Italy is committed to fighting terrorism in Africa's Sahel through its role in peace missions to Mali and Niger. But upholding human rights and fostering good governance are key to long-term peace and stability in the region, deputy foreign minister Emanuela Del Re said on Tuesday.
"We will keep up our capacity-building efforts in the areas of counter-terrorism, the fight against trafficking and compliance with international humanitarian law through collaboration between our police and the security forces of the G5 Sahel," Del Re stated.
Del Re was addressing by video-link a G5 Sahel summit on confidence-building between local populations and security forces in the region, organised by current G5 Sahel president Mauritania.
The "needs and expectations" of civilians in the Sahel should be placed at the centre of international action in the region, where Italy will remain at the front-line in supporting local security forces, Del Re underlined.
"Countering the influence of jihadist groups does not only occur through the use of force. Above all it involves promoting an alternative and more effective model of governance and the spread of a culture of human rights," Del Re said.
Through the UN Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Italy has already had "a major role" in assisting the G5 Sahel Joint Force (a security force set up in 2017 by Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger), Del Re recalled.
Italy takes part in the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the European Union's CSDP (common security and defence policy) missions to the region.
It also has up to 470 troops deployed in a bilateral military training and anti-trafficking mission in Niger.