Statement by First Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy at a UN Security Council briefing on peace consolidation in West Africa
We glad to see you in the Chair of the Council. We wish to your country every success during your Presidency in January. We welcome our colleagues who have joined us this year. We welcome your involvement and count on close and fruitful cooperation. We thank our American colleagues, whose Presidency in December was highly productive and efficient.
We thank Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel Mohamed Ibn Chambas for his insights.
We share concerns expressed by Mr.Chambas that have to do with continuous deterioration of the situation with security in this part of the continent. The geography of terrorist activity, drug trafficking and organized crime is expanding in the Sahel. Unfortunately, extremist ideology wins new adepts. Tragic reports about deaths of dozens of military officers or civil citizens from the hands of criminals arrive almost weekly from various countries of the region. The situation has been extremely tough in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger. We reiterate our full support for these states in combating terrorism. We would like to express heartfelt condolences regarding the recent terrorist attacks in the region, in particular in Niger. We should not forget that the threat of destabilization is looming for the states of the Gulf of Guinea.
Who is to blame for such unfortunate developments? As we infer from today’s discussion, opinions differ on that matter. By all means, we do not contest that the region encounters such fundamental problems as weakness of state power, inter-communal and inter-ethnic contradictions, lacking protection of human rights, impact of climate change. They need to be addressed. However, in retrospect, if we take a look back (not a year or two, but a few decades back), we will see that these developments do not seem to be something new; generally, the local authorities managed to cope with them before.
What really triggered the current crisis was reckless action of those who sowed chaos in Libya, and used arms to change the legitimate authority there. Without stabilization in Libya - and many regionals justly speak of it - it will hardly be possible to ensure peace and stability in the Sahel.
Eradication of terrorism is one of the primary tasks for African states. In this regard, efforts of regional states in countering the growing challenges are very timely. It becomes even more important as terrorist groups more actively coordinate their activity. We support obligations taken by ECOWAS at recent meetings in Niamey and Abuja that are designed to mobilize assets for countering jihadists. We agree that G5 Sahel Joint Force and the Multinational Joint Task Force to combat “Boko Haram” require extra international support. For our part, we provide assistance to African states via bilateral channels.
At the same time, it is quite evident that terrorism cannot be defeated only through military action. We have to effectively counter the spread of extremist ideology, embark on solving the urgent social and economic issues, strengthen state institutions, develop culture of respect for human rights. We attach great importance to implementing the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel, as well as the activity of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel.
We expect that parliamentary and presidential elections that many countries of the region have scheduled for 2020 will be held in the environment of law and order. We welcome successful completion of the second round of presidential elections in Guinea-Bissau. We hope it will open a new page in the history of the country, and leave behind all instability and political turbulence.
In conclusion, let me reiterate to you, Mr.Chambas, our assurances that Russia is in full support of your personal efforts, as well as of the activity of the United Nations Office under your lead, that addresses regional crises, issues of political mediation, assists in improving state institutions, searches for ways to foster economic development and combat terrorism. The scale and the results of your engagement deserve the highest praise.