7 October 2008
Security Council
SC/9468

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

Security Council

5988th Meeting (AM)


SECURITY COUNCIL IS TOLD PROGRESS IN GUINEA-BISSAU SINCE CIVIL WAR


OF LATE 1990s IMPERILLED BY DRUG TRAFFICKING, LACK OF STABILITY


Current International Aid Efforts Deemed Insufficient; Plans

For National Elections Said to Be on Track; New Focus Seen on Drugs ‘Menace’


Guinea-Bissau had come a long way since the civil war of the late 1990s, but all those gains would be at risk if stability were not cemented and the menace of the illicit drug trade was not confronted head-on through a regional approach, B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, told the Security Council this morning.


“The drug trafficking threat is a major challenge to Guinea-Bissau and to its neighbours, many of which are still recovering from long periods of civil conflicts,” he said, in a meeting that also heard a briefing from Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti (Brazil), Chair of the Guinea-Bissau Configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, as well as interventions from Council members and Guinea-Bissau’s representative.


Current international efforts to help strengthen national capacity to fight the traffickers, especially in the enhancement of the judicial sector, were not sufficient, Mr. Pascoe said.  He supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation for sending an expert panel to study the problem, ahead of the high-level conference on the drug problems of the region to be held by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Cape Verde from 28 to 29 October.


Preparations for elections in Guinea-Bissau on 16 November were on track, he said.  The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau were coordinating international donors and electoral observation, respectively.  To date, international electoral observers were expected from the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the European Union.  He appealed to donors to make up for the funding shortfall of $4 million that the elections required.


As elections approached, there was an uneasy calm in the country, he said.  An unsuccessful coup in August was now said to be under investigation.  The country’s difficulty in paying public sector salaries in a timely manner continued to exacerbated social, political and security tensions, which were also being heightened by the rise of commodity prices. 


The Government, he said, had taken concrete measures towards crucial security sector reform, with support of the international community.  The Peacebuilding Support Office would make further recommendations on ways and means of supporting those efforts.  He outlined other work on a variety of sectors being pursued in ongoing cooperation with the Peacebuilding Commission. 


Ms. Ribeiro Viottiinformed the Council that an integrated Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in the country was formally adopted by her configuration on 1 October, as the result of an extensive consultative process that bound the Government and all relevant stakeholders in a set of commitments.  The active engagement of civil society meant that the Framework was owned by Guinea-Bissau as a whole.  It dealt with the root causes of conflict and other fundamental issues that would need to be addressed in the coming years.


Because of its evolving nature and the need for international support, the adoption of the Strategic Framework for Guinea-Bissau did not signal the end of international engagement there, she said, but rather the start of taking concrete measures to provide the country with much-needed peace dividends.  Elections, the security sector, illicit drugs, the economy and social problems, such as the cholera epidemic, were priority challenges in that regard.  The Peacebuilding Commission would proceed to marshal additional resources and to the enhancement of coordination among different partners in the country, to make progress in all those crucial areas.


Following those briefings, Council members took the floor to welcome progress that had been made in Guinea-Bissau, including the adoption of the Peacebuilding Framework and the preparations for the upcoming elections.  Most speakers also prioritized the strengthening of the security and justice sectors, and the need for meaningful development.


In regard to the trade in illicit drugs, most speakers supported regional efforts to combat it.  Many also supported the Secretary-General’s proposal to create an expert panel on the problem.  Some speakers, however, urged caution in that regard, saying that it was more important to build the country’s capacity to fight it itself.  The representative of South Africa said what was needed was a strong Government with strong law enforcement, so that the country could deal with the issues.  An expert group would not do more than divert the country from strengthening its institutions of law and order, he said.


Guinea-Bissau’s representative, speaking after all Council members had made their statements, affirmed his Government’s primary responsibility for its progress and said that it would spare no efforts to ensure that the upcoming elections would be held with the greatest possible transparency, that they would be credible, and that the results would be acceptable to all. 


He shared concerns regarding drug trafficking -- in a country, he said, that five years ago had not known about the phenomenon.  The situation had arisen because his country was the weakest link in the regional chain.  The country had been honest in asking for help, since the problem could threaten all achievements in democracy.  Assistance from the international community was needed, as well as police, courts and prisons –- in short, a credible justice sector.  He also agreed with the need for a regional approach to the scourge of drug trafficking and welcomed the upcoming ECOWAS conference in Cape Verde. 


