Statement at the UNSC Briefing on Central Africa UNOCA/LRA
Statement07 June 2021
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I would like to begin, like others, by thanking SRSG Fall for his briefing and for the relevant and necessary work of UNOCA in the sub region.
I will focus my comments today on a number of country specific areas of concern, as well as on a number of thematic considerations raised by the SRSG.
I want to again express our condolences to the people of Chad on the passing of the late President Déby. We urge all stakeholders in Chad to work together to ensure a swift, peaceful and inclusive transition that respects human rights and fundamental freedoms, and a return to constitutional order and civilian rule through free and fair elections within 18 months. We welcome the nomination of Professor Ibrahima Fall as the African Union High Representative for the transition in Chad.
We are deeply concerned by the deteriorating situation in the Central African Republic. The recent joint AU-EU-UN-ECCAS working visit to CAR illustrates the regional and international commitment to support the people and the government. We urge the CAR authorities to engage constructively with regional organisations and neighbouring states, who have a vital role to play. Further, we appeal to the CAR authorities and all parties on the ground to coordinate and engage fully with MINUSCA, to end impediments to the work of the Mission, and to investigate those that have occurred. The safety and security of peacekeepers and UN personnel is not optional, it is a necessity.
The continuing, and escalating, levels of violence in both the Central African Republic and in Cameroon is deeply concerning. Attacks and abuses against civilians must end, and those responsible must be held to account. Those allegedly perpetrated by government forces are particularly disturbing. Governments bear the primary responsibility for the protection of their citizens. The essential social contract between state and citizen, vital to securing peace, requires trust in the state’s institutions and their actions.
The humanitarian situation in Cameroon is dire, exacerbated by attacks against humanitarian facilities. Violence against civilians, schools and humanitarian personnel is unacceptable, and the attack against a UN convoy reported by the Secretary General is deeply concerning. We call on all groups to facilitate humanitarian access, and urge all parties to pursue inclusive political dialogue to solve the crisis in the North-West and South-West Regions. Let me also take this opportunity to acknowledge Cameroon for hosting significant numbers of refugees displaced from within the region.
Parties to conflict must comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law. The sentencing last month by the ICC of the LRA commander Dominic Ongwen is significant, showing that those who commit crimes against humanity or war crimes will answer for their actions. We welcome the ICC’s efforts in holding perpetrators to account, since countering impunity is essential to preventing further violations.
Like the Ambassador of Niger and our colleagues in the A3+1, we believe that the fact that the Court in its verdict and sentencing addressed the crimes of forced pregnancy and forced marriage for the first time is important. We must demand the prosecution of the crime of conflict-related sexual violence on an equal basis with other war crimes and crimes against humanity.
We welcome the fact that the links between climate change and peace and security have been addressed so directly in the Secretary General’s report.
We have seen in the Sahel, particularly in the countries around Lake Chad, how conflict and climate combine to diminish access to natural resources. The multiple and repeated shocks of drought and flooding undermine community resilience and livelihoods, creating drivers which armed groups exploit.
Ireland will continue to work across the Council to recognise and act on climate-related security risks, which will only become more pressing in the years to come.
Mr. President, the work undertaken by UNOCA in supporting the development and implementation of National Action Plans on Women, Peace and Security must also be commended. As Ireland noted at last week’s Arria Formula meeting on WPS in the Sahel, the WPS agenda beats with an African heart.
Finally, Mr. President, regional coherence and cooperation is key to the region being able to recover strongly and sustainably from COVID-19, but it is also essential to strengthen national and regional governance systems, protect human rights and to address transnational security challenges. Cooperation between UNOCA and ECCAS is critical, and the joint strategic plan for 2021-2025 can be a significant framework for progress in the coming years.
Thank you, Mr. President.