Statement by Sweden at the Security Council Briefing on Peace and Security in Africa - Lake Chad Basin region
National Statement delivered by Ambassador Olof Skoog on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on Peace and Security in Africa - Lake Chad Basin region, 13 September 2017, New York.
Thank you very much Mr President and also to Under Secretary-General Jeffrey Feltman for his briefing. I would also like to thank Fatima Imam for sharing her important perspectives with the Council, and I agree that in all of our work we must endeavour to listen to the voices of those that are most affected. I did not have the opportunity to join the council during your visit, so I am all the more appreciative of her very honest description even in cases where she pointed to harshness and insufficiencies.
The challenges that face the Lake Chad Basin region are multidimensional – a security crisis, a humanitarian emergency, and development deficits. The Council had an opportunity to see how the interplay between these elements affects the lives of people in the region during the visit earlier this year. The resolution adopted on our return, and which today's briefing responds to, was forward-looking, and underlined our solidarity and full support for the conflict-affected populations and governments of the region.
We commend the sub-regional, regional and international efforts being undertaken to mitigate the consequences of the Boko Haram insurgency. At the same time, we continue to be deeply concerned at the alarming scale of the humanitarian crisis. Despite progress in expanding the humanitarian response, it is clear that we still need to step up our efforts, building on commitments made at the Oslo Conference in February.
We must not let our attention to the situation wane.
I would like to raise three points that we believe are critical to successfully responding to the challenges.
Firstly, a holistic and regional approach is necessary. The root causes of instability and insecurity in the region are many and include climate change, economic fragility, marginalization, human rights violations and demographic challenges. Responding to the immediate security challenges must go hand in hand with development efforts that seek to address long-term instability by improving the daily lives of people on the ground.
The announcement of plans by the African Union and Lake Chad Basin Commission to hold a stabilization conference in early October is welcome. This meeting represents an important opportunity for countries to work together on the development of a regional strategy to address the root causes.
The effects of climate change and its links to the stability and security are evident. We cannot hide from this reality if we want to truly address the challenges in the region. The lack of follow-up on this area in the Secretary-General's report once again underlines the need for improved risk assessments and risk management strategies by the UN, as clearly highlighted by the Security Council in UNSCR 2349. The Council must remain alert to the threats to stability as a result of the adverse effects of climate change.
There is an inherent link between security, development and human rights. We agree with the Secretary-General's assertion that funding for UN human rights monitoring tasks must be safeguarded. The establishment by Nigeria of a Judicial Commission to review the compliance of its armed forces with human rights obligations and rules of engagement is a welcome development, and we call on all parties concerned to implement the Abuja Action Statement. We also encourage the swift deployment of the remaining civilian personnel to the Multi-National Joint Task Force, not least adequate gender expertise.
The second point I would like to make is on the need for broad partnerships, not least with the African Union and development actors. As our visit to Addis last week showed, this Council and the AU Peace and Security Council are united in our analysis of the situation, as well as of the required responses. We should seize the momentum created through the Joint Framework for Enhanced Cooperation UN-AU to operationalise these responses.
Similarly, no sustainable peace can be achieved without effective partnerships spanning the humanitarian, reconstruction and development nexus. The Berlin meeting earlier this month underlined the need for early recovery, prevention and joint stabilisation efforts. Complementarity and cooperation must be sought with a multitude of actors, including the International Financial Institutions.
My third point is the role of women as agents of change.
Women's empowerment cannot be overlooked in reconstruction and stabilization efforts. With the full, equal and effective participation of women at all levels of society, policies will be better adapted to realities on the ground, creating better conditions for long-term stability and peace.
I am particularly pleased that we have benefitted Ms Imam joining us here today. Women from civil society can provide unique insights to underpin our discussions and decisions.
We are appalled by the finding in the Secretary-General's report that Boko Haram is increasingly resorting to suicide attacks, often carried out by forcibly recruited girls. This is why a key priority of governments must be rehabilitation opportunities for children and their mothers, including the sensitisation of communities to avoid stigmatisation and to facilitate return. We also support the Secretary-General's call for the development of a strategy to engage women in the prevention of violent extremism, taking into account the complexity of the categories that women fall into.
The adoption of this Council´s resolution 2349 was an important acknowledgement of the multitude of challenges facing the Lake Chad Basin region, and for this Council's commitment to supporting efforts towards long term and sustainable peace and development. We must not lose focus.
We see three opportunities going forward. Firstly, we would welcome further information on the planning for the joint visit by the leaders of the UN, AU and IFI's, as requested in the resolution. Secondly, we would be interested in hearing from the UN system how the Security Council can best support the AU – Lake Chad Basin Commission stabilisation conference. And finally, we look forward to the report of the Secretary-General in October in response to the Presidential Statement on the risk of famine in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and northeast Nigeria. This briefing will help add to our understanding of, and response to, the challenges being faced in the region and beyond.