Thanking the Chair of the country-specific Configuration, he said significant achievements had been made thanks to the Peacebuilding Commission.  For the first time, all of the stakeholders, including Government, women, youth, political parties and civil organizations, had been incorporated into a strategic vision.  He finally launched an appeal for assistance in combating the devastating and ongoing cholera epidemic in the country.


Also speaking this morning were the representatives of Burkina Faso, United States, Belgium, Italy, Russian Federation, Indonesia, Croatia, France, Libya, Costa Rica, Viet Nam, Panama, United Kingdom and China.


The meeting, which opened at 10:30 a.m., closed at 12:40 p.m.


Background


The Security Council had before it the report of the Secretary-General on developments in Guinea-Bissau and on the activities of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in that country (document S/2008/628), which expresses concern over the volatile security and political atmosphere there, in advance of next month’s planned elections.


The report says the period it covers, from mid-July to September, was characterized by “deepening political malaise and the spectres of military tension and pressure”.


The Secretary-General calls on all parties to cooperate peacefully to ensure that the 16 November polls take place in a stable and peaceful atmosphere, which would “contribute to the steady consolidation of peace, which in turn would help create conditions for vital economic reforms and development”.


The report also underlines the key role played by the media in promoting democratic governance, and the Secretary-General urges equal coverage to all parties and the preservation of ethics, professionalism and credibility.


Relations have continued to deteriorate between the leaders of two of the three main political parties -– the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde and Guinea (PAIGC) and the Social Renewal Party (PRS), which were signatories to a national political stability pact signed in March, the report says.


It adds that recent reports of a coup plot by elements within the military highlight the “fragile situation of the State and constitute a setback to the progress made since 2005 to promote a culture of democratic, civilian-military relations, in which the military is subordinate and accountable to civilian authorities”.


The report also warns of the “increasingly dark shadow over the country” cast by drug trafficking and organized crime in potentially rolling back gains made in the area of governance and impeding positive steps towards peacebuilding.


“Affecting peace and security, health, the economy and the rule of law, the increase in drug trafficking could wreak havoc throughout the country and along its borders, as evidence is mounting that criminal gangs are increasingly operating in concert across porous West African borders,” the report adds.


Despite the difficulty in culling data, the volume of drug trafficking through Guinea-Bissau is greater than previously believed, the Secretary-General says.  “I am especially concerned about reports that Guinea-Bissau is no longer merely a transit hub, but appears to be fast becoming a major market place in the drug trade.”


He repeats his appeal to the Security Council to adopt strong measures and consider dispatching a team of experts to investigate the scourge in the West African nation.


On a more positive note, the Secretary-General welcomes the advances made in Guinea-Bissau by the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission, saying he is particularly pleased to note the active implementation of the four “quick-impact” projects under the short-term engagement of the Peacebuilding Fund.


B. LYNN PASCOE, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, told the Council that Guinea-Bissau had come a long way since the civil war of the late 1990s, but all those gains would be at risk if the menace of the illicit drug trade was not confronted head-on through a regional approach.


He recounted that Prime Minister Carlos Correia was appointed on 5 August to head a caretaker Government after the previous Government fell, and had repeatedly reaffirmed his commitment to hold legislative elections on 16 November as scheduled.  Preparations for those polls were on track and at least 27 of the 34 registered parities would be participating in the elections.  The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau were coordinating international donors and electoral observation, respectively.  To date, international electoral observers were expected from the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the European Union.  He appealed to donors to fill the shortfall of $4 million.


As elections approached, there was an uneasy calm in the country, he said.  An unsuccessful coup allegedly led by the Chief of Staff of the Navy in August was now under full investigation, according to the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces.  In addition, the country’s difficulty in paying public sector salaries in a timely manner continued to exacerbate social, political and security tensions, which were also being heightened by the rise of commodity prices.  The World Bank approved a $5 million grant to help the country cope with such prices in the short term, and the Government had reduced taxes on rice imports.


The Government, he said, had also taken concrete measures towards security sector reform, with support of the international community.  The United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau would make further recommendations on ways and means of supporting those efforts.  There was also much progress being made in ongoing cooperation with the Peacebuilding Commission. 


