Swedish Statement at the UN Security Council Briefing on Peace and Security in Africa - Lake Chad Basin region
National statement delivered by Ambassador Carl Skau on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on Peace and Security in Africa - Lake Chad Basin region, 22 March 2018, New York.
I thank the Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed for her briefing and for her leadership. I am happy to note that Ambassador Olof Skoog is with Amina in Monrovia to celebrate this important moment in Liberia's history, and to discuss how to support the priorities of the new Government, in his capacity as Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission for Liberia. I would also like to thank Mr. Mohammed Bila of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and Ms. Chitra Nagarajan for sharing their important perspectives from the ground.
It is with a deep sigh of relief that we welcome the safe return of over 100 of the girls captured by Boko Haram in the Nigerian town of Dapchi, and reiterate our demands for the immediate and unconditional release of all remaining missing girls. Rehabilitation opportunities for children and their mothers, including the sensitisation of communities to avoid stigmatisation and to facilitate return, continue to be of the utmost importance.
National, regional and international efforts to mitigate the consequences of the Boko Haram insurgency and to step up humanitarian action in 2017 meant that we were able to successfully avert the immediate risk of famine. We recognize the important efforts by the Multinational Joint Task Force, as well as by the Lake Chad Basin Commission, in this regard. However, one year after the visit of this Council to the region and the adoption of resolution 2349, the situation remains one of the most fragile in the world. Continued international support and attention to this complex crisis is crucial.
The vast development needs in the region persist. Chronic poverty, lack of economic opportunities and violations of human rights are all factors of instability. We need a continued focus on sustainable and inclusive growth, as well as on the empowerment of women.
Effective partnerships spanning the humanitarian, reconstruction and development nexus, combining short- and long-term responses, is needed to support sustainable peace. To address structural causes of the crisis, complementarity and cooperation must be sought with a multitude of actors, including national governments, regional organizations and International Financial Institutions.
As part of the efforts to implement resolution 2349, Sweden is actively supporting the organization of the Lake Chad Governors' Forum on Peacebuilding, Prevention, Stabilization and Regional Cooperation, due to take place in Maiduguri in May. This Forum should contribute to the process to developing a regional stabilization strategy. These efforts will also support coherence, coordination and cross-border collaboration by creating a forum for recurrent dialogue between governors from affected states, and by conducting consultations with communities – including religious leaders and women representatives – on the challenges facing people living in the Lake Chad Basin region.
In light of today's focus on root causes, I wish to highlight two points in particular.
Firstly, the negative impacts of climate change on the stability and security of the Lake Chad Basin region have been clearly recognized by this Council – in resolution 2349 as well as in the January Presidential Statement on UNOWAS. Climate change constitutes both a direct challenge and a threat multiplier, contributing to polarization and conflict between groups by worsening existing fragility factors, such as scarce resources, marginalization and the disruption of livelihoods.
The Security Council has repeatedly emphasized, and this has also been raised by previous speakers, the need for adequate capacity for risk assessments by the UN in this regard. We need to find ways to bring together existing information from relevant UN organs, including at country level, and involve research institutions to provide forward-looking analysis for UN decision-making bodies, including for the Security Council. We invite the Secretary-General to take these requests by the Council forward, and we stand ready to support any efforts in this regard.
Conflict prevention efforts will be more effective if the climate and environmental stress put on societies is properly understood and addressed. Implementing the sustaining peace agenda and the Agenda 2030 is of course a central part of this.
Secondly, engaging all relevant stakeholders, not least at the local level, in an inclusive dialogue on root causes is crucial. Community engagement is also a prerequisite for effective early warning.
In particular, women's full and equal representation and effective participation is critical in reconstruction and stabilization efforts, as they are often disproportionately affected by the crisis and play multiple roles in society. With greater influence for women in the design and implementation of policies and programmes, they will be better adapted to realities on the ground, creating better conditions for long-term stability and peace.
We look forward to continuing to engage in discussions on the implementation of resolution 2349, including within regular reporting by UNOWAS and UNOCA. We encourage the Secretary-General to undertake a joint visit to the region with the World Bank, the African Union and the African Development Bank, as encouraged in the resolution. I agree with the U.K. that proposals put forward by the briefers this morning should be considered. The Peacebuilding Commission could also be well placed in this regard, drawing on its unique membership and mandate to address root causes and take a regional approach. Continuous international attention to the Lake Chad Basin region will be needed in order to find ways to address the multiple and interdependent challenges in a coherent manner, short-term as well as long-term.