The Government of Guinea-Bissau elected last year had made great strides, but stability remained fragile in the country pending further reforms and economic development that required the sustained support of the international community, briefers told the Security Council this morning.
“The consolidation of peace and stability in Guinea-Bissau, the indispensable requirement for development, requires cooperative effort, patience and perseverance,” the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Miguel Trovoada, said in a meeting that also heard from the representative of Guinea-Bissau, as well as that of Brazil (Chair of the country configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission); Ghana, as Chair of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); and Timor-Leste, on behalf of the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries.
Introducing the Secretary-General’s latest report (document S/2015/37), Mr. Trovoada said that the Government, elected as part of the process of restoring constitutional order after a 2012 coup d’état, had made progress in the areas of rule of law, reconciliation, security and justice. The situation remained fragile, however, because there was “no sustainable peace without development”, he stressed, citing the often repeated words of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The adoption of an integrated plan for both development and good governance was designed to address that problem, he said, adding that priorities, as identified by the National Popular Assembly, would be presented at a donor’s round table in Brussels scheduled for March 2015. Meanwhile, he reported that services had been increased and maintained, a framework for national dialogue had been created and security sector form was being addressed, including the problematic matter of creating a military pension fund.
The country had gone through its second universal periodic review, which recommended strengthening human rights protections, the end of impunity for past violations and accession to international instruments, he said. The return to constitutional order had not yet removed the climate of uncertainty that underlay the instability in Guinea-Bissau, he added.
To remedy that situation, he said, institutions had to be built and the security sector and public administration had to undergo more improvement. He recommended strengthening the good offices function of the Special Representative to promote dialogue towards national conciliation. UNIOGBIS, the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the country, which was due for mandate renewal by the end of February, should continue to strengthen the relationship with international partners and promote sustained reform and deepen its partnership with ECOWAS.
ECOWAS, he noted, had recently renewed for six months its commitment to its security mission in Guinea-Bissau, known as ECOMIB, which he said was still an important element of stability and it needed international support. In that context, he emphasized that all assistance to Guinea-Bissau must aim to build governance and security institutions so that the country would no longer need either a political mission or a regional force.
Relaying the results of the most recent meeting of the country configuration on Guinea-Bissau, Antonio de Aguiar Patriota concurred that “commendable achievements” had been made since the new authorities came to power, showing the difference that a legitimate, competent and inclusive Government can make when combined with committed accompaniment by international partners. What was required now was that all commitments were translated into deeds.
The United Nations must also remain engaged, particularly the Security Council and the Peacebuilding Commission, he said. “It is time to start changing the long-held view that Guinea-Bissau is a chronic case of corruption, impunity and drug-trafficking. We should favour an approach that maximizes the potential and promises of a nation full of youth, energy and desire to turn a page of its darkest history,” he said. In that vein, neighbours, friends and partners of the country should ensure the success of the Brussels round table. He also called for renewal of the mandate of UNIOGBIS for 12 months and support for ECOMIB.
In her statement, the representative of Guinea-Bissau, Maria Antonieta Pinto Lopes d’Alva, affirmed that substantial gains had been made by her country and thanked UNIOGBIS for the part it played. She, too, requested that the mandate of the Office be renewed for another 12 months. Recognizing that peace and prosperity were the responsibility of its Government, she added, however, that: “Being a fragile country battered with enormous difficulties and challenges for years, we are in strong need of support and financial assistance from the international community so that we can stay of the path to development.”
She said that when her Government took office it was confronted with a multitude of socioeconomic problems, from unpaid civil servants to a lack of basic services such as electricity and drinking water. It was proud to have reduced the arears of civil service pay, saved the school year, improved access to water, electricity and health care and keep the country free of Ebola, all part of an emergency plan implemented in 2014.
A contingency plan, in addition, she said, had created a national commission to verify all contracts for the exploitation of resources of the country and a medium-term development plan had been devised to be presented in Brussels. She thanked the United Nations, African Union, European Union, ECOWAS, Portuguese-speaking Community, Francophone community and all bilateral partners for their assistance in the preparatory process for the Brussels conference.
The Government, she pledged, remained committed to implementing further reforms, in the security, justice and civil service sectors. Again, however, the country counted on financial assistance in many areas, most critically to create the necessary pension fund for retired military personnel.
The representative of Ghana, Ken Kanda, pledged that ECOWAS would continue to support efforts to consolidate peace, stability and security in Guinea-Bissau by maintaining ECOMIB despite all the other challenges facing the subregion. He called for support to the Mission. Acknowledging that there were competing claims on international resources, he said that the contact group on Guinea-Bissau had faith that the work being done to sustain the gains made in the country would be supported. In addition, he urged all international partners to participate in the Brussels conference and its preparations.
Taking the floor last, the representative of Timor-Leste, Sofia Borges, said that the Portuguese-speaking Community remained committed to supporting Guinea-Bissau’s progress, particularly in providing technical assistance based on the common language and experiences of its member States. She pledged to promote international participation in the Brussels conference to support the new Government’s reform effort and agreed with recommendations to extend UNIOGBIS and to secure the Council’s endorsement of ECOMIB, as a guarantor of stability and as partners in security sector reform.
The meeting opened at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 10:47 a.m.