West Africa: Annan encourages preventive measures to deal with regional conflicts

19 December 2003 –

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today encouraged a grouping of West African countries to come up with preventive measures to deal with conflicts created by governments in the region that violate constitutional norms and flout basic principles of good governance.

In a message to the Summit of leaders from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Secretary-General said the international community, particularly the countries of the region, are right to condemn coups d'état "which bring immense suffering to so many countries in Africa.

"At the same time, we should not be silent when faced with poor standards of governance, which are sometimes the principal cause of those coups d'état," said the statement, which was delivered to the gathering in Accra by Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, Chief of the UN Office for West Africa. "Good governance is essential not just for political stability in the region, but also for development, economic growth and investment."

The Secretary-General also stressed that the regional approach to crises such as those in Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau is particularly important because of their increasing interconnectedness. "They are all fuelled by arms trafficking and are characterized by the use and recruitment of mercenaries and child soldiers and by cross-border movements of armed groups," he said.

Mr. Annan noted that at the request of the UN Security Council, his Special Representative for West Africa is preparing a report on the measures to be taken to boost ECOWAS's abilities through increased cooperation with the international community.

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