Returning to the drug issue, he said current international efforts to help strengthen national capacity, especially support for the judicial sector, were not sufficient.  He supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation for sending an expert panel to study the problem, ahead of the high-level ECOWAS conference on the drug problems of the region to be held in Cape Verde from 28 to 29 October.  The “punitive targeted sanctions” referred to in the Secretary-General’s report, he clarified, were not meant to be directed at any country but rather at individuals involved in the illicit trade.


“The drug trafficking threat is a major challenge to Guinea-Bissau and to its neighbours, many of which are still recovering from long periods of civil conflicts,” he said.  Tackling it vigorously and resolutely was essential for the success of ongoing peacebuilding initiatives.


MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI ( Brazil), Chair of the Guinea-Bissau Configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, informed the Council that an integrated Strategic Framework for peacebuilding in the country was formally adopted by her group on 1 October, as the result of an extensive consultative process that bound the Government and all relevant stakeholders in a set of commitments.  The active engagement of civil society meant that the framework was owned by Guinea-Bissau as a whole.  It dealt with the root causes of conflict and other fundamental issues that would need to be addressed in the coming years.


The political situation in the country remained calm, she said.  The change of Government was pursued within the framework of the Constitution, with many key ministers kept in office.  The fact that the attempted coup d’état did not succeed was seen as a demonstration that resorting to force was no longer supported as a means of solving disputes and that the military remained willing to adhere to civilian rule.  The imminent priority was now the successful holding of legislative elections on 16 November.  With the conclusion of voter registration, the publication of the list of candidates and new pledges by donors’ preparation for those polls were well under way.  The Peacebuilding Commission stood ready to support and monitor the electoral process.


The framework of the Constitution also considered the reactivation of the economy and the rehabilitation of infrastructure as key priorities.  A country with rich agricultural potential, Guinea-Bissau needed support to draw investment, diversify and add value to its products, to create employment, create wealth and provide the Government with revenues that would allow it to provide services.  In that regard, she welcomed ongoing discussions with the World Bank and the conclusion of procedures that could provide additional electrical generation.


She said she was pleased to note progress in crucial sector reform, following the active engagement of the European Union and ECOWAS.  The Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process had already been launched, with the selection of military officials who would be trained in agriculture in Brazil with the support of ECOWAS, in order to prepare for integration into civilian life. 


The strengthening of the justice sector, the consolidation of the rule of law and the fight against drug trafficking were matters of growing concern, she said.  It required strengthening the capacity of national authorities to secure the country’s borders and bring criminals to justice, for which purpose the fulfilment of donor pledges was critically needed.  She said that Guinea-Bissau had a legitimate Government that was earnestly working to achieve stability and development and deserved greater international support.  In that regard, public sector reform initiatives were under way towards transparency in financial management and the country’s performance under the International Monetary Fund’s Post-Conflict Assistance Programme had paved the way for discussions to begin on a regular assistance programme.  There were also social issues critical to peacekeeping, such as the poor health and educational conditions, which required unwavering attention.


Because of its evolving nature and the need for international support, the adoption of the Strategic Framework for Guinea-Bissau did not signal the end of international engagement there, but the start of taking concrete measures to provide the country with much-needed peace dividends.  The Peacebuilding Commission would proceed to marshal additional resources and support enhanced coordination among different partners in the country to make that happen.


Statements


MICHEL KAFANDO ( Burkina Faso) said notable progress had been made in many areas, but Guinea-Bissau was still faced with instability and the drug trade.  The political instability had gone on for a long time.  Reconstruction was impossible if there was no national reconciliation.  The Council must therefore call upon all political actors to commit themselves to progress in the political process.  One way of ensuring the success of the upcoming election was an improvement in the security situation, which was fragile because of the drug trade and organized crime.  The international community must continue to give support to the Government in combating the phenomenon.  The Government must pursue security sector reform.


He said the real solution to the problems was the economic reconstruction of the country.  Economic development was the major challenge.  In that context, the Council should call for strengthening economic management and financial transparency.  Implementation of the quick-impact projects by the Peacebuilding Support Office and the Peacebuilding Commission had been very important.  It was vital for the successful implementation of the Strategic Framework that the monitoring and evaluation system was established as soon as possible.  He called for prudence regarding establishing a group of experts.


