mentioned which has entered
into force this last July And during the extraordinary meeting
of the African Union. This would allow us to have
a single market for Africa, for 1.2 billion consumers in 2030 1.7 billion consumers in 2050 which would be 5 billion by 2100, so it’s a very big market. It will be the biggest free trade market in the world. Currently, this project is not an isolated initiative, there are many other projects
In the framework of the this first project for the 10-year period. There is also a plan to develop infrastructure in Africa To facilitate exchange. We need road networks. We need energy, Telecom, we need railway.
Ports, airports etc. So we have this plan equally
that follows the free Trade zone. For this plan to not be in vain, Africans should have some Products to trade. That is why we have predicted a plan
of industrial development of Africa which is nowadays the most important
source of raw materials. We are exporting raw materials;
our objective is to export from now on finalised industrial products.
That is, to transform our raw materials into something tangible.
This plan aids industrialisation of Africa that would allow the African countries
to produce whatever they want to trade in the framework of the free trade zone.
Furthermore, we could export at a later stage outside Africa.
We have another plan for the agricultural development of Africa. Africans should be able to feed Africans.
Nowadays 60% of fertile lands are not exploited are in Africa. So we must exploit all this potential
cultivatable land. We have a vision for Africa.
Consequently, the project of the free trade zone is accompanied by many other minor plans, it is not an isolated project,
but these would allow Africa to take a step forward towards
economic and social progress. Mr. President, you have mentioned
Agriculture which brings me to the issue of climate change,
since this has had enormous consequences. Africa and the Sahel are particularly concerned. So it’s a question that is very important for you.
What are your commitments for that? Well you see, the climate is a major concern for the African people, and broadly speaking
for the people of the world. I think that, more and more,
Citizens of the world are becoming more aware of that.
They are aware of the necessity to find solutions so that we can stop the
degradation of our planet, because we don’t have another planet.
We don’t have a second planet that we can migrate to. So, we must do our best
to defend our planet Earth. We in the Sahel can see the consequences
of climate change, the increase of temperature. Since the 60s, for instance,
the temperature in the Sahel has increased by two degrees. The objective set
by the international community after the Paris agreement
is to limit the increase of temperature in relation to the
Industrial era by two degrees until the end of the century
But we are already experiencing this two degrees increase in the Sahel.
So by the end of the century, we risk of reaching 4 to
5 degrees Celsius more. This will have a huge impact on agriculture of course. Because we don’t have regular rains
in the Sahel, and of course There is alteration between
Droughts and inundation which Is not good for agriculture.
There is also the erosion of lands taking place, as well as the continued desertification.
For instance, a country like Niger loses 100 thousand hectares of fertile land
every year, land which is to be cultivated, which has an impact on
Agriculture and on Agricultural production,
and thus on provision of food. When it comes to the population, I can give
another example: that of the Chad Lake. The Chad lake has
a huge area of 25.000 km2 in the 60s, and these days it has reduced to 2.500 km2, it has lost 90% of its area.
This means less water, but also less agriculture Less fish, less livestock breeding
for the population who live off the Lake Chad. These people become
easy victims for terrorism and that is why we have undertaken initiatives to fight
these issues in the region of the Chad lake basin. So we see a correlation
between the climate change and poverty, Which has been showcased
through agriculture. There is another correlation, even if
It’s an indirect one, between climate change and terrorism. Mr. President, this is your first time participating at the Rhodes Forum,
what made you accept the invitation? And what are your impressions? First of all, I am very happy to be here at this forum. I have been following the forum for many years. I have friends who
have given me much information about the work done at the Dialogue of Civilizations
Research Institute, the objective of which is to invite people to talk to each other, continents to talk to each other, countries to talk to each other. We have a saying in our country that says:
“The home that does not speak, dies.” The world today is a home, a global village,
so the different countries Become neighbourhoods in the same village We have to talk to each other and I believe
That the institute plays an extremely important role in that.
That is to come together and seek common values,
common civilisations, to bring people together, and that is why I was deeply touched
by this objective. The objective is very noble. That is why I said yes to the invitation
addressed to me, to participate in this forum, And I was not wrong.
Here I have met people of big values. I have met people of big vision,
who are quite ambitious for the world, for the people of the world, without
any distinction, without bias. This is admirable, and I believe that
this is the future, this is how to prepare humanity, to prepare
a more humane world, a more just world. This is our dream,
and this dream is shared by the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute. Mr. President, I thank you again for your presence at this Forum,
and for your time for this interview. Thank you Madam.

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