Dakar, 10 July 2014 – The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) for West Africa, Mr. Said Djinnit, attended the 45th Ordinary Summit of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, held on 10th July in Accra.
In his address to the ECOWAS leaders, the Special Representative commended the tireless efforts deployed by ECOWAS to address the core socio-economic and governance challenges confronting West African countries, as well as regional peace and security issues.
SRSG Djinnit paid tribute to ECOWAS for its leadership and contribution in the process that led to the successful conclusion of the political transition in Guinea-Bissau, including the holding of peaceful and transparent elections with a widely accepted outcome. He assured that the United Nations will continue to work closely with the regional organization and other stakeholders, in assisting the government of Guinea-Bissau to consolidate these crucial democratic advances, and in mobilizing international efforts towards the implementation of the necessary reforms for long-term stability in the country.
The Special Representative also reaffirmed the continued commitment of the United Nations in all efforts and initiatives to bring lasting peace in Mali in line with the last UNSC Resolution 2164 that extended and expanded the mandate of MINUSMA. He welcomed ongoing efforts towards resuming inclusive dialogue in Algiers in line with the Ouagadougou Preliminary Agreement.
Mr. Djinnit commended ECOWAS commitment to addressing the scourge of transnational organized crime, including drug trafficking, piracy and criminality at sea, as well as growing terrorist activities.
Mr. Djinnit stressed the excellent cooperation between ECOWAS, the Mano River Union (MRU) and UN in the development and implementation of the Strategy for Cross-Border Security in the MRU. He commended the recent adoption by ECOWAS of its Integrated Maritime Strategy, in the context of ECOWAS, ECCAS, the Gulf of Guinea Commission and UN consultations to establish appropriate mechanisms for addressing piracy and criminality at sea. He also welcomed the organization’s willingness to coordinate with other initiatives for the Sahel.
The Special Representative for West Africa stressed the deep concern of UN regarding the growing threat posed by violent extremism and terrorism in the larger Sahel region as well as in North-Eastern Nigeria. “We urge the countries of the region to pool their resources and cooperate effectively in addressing this threat, with the support of the rest of the international community”, he declared.
On the situation in Nigeria, the Special Representative stated that the primary and immediate concern of the United Nations is the plight of children including in particular those that are being held in captivity by the terrorist Boko Haram group, as well as the fate of the civilian population in the North East, where human rights and humanitarian conditions are alarming. In this regard, he announced that pursuant to Security Council Agenda on Children in Situations of Armed Conflict and the recent report of the Secretary-General, the United Nations will enhance its monitoring and investigation capacity regarding violence against children in Nigeria.
As many countries in West Africa are preparing to hold elections in 2015, Mr. Djinnit firmly reaffirmed UN commitment to assist ECOWAS, the African Union and other key organizations to assist in creating propitious conditions for peaceful, free and fair election processes.
“I wish to reiterate that the UN will remain by the side of ECOWAS, its Governments and people as they struggle towards a more peaceful and prosperous future”, he concluded.