ROSEMARY DI CARLO ( United States) welcomed the fact that the electoral process remained on track and hoped the elections would be transparent and that disputes would be resolved according to the law and the Constitution.  She was concerned, however, that progress achieved towards democratic development would prove unsustainable because of the increasing drug trade.  She was also deeply concerned about a Venezuelan plane that had arrived in Guinea-Bissau and landed without any notice, as described in the Secretary-General’s report.  Military personnel had unloaded the unknown cargo.  She called upon the Government to give a full account of the actions.  She applauded the upcoming ECOWAS conference on drug trafficking, but emphasized that Guinea-Bissau must take a strong leadership position in combating the activity.  Some progress had been made towards economic growth, but the impact of drug trafficking and political tensions would stall economic development, she said.


JAN GRAULS ( Belgium) congratulated all those involved in the adoption of the Peacebuilding Framework for Guinea-Bissau, but stressed it was necessary to have tangible indicators for concrete progress.  He welcomed upcoming steps in that regard.  On the question of elections, he said it was important that the Government respected the wishes of the legislature and the election timetable.  He expressed concern over the scale of illicit drug trafficking, and expressed readiness to consider all proposals that would include prosecution for all those responsible and would enhance justice in the country.  It was correct to deal with the problem on the subregional level, he said, supporting the upcoming regional conference on the issue.  Following the elections, any changes necessary in the mandate of the Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau should also be considered.


GUILIO TERZI ( Italy) commended Guinea-Bissau and all its partners for the progress that had been made in the country towards development and stability, while sharing concerns over drug trafficking.  On that issue, he said, the Council should take strong action and consider forming the expert panel recommended by the Secretary-General.  Such action should be seen only as increasing the Council’s understanding of the matter, and not an attempt to impinge on the sovereignty of the country.  The creation of such a mechanism should not replace concrete action on the ground, for the strengthening of the security and judicial sectors in the country.  The upcoming conference in Cape Verde would be crucial to bolster the regional machinery in that regard.


KONSTANTIN DOLGOV (Russian Federation) said he was concerned at the Secretary-General’s assessment that Guinea-Bissau had become a centre for drugs trade and asked in that regard how the operative plan adopted by the Government and the United Nations DrugsOffice to combat illicit drugs was progressing.  He further asked what would be the mandate and the modalities of the proposed expert panel of the Council to establish the identity of those involved in the illicit drug trade and in organized crime.


He suggested that, given limited progress achieved by the Government and the Drugs Office, introducing a sanctions regime at this stage would not be effective.  To achieve real progress, he said, it was necessary to support the institutional capacity of the law enforcement institutions and to support regional organizations such as ECOWAS.  Commending the work of the Peacebuilding Commission and the adoption of a Framework, he said the slow progress in projects funded by the Peacebuilding Fund was a matter of concern.  Further funding would require closer analysis and justification.


MARTY M. NATALEGAWA ( Indonesia) said the upcoming election of 16 November was an important landmark, and the international community must therefore continue its sustained assistance to Guinea-Bissau.  The Strategic Framework contained a nationally-owned process and would raise awareness, promote peacebuilding initiatives and generate new partnerships between the Government and international actors.  He was concerned, however, that Guinea-Bissau was becoming a major market place in drug trading.  The country should build on the December 2007 Lisbon international conference on drug trafficking in Guinea-Bissau.  A comprehensive approach was needed.


He said he welcomed the convening of a regional conference by ECOWAS on combating drug trafficking.  Close cooperation of neighbouring countries offered the potential to deal with the menace, he said.


Drug trafficking and organized crime should also be recognized as unintended products of the lack of progress in institutional and economic development.  The international community was called upon to lend its full support to the efforts of the Government of Guinea-Bissau in strengthening its legal, law enforcement and judicial institutions.  Punitive and targeted Council sanctions might not necessarily offer the optimum long-term solution to the problem and might have the unintended impact of reversing the gains in the post-conflict peace consolidation achieved so far.


VICE SKRACIC ( Croatia) said he was encouraged by progress in Guinea-Bissau, but remained concerned by continuing tensions.  Welcoming preparations for elections, he said it was important that result of those elections be accepted by all sectors, and that the polls were conducted in a timely manner.  He commended the contributions of the international community to the elections, as well as to the security sector.  Expressing concern over illicit drug trafficking, he said he strongly supported decisive action against those involved and welcomed the establishment of a panel of experts, the holding of the regional conference and other actions.


