A3 Joint Statement on the situation in West Africa and the Sahel

JOINT A-3 STATEMENT BY AMB. HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF GHANA TO THE UNITED NATIONS DURING THE SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFING AND CONSULTATIONS ON UNOWAS 7th July 2022 - 10am Security Council Chamber New York



Mr. President,

  1. I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the A3 members of the Security Council namely, Gabon, Ghana and Kenya.

  2. We welcome the report of the Secretary-General and thank SRSG Annadif for his briefing and insightful perspectives on the situation in the region as well as for his continued personal engagement in resolving the challenges in the region.

  3. We also welcome the participation in this meeting of Ambassador Rabab Fatima of Bangladesh, Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) as well as Ms. Rabia Djibo Magagi who spoke on behalf of the Association Alliance for Peace and Security (APAISE-NIGER) and commend them for their additional perspectives.

  4. The participation of the PBC in this meeting, and the recommendations tabled from the Commission on UNOWAS underscores the importance of the whole of the United Nations system addressing the multidimensional challenges of West Africa and the Sahel in an integrated and coherent manner. The Council’s coordination with the PBC would allow for broader engagement in, the political, governance, security, socio-economic and humanitarian situations, and practical support to the implementation of regional strategies and investment programs.

Mr. President, 5. On the political situation, we welcome the efforts at consolidating democracy in the region, including in the Gambia, Senegal and Benin and the reforms being undertaken in Cabo Verde to improve governance and sustain social cohesion as well as the political dialogue initiated in Côte d'Ivoire to address political grievances. Despite the progress being made, we continue to be concerned about the roll-back of democracy in countries such as Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso.

6. We underscore the urgent need to restore constitutional order in the region and welcome the decisions taken by the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS at its 61st Ordinary Session held in Accra, Ghana on Sunday, 3rd July 2022. In this regard, we welcome the progress made in the ongoing review of the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, and the operationalization of its Conflict Prevention Framework. We believe that these measures are critical in consolidating democracy in the region.

7. We take note of the 24months electoral time table submitted by the Burkinabe authorities to ECOWAS as well as the scheduling of Presidential elections in Mali by March 2024. We urge the concerned transitional authorities to spare no efforts in robustly implementing the electoral time-table to ensure a definite return to constitutional rule. We welcome the lifting of the economic and financial sanctions imposed on Mali and Burkina Faso based on the present progress made towards transition and note the continuing suspension of their participation in the decision-making processes of ECOWAS.

Mr. President,

8. Concerning the security situation, we note with concern the deteriorating security environment in parts of the region which is reflected by heightened incidence of terrorist attacks, the aggravation of inter-communal and herder- farmer conflicts as well as the expansion of terrorist activities into the neighboring littoral countries of the Sahel such as Cote d’Ivoire, Benin and Togo.

9. The A3 condemns in the strongest terms the persistent attacks against civilian populations, United Nations personnel and humanitarian workers. We particularly deplore, the use of explosive devices, attacks on schools and hospitals by armed groups as well as terrorist groups.

10.We remain anxious over the spill-over effect of the protracted crisis in Libya on the Sahel, and the possible return of Foreign Terrorist Fighters and proliferations of small arms and light weapons. We, therefore, urge coordinated action among the regional countries including in the area of Disarmament Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) in addressing the matter. 11.We reiterate our support for regional initiatives since it remains one of the sustainable ways of dealing with the security situation in the region. The question of adequate, predictable and sustainable funding for regional security initiatives that respond to threats to international peace and security is a pressing matter that the Council must have a coherent position on. We encourage funding and logistical support for regional arrangements such as the Accra Initiative, the G5 Sahel Force, and the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) fighting the Boko Haram insurgency in the Lake Chad Basin. While we welcome the decline in kidnappings in the Gulf of Guinea; with no kidnappings of crews reported in the first quarter of 2022, compared to about 40 during the same period in 2021, we remain concerned about the growing link between the terrorists on land and the pirates at sea. In this connection, we look forward to the Secretary-General’s report following the adoption of resolution 2634 (2022) on maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea and believe that it would provide a good basis to understand the nature of the problem and the best approach in resolving it. 12.In view of the interlocking and trans-regional nature of the challenges, we encourage harmonization of UNOCA and UNOWAS efforts to improve coordination in tackling issues such as maritime security and the fight against terrorism and organised crime.

Mr. President, 13.The A3 is alarmed by the deteriorating humanitarian situation as evidenced in over 6.2 million displaced persons across the Sahel, due to the heightened insecurity. The situation is further compounded by other factors including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and food insecurity. The seriousness of the climate menace which has manifested in floods and droughts requires urgent attention. In this regard, we welcome the outcome document of the regional Conference on Climate and Security held in Dakar this year and share its call to action. Furthermore, funds to support the increasing humanitarian needs remains a challenge. We, therefore, re-iterate the Secretary-General’s call for funding support from donor partners to help meet the over $2.9 billion target required for the implementation of the humanitarian response plan in the region. 14.The A3 also condemns the persistent abuses perpetrated against women, girls and children including, sexual exploitation and attacks against schools by armed groups which have led to the closure of over 6,800 schools in the region. Such acts are in flagrant violation of international human rights law, continue to have a pyscho-social impact on children and diminish future contributions to the economic growth and development of the affected societies.

Mr. President, 15.Before concluding we would like to reiterate the need to invest more in addressing the root causes of the insecurity in the region by addressing the governance and development deficits. In this context, we encourage support for the implementation of the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel as well as the Priority Investment Plan of the Group of Five for the Sahel, and laud the PBC’s interventions in the region, including initiatives targeting youth, women and agricultural self-employment. We encourage further measures to empower women and the youth to enhance their full and meaningful participation in all political processes, including in elections and transitions. The Commission’s involvement in climate-related peace and development interventions as well as in the promotion of community-based dispute resolution mechanisms is also critical. 16.The A3 believes that a comprehensive approach characterized by deeper cooperation at the national, regional and multilateral level is indispensable to addressing the complex challenges in the region. In this regard, we underscore the importance of the ongoing AU-UN-ECOWAS-G5 Sahel Joint Strategic Assessment on Governance and Security in the Sahel and believe that the outcome of this joint assessment would provide a holistic and comprehensive approach in combating the challenges in the region. 17.Finally, Mr. President, following today’s meeting, the penholders on UNOWAS intended to circulate an initial Presidential Statement (PRST) on UNOWAS. We count on the support of all delegations for its consensual adoption which we believe would underpin the efforts of UNOWAS in dealing with the challenges in the region.

18.I thank you for your kind attention!

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