The United Nations today opened a new political office designed to support the efforts of Central African nations to consolidate peace and prevent conflict, as well as to tackle cross-border challenges such as arms trafficking and organized crime.
“The establishment of this office honours the aspirations of the leaders of this sub-region who for years have been seeking a United Nations regional political presence to help address some of the major threats to peace and security in this part of Africa,” Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe said at the inauguration ceremony in Libreville, Gabon.
The UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) has an initial mandate of two years and will be headed by a Special Representative, who will be appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
It will work closely with the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), which comprises Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe.
Mr. Pascoe said the establishment of the Office underscores the priority the UN system accords to early warning and early political action as major tools for conflict prevention.
“The opening of the UN Office in Central Africa is an investment in prevention rather than cure and is designed to enhance the capacity of sub-regional actors so they can come together in a regional framework to prevent and resolve conflicts,” he stated.
UNOCA is the third regional political office set up by the world body to promote preventive diplomacy and assist regions to manage shared problems and crises, and follows the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA) and the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA).
“Within the United Nations, we have been experiencing a rebirth of preventive diplomacy and mediation as a cost-effective option for dealing with crises,” noted Mr. Pascoe, adding that Member States are also renewing their commitment to diplomacy as an instrument for solving problems.