Statement by Ambassador Harold Agyeman, Permanent Representative of Ghana to the United Nations, at the UN Security Council meeting on Peace Consolidation in West Africa

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25 July 2023

Mr. President,

I deliver this statement on behalf of the members of the A3 namely, Gabon, Mozambique, and Ghana.

We welcome the report of the Secretary-General on the activities of UNOWAS and avail ourselves of this opportunity to warmly congratulate Mr. Leonardo Santos Simão on his appointment as SRSG for West Africa and the Sahel and Head of UNOWAS. We are pleased with the SRSG’s active engagement with the countries of the region since his recent assumption of duty and encourage his further efforts in the implementation of the UNOWAS mandate. We thank him for his first briefing to the Council.

We also thank Dr. Omar Alieu Touray, President of the ECOWAS Commission for his important remarks and take good note of his views on developments in the region, the determination of the region to respond to the security challenge, and the request for solidarity with the members of the Community.

Mr. President,

Since the last briefing to this Council and the renewal of the mandate of UNOWAS, we have seen the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria, and Sierra Leone as well as in Benin, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, and the Gambia. We note the need for continuing international and regional support for upcoming elections in the region and encourage ongoing efforts to restore constitutional order in the three (3) transitional countries, particularly in Mali, where the referendum held in June 2023 should set out a pathway for further efforts based on an inclusive process. We urge the Malian Authorities and the Signatory Groups to remain engaged in realizing the objectives of the Algiers Peace Agreement and affirm our support for the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Mali.

The A3, however, remains concerned by the security situation in the region, especially in the Sahelian countries, where loss of territory to terrorist and armed groups is leading to new waves of displacement and humanitarian consequences. We note the interlocking nature of the unfolding crises and the need for a comprehensive approach in resolving them.

Against this backdrop, we would like to make a few critical remarks:

First, on the political situation, we encourage the countries of the region to fulfill their obligations under regional arrangements such as the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance. Indeed, democratic, inclusive, and participatory practices are necessary to hold the stability of any country, and amid the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and prevailing geopolitical contestations, the fragilities of the countries of the region should be managed through a participatory approach to governance, involving the youth, women, and minority groups.

We welcome the commitment of the SRSG and his team, in close collaboration with regional stakeholders to implement ECOWAS’ core principles, as reiterated in the Communique of the Sixty-Third Ordinary meeting of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS held on 9th July 2023.

Secondly, with respect to the security situation, the growing incidence of terrorism and violent extremism, and their evolving methods of operation are of major concern. We strongly condemn attacks by terrorist groups against civilian and security personnel in the region and pay tribute to all those who have lost their lives. As MINUSMA carries on with its withdrawal from Mali, we urge coordinated action with the neighboring countries to minimize any further adverse security impact on Mali and the region. We look forward to the Secretary-General’s report to this Council in August, clarifying the role that UNOWAS and other UN agencies can play following the withdrawal of MINUSMA.

Now more than ever, logistical, operational, and funding support for regional mechanisms such as the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), the G5 Sahel Joint Force and the Accra Initiative is critical. We welcome the decision to activate the ECOWAS Standby Force and provide requisite support towards its deployment and the implementation of the ECOWAS Action Plan for the Eradication of Terrorism. We note the commitment to enhance synergies among the regional initiatives, being led by the three-member plus one Presidential Task Troika and look forward to the outcomes of the ECOWAS extraordinary summit to be held in August to deliberate on concrete measures in addressing the security situation in the region, including the transitions. 11. Still on the security front, we urge sustained monitoring of the situation in Libya and the need to embrace a coordinated approach to avert the threat that the return of Foreign Terrorist Fighters pose to the stability of the region, including the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.

We remain hopeful that the wide consultations done by the Issoufou-led Panel in the development of an assessment report on the Sahel will emerge with elements in support of regional security initiatives to address the challenges in the region. We encourage the support of the international community for the ongoing efforts of the region.

Thirdly, concerning the humanitarian situation, which has been spawned by the escalation of conflicts and other drivers, such as deteriorating socio-economic circumstances and the adverse impact of climate change, the A3 calls the attention of the international community to the more than 6 million displaced persons and about 10,000 schools closed. We need to move beyond a business-as-usual approach in addressing the issue. We call for donor partners to prioritize the implementation of humanitarian response plans for countries in West Africa and the Sahel by helping to meet the US$3.5 billion target required to tackle the increasing humanitarian needs.

Lastly, we urge a comprehensive approach in addressing the challenges in West Africa and the Sahel, including support for measures to tackle the root causes of the crises. This should include support to address the governance and development deficits, but also a commitment in forging national consensus in the countries of the region to ensure that women and the youth play an equal and meaningful role in all decision-making and governance processes. In this regard, we welcome support for the integration of the human security concerns of women and youth into the recently adopted 2022-2026 ECOWAS Early Warning and Early Response Strategic Plan and encourage further support for the implementation of the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel (UNISS).

Mr. President,

Regarding climate change, Gabon, Mozambique and Ghana believe that the prevailing crises in the region are aggravated by this phenomenon, which has led to displacements and uncontrolled competition over the shrinking natural resources, among others. In this regard, we welcome support for the implementation of regional initiatives such as the Dakar Call to Action on climate change. We also welcome the PBCs advisory note for this meeting and underscore the need for more support for its work to enable the region to harness the positive dividends from its intervening role including in climate-related peace and development issues as well as in the promotion of community-based dispute resolution mechanisms.

In conclusion, we reaffirm our respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all countries of the region. The A3 wishes to emphasize that the demonstration of strong political will at the national, regional, and international level, including by this Council, remains crucial in addressing the multi-faceted challenges facing the region. We call on all Council members to commit to an early adoption of the draft UNOWAS Presidential Statement to support the mandate of the new SRSG.

I thank you.

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