The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-general for West Africa and the Sahel, Giovanie Biha, presents the Secretary-general report on the activities of UNOWAS to the United Nations Security Council
The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Acting Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel, Giovanie BIHA, briefed, today by videoconference, the United Nations Security Council, on the latest Secretary-General report on the activities of UNOWAS. The report covers the period from 23 June to 30 December2023.
In her presentation, Ms. BIHA pointed out that some countries in West Africa and the Sahel continued working towards the consolidation of their democracies, while others continued to contend with the challenges of insecurity combined with humanitarian crises, as well as a deficit of good governance.
The security situation in the subregion continued to deteriorate, particularly in the central Sahel, particularly in Burkina Faso and Mali. " Despite efforts by national security forces and international partners, insecurity has again deteriorated in large parts of the region," Ms. BIHA told Security Council members. The Special Representative highlighted the alarming humanitarian situation in the Central Sahel region, which continues to "face multidimensional challenges, unprecedented levels of security and humanitarian challenges, socio-political instability, further compounded by the impact of climate change, and food insecurity which was exacerbated by the Ukraine-Russia conflict."
On this point, Deputy Special Representative BIHA encouraged “the commitment of the leaders of the region to intensify collective efforts to combat insecurity within the framework of the Accra Initiative. A holistic approach is needed, and the creation of the Initiative Joint Force is an important development in this regard."
On the political plan, Ms. BIHA stated that "UNOWAS is working with national stakeholders and partners to promote political consensus and ensure fair conditions of competition ahead of this year's elections in the sub-region". As a reminder, presidential elections in Nigeria will be held on 25 February 2023 and parliamentary elections took place in Benin on 8 January 2023. She also welcomed the efforts of national actors, regional and international institutions, which have resulted in agreements on the calendar of transitions in Burkina Faso and Guinea. She assured of the active and continuous engagement of UNOWAS "in the monitoring and evaluation mechanism agreed between Burkina Faso and ECOWAS, and in the operationalization of the transition timetable in Guinea". The Deputy Special Representative further encouraged "the UN system to continue to support the concerned countries by focusing on addressing the grievances that are at the origin of the coups ."
Ms. BIHA also welcomed that “several countries in the region have adopted new national legislation in favor of parity in terms of participation in political decision-making, after years of sustained advocacy.”
The Deputy Special Representative reiterated UNOWAS’ commitment to continue to support national and regional actors to strengthen peace and stability in West Africa and the Sahel.
For more information about the report:
Report of the Secretary-General on the activities of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel