25/03/2004
Press Release
SC/8037



Security Council                                           

4933rd Meeting (AM)*                                        


SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS FOR REGIONAL APPROACH IN WEST AFRICA TO ADDRESS


SUCH CROSS-BORDER ISSUES AS CHILD SOLDIERS, MERCENARIES, SMALL ARMS


The Security Council this morning, emphasizing the importance of addressing continuing destabilizing factors in West Africa through a regional framework, called on States in the region to take a number of measures to address such cross-border issues as child soldiers, mercenaries and illegal arms trafficking.


In a statement read out by its President, Pierre-Andre Wiltzer, France’s Minister for Cooperation and La Francophonie, the Council recognized that the complex crises and conflicts in the region required a comprehensive approach.  Further, it took note of the Secretary-General’s report of 12 March and its recommendations to address cross-border issues within the context of a regional approach.  The Council believed action on the report should be taken as part of a wider strategy of conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict stabilization in the subregion.


Presenting his report, the first devoted specifically to cross-border problems in the subregion, Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged a coordinated approach to tackling the problems in West Africa and called his recommendations practical.  They had been grouped not in order of priority, but rather broad thematic headings such as security sector reform, disarmament, extortion, “naming and shaming” and the proliferation of small arms.  They were not a “shopping list” for donors, but rather a call to action, he stressed.


“The overarching theme is that, if we want the region’s problems to be dealt with in an effective and sustainable manner, these recommendations cannot be carried out solely on a country-by-country basis”, he stated.  Their implementation required a multifaceted, regional approach.  At the same time, certain issues such as small-arms proliferation, natural resources exploitation and the use of child soldiers and mercenaries, had a particularly strong bearing on security and stability, without which no other progress would be possible.


The root causes of the region’s problems and, indeed, the conflicts that spawned or exacerbated them were beyond the report’s scope, he stated.  But those root causes were linked above all to questions of governance, human rights and transparency.  Regrettably, such abuses were all too prevalent in the region.  Until they were addressed with real resolve, whatever inroads made in handling cross-border problems would remain temporary, and fragile at best.


Nana Adkufo-Addo, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ghana and Chairman of the Mediation and Security Council of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), said the security situation in West Africa today engendered cautious optimism, while also justifying concern.  There had been commendable progress, such as the ending of Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war and the holding of successful elections there in May 2002, but continuing instability in other parts of the region threatened the peace of the area.


In adopting the “Declaration on a subregional approach to peace and security” at a meeting in Abuja on 28 May 2003, he said ECOWAS leaders had reaffirmed their determination to strengthen peace and stability in West Africa, as well as the importance of a concerted regional approach.  They also adopted several key instruments to govern their conduct, such as the light weapons moratorium and a code of conduct for its implementation, as well as a protocol relating to the mechanism for conflict prevention, management, resolution, peacekeeping and security.


During the discussion, speakers endorsed the Secretary-General’s recommendations.  Among other things, delegations were pleased to observe the trend towards greater coordination among United Nations activities in the region, and supported the Secretary-General’s proposal to hold regular meetings among peacekeeping missions and political offices of the United Nations in West Africa.  It was hoped that that would lead to synergy and greater cost-efficiency.


Also, to combat the illegal trafficking of small arms and light weapons, referred to as “the real weapons of mass destruction”, several speakers encouraged West African leaders to consider transforming the Moratorium on Importation, Exportation and Manufacture of Small Arms, set to expire later this year, into a legally-binding instrument.


In addition, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) was a major challenge with clear subregional consequences, it was stated.  A comprehensive approach was deemed best in dealing with that issue, including paying special attention to the reintegration of ex-combatants.


Also encouraged were joint border patrols between the countries of the Mano River Union, closer cooperation between United Nations missions in West Africa, and continuing the practice of “naming and shaming” those who used child soldiers and mercenaries.  Publicly identifying those who recruit children or mercenaries or who violated arms embargoes, it was stated, could be a powerful tool in achieving compliance with embargoes and relevant Council resolutions.


Also addressing the meeting were Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Executive Secretary of ECOWAS; Jan Egeland, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator; and Zephirin Diabre, Associate Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).


Statements were also made by the representatives of Brazil, Spain, Benin, Philippines, Germany, United Kingdom, China, Angola, Pakistan, Russian Federation, United States, Algeria, Romania, Chile, France, Ireland (on behalf of the European Union) and Japan.


The meeting, which began at 10:12 a.m., adjourned at 1:35 p.m.


Background


The Security Council met this morning to hold a public meeting on West Africa, for which it had before it the Secretary-General’s report on ways to combat subregional and cross-border problems in West Africa(document S/2004/200).


According to the report, the increasing use and proliferation of mercenaries, child soldiers and small arms account for much of the instability in the West African subregion.  Among the other serious cross-border problems are the culture of impunity, the spread of HIV/AIDS, mass refugee movements and other forced displacement, inequitable and illicit exploitation of natural resources, and violations of human rights.  These cross-border problems are related to one another and are exacerbated, especially, by the poor governance record in many parts of West Africa.  None of them can be solved at the national level alone, but rather require a regional approach.


As requested in the Council’s presidential statement, adopted on 25 July 2003, practical and concrete recommendations have been prepared following extensive consultations conducted by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, within the United Nations system and among subregional organizations, especially the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and leading representatives of West African civil society organizations.


The recommendations laid out in the present report are grouped under the following 12 broad headings:  improving United Nations harmonization; ratification and observance of existing conventions; collaboration in the Mano River Union area; strengthening the ECOWAS secretariat; strengthening and implementing the ECOWAS Moratorium; supporting national commissions; disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes; security sector reform; reducing extortion at roadblocks within and between countries; strengthening civil society participation and awareness-raising; “naming and shaming”; and small arms exporters and private security companies.


If the regional and international community is serious about addressing the scourges afflicting parts of West Africa, what is required is not merely political and financial commitment on the part of governments but a wholesale reform of governance.  Preventing abuse by State and non-State actors and ensuring respect for the rights and security of the peoples living in all parts of the region must be central to any strategy to ensure stability and development in West Africa.


Issues relating to improved governance in West Africa, including human rights and transparency, are in the first instance the responsibility of national governments.  The regional and international community should help, however, not only by providing targeted assistance in those areas and ensuring that international standards are respected, but also by responding at an earlier stage to governance and humanitarian crises, rather than staying silent until a foreseeable military takeover or an explosion of inter-communal violence has occurred.


The international community should also maintain a significant and robust presence in post-conflict countries to prevent regression into conflict and to promote the consolidation of good governance and national ownership of the peace-building processes.  The Secretary-General hopes that the Council will bear this in mind when considering the mandates of United Nations peace operations in this troubled region.


Statements


KOFI ANNAN, Secretary-General, noted that ECOWAS had recently taken important initiatives to tackle the serious challenges to peace and security faced by the people of West Africa.  Those initiatives had demonstrated the resolve of Africans to settle African problems, in cooperation with the international community.  Today’s meeting was another significant step in the Council’s efforts to promote a regional approach to those challenges, and another illustration of the good working relationship between the Council and ECOWASmemberStates.


