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Conferences - Friday, February 15, 2013

International Conference on the Sahel and Niger Addresses Security and Development

On February 15-16, 2013, Niamey will be the center of international efforts to address issues of development and security in the Sahel region as high-level representatives from the African Union, United Nations, European Union and regional governments join with experts to discuss the unfolding events. The conference will discuss the evolving situation, consider regional and international responses and will make recommendations to help overcome the challenges to cooperation. Among other issues, the participants will discuss the armed conflict currently waging in Mali and its impact on the region in a frank debate aimed at providing context and analysis to current events to inform future strategies.

H. E. Issoufou Mahamadou, President of Niger, will formally open the two-day conference at the capital’s conference center in presence of officials from Niger, along with high-level representatives from international and regional bodies, civilian and military experts in peace and security in the region, civil society organizations and the international media. Ahead of the conference President Mahamadou said “democracy and freedom are the best ingredients in preventing armed violence”, and warmly welcomed the participants to Niamey.

Taking place one month after the French led international military intervention in Mali, the conference will be attended by about 50 participants. They include Romano Prodi the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) to the Sahel, Pierre Buyoya, the High Representative of the African Union to Mali, and Ambassador Said Djinnit the SRSG to West Africa. Speakers and participants also include a number of prominent experts and specialists: Professor Andre Bourgeot CNRS, Paris, Wolfram Larcher (SWP, Berlin), Abdelmalek. Alaoui President of Global Intelligence Partners, John Temin (United States Institute of Peace -USIP), Landing Savane (Panafrican Institute of Strategy –Institut Panafricain de Stratégie –IPS-, Senegal), Ambassador J.D. Bieler Switzerland Special Envoy to the Sahel, Khalifa Sall Mayor of Dakar, Mehdi Taje a regional geostrategist, General Patrice Sartre, a representative from OIC, etc.

The conference will focus mainly on a spectrum of security issues, including economic development, national integration and regional cooperation. The recent nature of the crisis in the Sahel; the role of official and non-official external actors; the challenges to a strengthened cooperation, regional and international possible responses, and the basis for proposed strategies will also be discussed.

Niger Prime Minister Brigi Rafini will present the Niger Peace and Development Programme known as SDS Sahel-Niger and Senior Minister and Minister of Plan, Amadou Boubacar Cisse will lead the government working delegation. To that end he will be working in close cooperation with the conference organizers Youssef Mahmoud, senior advisor at the New York based International Peace Institute and Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, president of the Mauritania-based Centre4S.

The conference presents an opportunity for experts in the region to engage in a wide range of additional issues and questions in parallel to the main conference sessions, including how to support and strengthen stability in Niger and other Sahelian countries, the level of cooperation between the UN and ECOWAS in Mali; how to encourage political dialogue in Mali as a way to support military intervention; and whether a future UN peacekeeping Mission in Mali would replace and reinforce the present military mission.

The conference promises to be a timely opportunity to bring together strategists, policy makers and political advisors on the one of the most pressing issues of our time; security and development in the Sahel-Sahara.

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