The Security Council underlined the need for more support and adequate resources for the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) today amid increased demands from Guinea-Bissau and post-transition countries in the region.
In a sweeping statement (document S/PRST/2019/7) tabled by Joanna Wronecka (Poland), Council President for August, the 15 members welcomed the Secretary-General’s decision to conduct a strategic review of the Office’s mandate and activities. The Council invited him to present his views by 15 November on potential areas for improvement — or new or refocused priorities, including on counter-terrorism and the effects of climate change on security and intercommunal violence — in order to inform discussions on the renewal of the mission’s mandate, which will expire on 31 December.
Throughout the statement, the Council made a series of observations, broadly reiterating its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of all countries in West Africa and the Sahel.
Specifically, it emphasized that security and stability in Mali are inextricably linked to that of the Sahel and West Africa, as well as to that of Libya and North Africa. It expressed hope that the inter-Togolese dialogue process can provide the foundation for a free and fair presidential election in 2020. The Council welcomed the generally peaceful conduct this year of presidential elections in Nigeria, Senegal and Mauritania, and legislative elections in Guinea-Bissau.
Amid deteriorating security and humanitarian conditions in the Sahel region, the Council welcomed the Secretary‑General’s efforts to adapt United Nations support in Burkina Faso and Niger, and requested updates on these integrated cross-pillar processes through the regular reporting on UNOWAS.
In Guinea-Bissau, the Council reiterated its call for the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) to gradually draw down and transfer tasks to UNOWAS, while, in the Gambia, it urged continued efforts to consolidate peace through political and security sector reform, transitional justice processes and review of the Constitution.
More broadly, it encouraged the consolidation of political reforms in the region to prevent violence and instability, as well as progress on national reconciliation in Sierra Leone and Liberia. National stakeholders in Guinea‑Bissau, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea and Togo meanwhile must work together to facilitate preparations for and the holding of genuinely free and fair elections.
By other terms, the Council welcomed the leadership demonstrated by countries in West Africa and the Sahel in spearheading initiatives to address such security challenges as terrorism and maritime piracy. It welcomed the UNOWAS study on conflicts between pastoralists and farmers, which found that tensions are being driven by competition for natural resources, rapid population growth and weak governance, among other pressures.
Stressing the need for strengthened collective engagement, the Council also called for a more integrated, cross-pillar approach across the development, humanitarian, human rights and peace and security nexus — including to address causes of crises.
The meeting began at 10:04 a.m. and ended at 10:05 a.m.