The report before the Council, he said, was the first one devoted specifically to cross-border problems in the subregion.  Its recommendations were practical.  They had been grouped not in order of priority, but rather broad thematic headings such as security sector reform, disarmament, extortion, “naming and shaming” and the proliferation of small arms.  They were not a “shopping list” for donors, but rather a call to action.


As such, he continued, they were directed at a wide range of players, including the Security Council and other parts of the United Nations system, bilateral and multilateral development partners, the ECOWAS secretariat, individual Member States in West Africa, civil society organizations, and non-State actors, such as suppliers of small arms and light weapons.


“The overarching theme is that, if we want the region’s problems to be dealt with in an effective and sustainable manner, these recommendations cannot be carried out solely on a country-by-country basis”, he stated.  Their implementation required a multifaceted regional approach.  At the same time, it was clear that certain issues had a particularly strong bearing on security and stability, without which no other progress would be possible.  Special attention should, therefore, be paid to the proliferation of small arms, the illegal exploitation of natural resources, and the use of child soldiers and mercenaries, as well as to roadblocks that greatly impede the movement of persons and goods in the subregion.


With that in mind, he had asked his Special Representative for West Africa, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, to convene a meeting in the region in the near future to explore how best ECOWAS and the relevant United Nations entities could move ahead.  One important step forward had already been taken with the new arrangement whereby all the Secretary-General’s Special Representatives and Force Commanders in the subregion meet at regular intervals, under Mr. Ould-Abdallah’s chairmanship.


The root causes of the region’s problems and, indeed, the conflicts that spawned or exacerbated them were beyond the report’s scope, he stated.  But those root causes were linked above all to questions of governance, human rights and transparency.  Regrettably, such abuses were all too prevalent in the region.  Until they were addressed with real resolve, until there was a fundamental break with authoritarianism and the culture of violence, exclusion and impunity, he feared that whatever inroads were made in handling cross-border problems would remain just that -- temporary inroads, and fragile at best.


Therefore, he urged the governments of the region to build on the gains they had recently made, and establish solidly democratic institutions and effective regional organizations.  West Africa was blessed with a vibrant civil society that had wide-ranging experience in conflict prevention, peace-building and development.  States must draw on that experience in addressing their problems.  He also urged the international community to respond with all possible assistance, including politically.  For its part, the United Nations would continue its efforts to work better as a team to support the wishes of the region’s people, and to strengthen cooperation with ECOWAS in pursuit of the shared goals of peace, stability and development.


NANA ADKUFO-ADDO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ghana and Chairman of the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council, thanked the Council for the continuous efforts it had been making to find long-lasting solutions to the myriad problems that had “rocked” West Africa and undermined peace, security, and development there for the past two decades.  The timeliness of this special session could not be over-emphasized, given the precarious security situation in the subregion, which, until recently, had been one of the most volatile and conflict-prone areas in the world.


He said that the security situation in West Africa today engendered cautious optimism while also justifying concern.  There had been commendable progress, such as the ending of Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war and the holding of successful elections there in May 2002, as well as in other countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, Benin, Mali and Senegal, but continuing instability in other parts of the region threatened the peace of the area.  Conflict and misery in one State tended to spill over into the territories of its neighbours.  The spillover of instability in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau and, lately, Côte d’Ivoire, was of major concern to the regional leaders.


Political turmoil, civil conflicts and their potential for the rapid spread of instability within the region had underlined the need for the development of a comprehensive approach that would focus, through a range of activities, on addressing the many interlinked root causes of those problems, he said.  That understanding led to the adoption of a “Declaration on a subregional approach to peace and security” by the heads of State and government of member States at a meeting in Abuja on 28 May 2003.  Among its terms, the ECOWAS leaders reaffirmed their determination to strengthen peace and stability in West Africa, as well as the importance of a concerted regional approach.  They also adopted several key instruments to govern their conduct, such as the light weapons moratorium and a code of conduct for its implementation, as well as a protocol relating to the mechanism for conflict prevention, management, peacekeeping and security.


He said that, without wishing to sound “the least churlish”, it was, nonetheless, somewhat disheartening to note that the United Nations Office in West Africa seemed to have consulted more with non-governmental organizations and civil groups than with Member States or the ECOWAS secretariat.  Relations between Liberia and the other members of the Mano River Union, namely Guinea and Sierra Leone, had been “very poor”, owing to suspicion and mistrust.  With the war over in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and democracy gradually being restored, ECOWAS was hopeful that the persistent suspicions between the leaders would be “a thing of the past”.


He lauded the Secretary-General’s recommendations of joint security patrols and common-border management.  As the borders were porous, any breach of the peace in a neighbouring country would open the uncontrollable floodgates of people and arms into other countries.  The ECOWAS, therefore, believed that the best solution was to find a way of restoring peace to the entire region.  Thus, it strongly recommended consideration of how to bring permanent peace to the countries of the Mano River Union and Côte d’Ivoire.  For instance, the drawdown of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) should continue to take into account that Government’s ability to assume its primary responsibility for the nation’s overall security, to enhance control of its natural resources, and to consolidate civil administration.


In the context of the regional approach to peace and stability, it was vital that UNAMSIL continue to monitor the movement of armed elements along Liberia’s borders, in order to prevent incursions at a time when the Mission had launched that country’s “disarmament, demobilization and reintegration” programme, he said.  There was heightened expectation among Liberians that a successful disarmament would be carried out, but the lingering doubt could be assuaged by the wholehearted commitment of the leaders of the neighbouring countries of
Côte d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone and Guinea.  The Security Council, for its part, should recognize the importance of the linkage between establishing peace in Liberia and consolidating stability in Sierra Leone and the Mano River Union subregion.


He said it was worrying to note the reported disturbances in Abidjan,
Côte d’Ivoire
yesterday.  He re-emphasized that the people of that country dearly wanted peace.  He appealed to the Council to expedite action on the establishment of the United Nations Operations in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI).  He also provided an inclusive review of specific efforts under way at the regional and subregional levels to consolidate peace and prevent recurrent of conflict.  Achieving lasting peace in the region was the most serious challenge to be met, in order to ensure integration and development.  The ECOWAS was confident that it could rely on the unflinching support of the Security Council in its quest for lasting peace and stability in the region.


The people of West Africa continued to manifest their determination to participate in the global movement for the universal establishment of the values of democratic accountability, respect for human rights and the rule of law, he said.  They were also increasingly exacting the acceptance of those values from their leaders -- a new generation emerging to help build a new West Africa on modern and progressive principles.  They needed the Council’s support at such a difficult stage of development.  Ultimately, they would not let down the Council or the global community.


MOHAMED IBN CHAMBAS, Executive Secretary of ECOWAS, noted that today’s meeting was being held on the heels of a just-ended extraordinary summit of West African leaders with the President of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, in Accra, Ghana, on 20 March.  The meeting was devoted to looking at the challenges of development and integration and New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) implementation in West Africa.  It came to the conclusion that the political and socio-economic instabilities in West Africa had been disruptive of the development process and discouraged long-term investment.  The Summit also recognized the importance of a regional approach to economic development.


