Peace Consolidation in West Africa - Security Council, 9238th Meeting

Preview Language:   Six Official
10-Jan-2023 01:36:32
As armed groups, coups d’état destabilize West Africa, Sahel, role of United Nations Regional Office key in consolidating democracy, speakers tell Security Council.

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(p)Armed groups and violent extremists are increasing their influence in West Africa and the Sahel while repeated coups d’état are destabilizing Governments, political experts from the region informed the Council today.nbsp;(/p)

(p)Giovanie Biha, Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and Officer-in-Charge of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report (document S/2022/1019), drew attention to millions of children in the region who have no access to education because ten thousand schools were shut down due to instability. nbsp;“Non-State groups are fighting among themselves for supremacy, pushing States to the margin and causing untold misery to millions of people who had to leave their communities to seek safety,” she said.(/p)

(p)Despite the many challenges facing the region, she added, it remains a land of immense opportunities. nbsp;Noting various upcoming elections, she said UNOWAS is working with national stakeholders to ensure a level playing field for democratic processes. nbsp;In Nigeria, it witnessed the signing of a landmark peace accord among political parties, while in Benin peaceful parliamentary elections were held just two days ago. nbsp;In Burkina Faso and Guinea, agreements have been reached on the lengths of the transitions. nbsp;Further, she added, UNOWAS has been working with the Office of the Special Coordinator for Development in the Sahel as well as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).(/p)

(p)The Council was also briefed by Omar Alieu Touray, President of the ECOWAS Commission, who highlighted the recent spate of military coups d’etat in the region, including in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso. nbsp;The Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Governments is committed to ensuring that all three member States can restore full constitutional order by 2024, he said.(/p)

(p)Noting that the Lake Chad Basin and Central Sahel have emerged as the epicentres and incubators of terrorism and violent extremism, he called on partners to stay engaged in the region as a whole, and the Sahel in particular. nbsp;The United Nations should enhance efforts to counter misinformation, promote intercommunal dialogue and engage actively in deradicalization and reintegration, he said.(/p)

(p)When the floor opened to Council members, many speakers expressed concern about the democratic backsliding in the region and praised the contributions of UNOWAS. nbsp;The representative of Ghana, also speaking for Gabon and Mozambique, highlighted UNOWAS’ role in consolidating democracy and stressed that its mandate, which is up for renewal, remains relevant. nbsp;He condemned all attempted coups and urged restoration of constitutional order in the countries concerned. Expressing worries over the widespread insecurity in the Sahel, he underscored the need for adequate, predictable and sustainable funding for regional security initiatives. nbsp;He also pointed to the link between insecurity and climate change, which has resulted in increasing inter-community clashes.(/p)

(p)The United Arab Emirates’ delegate also called on the Council to place the issue of climate change at the front and centre of its approach to the region. nbsp;Fifteen per cent of the region’s population suffers from food insecurity resulting from the impacts of climate change and droughts, she said, encouraging UNOWAS to continue to enhance youth participation in providing innovative solutions to adapt to climate change. nbsp;It is vital to find inclusive solutions to prevent the region from drifting deeper into fragmentation and instability, she said.(/p)

(p)“Instability in the Sahel is a security problem with democratic governance solutions,” the representative of the United States said, also expressing concern about the criminal Wagner Group’s interference in African countries’ internal affairs. nbsp;He also noted that violent extremism is now spreading into coastal Africa. nbsp;Applauding UNOWAS’s efforts to support democratic processes and advise transitional Governments, he expressed support for the renewal of UNOWAS’ mandate.(/p)

(p)China’s delegate pointed to the inseparable connection between security and development, calling on developed countries to increase their financial contributions. nbsp;Some have adopted irresponsible trade policies that have negatively affected the regional economies, he said, also underscoring the need to build a collective security shield and calling on the international community to ensure financial, intelligence and logistical support for frontline countries.(/p)

(p)The Russian Federation, that country’s delegate said, is providing Mali with assistance in the wake of the withdrawal of the counter-terrorist operation from that country. nbsp;Rejecting declarations that Moscow is pillaging the resources of Africa, she said the continent’s leaders have the right to make the choice as to who they wish to cooperate with. nbsp;Expressing concern over the increasing terrorist threats, organized crime and drug trafficking, she welcomed the efforts of ECOWAS in political mediation.(/p)

(p)Also speaking today were Switzerland, Albania, France, Ecuador, Malta, Brazil, United Kingdom and Japan.(/p)

(p)The meeting began at 10:03 a.m. and ended at 11:39 a.m.(/p)
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