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During the Security Council debate on UNOWAS

10th January 2022

Security Council Chamber

New York

Madam President,

It is my honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the A3 members of the Security Council namely, Kenya, Gabon, and my own country Ghana.

We join previous speakers in thanking Mr. Annadif Khatir Mahamat Saleh, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for the United Nations Office for West Africa, and the Sahel (UNOWAS) for his comprehensive briefing to the Council and welcome his continuing commitment to utilise the Good Offices of the Secretary General in helping to consolidate the peace and stability in West Africa and the Sahel region.

We also welcome the participation in this meeting of Ms. Ghada Fathi Waly, Executive Director of the UNODC as well as Ms. Cécile Yougbaré, who spoke on behalf of the People's Coalition for the Sahel, and commend them for their unique perspectives.

Madam President,

While welcoming the report of the Secretary-General on the situation in West Africa and the Sahel, we would want to underscore the importance of preventive diplomacy in the mandate of UNOWAS and believe that an enhanced preventive diplomacy engagement in the region would help achieve even broader outcomes. In this context, we acknowledge the progress made since the last report to the Council in the consolidation of democracy in Cabo Verde and The Gambia, through the recent successful holding of their periodic general elections.

We nonetheless note the persisting political, security and humanitarian challenges in some parts of West Africa and the Sahel and welcome the conciliatory gestures by the Presidents of Benin and Côte d'Ivoire which contributed to lowering of political tensions in the two countries. We also welcome the ongoing dialogue in Burkina Faso, Senegal and Togo aimed at building consensus on political and security matters.

Madam President,

In considering the report of the Secretary-General before us, there are three issues of concern that the members of the A3 would want to highlight.

(a) The first issue that is of paramount concern is the rollback of the democratic values and constitutional culture of West Africa and the Sahel through the unconstitutional change of governments that first occurred in Mali, twice, and then in Guinea. The political situation in Mali and Guinea go contrary to the governance architecture of ECOWAS, as expressed in the Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance and constitutes a sources of division and instability in those two countries, with implications for the entire region. The prevailing situation does not reflect the political aspirations of the people in those two countries. Indeed, the people of West Africa and the Sahel, from their now distant history of coup d’états, have come to a clear conclusion that these unacceptable assaults on democratic governance have not served them well.

i. We therefore welcome the determination of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS to ensure expedited transition to constitutional rule in those countries and to further reinforce democratic values and constitutional culture in West Africa and the Sahel.

ii. We are concerned by the delays in the transition processes in Mali and by the absence of chronogram for the election and the non-setting up of the National Council of Transition in Guinea that would enable the peoples of those two countries to determine who their leaders should be. In this regard, we call on the Council to extend its full support for the measures announced at the just ended extraordinary meeting of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS held in Accra, Ghana, on Sunday 9th January 2022.

iii. In the case of Mali, the Authority of ECOWAS finds as unacceptable the proposal by the authorities to extend the transition to five years and has therefore applied new and additional diplomatic, economic and financial measures in conformity with the Community Protocols. These measures include:

· Closure of land and air borders between ECOWAS member countries and Mali

· Suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS Member States and Mali with the exception of essential listed products

· Freeze of assets of the Republic of Mali in ECOWAS Central Banks

· Freeze of assets of all Malian State and the State Enterprises and Parastatals in Commercial Banks

· Suspension of Mali from all financial assistance and transitions from all ECOWAS financial institutions.

The sanctions, as difficult as it is for the Authority of ECOWAS, have been deemed necessary to facilitate the process of a return of constitutional order in Mali.

iv. On Guinea, the A3 believes that the word of the Guinean junta, in the face of a lack of transition roadmap, does not provide any assurance of a commitment to restoring constitutional order. We therefore call on the Guinean authorities to work with ECOWAS to establish the National Transition Council which is a pre-requisite for the development of a transition roadmap. We welcome the decision of ECOWAS to field a Mission to Conakry to discuss the transition process with the transition authorities.

(b) Secondly, the deteriorating security situation in the region, characterised by the recurrence of terrorist attacks in a number of countries in the region, including in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Nigeria and the expansion of the attacks in the coastal countries is worrying. We, therefore, reiterate the Security Council’s call for the Secretary-General to leverage existing UN initiatives and mechanisms for integrated and cross-pillar actions with a view to initiate projects specifically dedicated to stemming intercommunal violence, in close coordination with the African Union, including its Mission for Mali and the Sahel (MISAHEL). In anticipation of the Libya elections, we support the AU’s call for cooperation between key stakeholders in the development and implementation of the withdrawal plan of foreign forces, in order to ensure that their withdrawal does not adversely impact the stability in the region.

We welcome the decision by the Authority to activate immediately, in preparedness for any eventuality, the ECOWAS Standby Force on account of its decisions on the Malian situation.

i. We remain concerned by the projected nexus between maritime criminal networks and land-based terrorist groups in the region. We therefore encourage urgent support for the full operationalization of the entire ECOWAS Maritime Security Architecture. In this regard, we welcome the discussions that are being initiated in the Council on maritime piracy in the Gulf of Guinea which we believe will help strengthen multilateral efforts in addressing the menace in the region. We count on the support and cooperation of Council members in this process.

ii. We urge for real action to be taken in disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration that is designed to be responsive to recruits of groups with extremist ideologies. It is required to address the threat posed by signatory groups as well as non-signatory armed forces. We also call for all actors in the region, and globally, to take concerted actions to attack the criminal economies that incentivise and enable illegal armed groups to operate effectively. Taking deliberate, and aggressive actions, against transnational crime is key to stabilisation of the region.

iii. We reiterate our support for the inclusion of climate induced security threats into UNOWAS mandate and believe that it will complement efforts in implementing commitments in regional initiatives like the recently adopted ECOWAS declaration on climate change and the other fifteen (15) initiatives and actions being undertaken in the region to strengthen climate governance. This we believe will serve as a preventative mechanism to address potential conflicts while reducing the risk of conflict relapse for countries in fragile situations. We also recognise the upcoming regional conference on Climate Change, Peace and Security in West Africa and the Sahel to be held in the first quarter of 2022, which we believe will push the process forward in addressing the issue in the region.

(c) Thirdly, we are concerned by the humanitarian impact of the conflict situation in the region including from factors such as terrorism, armed banditry, farmer/herder clashes and natural disasters. The heightened impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the socio-economic conditions of the people in the region poses additional challenges to the stability of the region. We therefore urge vaccine equity and justice and note the funding support required by the ECOWAS Commission from the international community and donor partners to strengthen humanitarian interventions focusing on building community resilience and recovery.

Madam President,

While welcoming investment in military capabilities and in areas like border management, and intelligence-sharing to help in early detection to better manage the instability in the region, it is our view that these are only rudimentary in the fight against terrorism and the myriad of challenges in the region. New and additional investment is required in the region to address the root causes of the persisting challenges, particularly in addressing governance and development deficits, with a prioritisation of women and the youth in the decision-making processes. In this connection, we call for support for comprehensive approaches by States of the region and international partners, including through the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel and the Priority Investment Plan of the Group of Five for the Sahel, all of which will help improve the situation in West Africa. Finally we also call for support for the draft Presidential Statement on UNOWAS which will soon be initiated in the Council.

I thank you for your kind attention.

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