15 JANUARY 2016
Security Council Press Statement on United Nations Office for West Africa
The members of the Security Council heard a briefing on 14 January 2016 by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa, Mohamed ibn Chambas.
The members of the Security Council expressed their full support to the Special Representative and welcomed the activities undertaken by the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA) in the areas of good offices, the enhancement of subregional capacities to address cross-border and cross-cutting threats to peace and security, as well as the promotion of good governance, respect for the rule of law and human rights, and gender mainstreaming. They also commended the engagement of UNOWA with regional and subregional organizations, in particular the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Lake Chad Basin Commission and the Mano River Union, in order to promote peace and stability in West Africa.
The members of the Security Council welcomed the positive political developments in West Africa, in particular the holding of free and peaceful elections in Nigeria, Togo, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire. They stressed the importance of the upcoming elections in Niger, Benin, Cabo Verde, Ghana and the Gambia to be free, fair, peaceful, inclusive and credible, and further stressed they will follow them with great attention.
The members of the Security Council expressed their concern that the political tension may continue to erode governance in Guinea-Bissau and jeopardize the consolidation of gains achieved in the country since the elections held in 2014. They called upon national leaders of Guinea-Bissau to work to sustain stability through substantive political dialogue in order to prevent escalation of tensions or relapse into conflict. They also encouraged them to foster a climate conducive to national reconciliation, as well as democratic, social and economic reconstruction.
The members of the Security Council noted the collaboration undertaken between UNOWA and the Peacebuilding Commission, and encouraged the UNOWA and the Peacebuilding Commission to continue close and effective cooperation in order to maximize impacts of sustainable peace.
The members of the Security Council reiterated their strong condemnation of the recurrent terrorist attacks carried out in the region, in particular in Mali and the Sahel, as well as in the Lake Chad Basin region, notably by Boko Haram, and stressed the need to combat all forms of terrorism. In this regard, they expressed particular concern about the protection of civilians, who are the main target of these attacks.
They welcomed, in this regard, the regional and international efforts to mitigate the security, humanitarian and development consequences of these attacks. They took note of the progress made in the operationalization of the Multinational Joint Task Force, including the recent signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Lake Chad Basin Commission and the African Union. They reaffirmed that Member States must ensure that any measures taken to counter terrorism comply with all their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights law, international refugee law and international humanitarian law.
The members of the Council encouraged Member States, multilateral and bilateral partners to lend their support to the Task Force to ensure its full and prompt operationalization.
The members of the Security Council commended the efforts of the African Union and ECOWAS, as well as of Member States of the Sahel to strengthen border security and regional cooperation, including through the G5 Sahel and the Nouakchott process on the enhancement of the security cooperation and the operationalization of the African Peace and Security Architecture in the Sahel and Sahara region, and called on them to further enhance their cooperation in this regard.
The members of the Council remained committed to working closely with the African Union, ECOWAS, the Economic Community of Central African States, the Lake Chad Basin Commission and the G5 Sahel in order to strengthen regional cooperation with a view to addressing cross-border security threats and preventing the spread of violent extremism and terrorism.
The members of the Security Council expressed their concern about the trafficking of drugs and other illicit goods, as well as the smuggling of migrants and human trafficking, and stressed the need to strengthen the fight against criminal activities in the subregion.
The members of the Security Council welcomed the success achieved in the fight against Ebola and reiterated their concerns about the humanitarian, social and economic consequences of this disease.
They expressed their support and solidarity to affected countries and called for the strengthening of the early warning mechanisms and resilience of national health systems.
They also called upon the international community to sustain support to the affected countries and encouraged all the bilateral and multilateral partners to fulfill the commitments made during the Ebola Recovery Conferences held in Brussels, Washington and New York.