Statement by Ambassador Xolisa Mabhongo, Deputy Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, during the Security Council Meeting on UNOWAS, 8 January 2020

Mr President,

I thank SRSG Chambas for his briefing and would like to use this opportunity to commend the efforts of the SRSG and his team in efficiently discharging their mandate amidst an increasingly challenging environment.

At the outset, South Africa wishes to express its full support for the role of UNOWAS in the West Africa region and the Sahel, and we support the renewal of the mandate of this important Office, which the Council will deliberate during the course of this month.

We commend the efforts of UNOWAS to strengthen national and regional capacities for conflict resilience and to support the enabling environments for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. This is imperative as continued efforts to improve such capacities, in tandem with security strategies, pave the way for peace and stability.

Mr President,

South Africa remains concerned by the continued terrorist attacks against civilians, security and defence forces as well as peacekeepers in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Lake Chad Basin countries that have resulted in many fatalities. It is disturbing that the terrorist attacks are spreading to other countries in the region previously not affected.

We are also deeply concerned by the increase in intercommunal violence, which is increasingly becoming a security threat and also exacerbating the security and humanitarian situation in West Africa region and the Sahel. Effective measures need to be devised to resolve farmer and herder disputes as well as inter-communal violence. In this context, we welcome the collaboration of UNOWAS with the Peacebuilding Support Office and the Peacebuilding Fund to support national and cross-border programs, to address tensions related to the conflicts related to transhumance, prevention of violent extremism, and empowerment of youth and women in peacebuilding processes and conflict prevention mechanisms.

We are encouraged by the initiatives undertaken by countries in the region to improve the security situation. The decision taken by the ECOWAS extraordinary summit on terrorism in September 2019 is indicative of the determination and political will of African leaders to collectively address the security challenges in the region. The region’s stern determination should be equally met with intensified support from international partners to assist the region to successfully implement the Stabilisation Strategy for countries affected by Boko Haram, the G5 Sahel Priority Investment Plan, the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel and the United Nations Support Plan for the Sahel. We believe that the implementation of these plans envisioned in the mentioned strategies will contribute towards addressing the challenges faced by the region in a holistic manner.

Mr President,

The partnership between UNOWAS and the regional and sub-regional bodies, including the AU, ECOWAS, LCBC, MNJTF, and G5 Sahel as well as with UNOCA to strengthen coordination efforts towards the implementation of regional strategies is paramount.

The continuation of consultation processes and national dialogues to address election related issues by countries in the region is commendable in preserving peace and stability. In this context, we encourage UNOWAS to continue to pursue collaboration with ECOWAS, its mediation missions and good offices, especially in view of the planned elections in many countries of the region during the course of 2020.

We welcome the commitment of countries in the region to implement the Women, Peace and Security agenda in line with Security Council Resolution 1325. We are particularly pleased with the recommendation emanating from the annual consultations of the Working Group on Women, Peace and Security in West Africa and the Sahel held in October 2019 for the organisation by UNOWAS of an annual regional forum for women and youth. This recommendation resonates with the call made in resolution 2493 encouraging regional and sub-regional groups to consider convening meetings in the lead up to the 20th commemoration of resolution 1325 with the participation of governments, relevant stakeholders and civil society to review the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda in their respective regions.

We also commend efforts made to improve gender parities in the West Africa region through the adoption of relevant legislations, which will increase the number of women appointed in senior positions and improve the involvement and meaningful participation of women in decision-making processes.

Mr President,

In conclusion, we reiterate our position that a comprehensive approach that includes addressing the root causes of insecurity and instability is paramount for the realisation of sustainable peace in West Africa and the Sahel.

I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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