7 September 2007

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York




Following is the message of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the twenty-sixth Ministerial Meeting of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa, delivered by William Lacy Swing, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in Yaoundé, 7 September:

May I begin by extending my warmest greetings to all of you.  I also wish to thank sincerely President Paul Biya, the Government and the people of Cameroon for once again agreeing to host the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa.

I welcome the Standing Advisory Committee’s determined search for suitable solutions to the serious challenges facing the subregion and its tireless efforts to promote peace and security there.  I particularly applaud the positive developments in Central Africa since your last meeting on 17 May in Sao Tome.  These developments include the willingness of Cameroon, the Central African Republic and Chad to continue working together to counter cross-border insecurity.  I am also pleased that the Governments of the Central African Republic and Chad have accepted the deployment of an international United Nations-European Union force in north-eastern Central African Republic and eastern Chad to seek to protect civilian victims of the effects of the conflict in Darfur.

Despite this encouraging progress, Central Africa’s political, security and socio-economic situation remains worrying.  In the case of Burundi, I have recently indicated how important it is for Palipehutu-FNL to return to the ceasefire agreement implementation mechanism from which it had withdrawn.  I have also asked the regional partners of the United Nations to help it to restore dialogue between the parties in Burundi.  In the case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, I am very concerned at the continuing violence in the Kivus, and particularly by the repeated violations of human rights and international humanitarian law carried out by the militias and other foreign armed groups.  Meanwhile, the conflict in Darfur continues to affect Chad, the Central African Republic and Cameroon, whose eastern border is now inhabited by tens of thousands of refugees in a vulnerable position.

I hope that during your discussions you will look at the impact of violence committed by armed groups, banditry, illicit trafficking in arms and the illegal trade in raw materials.  I also hope you will adopt concrete measures, to be implemented through solid partnerships, to put an end to these scourges in the subregion.

In that connection, I welcome the special conference on cross-border security to be held within the framework of the Standing Advisory Committee, under the auspices of the United Nations.  It will provide you with an opportunity to gather and debate individual countries’ views.  I also welcome the adoption, on 18 May, of the Sao Tome initiative, which proposes the elaboration of a legal instrument to combat illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons and a code of conduct for armed and security forces in Central Africa.

I wish once more to assure you that the United Nations will continue to provide all the support you need to help you work for peace, stability and socio-economic development in the subregion, and I wish you every success in your discussions.

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For information media • not an official record