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UN Special Representative Emphasizes UNOWAS Commitment to Peace, Security and Democracy in West Africa and the Sahel through Collaboration with Regional and International Partners

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Leonardo Santos Simão, presented the latest report of the Secretary-General on the activities of UNOWAS to the United Nations Security Council. The report covers the period from June 30 to December 31, 2023.

Mr. Simão addressed the Security Council, highlighting the persistence of socio-political tensions, growing insecurity in the Sahel, the worsening humanitarian situation, deficit of education systems, and the negative impact of climate change on peace and security in the sub-region. He also emphasized the significant progress in consolidating democracy, while expressing concerns about the security situation and governance challenges that remain major concerns.

He praised the successful presidential election in Liberia but raised concerns about political tensions in Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau following electoral processes. Mr. Simão also expressed concern about shrinking civic and political spaces in some countries in the subregion and emphasized the importance of respecting fundamental freedoms.

Mr. Simão reiterated UNOWAS’ commitment to advocating for dialogue to accelerate a return to constitutional order and ensure transparency, inclusivity, and respect for human rights in transition processes. He also addressed the worrying security and humanitarian situation, particularly in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger.

He acknowledged some stabilization in the Lake Chad Basin region but warned of possible reconfiguration of regional security coordination mechanisms. Mr. Simão also addressed the impact of climate change on peace and security in West Africa and the Sahel, emphasizing the reinforcement of security risks due to climate change.

He called for greater participation of women in decision-making bodies and welcomed greater representation of women in legislative bodies in Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, and Sierra Leone. Mr. Simão reiterated UNOWAS’ commitment to working with regional and international partners to consolidate peace, security, and democracy in West Africa and the Sahel.

The statement was distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS).

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