|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6073rd Meeting (PM)
SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS ACHIEVED CONSOLIDATING PEACE, STABILITY IN WEST AFRICA,
BUT MANY ROOT CAUSES OF CONFLICT NOT YET ADDRESSED, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
Head of United Nations Office Briefs, Says Concerns Include
Food Insecurity, Narcotics Trafficking, Recent Coups in Mauritania, Guinea
Despite significant progress made in consolidating peace and stability in West Africa, many of the root causes of conflict in a number of West African countries had yet to be addressed, the Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA) and Special Representative of the Secretary-General told the Security Council this afternoon.
In a briefing, Said Djinnit introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the United Nations Office for West Africa (document S/2009/29), which focused on cross-cutting and cross-border developments in the subregion and the activities the Office had undertaken since July 2008.
He said that other problems to be faced in West Africa included youth unemployment, rapid urbanisation, corruption and irregular migration. The region had also been heavily affected by rising food prices and food insecurity, compounded by threats of a global recession. UNOWA advocated -- together with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and West African leaders -- proactive and collective measures to achieve food security.
The spread of cross-border organized crime remained another concern, he said. Taking advantage of porous borders and weak State institutions, criminal networks were increasingly using West Africa as a transit route for narcotics bound for Europe from Latin America. They were infiltrating State institutions, fuelling corruption and destabilizing the political and social fabric of nations. UNOWA had stepped up activities to raise awareness at all levels of leadership on the harmful impact of organized crime. In conjunction with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), UNOWA was also expected to play a lead role in coordinating United Nations inputs into the implementation of the recently adopted ECOWAS Action Plan on Drug Trafficking.
He said that, while West Africa had made considerable progress in consolidating democratic governance, Mauritania and Guinea had experienced military coups and there had been renewed attempts on the life of the President of Guinea-Bissau. If the resurgence of coups was not addressed in a decisive manner, their potential “domino effect” across the region should not be underestimated. UNOWA had endeavoured to foster constructive dialogue among national, regional and international partners in order to facilitate a return to the constitutional order in Mauritania and Guinea in the shortest possible time frame.
Electoral processes were another priority area of the subregion and UNOWA, with crucial elections envisaged in 2009 in Mauritania, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire and Niger. UNOWA continued to monitor the mediation process related to the rebellion in northern Mali and the situation in Niger, including the ongoing efforts to convene a regional summit on peace, security and development. As security sector reform was key to any peacebuilding strategy, UNOWA had initiated a useful regional discussion on the role of the security sector in the electoral process last November in Conakry, Guinea.
A pivotal role of UNOWA was to promote concerted subregional approaches to peace and security, both within the United Nations system and with ECOWAS, he said. The effective partnerships established with all United Nations entities operating in the subregion and the enthusiasm shown in situating their individual activities within the larger United Nations strategic objective in support of peace and stability in West Africa was, therefore, encouraging.
Speaking in his capacity as Chairman of the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission, Mr. Djinnit said he continued to provide support to the delimitation and demarcation process along the Cameroon-Nigeria boundary. Following the successful completion on 14 August 2008 of the transfer of authority in the Bakassi Peninsula from Nigeria to Cameroon, efforts were now concentrated on expediting the demarcation process, promoting confidence-building measures and addressing the needs of affected populations.
The meeting started at 5:36 and adjourned at 5:46 p.m.
* *** *For information media • not an official record