Swedish statement at the UN Security Council Briefing on UNOCA
National statement delivered by Ambassador Olof Skoog on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa, UNOCA, 13 December 2018, New York.
Merci beaucoup monsieur le président,
Thank you very much SRSG Fall and Director Ghelani for your briefings today and for your tireless very important efforts. You can count on our support, both on the preventive action of UNOCA and the humanitarian efforts of UNOCHA.
Advocating for an increased focus on preventive diplomacy has been a priority for Sweden throughout our tenure on this Council. One of the most effective operational tools the UN has for preventing conflict is precisely its regional offices. They are uniquely positioned to engage in constructive dialogue and provide political accompaniment, with local knowledge, continuity and respect. They can take a comprehensive approach to challenges and support countries addressing root causes of conflict. And they can support effective and coordinated regional responses, including to promote regional integration, cross-border cooperation and development. The work of these important regional offices, and of our regional envoys, must therefore continue to be actively supported and we believe that their capacity should be further strengthened.
Our Foreign Minister Margot Wallström witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of climate change on local communities, especially women, during her joint visit to Chad this summer with you, SRSG Fall, as well as the Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed.
Climate-related security risks is one of the challenges that requires both a holistic approach and regional response. We welcome the expanded analysis on climate and security in the Secretary-General’s report. Increased mainstreaming of independent and up-to-date assessments of climate related security risks into conflict analysis and prevention efforts is crucial. We hope to see this approach replicated also in other regions and in all parts of the UN system.
The rise in conflicts between farmers and herders, aggravated by the impact of climate change, is a worrisome development. We welcome the regional plan to reinforce conflict prevention and early warning mechanisms at national and regional levels, with the participation of women and youth. We appreciate UNOCA’s efforts in this regard.
The situation in Central Africa has been dominated by elections in a number of countries in the sub-region, as we just heard. We must continue to ensure equal and unhindered participation of women in these processes, including possibilities to run for office. The Situation Room platform set up by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in Cameroon is a good example of how women can be encouraged to take part in elections. Operationalizing the Regional Action Plan for the women, peace and security agenda remains critical, and related initiatives by UNOCA and regional organizations should be supported.
In the spirit of preventive diplomacy, the deteriorating situation in Cameroon must be addressed. We are deeply concerned over the acute humanitarian situation and massive displacement caused by the crisis in the North-West and South-West regions of the country. Continued disturbing reports of grave violence, including extra-judicial killings, abductions and restrictions of movement must be investigated, and accountability for all human rights violations and abuses ensured. A continued crisis risks having serious regional implications, including on the fight against terrorism in the Lake Chad Basin and on efforts to bring peace to the Central African Republic. So there is, as we heard today, the fastest growing displacement situation that represents a clear threat to international peace and security.
To change this trajectory, the post-electoral period should offer a window of opportunity. We urge all parties to immediately end the violence, and we call on the government to urgently take concrete steps to build genuine trust and confidence, as underlined by SRSG Fall this morning. This includes engaging in an inclusive mediated dialogue with communities in the English-speaking region, as well as to release political detainees. Safe and unhindered humanitarian access must always be ensured in accordance with humanitarian principles. Access should also be provided to human rights monitors and to the media to help establish the facts.
United international engagement is needed to assist Cameroon to manage the crisis, including to build trust and overcome divisions. International support is also needed to address the humanitarian situation. We therefore encourage the government to seek support from the UN and regional actors. If the crisis continues to deteriorate, and steps are not taken to address the situation, this Council should consider options for more active engagement in a spirit of prevention.
The security situation in the wider Lake Chad Basin remains one of deep concern. The number of attacks carried out by Boko Haram has increased in recent months and the humanitarian situation is not improving as we heard. The international community needs to do more to support national and regional efforts in addressing the situation. We welcome UNOCA’s continued support to the Lake Chad Basin Commission and to the implementation of the regional strategy for stabilization, recovery and resilience of areas affected by Boko Haram. Sweden will continue to contribute, including with substantial humanitarian assistance, as well as through the EU’s development cooperation and support to the Multinational Joint Task Force in the fight against Boko Haram.
In conclusion, Mr. President,
The UN’s regional offices, including UNOCA, has an important role to play as the UN moves towards a prevention-centered approach in the spirit of sustaining peace. Many of the security risks we face today, such as climate change and terrorism, are not bound by national borders but will by default need regional and international responses. Also beyond our membership on this Council, we will continue to advocate for early conflict prevention, including through supporting local responses by the UN’s regional offices and regional organizations. And we expect to remain a major humanitarian donor in response to the huge needs outlined by Director Ghelani today and we urge others to join us, and to respond to her appeal this morning.
Thank you very much.