Statement by First Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy at UNSC briefing on the activity of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel
We thank Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel Mahamat Saleh Annadif for his insights.
We share concerns regarding dangerous challenges that many countries of West Africa and especially of the Sahel encounter at the moment. Terrorist activity is still raging in the region, interethnic and intercommunal conflicts do not abate, organized crime and drug trafficking are on the rise. During the first 6 months of 2021, we were receiving tragic news that reported deaths caused by violent terrorist attacks. We express our support for all those who engages in the challenging fight against terrorism in the region.
Security problems, as well as the coronavirus pandemic prevented many social institutions, schools and medical facilities from opening. West African states have been managing to contain the spread of the pandemic so far, yet it is obvious that COVID-19 will heavily impact the region’s economic development.
Despite numerous difficulties, many states of the region could successfully go through an electoral cycle. Hopefully, the elections that several West African states have scheduled for the second half of 2021 will also convene under the conditions of democracy, transparency, legitimacy and legal order, as well as full respect for national sovereignty. Interference of external stakeholders in these processes must be excluded. In the context of the situation in Mali, we expect that all previous commitments regarding the transitional period will be observed, including conducting constitutional referendum and general democratic elections.
UNOWAS is faced with complicated large-scale tasks: facilitate resolution of regional crises, take part in political mediation, assist in strengthening state institutions and implementing the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel, act as coordinator of other UN presences on the ground.
Efficiency of the work of UNOWAS directly depends on whether it effectively interacts with such regional organizations as the African Union, ECOWAS, G5 Sahel, Lake Chad Basin Commission. We count on UNOWAS to take into account the important decisions regarding economic development and security of the region that were made at a summit of ECOWAS in Accra on 19 June. Some issues, i.a. countering piracy and demarcation of border between Cameroon and Niger, require UNOWAS to cooperate with its “sibling”, UN Regional Office for Central Africa.
After closure of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) in 2020, it has become the responsibility of UNOWAS to track developments in that country. In these circumstances, it appears absurd to be preserving UNSC sanctions against Guinea-Bissau, as those are measures under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, that are only envisaged for situations characterized by threats to international peace and security. We call to start gradually dismantling them.
Russia welcomes your commitment and efforts aimed at helping states of West Africa, the Sahel, and Lake Chad Basin overcome current difficulties. There is no doubt that results of the work of UNOWAS deserve high praise.