He fully shared the conclusions reached in the Secretary-General’s report that cross-border problems could not be solved at the national level alone, but rather required a regional approach.  The menace posed by the upsurge in the use of mercenaries, child soldiers, and the illicit proliferation of small arms in West Africa could no longer be overlooked.


Since the late 1980s, ECOWAS had been grappling with the challenges of conflicts and development in West Africa, he said.  Last year, during the ministerial Security Council meeting of 18 March on “Proliferation of small arms and light weapons, and the phenomenon of mercenaries:  threats to peace and security in West Africa”, ECOWAS made the same point regarding the nexus between instability and the poor economic performance in West Africa, when it stated that there was an inextricable link between development and peace and stability.  Thus, ECOWAS continued to play an increasing role in conflict prevention and management in attempting to create the enabling environment to build the peaceful and stable conditions for sustainable development.


The ECOWAS, he said, was very much concerned about the threat posed by cross-border problems and transnational criminal activities.  In view of the enormous challenges posed by those issues, various capacity-building initiatives had been stepped up to strengthen and enhance the skills of its staff at the secretariat to deal with them.  Thanks to the support of bilateral donors and partners, concrete moves were under way to operationalize the ECOWAS Early Warning System for conflict prevention.


He said West African leaders had renewed their commitment to the Moratorium on Importation, Exportation and Manufacture of Small Arms and tasked the ECOWAS secretariat to take the necessary measures for the full implementation of the plan of action.  In line with that, the secretariat, together with Canada, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom convened a conference in Abuja on “Combating Small Arms Brokering and Trafficking” from 22 to 24 March to explore appropriate strategies to address the dangers posed by the illicit trade in small arms that had become West Africa’s “weapons of mass destruction”.  What was now required was the political will of West African leaders and the support of the international community to transform the moratorium into a convention, in order to make headway in combating that scourge.


The successful disarmament, demobilization, resettlement and reintegration (DDRR) processes in Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire would be critical to addressing the daunting task of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in West Africa, he said.  The suggestion that the DDRR programmes in Mano River Union countries, including Côte d’Ivoire, should be tackled and coordinated regionally ought to be given great consideration.  Collaboration and coordination between the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), the United Nations Mission in Côte d’Ivoire (MINUCI), the UNOWA and ECOWAS could be a great asset to the endeavour to rid the ManoRiver basin of illicit arms, mercenaries, and transnational drug and diamond traffickers and armed marauders.


Of no less importance were the problems of extortions at roadblocks within and between member countries of ECOWAS; child trafficking for domestic and plantation labour, as well as human trafficking for commercial sex purposes; the HIV/AIDS pandemic that was ravaging their communities and workforce; and the dire need for reforms in the security sector.  Those ills could not be adequately confronted without adequate collaboration with civil society.


There were clear indications that the West African civil society was mobilizing and organizing and ECOWAS had provided a space in which that could take place.  There was no doubt that the “naming and shaming” strategy could best be performed with the help of civil society, known for their frank and “undiplomatic” style.


JAN EGELAND, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said that too many communities in the subregion remained in a “crisis of protection”.  While open conflict had now been contained, the violation and direct targeting of civilians continued.  Brutal killings, rape and sexual abuses, as well as harassment of civilians by State and non-State actors had become the norm.  Those acts affected women and children particularly.  Moreover, the general deterioration of infrastructure and basic social services in the subregion had increased the vulnerability of affected populations and the level of investment needed to resettle displaced persons and returnees when conditions permitted.


In Côte d’Ivoire, he said, the humanitarian situation continued to deteriorate due to the cumulative effects of massive displacements, depletion of food stocks, lack of access to land, and the collapse of social services.  Protection issues ranged from inter-ethnic conflicts to rampant sexual abuses.  Even in Liberia, where the United Nations Mission had improved overall security, the humanitarian needs remained great.  More than 300,000 people were still internally displaced to urban areas.  Due to continued insecurity in some parts of the country and the onset of the rainy season, the majority of them would not be able to return to their places of origin before the end of the year.


Guinea, he said, which had a long tradition of offering asylum to refugees in the subregion, was facing considerable humanitarian challenges, particularly in the Guinea Forestiere area, which had become a subregional crossroad for refugees and transiting third country nations.  Guinea hosted more than 100,000 refugees, while more than 100,000 Guineans had returned from Côte d’Ivoire.  Other countries in the subregion, such as Mali and Burkina Faso, suffered from the spillover effects of those conflicts.  For example, more than 340,000 people had returned to Burkina Faso from Côte d’Ivoire over the past year alone.  The capacity of the local communities to receive those massive population movements was extremely limited.


He said that over the past nine months the Council had been briefed on the work of the Joint Humanitarian Review for West Africa.  In response to the conclusion of the humanitarian community that the Mano River Union and Côte d’Ivoire were suffering from a protection crisis and a crisis in humanitarian response, a regional Strategy and Plan of Action had been devised in July 2003, together with all regional stakeholders.  Much progress had been made in recent months to implement it, including through the establishment of a regional protection network and the co-location of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) regional office and the United Nations Office in West Africa.  In addition, several United Nations Agencies had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with ECOWAS to build a strong partnership with its newly formed Department of Humanitarian Affairs.


While the humanitarian community in West Africa had worked tirelessly to address those enormous needs, four areas required urgent attention to support their efforts meaningfully:  the Security Council’s willingness and ability to take additional measures to stop the abuse and protect civilians; the forging of closer links at the regional level between humanitarian, political and economic actors to better coordinate and implement disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes; redressing the unequal funding among countries and humanitarian sectors; and the elaboration of a much more comprehensive approach, rather than “quick fixes”, which addressed the underlying root causes.


ZEPHIRIN DIABRE, Associate Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said that the UNDP addressed the development dimension of crisis and conflict “up front” by mainstreaming prevention and peace-building in its development work.  To address the challenges of peace and security in West Africa, the Programme had developed a Regional Strategy for West Africa based on an integrated regional development approach.


He said that key elements of the strategy were:  establishing greater coherence between the United Nations’ overall objectives and the UNDP’s conflict prevention and peace-building activities in the subregion, with targeted support to the United Nations Office in West Africa (UNOWA); mainstreaming conflict prevention and peace-building throughout the UNDP’s development work in West Africa; strengthening the capacities and interaction with ECOWAS; and complementing regional activities in the area of human security, such as small-arms control initiatives in Ghana, Mali, Niger and Sierra Leone.


In addition to the West Africa Strategy, the UNDP had also developed several initiatives to address the specific problems related to cross-border issues, he said.  Those included:  support to DDR programmes; support to ECOWAS through the secondment of a civil society and peace specialist and of an adviser to be posted within the UNDP Nigeria Office to serve as a main liaison with the ECOWAS Secretariat; small-arms programmes in Sierra Leone and the Mano River Union, Ghana and Niger; and the proposed Greater Guinea Forestiere Project, which was a subregional initiative involving Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire.  The UNDP also had specific country-level support to Guinea Bissau, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.


