17 December 2013
Security Council

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

Security Council

7087th Meeting (PM)

West Africa Remains ‘Fragile’ Despite Progress towards Stability,


Special Representative Says in Briefing to Security Council


He Welcomes Elections in Several Countries, Improved Cameroon-Nigeria Ties

In spite of the praiseworthy efforts made by the leaders of West Africa, the region remained fragile and would require the ongoing support of the international community, the United Nations envoy for the region said in a briefing to the Security Council today.

Said Djinnit, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA) said that during the reporting period West African countries had continued to progress towards stability, enabled by the renewed commitment of the region’s leaders and peoples, and aided by the efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other regional organizations.

In Mali, constitutional order and territorial integrity had been re-established with the polls held in July and August that had resulted in the election of President Boubacar Keita.  Even though major security challenges continued, the process of dialogue and national reconciliation was ongoing.  Drawing lessons from the crisis in Mali, West African leaders had committed to the creation of a rapid reaction force to deal with regional crises.

Legislative elections had also been held in Togo, Guinea and Mauritania, he continued.  In Ghana, the Supreme Court had upheld the validity of the presidential elections held in December 2012, confirming the victory of President John Dramani Mahama.  The period of calm in the subregion had benefitted West African leaders, enabling them to launch various development projects.

He went on to note that the border demarcation process between Nigeria and Cameroon also continued to make progress.  The transfer of authority, as called for in the Greentree Agreement, had been successfully completed at the end of the transition period, he said, adding that he had signed a joint declaration on 22 October, with the heads of the delegations of Cameroon and Nigeria, that the former would exercise fully its sovereign rights in the Bakassi zone.  Illustrating the return of a “climate of trust” between the two States, Nigeria had become Cameroon’s number one trade partner over the last two years, he noted.

Turning to the Sahel, he said the Secretary-General’s tour of the region, in the company of African Union, European Union and World Bank officials, had strengthened partnerships between States of the region and the international community.  A coordinating mechanism had been established between the different United Nations entities to implement the Organization’s Integrated Strategy for the Sahel.

Noting significant progress in implementing Security Council resolutions 2062 (2012) and 2066 (2012) calling for a transboundary security strategy in the Mano River area, he said the Heads of State of the Mano River Union had adopted a strategy for cross-border security, working in close cooperation with ECOWAS.  In-depth consultations with civil society on implementation of the Strategy were under way.

Sustained regional efforts were also being made to eliminate piracy, he continued.  The United Nations offices in West and Central Africa were working with ECOWAS and the Gulf of Guinea Commission to ensure adequate follow-up to the decisions taken at the Yaoundé Summit, he said, adding that UNOWA continued to support security-sector reform initiatives in the region.

It was also crucial to coordinate the many security initiatives taken by different national and international stakeholders to deal with the growing threat of terrorism, he said.  Even the region’s most powerful countries had their “ups and downs”, he cautioned, citing the growing power of organized crime, benefiting from porous borders and weak national institutions, as the biggest threat.  Given that vulnerability, the international community and the Security Council must continue to support West Africa, he stressed.

The meeting began at 3:05 p.m. and ended at 3:20 p.m.

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For information media • not an official record