NICOLAS RIVIERE (France) said that, because of the fragility of the political climate in Guinea-Bissau, much attention needed to be paid to the conduct of the elections, particularly the role of the media.  In regard to drug trafficking, he stressed the regional aspect of the problem and requested more information on the proposed expert panel and its role in strengthening the justice and security sectors.  He said he also asked the Government to continue its work in those areas.  He was pleased with the adoption of the Peacebuilding Framework and asked the Peacebuilding Commission to keep the Council informed of developments in the area.


DUMISANI KUMALO ( South Africa) welcomed the fact that recent political developments, including reports of an attempted coup d’état, had not erupted into any political violence or instability.  That positive sign boded well for the legislative elections for 16 November.  He also welcomed the ongoing security sector reform, but was deeply concerned at the continued reports of drug trafficking and organized crime.  However, he added, the creation of an expert panel was not the answer to the problem; what was needed was a strong Government with strong law enforcement so that the country could deal with the issues.  An expert group would not do more than divert the country from strengthening its institutions of law and order.  The support of the international community in building and strengthening the capacity of local law enforcement and judicial authorities in dealing with that challenge would remain critical. 


He said a further challenge to the Government was that of rising fuel and food prices that had led to salary arrears, which presented a serious challenge to political stability.  He therefore recommended budget support from the World Bank, the West African Monetary Union and the Central Bank of West Africa.  The work of the Peacebuilding Commission, the Peacebuilding Fund and the international community in addressing governance, security and economic challenges would begin to lay the foundations for sustainable peace and prosperity in Guinea-Bissau.  South Africa would, among other things, continue to work with its partners India and Brazil in assisting the country in the area of agriculture through the India-Brazil-South Africa Trust Fund.


GIADALLA A. ETTALHI ( Libya), commending efforts of the Government of Guinea-Bissau and the international community for the progress achieved, said many indicators still caused concern, including the deepening of political crisis, the coup attempt, the spread of organized crime and impunity, as well as the decline in economic growth and an increase in prices for basic commodities.  He was, however, hopeful that the Peacebuilding Commission and the Government would achieve progress through the integrated Strategic Framework. 


He said drug trafficking was a priority issue, since it threatened security and reconstruction and also constituted a threat to the region.  Guinea-Bissau had become a transit hub.  He supported, in that regard, the proposal of the Secretary-General to investigate, in cooperation with local authorities, the role of those involved in trafficking and transnational crime.  He welcomed the implementation of the four quick-impact projects.  Although elections were important, priority should be given to combating hunger and providing security, he said.


JORGE BALLESTERO ( Costa Rica) thanked the President for holding an open meeting on this issue.  The adoption of the Peacebuilding Framework for Guinea-Bissau was welcomed, but he agreed it was just the beginning of the international community’s involvement with the country.  In that regard, he urged that the mandate of the Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau be carried out in the most effective manner.  He expressed concern over the political fragility in the country and suggested that the security sector and the rule of law should be a priority in upcoming efforts.  In the fight against drug trafficking and other organized crime, he expressed support for robust regional initiatives.  For short-term progress, he was interested in the proposal to create a panel of experts, but asked for more information about the panel’s proposed links with other actors, particularly the Government.  The catalyst for change must be democratic legitimacy.  He called on the Government and other actors to insure continued dialogue and an inclusive process. 


HOANG CHI TRUNG ( Viet Nam) noted with satisfaction that preparations for the upcoming elections were on track, and that the Peacebuilding Framework had been adopted.  He expressed concern, however, over living conditions and tensions in the country.  He supported strengthening the security sector and other measures that could help enhance the rule of law, and deal with such problems as illicit drug trafficking.  He expected that the Government of Guinea-Bissau would effectively build on international assistance in that and other areas. 


ALFREDO SUESCUM ( Panama) said he would have preferred to react to a statement by Guinea-Bissau, rather than speak ahead of it.  There was a need to ensure that the legislative elections be transparent, fair and peaceful.  That was possible only if all parties agreed to it.  The elections were an important opportunity for the people to show commitment to the institutionalization of a democratic State. 