He said that re-establishing peace and security in West Africa, and consequently fostering economic development and poverty reduction required the support of all development partners.  Concrete support to regional institutions was critical if those organizations were to achieve sustainable results.  Adopting a holistic approach that closely linked peace-building and development was essential if the international community was to succeed in combating the cross-border issues in West Africa.  New and innovative regional approaches to development, such as a subregional poverty-reduction strategy, could contribute to the common objectives.  The UNDP was committed to working in close collaboration with other relevant partners in the implementation of the recommendations of the Secretary-General.


RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil) said he fully supported the recommendations of the Secretary-General and his Special Representative for West Africa.  The Council should endorse concerted action among United Nations political and peacekeeping missions and agencies.  Common-border management and strengthening of arms control institutions were some of the urgently needed initiatives.  With the support of the international community, ECOWAS had a fundamental role to play in strengthening the 1998 moratorium on small arms in the region.  He also welcomed the Secretary-General’s recommendation for a meeting of defence ministers later this year, which should count on the full involvement of the African Union.


He said that the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries had also been actively engaged in promoting peace and stability in West Africa.  Together with ECOWAS it had provided its good offices in Guinea-Bissau after the events of September 2003, and it had worked with the parties to ensure a peaceful solution to the political crisis.  It was looking forward to the holding of parliamentary elections in Guinea-Bissau on 28 March and it was anticipating an orderly transition period in that country.


The development issue should be particularly stressed, he said.  Combating subregional and cross-border problems -- such as the use of child soldiers, the resort to mercenaries and the flows of refugees would not be successful in the long-term unless enough emphasis was placed on development.  A programme for sustained development had to be set up “pari passu” with DDR programmes.  It was not enough to create a stable security environment and hold national elections; the international community also had to support government efforts to consolidate peace and promote national recovery, properly tackling the root cause of conflict.  Otherwise, the achievements reached would remain fragile and even elusive. 


ANA MARÍA MENENDEZ (Spain) said that she was pleased with the analysis of the main challenges faced by the region and with the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General’s report.  She was also pleased to observe the trend towards greater coordination among United Nations activities in the region and supported the Secretary-General’s proposal to hold regular meetings among peacekeeping missions and political offices of the United Nations in the region.  It was necessary to actively promote the participation of representatives of ECOWAS and civil society in those meetings.  Also, the Mano River Union played a special role and its revitalization would be beneficial for building confidence and lead to the establishment of concrete initiatives.  The establishment of joint patrols along the borders of the Union’s member countries would improve the security situation.


As for the issue of small arms and light weapons, she supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation that ECOWAS member States consider the possibility of adopting a legally-binding instrument before the expiration of the moratorium later this year.  Also, the establishment of a regional ECOWAS registry, a ban on the activities of mercenaries and the establishment of national commissions to carry out the moratorium were relevant recommendations that warranted serious study.  Further, security sector reform and DDR programmes were two key issues to achieve lasting peace in West Africa.  Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration was a major challenge and had clear subregional consequences.  She supported a comprehensive approach in dealing with that issue, including paying special attention to the reintegration of ex-combatants.


JOËL W. ADECHI (Benin) said that the subregion was at a crossroads.  Three peacekeeping operations were presently deployed there.  That showed the extent to which the Security Council was concerned with the conflict in the subregion.  In managing crises there, factors of cross-border instability had been revealed.  In considering the scope of those phenomena, it was clear that they were threatening efforts being made to return West Africa to peace and security.  The Secretary-General’s report contained several relevant recommendations on the essential matters dealing with three cross-border problems, namely small-arms proliferation, the phenomenon of child soldiers and mercenaries, and DDR.


He said that the report had quite correctly stipulated that cross-border problems were more symptomatic than causal in defining the reasons for conflict in the region.  While he was pleased that that question was being looked at subregionally, some of the causes also had a subregional impact.  Most of the countries in the subregion were least developed countries.  Focusing recommendations on symptoms, therefore, narrowed the possibility of making long-lasting reforms and achieving the goal of restoring peace in West Africa.  The proliferation of small arms and light weapons and their trafficking, as well as the presence of militia and civil armed groups, the illegal exploitation of natural resources, cross-border crime and trafficking, mercenaries and child soldiers were interlinked.


He said that all of those “plagues” could trace their origins to underdevelopment, or no development.  That was a link in the chain of de-structuring the social fabric of societies and of the inability of States to manage their internal affairs.  Those also revealed a loss of leadership and ownership by States, as well as of their inability to provide basic social services to their populations.  Those impoverished communities were now marginalized, and competition for scarce resources was becoming more bitter.  Particular attention must focus on those aspects in any future report on the subject, in order to draw a better link between peace and development.  He called for the implementation of a multidimensional strategy, in order to succeed where ad hoc or country-level actions had not.


LAURO L. BAJA (Philippines) said that recently the West African subregion had been a good example of what the United Nations could accomplish in close collaboration with regional organizations, most notably ECOWAS.  Peace and stability now, generally, pervaded the area, and the establishment of functioning governments was under way.  That was attributable to the synergy of actions undertaken by the Untied Nations and the regional organizations.  The timely deployment of peacekeeping operations, both by the regional groups and the United Nations, significantly accounted for the maintenance of stability in the subregion.


He said that the international community should seize the opportunity to build on the gains achieved thus far and pursue steps that would further enhance stability and peace in the region.  Towards that goal, he welcomed the Secretary-General’s recommendations.  As he had rightly pointed out, security sector reform lay at the heart of most cross-border regional problems.  On small-arms proliferation, the international community had undertaken several initiatives, including the convening last month of an open-ended working group of the General Assembly to negotiate an international instrument to enable States to identify and trace illicit small arms and light weapons.  He also congratulated ECOWAS on the establishment of a small arms unit, as well as its adoption of the small-arms moratorium.


Concerning DDR, the key recommendation to closely study the lessons of those programmes in Mali and Sierra Leone for their possible application in other West African areas merited the Council’s attention, he said.  Due emphasis should be placed on programmes for ex-combatant children, and the need to provide alternative forms of livelihood to ex-combatants should be an integral part of every DDR programme, without which the peace processes would remain fragile.  He also underscored the need for cooperation and the involvement of international institutions, such as the World Bank, in security sector reform.  He supported the adoption of “some sort of a road map” of initiatives to be undertaken by international and regional bodies to deal, in a practical and operational way, with cross-border issues.


GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany) focused on three of the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General’s report.  First, he strongly supported closer cooperation between United Nations missions in West Africa, which was starting to bear fruit.  He hoped it would lead to synergy and to greater cost-efficiency.  The recommendations in the report about cross-border operations of the United Nations peacekeeping missions in West Africa, including the ability for “hot pursuit”, were interesting ideas in that regard.  He was willing to consider incorporating such an approach in future mandates or in the adjustment of existing mandates based on proposals by the Secretariat, taking into account the legal challenges that cross-border operations presented.


