Brussels, 7 July 2023 (TDI): The Council of Ministers of Belgium officially approved the Integrated Strategy for the Sahel Region on Friday, July 7, following a proposal by Ministers Dedonder, Lahbib, and Gennez.

This strategy reinforces Belgium’s commitment to prioritize the Sahel region and mobilize all its foreign policy actors, including Defense, Foreign Affairs, Development Cooperation, and the Egmont Institute.

The Sahel Strategy, developed through an inclusive consultative process, underscores Belgium’s comprehensive approach. It emphasizes the coordination and harmonization of actions among all involved actors.

In line with this approach, Belgian non-governmental organizations operating in the region were consulted to ascertain their priorities.

The Strategy represents a shared vision aimed at promoting a secure and stable European neighborhood, human security, the defense of human rights, the rule of law, good governance, economic security, and sustainable prosperity.

It also focuses on maintaining a supportive and reliable partnership in the Sahel.

These five objectives are at the core of the Strategy and closely aligned with Belgium’s National Security Strategy.

Given the close relationship between Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad) and their neighboring countries, including coastal states of the Gulf of Guinea and the Maghreb countries, the Sahel Region is defined broadly, in accordance with concepts developed by the European Union, the United Nations, and the African Union.

The implementation of this strategy will adhere to key principles, including a comprehensive approach that goes beyond the traditional “Defense-Diplomacy-Development” framework, continuous and joint risk and context analysis, a focus on sustainability and local ownership, and conflict sensitivity.

Additionally, attention to local partners is crucial to ensure the effectiveness and relevance of Belgium’s actions in the Sahel.

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Belgium’s national strategy also aims to support the European Union’s Integrated Strategy for the Sahel while aligning with the objectives outlined in the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Minister of Defense Ludivine Dedonder highlighted the coordination among Defense, Foreign Affairs, and Development Cooperation to implement the comprehensive approach.

Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib emphasized the Strategy’s comprehensive approach, addressing the interconnectedness of climate, security, and peace.

Moreover, diplomacy, defense, and development will work together to provide effective responses to these challenges, aiming to prevent conflict, build peace, and enhance the resilience of local communities.

Development Cooperation Minister Caroline Gennez also highlighted the integration of security and development, emphasizing the interdependence between the two.