West Africa needs UN help to prevent instability, Security Council says

13 July 2004

After a fact-finding trip to seven West African countries last month, United Nations Security Council members are recommending strengthening of institutions working for regional stability, such as the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

After a fact-finding trip to seven West African countries last month, United Nations Security Council members are recommending strengthening of institutions working for regional stability, such as the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

In a report on their findings, the 14 Council members on the mission – Russia did not participate – welcome the initiative of UNOWA and ECOWAS “to identify ways of preventing coups d’état and other unconstitutional means of seizing or holding power, as well as to mitigate those abuses that are usually the root causes of attempted coups d’état.”

They also urge donors to respond generously to humanitarian appeals for the region and call for additional resources to UNOWA, which already has reached its full staffing level of seven professional staff members, to help with implementing coherent solutions to conflicts and other regional problems.

Recruitment of child soldiers continues, the report says, hailing the efforts of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and partners to strengthen the Child Protection Unit of ECOWAS.

Many of the people the mission met “underlined the need to create jobs and economic opportunity in West Africa as an essential element of lasting peace,” it says.

“Without them, countries could easily slip back into conflict, particularly after United Nations peacekeeping operations have left,” the report says. “The mission stressed the need for countries of the region, working with their international partners, to do their utmost to create a more favourable investment climate.”

The Security Council members point out that for the region to achieve the economic growth needed to cut prevailing youth unemployment, countries must fight corruption and promote governmental accountability to attract investment.

The mission was in the region from 22 to 28 June, with stops in Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea.

Council members reviewed peacekeeping operations in Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone, but they stressed that due attention must be paid to “those countries of the region that are currently stable and that show strong commitment to good governance, protection of human rights and good-neighbourly relations.”

 

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