Regarding illegal arms trafficking, he supported stricter national controls of arms exports and increased transparency in that area, including compliance with arms embargoes imposed by the Council, as well as regional embargoes.  The governments of small-arms-exporting countries should require their companies to better mark those weapons.  He called on all countries concerned to further strengthen and implement the moratorium, due to expire in October, and transform it into a legally-binding instrument.  In resolution 1467 (2003), the Council had called on ECOWAS member States to consider the establishment of a regional register of small arms and light weapons.  As a first step, member States might focus on records of light weapons, with a view to expanding the register to small arms at a later stage.


Turning to “naming and shaming”, he stated that publicly identifying those who recruited children or mercenaries or who violated arms embargoes could be a powerful tool in achieving compliance with embargoes and relevant Council resolutions.  The Secretary-General’s report indicated that that could be difficult in individual cases.  However, that should not stop the Council from continuing to use that instrument and to develop it further.  Such a policy had to be based on strong evidence, which, for example, existing expert panels could provide if they were well-staffed and well-equipped for the task.


EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom) said that West Africa should be a high priority for all.  Investments in individual countries risked being wasted if a collective, lasting solution was not found.  He welcomed the Secretary-General’s recommendations, for which a strategic approach was needed.  Conflict in West Africa was the result of long-standing, structural, macroeconomic and governance failure.  Mercenary activities, the proliferation of small arms, environmental degradation, and employment for youth were real problems, but those were also symptoms of a bigger failure.  Preventing further conflict required more than just addressing those -- a strategy was needed to deal with the underlying causes.


He said that such a strategy should build on existing initiatives, particularly those of ECOWAS, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and the African Union.  The Secretary-General’s recommendations should be implemented within that strategy, so that, instead of a series of initiatives, a coherent, integrated action plan was evolved.  Second in importance was the key role of regional organizations.  The United Nations alone, much less the Security Council, could not devise and implement a conflict prevention strategy.  That had to be a collective effort, with countries of the region taking the lead, supported by ECOWAS, the African Union, NEPAD, and the international community.


The European Union had recently made a joint mission to ECOWAS, with the United Nations, opening a political dialogue with heads of State to endorse a strategic approach to conflict prevention in West Africa.  On substance, he welcomed the declaration of ECOWAS on subregional peace and security, which had reaffirmed the importance of a regional approach to conflict prevention and resolution.  A more effective use of United Nations assets across the region was also needed.  The pressure on scarce peacekeeping resources was growing rapidly.  Those missions had to be stocked and justice had to be done to their mandates.  Sharing resources across missions and across borders risked confusing their mandates and disrupting lines of control.  Those potential difficulties should be overcome.


ZHANG YISHAN (China) said that the situations of West African countries were deeply interconnected.  As it was pointed out, the illegal trafficking of small arms and the use of child soldiers and mercenaries were on the increase.  They not only exacerbated tensions in the countries concerned, but negatively affected development in the entire region and ran counter to the aspirations of the countries of the region.  In addition, they were not conducive to peace and stability in the region.  Those problems had gone beyond national boundaries.  Therefore, in settling them it was necessary to proceed from a regional perspective and adopt a regional strategy.  Efforts were needed in three areas.


First, the solution essentially depended on the efforts of the countries themselves.  He supported those countries in taking further measures to curb illegal arms trafficking and the use of child soldiers and mercenaries.  He encouraged all countries to develop good neighbourly relations.  Second, it was important to allow the regional organizations to play their role.  Recently, ECOWAS had made unremitting efforts to resolve conflicts in the region and had achieved positive results.  He hoped that ECOWAS would take cross-border issues as their next task and elaborate a regional DDR plan.  He also supported the Mano River Union to play its due role.  He called on the international community to provide financial assistance to ECOWAS.


Third, United Nations peacekeeping operations in the region should enhance their coordination and promote West African peace processes.  Recently, the Security Council had authorized peacekeeping operations in Sierra Leone, Liberia and other countries, contributing to peace in the region.  He hoped that all peacekeeping operations would enhance their cooperation and tackle cross-border issues together, which would contribute to stabilizing the situation in the region.  The Secretary-General’s recommendation on joint border patrols merited further study.


ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said the debate had helped to set the problems of West Africa in a comprehensive context.  The insightful address by the Secretary-General had provided a sound framework for a regional approach to addressing cross-border issues.  There was great value in the coordinating role of the United Nations.  The experience developed in West Africa might be useful in other subregions in Africa and beyond, where similar problems urgently required a regional approach.  The Secretary-General’s report was an important tool, to be used by governments, ECOWAS and the international community to tackle the main issues of common concern, especially those relating to small-arms trafficking.


In that regard, he said he fully agreed with the suggestion of his German colleague that small arms were the real weapons of mass destruction in the subregion and in Africa, in general.  Concerning the issues of child soldiers, mercenaries and the illegal exploitation of natural resources, the objectives of eradicating them could only be achieved if the countries of the region were fully involved in implementation of the relevant initiatives and assumed ownership of the solutions proposed in the Secretary-General’s report.


He said that, given the temporary nature of the UN missions, ways should be found for the gradual transfer of expertise and competence to more permanent mechanisms, such as the ECOWAS secretariat, in close coordination with UNOWA.  He had been pleased to note the clear definition of the respective roles and responsibilities of the United Nations.  It should also be borne in mind that some of the Secretary-General’s recommendations to be addressed by the governments of the region required technical and financial assistance, as well as radical regional reforms.


A successful strategy and the way forward would require the full involvement and leadership of regional governments and other actors, including non-governmental organizations, civil society groups, and the wider international community.  The ECOWAS had been in the forefront of subregional organizations, and it had spared no effort in dealing with the crises in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau and, more recently, Côte d’Ivoire.  Those crises had impeded the process of socio-economic integration in the region and had fuelled arms proliferation, the recruitment of child soldiers and mercenaries, and the illegal exploitation of natural resources.  Serious consideration should be given to strengthening existing mechanisms, such as the small-arms moratorium and the Mano River Union peace initiative.


MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) noted that the Secretary-General’s report had focused on three issues -- small arms, mercenaries and child soldiers.  However, as pointed out in the report, those were but a few of the numerous causes for instability in West Africa.  The recommendations contained in the report provided a useful framework for the Council’s efforts to redress the situation through a regional approach.  They merited close study and a number of them were reflected in the presidential statement to be adopted later in the meeting.


It was necessary to effectively utilize the peacekeeping operations deployed in the region, he stated.  They were an important tool in the hands of the Council to address the underlying problems, including cross-border issues.  Their deployment, renewal and drawdown should be carefully considered, keeping in mind their specific context.  To support a regional approach, it was necessary to be cognizant of two requirements -- a participatory process and the capacity to implement it.  Better implementation could be achieved if the countries of the region were fully engaged in the process.  The Council should also be mindful of capacities at the national level in the context of a regional approach.  The possibilities for assistance for such capacity-building must be carefully examined.


