Statement by First Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy at UNSC briefing on the work of the UN Office for West African and the Sahel
We thank Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel Mahamat Annadif. Mr.Annadif, Russia welcomes your efforts aimed at assisting the states of West Africa, the Sahel, and Lake Chad Basin in addressing the current difficulties. Without any doubt, the results of the work of UNOWAS deserve highest praise.
We share concerns about the challenges that many countries of West Africa and especially of the Sahel are faced with. In this region, terrorist activity does not subside, inter-ethnic and inter-communal conflicts continue, organized crime and drug trafficking are on the rise. Throughout the second half of 2021, we received tragic reports of people dying from deadly terrorist attacks and clashes with militants. We express our support to all those who are engaged in the challenging fight against terrorism in the region.
The humanitarian situation remains very dire. The number of IDPs and people needing food assistance has increased significantly. Many schools and medical facilities are closed. All this makes it necessary for the states of the region, the Sahel in the first place, to redouble efforts so that to restore effective state control and governance.
Speaking of Mali, we believe that domestic political stability is required in order to implement the peace agreement, eradicate terrorism, and improve the socio-economic situation. Further political perturbations may bring the country to a deadlock. Let us show due respect for our Malian colleagues and support their understandable eagerness to bring order to their country, and do so while relying on whichever partner they believe is right for it. When it comes to making assessments of the situation, double standards and attempts to utilize unverified or even false information (unfortunately, we already heard such information being cited today) are absolutely unacceptable and unworthy of any self-respecting state.
Transitional authorities should implement their obligations to recover the constitutional order with an eye to the reality on the ground. Of course, we would not want the scheduled election terms to be postponed. Yet we realize what challenges the Malian authorities encounter while preparing for the elections. We agree that unless state control is recovered, the results of the vote in many regions of Mali could hardly be considered verified, which would pave the way to a political destabilization, as was the case after the elections in Mali last year.
Back to the issue of UNOWAS, we believe that the Office has very ambitious and complex tasks: promote settlement of regional crises, take part in political mediation, help strengthen state institutions and implement the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel, act as coordinator of other UN presences on the ground.
Efficiency of UNOWAS directly depends on whether it has meaningful engagement with such regional organizations as the African Union, ECOWAS, G5 Sahel, and Lake Chad Basin Commission. Also, there are issues, including combating piracy, problems of Lake Chad Basin, demarcation of Cameroon-Niger border, that require UNOWAS to cooperate with the UN Office for Central Africa.
After the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) was closed in 2020, UNOWAS assumed responsibility for monitoring developments in this country. In these circumstances, we believe that preserving UNSC sanctions against Guinea-Bissau under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, that are only envisaged for situations characterized by threats to international peace and security, defies common sense. We call to start dismantling the sanctions.