30th High-level Meeting of Heads of UN Missions in West Africa
30th High-level Meeting of Heads of UN Missions in West Africa
Monrovia, 21 December 2016
- At the invitation of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the Heads of the United Nations Missions in West Africa held their 30th High-level Meeting on 21 December 2016 in Monrovia, Liberia.
- In attendance were the Special Representatives of the UN Secretary-General and Heads of UN missions in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), Ms. Aïchatou Mindaoudou Souleymane; in Liberia (UNMIL), Mr. Farid Zarif; in Mali (MINUSMA), Mr. Mahamat Saleh Annadif; and in West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas.
- The objective of this bi-annual meeting was to provide insights and exchange views on peace and security dynamics in the areas of operation of the respective missions and in the West African region as a whole, and to strengthen coordination in order to address common challenges in such areas as Elections, Transnational Organized Crime, Violent Extremism and Terrorism, Security Sector and Constitutional Reform processes, and democratic transitions.
- The Heads of missions lauded the peaceful nature of the 7 December elections in Ghana and commended the outgoing President John Mahama for his statesmanship. The meeting also welcomed the peaceful local and presidential elections in Cabo Verde, held on 4 September and 2 October respectively. Participants further welcomed the holding of local elections in Mali, on 20 November, the first such elections since 2009.
- The Heads of missions expressed serious concern over the rejection of the 1 December election results by the incumbent President of The Gambia and called for a peaceful transfer of power. They also expressed support for the ECOWAS and the UN Security Council position on The Gambia, upholding the outcome of the elections and stating that the will of the people of The Gambia should be respected.
- The Heads of missions expressed the hope that the upcoming elections in West Africa will consolidate democratic progress and bring about an increase in women’s participation in politics.
- The Heads of missions commended the people and Government of Côte d’Ivoire for the successful holding of the constitutional referendum and the legislative elections, confirming Côte d’Ivoire’s steady march towards lasting peace and stability. They further noted progress made by UNOCI in the liquidation of the mission and transition of residual activities to the Government, the UN Country team and partners. It was agreed that due consideration will be given to UNOCI personnel in staffing-related matters.
- The Heads of missions expressed concerns about the protracted political and institutional crisis in Guinea-Bissau and urged the parties to respect the decisions of the 50th Summit of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government of 17 December 2016.
- Regarding Liberia, the meeting welcomed the progress achieved in preparing for Presidential and Legislative elections and urged the Government of Liberia, the National Elections Commission (NEC), political parties, civil society organizations, and the country’s citizens to ensure that all efforts are deployed for a credible, transparent and fair electoral exercise and a subsequent peaceful transition to a newly elected Government. The participants also emphasized the Government’s responsibility in maintaining security, and the need to advance critical reforms to address root causes of potential conflicts. They strongly encouraged the Legislature to progress with the passage of key legislation, such as the Land Rights and Local Government Bills, and the advancement of rights and participation of women in political processes.
- The Heads of missions pointed to the fact that recent security incidents both in Mali and in neighboring countries, including in northern Burkina Faso and western Niger highlighted the need for enhanced regional security collaboration to address security threats, including measures to prevent and counter violent extremism as well as to fight illicit drug trafficking.
- The meeting stressed that notwithstanding progress made over the past eighteen months, the peace process in Mali is at a critical juncture. The participants called upon the signatory parties of the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali to act decisively, pursue constructive dialogue and demonstrate their commitment to the peace process with concrete actions fulfilling their obligations to the Malian people.
- Participants expressed serious concern over the continued fragility of the security situation in West Africa in general and in the Lake Chad Basin countries in particular and the Sahel, often with distressing humanitarian consequences. The Heads of missions strongly condemned recent attacks against civilians, national armed forces and peacekeepers, and welcomed regional initiatives aiming to jointly address regional security threats and transnational organized crime, especially trafficking in small arms and light weapons.
- The Heads of missions recognized that threats posed by the continued presence of perpetrators of transnational organized crime, drug traffickers and terrorist organizations in the region require increased and coordinated efforts by the United Nations and other international partners to assist national authorities in developing effective counter measures. Those efforts should also be geared towards tackling drug trafficking as a source of funding for terrorism in the sub-region and beyond.
- The meeting welcomed the regional initiatives aimed at addressing the persisting governance, security and humanitarian challenges in West Africa and the Sahel. The Heads of missions encouraged national, regional and international partners to pursue and support such initiatives, while being mindful of the imperative need for coordination and cooperation.
- Participants agreed to continue to cooperate and to strengthen information- sharing between their missions on key issues affecting the region.
- The Heads of missions expressed their gratitude to SRSG Farid Zarif for the warm welcome and excellent organization of the meeting.