It was also necessary to identify and address the root causes of conflict, among which was the exclusion of regional, ethnic or religious groups in political power-sharing.  Poverty, poor governance and weak State institutions further complicated the situation.  It was crucial to cut off the sources of financing that enabled warring parties to sustain conflicts.  Durable solutions to the crises in Africa could only be achieved through a comprehensive approach.  No approach could be comprehensive without adequate attention to the issue of development.  Even in applying sanctions, the approach must be comprehensive and balanced.  In addition, it was necessary to focus on the demand side of illegal activities, such as natural resource exploitation and arms trafficking.  He hoped that future reports of the Secretary-General on West Africa would devote attention to those and other cross-cutting issues, with a view to evolving a truly comprehensive strategy for conflict prevention, management and post-conflict stabilization.


ALEXANDER KONUZIN (Russian Federation) said that the ongoing discussion had shown that West Africa had accumulated a tremendous negative potential for subregional and cross-border problems, threatening peace and security, the integrity of States and the well-being and life of human beings.  Africa was encountering a new generation of challenges.  Strengthening stability on the continent was an integral part of the work being done to build a global system, under United Nations auspices, to counteract new threats.  The harmonious development of nations could not be guaranteed if African States, continued to find themselves in a heightened political, socio-economic and ethnic “earthquake zone”.


After careful study, he found that the Secretary-General’s recommendations were comprehensive, and meshed fully with the challenges of neutralizing the major cross-border problems.  Those recommendations also applied to all players in the subregion.  The report had reflected ideas put forth by the Russian delegation in several forums.  He particularly supported the recommendation aimed at modernizing national legislation, which were the legal base for inter-State relations, under existing international conventions and other instruments.  That type of measure would strengthen national statehood, develop democratic standards, and strengthen the rule of law in West African countries.


He said he also welcomed proposals to strengthen national borders.  His delegation had often advocated that, without prejudice to inter-State dialogue, for the sake of healthy trade and economic cooperation or other integrating measures and borders communication, specific measures should be taken to eliminate the dangers.  Among those was the proliferation of illegal armed groups across borders, the illegal arms trade, and the spillover of mercenaries and child soldiers.  He was pleased to see the emergence of a new peacekeeping practice of close interaction among the missions in neighbouring States of a region.  At the same time, due diligence should be demonstrated.  The coordinating actions of United Nations forces in the subregion must not violate either the sovereignty of individual States or the mandates of individual missions.


STUART HOLLIDAY (United States) said he fully endorsed the Secretary-General’s desire to focus on concrete practical solutions to the region’s problems.  The report should be an initial step in sustained engagement to solve the problems facing West Africa.  The report came shortly after the Council’s decision to authorize a peacekeeping operation in Côte d’Ivoire.  There was no question of the Council’s commitment to peace and security in the region.  The three contiguous peacekeeping operations currently in the region presented an opportunity for devising creative ways to address cross-border issues, as well as increase cost effectiveness.


He noted that among the more important issues were the movement of arms, child soldiers and the movement of foreign combatants across borders.  He welcomed and encouraged the fact that the Special Representatives and Force Commanders were meeting and consulting on a regular basis.  He would like to see the Council, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the countries concerned consult on how to authorize peacekeeping missions to take the next steps to address cross-border issues.


Another important issue, he noted, was disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration.  He was concerned about such issues as competing stipend packages in different countries, which might appear to be in competition with each other.  It was important to address how such programmes were structured and how they could be harmonized, as well as the particular needs of women in such programmes.  He urged the commencement of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration in
Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia as soon as possible.  In Côte d’Ivoire, he was disappointed that the authorization of the peacekeeping mission had been marked by increased tension.  He appealed to all Ivorian parties to ensure that when that peacekeeping operation was formally established, there would be a peace to keep.  Saddened by the violence last night, he called on all parties to demonstrate flexibility to implement the commitments already undertaken.  Ivorians must realize that the time to achieve peace was now.


In Liberia, he would like to see disarmament, demobilization and reintegration resume as quickly as possible.  While noting the impediments in that regard, he believed that until fighters were disarmed, demobilized and reintegrated, the threat to Liberia’s stability remained palpable.  On Sierra Leone, he echoed the representative of the United Kingdom in welcoming the recent report on UNAMSIL and noted the recommendation of the Ghanaian Foreign Minister that UNAMSIL’s mandate be extended to 2005 to ensure that the successes achieved were not reversed.


ABDULLAH BAALI (Algeria) said that the Secretary-General’s report was both timely and important, and signalled a qualitative change in the United Nations’ approach to peace and security.  The new approach would lend more consistent and effective assistance to international efforts to set up lasting peace and stability in the region and elsewhere.  He also agreed that arms proliferation and their illegal trafficking, and the use of mercenaries and child soldiers, were dangerous and reprehensible scourges that fuelled and fed on war and instability.  It would have been wise to include in that list the illegal exploitation of natural resources, since that had played a clear role in the outbreak and sustenance of the cyclical conflict in the Mano River Union States.


He said that the struggle against the aforementioned phenomena was limited and dominated by the security dimension.  The report had failed somewhat to establish a relationship among all factors –- including youth unemployment, social exclusion, governance problems, treatment for the victims of human rights violations, and the longer-term reintegration of former combatants, particularly women and children.  Only partnership would make it possible to marshal all energies and actors, including those of civil society, to ensure that that struggle had every chance of success.  He would have preferred an operational approach that was based on priorities, namely those requiring immediate action and those that were more long-term in nature.  Also essential was for the international community to reconcile the immediate requirements with longer-term actions.


The United Nations must be at the forefront of the struggle, he said.  It must take advantage of its unprecedented deployment in the subregion to, among other things, control trafficking of persons and weapons, and prepare the conditions for the return of peace and stability.  Operational coordination among the United Nations missions there was also vital and should be strengthened and expanded.  Successful completion of DDR programmes would be decisive for the success of the struggle.  Also, individual States must fully respect their obligations under international legal instruments, he said.


MIHNEA MOTOC (Romania) said that he was pleased with the fundamental vision and content of the Secretary-General’s report on ways to approach the subregional and cross-border problems in West Africa.  With three United Nations peacekeeping operations currently being deployed in West Africa –- UNMIL, UNAMSIL and MINUCI -- it appeared that a critical United Nations mass had been reached in the region.  That meant a stronger impact in combating the sources of cross-border problems.  Still, the consolidated and better coordinated presence of the United Nations on the ground was but a piece of a vast system.


The recommendations contained in the report provided an inventory of measures which could, when implemented, add value to efforts to address the situation in the region, he said.  However, it was necessary to be realistic regarding the prospects for each recommendation.  Some could be implemented more quickly than others, which would require national legislative measures.  The assistance of the Council would be important in that regard.  The regional approach would require the use of different measures, such as international sanctions and the practice of “naming and shaming”.


