8442nd Security Council Meeting: Peace Consolidation in West Africa

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10-Jan-2019 01:35:36
Special Representative calls upcoming West Africa, Sahel elections ‘litmus test’ for consolidating democratic gains, in briefing to Security Council at 8442nd meeting.

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Ensuring full respect for human rights will be key for the success of several elections due to take place in 2019 in West Africa and the Sahel amidst a highly challenging security environment, the head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) told the Security Council today.

Mohamed ibn Chambas, who is also the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the region, said that for UNOWAS, preparing the ground for high-stakes elections in Nigeria, Senegal, Mauritania and Benin — through support for inclusive dialogue and national conflict prevention capacities — is a priority.

“The next cycle of elections in the region will be a litmus test for the consolidation of democratic gains,” he said, adding that ensuring an enabling environment for the full respect of human rights will be key for the success of those elections and for safeguarding stability.

“Through inclusive approaches predicated on national ownership, we must continue to work hard on addressing the governance deficits, the extreme poverty and lack of development that feed and sustain armed violence and extremism,” he said as he introduced the Secretary-General’s latest report on the Office’s work.

He reported progress since mid-2018 in the consolidation of democracy in the region, including elections in Mali, Mauritania, Togo and Côte d’Ivoire, despite Boko Haram attacks in the Lake Chad Basin, a state of emergency in much of Burkina Faso and extremist attacks and kidnappings in Niger, Benin and Togo.

Stressing the need for greater support to advance stabilization efforts in the Sahel, he urged Governments and partners to swiftly put much-needed medium- and long-term measures into place and to speedily disburse funds to respond to pressing needs on the ground.

In the ensuing debate, Council members echoed the Special Representative’s call for strengthened engagement by the international community to overcome security challenges while advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to address the root causes of conflict. Several also underscored the importance of greater inclusion of women and young people in leadership roles and political processes.

The representative of Côte d’Ivoire said that while political stability in the region is a positive development, efforts must continue, with a focus on forthcoming elections. He called on UNOWAS to continue to support the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) initiatives, crisis management and conflict‑prevention efforts. On terrorist threats, he appealed for financial and logistical support, particularly to the G-5 Sahel force and for enhanced coordination with forces present, including the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

The representative of Equatorial Guinea said that, in addition to insecurity and instability in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria, including indiscriminate attacks by Boko Haram, the region is witnessing conflicts between farmers and pastoralists. The humanitarian situation is another concern, she said, pointing to food insecurity and forced displacement in the Lake Chad Basin. She announced that her country, with Côte d’Ivoire, plans to lead a Council mission to West Africa during its turn at the Presidency in February.

The representative of France said that several alarming developments must urgently be addressed. While France is committed to combating terrorism through Operation Barkhane, the G-5 Sahel force and other regional efforts, more must be done to support the Multinational Joint Task Force that is confronting Boko Haram, she said. She also suggested a regional dialogue on climate change and environmental impact, through a lens of ensuring security and stability.

The representative of the United States, highlighting the need to focus on Mali, encouraged Council members to use all available tools to address those who obstruct progress on the implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in that country. He added that the United States is supporting Nigeria’s efforts to strengthen democratic institutions and processes. In that regard, he urged Nigerian stakeholders to work to ensure the holding of open and fair elections.

Also speaking today were representatives of Germany, Peru, Poland, China, United Kingdom, Kuwait, South Africa, Indonesia, Belgium, Russian Federation and the Dominican Republic.

The meeting began at 10:03 a.m. and ended at 11:40 a.m.

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