10 July 2013
Security Council
SC/11057

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

Security Council

6995th Meeting (AM)


Briefing on West Africa, Top Envoy Informs Security Council of Efforts Under Way


to Shore Up Stability, Democratic Processes in Still Vulnerable Subregion


West Africa had continued to face multiple political and security challenges, including elections-related tensions, transnational organized crime, piracy and terrorism, the United Nations envoy for the region told the Security Council today.


Said Djinnit, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and Head of the United Nations Office for the region (UNOWA), also noted that the humanitarian situation there continued to be characterized by food insecurity and malnutrition as funding dwindled.


His 20-minute briefing, following up the Secretary-General’s 28 June report on activities in the areas of preventive diplomacy, early warning and capacity building to address the emerging challenges to regional peace and stability (document S/2013/384), covered a wide range of issues, whereas his last presentation, on 25 January, had highlighted the situation in Mali.


First, offering an update on Mali, Mr. Djinnit recalled that the 18 June agreement obliged the signatories to dialogue and negotiation as a means of resolving the conflict there.  It also provided for the presidential election to take place this month, followed by an inclusive political process for a comprehensive and durable settlement.  His office would continue to assist the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and other stakeholders to mobilize regional support for Mali’s stabilization.


UNOWA would also extend similar support to the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS), he said, acknowledging recent encouraging efforts towards inclusive governance and the holding of a presidential election.


Turning to Guinea, he noted that the 3 July agreement ended months of differences between the presidential coalition and the opposition on electoral issues.  The accord provided a timetable for the holding of the legislative election in September 2013, which would allow the Government and its people to, at last, focus their energies on socioeconomic transformation and development.  To ensure the rule of law and the fight against impunity, he looked forward to the outcome of the investigations into the violent demonstrations by the opposition, which had resulted in casualties, property damage and loss of livelihood.


Persistent tensions along the borders between Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire, as well as other trans-border threats continued to undermine stability and long-term development efforts in the Mano River nations, despite their great potential for economic development.  On 29 June, his office, along with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Mano River Union, had convened a high-level meeting to launch the process of developing a security strategy for that region.  Through existing regional initiatives, the blueprint should address cross-border threats based on a comprehensive approach, taking into account the nexus between security and development, he added.


Piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea was another regional security threat, which negatively affected international maritime trade routes transiting through the area and had a significant potential to undermine economic progress in both coastal and landlocked countries, he noted.  At a regional summit in June, the resolve of leaders to establish an effective framework to combat those maritime incidents had crystallized with the adoption of key strategic documents — a code of conduct, a memorandum of understanding and a political declaration.


Mr. Djinnit described the Sahel as the third area of West Africa’s fragility presenting a high number of indicators of vulnerability, ranging from environmental degradation, desertification and food insecurity to terrorism and illicit trafficking of arms and drugs.  Those underscored the need for a United Nations integrated strategy for the Sahel, which complemented efforts by the countries and organizations of the region to address the root causes and consequences of instability in the Sahel-Sahara belt.


On terrorism and other transnational threats, he welcomed the recent adoption by the ECOWAS Summit of their counter-terrorism strategy and the extension of their Regional Plan of Action against drug trafficking and organized crime, but added that those needed to be effectively implemented.  Citing recent terrorist attacks in Niger and Nigeria, he warned that extremists groups were taking advantage of the porous borders and the limited State capacities.


Generally, West Africa was preoccupied with the challenge of election-related tensions and the negative impact of unregulated security sectors, he said.  His office, in liaison with the relevant United Nations country teams, remained committed to assist in election processes.  Security sector reform was making progress in Guinea and under way in Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali and Sierra Leone.


Significant progress had been made in the boundary demarcation between Cameroon and Nigeria, he said.  A follow-up process launched in 2006 regarding the Green Tree Agreement would finally come to an end with the holding of its last meeting on the margins of the General Assembly session in September.


The meeting began at 10:15 a.m. and ended at 10:35 a.m.


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For information media • not an official record