He said Guinea-Bissau had now become a significant market for the drugs trade, leading to an increase in organized crime.  That could have a negative impact on the subregion.  Increased policing was a first priority, but there were also security challenges at the transnational level.  He hoped for initiatives in that regard that would come forth from the upcoming ECOWAS meeting in Cape Verde.  His country was studying the Secretary-General’s proposal for the establishment of a group of experts.  The Council, the Peacebuilding Support Office, the United Nations Office in West Africa and the Government must closely cooperate with the Peacebuilding Commission to ensure that Guinea-Bissau could “export” stability.


DAVID QUARREY ( United Kingdom), welcoming the adoption of the Strategic Framework, said it was important soon to establish its monitoring and evaluation mechanism.  He welcomed progress made in preparations for elections, including the registration of voters.  It was crucial that elections be held on time and that they be free and fair.  He said he was deeply concerned at reports of drug trading, and at the reported landing of a Venezuelan plane. 


The proposal for a panel of experts needed further discussion, he said.  As the primary responsibility for action lay at the national level, he called for enhanced cooperation between law enforcement institutions and also cooperation at the regional level.  He also expressed his concern at the intimidation of journalists and human rights workers, and he hoped that the Government and the Peacebuilding Support Office would act to address those concerns.


ZANG YESUI ( China) said that it was evident that Guinea-Bissau’s people wanted stability, and he expressed hope that the elections would be conducted in such a way as to build it.  Long-lasting stability, however, would be rooted in development, which must be promoted constantly.  There had been some progress in that area, but much more needed to be done.  In addition, the illicit trade in drugs had to be fought through strengthening the country’s capabilities in security and justice.  The international community needed to remain involved in all those areas.


ALFREDO LOPES CABRAL ( Guinea-Bissau) acknowledged that Guinea-Bissau had the primary responsibility for ensuring that peace and security become a permanent reality, and agreed with the representative of the United States when she said that the Government of Guinea-Bissau must show leadership.  To do so, stable institutions were necessary and, in that regard, the country faced major obstacles.  That enormous task must be faced together with the country‘s partners.  There was a need to establish the environment in which the November elections could take place in a fair, transparent and credible manner.  He was convinced that the people of Guinea-Bissau would show the civil spirit in taking the opportunity to freely choose their representatives and hoped that the results would be accepted by all.  The fact that around 96 per cent of the population had registered was a hopeful sign.  


There had indeed been tensions, he said, but controversies were almost inevitable in a young democracy, faced with enormous problems.  Difficulties, however, had been overcome by resorting to institutions, such as the Supreme Court, and there had been no violence. 


He said he shared the concerns regarding drug trafficking in a country that five years ago had not known about the phenomenon.  The situation had arisen because his country was the weakest link in the regional chain; it had been honest in asking for help, since the problem could threaten all achievements in democracy.  Assistance from the international community was needed, as well as a credible judiciary, police and courts that could render justice. 


Expressing his country’s thanks, he said significant achievements had been made thanks to the Peacebuilding Commission.  For the first time, all of the stakeholders, including Government, women, youth, political parties and civil organizations had been incorporated in the Strategic Framework. 


The situation was not fatal, he said.  There was a way out, if needed aid was received and the Government showed the necessary leadership.  The authorities would spare no efforts to ensure that the elections would be held with the greatest possible transparency, that they would be credible, and that the results would be acceptable to all.  The issue of drug trafficking could best be faced in the subregional approach, and he said he welcomed the upcoming ECOWAS conference in Cape Verde.  He appealed for aid in combating the current cholera epidemic, and asked for more substantial assistance from the Bretton Woods institutions.


Under-Secretary-General PASCOE, returning for clarifications, said he was gratified by the Council members’ recognition of the need to bring all of the elements together for further stability in Guinea-Bissau.  He said the Peacebuilding Support Office was deeply involved in advancing the political process, and was working with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime on the illicit drug problem.  In the next few weeks, much work would be done to ensure that all the programmes of the Peacebuilding Support Office were effective. 


In regard to the anti-drug strategy, he said the authorities had asked for assistance and the Lisbon Conference had mobilized resources.  On the panel of experts, he noted that the proposal arose from the request of the Government for assistance.  Even with the strengthening of Government institutions, initiatives were needed to deal with the international aspect of the problem, and that was why the proposal was developed.


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