He then turned to the regional spearheading role ECOWAS was expected to keep playing in West Africa.  The ECOWAS seemed to be involved in the implementation of most of the Secretary-General’s recommendations.  Due to the complexities of cross-border issues, it was the right time to express renewed confidence in ECOWAS’ capacities, as one of the most relevant partners of the United Nations in Africa.  It was necessary to strengthen international cooperation in supporting full implementation of the ECOWAS Arms Moratorium, including through the provision of technical expertise and capacity-building for arms registration and disarmament, demobilization, resettlement and reintegration.


He also took note of the references in the report to the Mano River Union.  Effective efforts and assistance aimed at re-energizing the Union could prove worthwhile in the fight against trans-border threats and regional destabilizing factors.  He supported concrete actions to that end, such as the establishment of joint border patrols in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire, in conjunction with UNAMSIL, UNMIL and MINUCI.  He added that during the Romanian Presidency of the Council, his delegation was considering organizing an open debate on cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations in stabilization processes.


HERALDO MUÑOZ (Chile) said that cross-border regional problems generated instability and tended to perpetuate the effects of conflict.  In West Africa, those had proven to be resilient, even once the critical phase of a conflict had ended.  Consideration of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and the use of child soldiers and mercenaries should be accompanied by consideration of other matters of equal critical importance, such as HIV/AIDS, massive refugee flows, and human rights violations.  The recommendations of the Secretary-General’s report had something in common -- all required a coordination of efforts.  The international community’s role was one of support, since it could not replace the States directly involved, which, therefore, bore the primary responsibility for tackling the problems.  The recent incidents in Côte d’Ivoire had been regrettable, and he urged implementation of the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement.


He said that, in the initial stages of a process, the relevant regional and subregional organizations, and civil society groups must be involved.  A comprehensive and regional approach should be pursued, which incorporated preventive action against cross-border problems.  A central aspect of dealing with those was coordination, which should be carried out by the United Nations missions in the region and UNOWA.  Increasingly, DDR programmes were a central component in the design of peace agreements.  For that reason, that process must be a special instrument for tackling cross-border regional problems.  He underscored that there must also be greater involvement of regional and subregional organizations within the framework of Chapter VIII of the Charter.  Also, the African Union, ECOWAS, and the Mano River Union should assume a dominant role in that regard.


PIERRE-ANDRE WILTZER, Minister for Cooperation and la Francophonie of France, speaking in his national capacity, said that today’s meeting was taking place at a time when there was hope for the settlement of crises in West Africa, but also while several threats remained.  Peace processes had begun in Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia.  It was crucial to ensure that those hopes for peace did materialize.  The primary responsibility rested with the signatories of the relevant accords to carry out the commitments undertaken.  The international community must continually support those efforts decisively.  Also, the actions of ECOWAS must be welcomed.


The Council had taken many initiatives to restore peace in the region, he noted.  In addition, France had maintained a substantial presence for peace efforts in Côte d’Ivoire.  The responsibility for restoring peace and stability rested primarily with the Ivorian parties themselves.  Noting the violence taking place in Côte d’Ivoire, he urged restraint on the part of all involved.  He highlighted the need for better coordination of the means committed by the international community.  That was especially urgent in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes being carried out Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia.  There was also a need to put an urgent end to trafficking of small arms and the recruiting of mercenaries.  The illegal exploitation of natural resources, drug trafficking and children in armed conflict were among other issues that required special attention on the part of the States in the region and the international community as a whole.


There were many useful recommendations in the report, he noted.  Additional ideas included the setting up of a regional arms embargo, and helping countries strengthen control over their natural resources.  In addition, it was necessary to be attentive to situations which, while not already crises, were likely to deteriorate rapidly.  Further, it was important to pay tribute to efforts undertaken by regional actors to restore stability in the region.  The African Union had decided to set up a council for peace and security, which would be a partner for the United Nations Security Council.  That and other initiatives attested to the will of African countries to address their problems and they deserved the support of the international community.


RICHARD RYAN (Ireland), on behalf of the European Union, said that the Union’s rich and deep engagement in Africa stemmed from its belief that the promotion of peace and sustainable development on the continent was one of the major challenges of the international community.  A fundamental principle of the Union’s relationship with Africa had been to assess its engagement there on a continental, regional, subregional, national and local level, as required on an issue-by-issue basis.  Nowhere had the need for a regional approach been more evident in recent years than in West Africa.


He said that the Secretary-General’s report called for increased contact between United Nations senior staff in West Africa.  Cognizant of the recommendations of the Brahimi report for improved coordination within multidimensional peacekeeping operations, it seemed logical to also seek to improve coordination among missions active in the subregion, where improved contact and information sharing would assist those missions in fulfilling their respective individual mandates with improved effectiveness.  In that regard, the Union commended the efforts that had already begun to implement a closer working relationship among the United Nations Missions in West Africa, with the series of meetings of the operations’ leaders in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Côte d’Ivoire.


A major theme of the Secretary-General’s recommendations was the need for improved regional integration in West Africa, he said.  In that context, it was worth noting that, while the Union continued to consider a regional strategy for West Africa focused on conflict prevention and resolution, one element of that strategy was already clear -– regional integration was a key factor in addressing the overarching challenge in West Africa of integrating short-term crisis-management activities with a longer-term preventive strategy.  That would remain a central tenet of Europe’s engagement in West Africa, not least through the offices of the Union’s Presidency’s Special Representative, Hans Dahlgren.


He reiterated the Union’s belief that regional cooperation and dialogue would only strengthen West Africa’s security.  The chief responsibility for fostering security and development there lay with the West African States, themselves.  In that regard, the Union called on all the leaders in the region to engage in meaningful and constructive dialogue on the bilateral and regional level.  Increased coordination among United Nations operations in the region and between all of the actors in West Africa could only underpin the efforts of the region to emerge from a period of prolonged and bitter conflict into a time of sustainable peace, security and development.  The Union stood ready as a willing partner to achieve that shared goal.


KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan) said that, since the inception of the Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD) in 1993, the cornerstone of Japan’s Africa policy had been collaboration achieved through ownership by African countries in partnership with the international community.  That had also been the basis of its efforts towards promoting the consolidation of peace on the continent.  Japan would continue to actively assist those countries and organizations in West Africa, which were taking a leadership role in resolving conflicts in the region.  In the process of peace-building, he advocated an approach that focused on the protection and empowerment of individuals, or a “human security” approach.  Japan had promoted the idea of human security in Sierra Leone by supporting a reintegration of ex-combatants through the Trust Fund for Human Security.


He noted that the need for peacekeeping operations was increasing in many parts of the world.  It was important to recognize, however, that there was inevitably a limit to available resources.  It was a good practical suggestion, therefore, to reallocate the resources from downsizing UNAMSIL to the peace operations in Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire.  Further efforts should be pursued to increase synergy among the missions in the region, including the possibility of regionalizing peacekeeping in the longer perspective.  It would also be useful to agree on a division of labour between a United Nations peacekeeping mission and a multinational force, as had occurred in Côte d’Ivoire.


