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Statement on peace consolidation in West Africa

Statement by Representative of Slovenia to the UN Security Council Ambassador Samuel Žbogar at the briefing to the UN Security Council on the Report of the Secretary-General on the activities of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS)

Thank you, Mr President,

at the outset, I would like to thank the Special Representative Mr Simão and Ms Théroux-Bénoni for their briefing today and for their insights.

Allow me to express my country’s unequivocal support to the work of UNOWAS. We particularly welcome Special Representative’s good offices across the region.

The Office’s work in conflict prevention, mediation and advocacy proves to be more important than ever and I would like to reflect upon some important elements emphasized by today’s briefers:

Firstly, on the importance of democracy. Our own story of transition to a democratic society informs our understanding of the challenges our partners in West Africa face in their efforts to consolidate democratic processes.

But it is also our own experience that testifies how integral the support of regional and international partners is, to ensure that the road of transition is a successful one. Close coordination between UNOWAS, ECOWAS and the countries in the transition processes is crucial for a timely return to constitutional order in compliance with the agreed commitments.

A great level of caution should be attributed to the shrinking civic and political space in some parts of the region. Giving voices to all segments of society is key to building trust necessary to sustain peace. We encourage the governments and political parties in the region to embrace an inclusive political dialogue, with full, equal, safe and meaningful participation of women and youth.

We value the insights of the Special Representative on good practices in Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone and commend UNOWAS for their work on gender mainstreaming in electoral processes and the implementation of the Council’s resolutions on Women, Peace and Security in the region.

Secondly, on the insecurity in the Sahel. Unprecedented levels of insecurity and instability, exacerbated by the threat of terrorist and violent extremist groups and intercommunal violence, are a matter of our great concern.

With the withdrawal of MINUSMA from Mali, it is essential that the Council considers reinforcement of the UN efforts through UNOWAS and the UN Country Team. This is not the time to turn a blind eye to the region, but a time to invest in prevention, peace-building and regional stabilization.

We agree with the briefers that the counter-terrorism efforts must go hand in hand with long-term investments in resilient societies and institutions. Slovenia denounces violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in the counter-terrorism operations and calls for investigation and accountability of all actors involved.

In order to help prevent the spill-over of the insecurity from the Sahel to the coastal states of which we heard today also from the briefers, the European Union launched a new Security and Defence Initiative in support of the countries of the Gulf of Guinea. We also recognize the interconnectedness of the security situation in North Africa and the Sahel.

Thirdly, violence and effects of climate change lead to dire food and water insecurity, waterborne diseases, forced displacement and a deepening of humanitarian crisis for millions of people in the Central Sahel.

Slovenia is alarmed by the impact of these struggles on the recruitment of children by armed groups, abductions of girls, school closures and sexual and gender-based violence.

The region urgently needs our increased attention on the impact of climate change on peace and security – the need was reaffirmed in the recently adopted  landmark declaration on climate security at the Sahel Climate, Peace and Security Forum in Bamako.

This leads me to my final point today, Mr President. Experience from the region shows that only long-term engagement on humanitarian, development and peace nexus can lead to durable solutions. They must be rooted in conflict-sensitive investments in sustainable development and unquestionable respect for human rights and human dignity.

Slovenia joins other members in recognizing the work of UNOWAS in this regard. We support the A3+ appeal for a new Presidential Statement that would show the Council’s support for the region and fort he efforts of Mr Simão’s team.

Thank you.                                                                                  

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