Strengthening peace and security in West Africa

15 Apr 2010

Dakar - The United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA) organized the second annual regional consultation with United Nations (UN) regional directors and resident coordinators based in the sub-region.

The key UN stakeholders in West Africa examined ways to strategically improve the coordination of their efforts promoting stability and development in the sub-region. They discussed how to reinforce synergies between their different mandates and existing mechanisms to better tackle major challenges in the sub-region.

“To adopt a comprehensive regional approach beyond national responses when examining stability in West Africa is a guarantee for the UN’s action to become more efficient,” said Mr Djinnit, Special Representative of the Secretary General for West Africa. “Thanks to its values and principles, the UN can play a unique facilitation role between governments, donors, civil society in order to better respond to the needs and expectations of the population,” he added.

The participants at the meeting therefore highlighted conflict and crisis resolution as a priority to be addressed notably through collaboration with regional organizations. They also insisted on the need to ensure continuous financial support to the emergency and development phases in order to develop sustainable solutions to structural problems in West Africa and to avoid repetitive crises such as in the Sahel region.

The UN representatives emphasized the primary responsibility for peace, development and security matters lies with governments, supported by the readiness of the UN system, through cooperation with regional organizations. They encouraged the governments to ratify international and regional legal instruments related to good governance and to implement them with the full support of the UN system.

Since elections periods are considered as potential times of unrest, the participants agreed to document and to share lessons learned in order to optimize the UN’s support to democratic and transparent elections.

The participants recognized drug trafficking and organized crime as a major threat to peace and stability in the sub-region. They urged the governments affected to promote good governance practices, especially in the security sector and to take strong actions to fight corruption and impunity, which facilitate the proliferation of criminal activities. They emphasized the need for a coordinated approach between the countries within the sub-region. They welcomed initiatives, such as the West Coast Initiative (WACI), already launched in support to the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) Regional Plan of Action adopted at the Praia conference. They called on donors to honor their pledges to finance the implementation phase of the Regional Action Plan. Furthermore, they stressed the need to also support development programs to provide impoverished, unemployed and vulnerable populations with sustainable alternatives.

The participants raised serious concerns with regard to the urgency of the food and nutritional crisis in the Sahel. They called on donors to urgently respond to the various appeals, including the Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) to address the needs of vulnerable populations in Niger, Chad and specific areas in Mali, Burkina Faso and Mauritania. Beyond the emergency response, they highlighted the need to tackle the structural causes of the repeating crises in the region through an increase in resources allocated to sustainable development and risk reduction.
 
« West Africa deserves the full attention of the international community. Together in coordination with regional actors such as ECOWAS and the African Union (AU), we will be stronger to support conflict prevention and initiatives towards better stability in the sub-region,” concluded Mr Djinnit, on behalf of the participants at the UN strategic consultation.

Contact Information

For more information :
Laurence Gérard, Public Information Officer for the UN Office in West Africa– Gerardl@un.org – Phone : +221 33 869-8560 – Cell : +221 77 332-4928