National Statement by Sweden at the UN Security Council Briefing on the UNOWAS
National statement delivered by Ambassador Olof Skoog on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel, 11 January 2018, New York.
I would like to join others in welcoming the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, back to the Security Council chamber today, and I thank him for his insightful briefing to the Council.
The United Nations' Regional Offices have an important role to play in delivering on the vision laid out by the Secretary-General, and supported by this Council, to put prevention at the heart of all our work. As we have heard, UNOWAS continues to carry out a number of important preventative functions, in particular though the use of its good offices. UNOWAS plays a critical role by contributing to strategic and integrated analysis of the opportunities, risks and challenges faced by national and local authorities in their efforts to sustain peace. We strongly support this work and would like to see it replicated in other regions.
A conflict prevented rarely makes the front pages and success stories often go unnoticed. However, while political tensions continue in some of the countries in West Africa and the Sahel, it is important that we acknowledge positive developments and reforms in the region, such as in Liberia, the Gambia and Burkina Faso, as we have heard today. The Security Council and the United Nations should grasp the opportunity to support the region in consolidating democratic practices and sustaining inclusive economic development and growth. UNOWAS has an important role to play in this regard.
On Liberia, let me take a moment to commend the country for the peaceful, transparent, free and fair election process that has just been concluded. We acknowledge the important supportive role played by the region and the United Nations, in particular by former President Obasanjo of Nigeria and Special Representative Chambas. We look forward to continuing our support to Liberia as it moves to a new chapter for its development, including through the Peacebuilding Commission.
As we ask UNOWAS to do more - including in support of the transitions from peacekeeping missions to non-missions settings in Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire, and in support of regional efforts to combat terrorism - we must also ensure that adequate resources are available to it to carry out these tasks.
Many of the challenges facing the countries of the region – terrorism, transnational crime, humanitarian crises, increasing competition for scarce resources, including as a result of climate change - show no respect for national borders. Only sustained and holistic approaches, which take into account the root causes of conflict and instability in the region, and the linkages between them, can lead to long term solutions. The ongoing cooperation between UNOWAS and other regional organisations provides the potential for the development of such approaches.
The decision at the ECOWAS Summit in December that ECOWAS and UNOWAS would work together on the role of changing transhumance patterns, related to conflicts between farmers and herders, and conflict dynamics in this regard across the region is a good example of such cooperation.
In conclusion, may I once again thank the Special Representative for his briefing today and assure him of our continued support.