Statement by Ambassador James Kariuki at the UN Security Council meeting on West Africa

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The security situation across the Sahel is deteriorating

11 January 2024

Thank you, President. I’m grateful to SRSG Simão and Dr Théroux-Bénoni for their briefings this morning. Let me make four points on security, democracy, climate change, and humanitarian need.

First, as we’ve heard, security across the Sahel is deteriorating. The UK is particularly concerned about the situation in Mali, where UNOWAS has a crucial role to play after MINUSMA’s withdrawal. We encourage UNOWAS, through its good offices, to help bring all signatories to the 2015 Algiers Accords back to the negotiating table.

The UK welcomes ECOWAS contributions to regional security and supports the potential of the Accra Initiative. We also stand ready to support the region and the UN for the upcoming Africa Counter Terrorism Summit. We reiterate that the region’s security challenges are only exacerbated by the destabilising chaos of Russian mercenary group Wagner.

Second, democracy is under pressure. Timelines for the restoration of constitutional governments in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea continue to slip. We echo ECOWAS’ calls for a return to constitutional order, and we encourage recommitment to transition timetables. We call on Niger to agree a transition timeline with ECOWAS.


The United Kingdom congratulates Liberia for its recent peaceful transfer of power, and welcomes the Peacebuilding Commission’s role supporting this process. We urge redoubled efforts on UNOWAS’ regional work to prevent election-related tensions.

Third, the Security Council has recognised the adverse effects of climate change on security and stability in the region. We welcome UNOWAS’ work in the climate-security nexus. The UK is supporting work in the region to build the resilience of those most vulnerable to climate change.

Fourth, the humanitarian situation remains dire. Since 2019, UK aid has supported over 15 million in the Sahel with life-saving assistance, but humanitarian needs are still going unmet.  We call on all actors to ensure safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance.

In closing, President, in light of the regional challenges we’ve all set out here today, we should recommit to even closer work with UNOWAS and the regional organisations. We join others in calling for a presidential statement of the Council to reflect this commitment.

I thank you.

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