Implementing development projects for a designated community in order to facilitate weapons collection also deserved consideration, he said.  The reintegration of ex-combatants, as well as the reconstruction and development of communities in the post-conflict phase, were essential, in order to prevent the recurrence of conflict.  Japan had provided approximately $6.5 million in total for DDR projects in Sierra Leone.  But, in West Africa, it was difficult to implement DDR activities in one country effectively without paying attention to the regional dimension because combatants easily crossed borders.  Thus, it was essential for DDR activities to also be implemented in neighbouring States.  Japan had decided on 19 March to extend emergency grant aid of approximately $3.6 million for DDR projects in Liberia and $2.3 million for DDR projects in Côte d’IvoireJapan also recognized the gravity of the problem of child and women soldiers.


The Council President, Mr. WILTZER, Minister for Cooperation and la Francophonie of France, read out the following statement, to be issued as document S/PRST/2004/7:


“The Security Council, recalling its relevant resolutions and the statements of its President, emphasizes the importance of addressing the continuing factors of instability in West Africa within a regional framework.  It recognizes the need for a comprehensive and composite approach for durable solutions to the complex crises and conflicts in West Africa.  Such an approach should address the root causes of conflict and consider means to promote sustainable peace and security including development and economic revival, good governance and political reform,


“The Security Council takes note in this regard of the report of the Secretary-General dated 12 March 2004 (S/2004/200) and its recommendations to address cross-border issues, in particular the plight of child-soldiers and the use and proliferation of mercenaries and small arms, within the context of a regional approach.  The Security Council believes action on the report should be taken as part of a wider strategy of conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict stabilization in the sub-region,


“The Security Council welcomes the principles set out by the African Union and NEPAD which provide an important framework for such action.  It encourages ECOWAS Member States to ensure that these are fully implemented.  It consequently urges ECOWAS to work closely with the United Nations system, the international financial institutions and the other international and regional organizations concerned including the newly established African Union Peace and Security Council, as well as with interested States, in drafting a regional conflict prevention policy taking fully into account the recommendations of the recent joint United Nations and European Union mission to the region,


“The Security Council stresses the importance of the role of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa in facilitating the coordination of a coherent United Nations approach to cross-order and transnational problems in the sub-region,


“The Security Council encourages the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa to continue to hold regular meetings on coordination among the United Nations missions in the region in the interest of improved cohesion and maximum efficiency of United Nations activities in West Africa.  It also encourages the greatest possible harmonization among United Nations agencies within countries of the sub-region,


“The Security Council requests the Secretary-General to encourage the United Nations missions in West Africa to share information and their logistic and administrative resources as far as possible, without impeding the satisfactory execution of their respective mandates, in order to increase their effectiveness and reduce costs,


“The Security Council expresses its intention to consider the Secretary-General’s recommendations to facilitate cross-border operations and to strengthen cooperation among the United Nations missions in the region, including the possibility of “hot pursuit” operations, joint air patrolling, shared border responsibility, the possible reinforcement of airspace monitoring and joint planning for the repatriation of foreign combatants.  It looks forward to receiving as soon as possible the Secretary-General’s recommendations after due consultation with the Governments concerned.  It also encourages the States in the sub-region to organize common patrols along their respective borders, jointly if need be with the respective United Nations peacekeeping operations,


“The Security Council invites the Secretary-General and ECOWAS to take the requisite practical decisions to improve the coordination of United Nations and ECOWAS activities in West Africa,


“The Security Council stresses the importance of a regional approach in the preparation and implementation of demobilization, disarmament and reintegration (DDR) programmes.  To this end it invites the United Nations missions in West Africa, the Governments concerned, the appropriate financial institutions, international development agencies and donor countries to work together to harmonize individual country DDR programmes within an overarching regional strategy to design community development programmes to be implemented alongside DDR programmes, and to pay special attention to the specific needs of children in armed conflict,


“The Security Council reiterates the importance of finding durable solutions to the problem of refugees and displaced persons in the sub-region and urges the States in the region to promote necessary conditions for their voluntary and safe return with the support of relevant international organizations and donor countries,


“The Security Council considers that illegal trafficking in arms poses a threat to international peace and security in the region.  It, therefore, urges the ECOWAS Member States to fully implement their moratorium on the import, export and manufacture of light weapons signed in Abuja on 31 October 1998.  It also invites them to study the possibility of strengthening its provisions,


“The Security Council invites the ECOWAS Member States to take all necessary steps to better combat illegal trafficking in small arms and light weapons in the region, such as the establishment of a regional register of small arms and light weapons.  The Security Council calls on donor countries to help the ECOWAS Member States implement these steps,


“The Security Council urges all States, in particular those in the region and those with a capacity to export arms, to ensure that arms embargoes are fully implemented in the sub-region.  It expresses its intention to pay close attention and remain in consultation with ECOWAS and MemberStates on steps to stop the illicit flows of arms to conflict zones in the region,


“The Security Council recognizes the need to address both the supply and demand side with regard to private companies selling illegally small arms or security services and invites the Governments concerned to take appropriate steps to prevent such illegal sales,


“The Security Council recalls the measures it has implemented on the illegal exploitation and trade of diamonds and timber in the sub-region and encourages ECOWAS and its MemberStates to promote transparent and sustainable exploitation of these resources,


“The Security Council, encourages ECOWAS to publicly identify parties and actors who are shown to engage in illicit trafficking of small arms in the sub-region and use mercenaries, and expresses its intention to consider adopting such practice in relation to the conflicts in West Africa,


“The Security Council recalls that the existence of the many illegitimate checkpoints and the practice of extortion at them in the region harms the security of civilians and is a major stumbling block to the economic development of all West Africa.  It therefore invites the Governments concerned to take the necessary steps to effectively address this impediment to regional economic integration with the support of the international community,


“The Security Council calls on the ECOWAS Member States to work together to agree a coherent approach to the problem of foreign combatants,


“The Security Council calls on the Mano River Union States to resume dialogue and consider holding a summit of Heads of State and meetings of Ministers to develop a common approach to their shared security issues and confidence-building measures,


“The Security Council considers that civil society actors, including the media, have an important role to play in crisis management and conflict prevention in the region and that their efforts in this regard deserve to be actively supported by the regional States, ECOWAS, the international community and the United Nations system.  Increased support should be provided for the media to raise awareness about the plight of child-soldiers, the use and proliferation of small arms and the recruitment of mercenaries,


“The Security Council welcomes the consideration being given in the International Contact Group on Liberia (ICGL) to broadening its mandate to the cross-border issues concerning Liberia and its neighbouring countries,


“The Security Council considers reform of the security sector an essential element for peace and stability in West Africa and urgently calls on donor countries and the international financial community to coordinate their efforts to support ECOWAS, in particular its Executive Secretariat, and to assist the States in the sub-region in their efforts to reform the security sector,


“The Security Council, in the context of its emphasis on the regional dimension of the problems in West Africa, expresses its intention to keep under review the implementation of the above-mentioned recommendations and requests the Secretary-General to report on them at the occasion of his regular reports on the United Nations missions in the sub-region.”


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*     The 4932nd Meeting was closed.