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Statement at the UNSC Briefing on UNOWAS

Thank you Mr. President.  


Before I start, I would like to congratulate you and your team on assuming the Presidency of the Council. We wish you all the best. I would also like to thank Albania for their excellent stewardship of Security Council business for the month of June.


Let me start by thanking SRSG Annadif. I would also like to thank our dear friend and colleague, Ambassador Rabab, for her statement on behalf of the Peacebuilding Commission whose work Ireland strongly supports.  I very much look forward to hearing from Ms. Rabia Djibo Magagi when we can fix our technical difficulties.


Mr. President,


The security situation in the region has deteriorated rapidly since January. Ireland strongly condemns the deadly attacks carried out against civilians and peacekeepers. We offer our sincere condolences to the families of the MINUSMA peacekeepers killed in further heinous attacks this week.


The threat of violence and insecurity, which was already catastrophic in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, continues to intensify and has also expanded southward into the coastal states. This expansion should not come as a surprise to any of us. We have been warned about it time and time again. 


Regional leadership and cooperation is crucial to facing these threats. We welcome the intensified collaboration under the Accra Initiative. However, we remain concerned that cooperation within the G5 Sahel has weakened at a time when the security situation is deteriorating.


An increased terrorist threat has of course led to an intensification in counter-terrorism responses. We call on all national authorities to ensure that international law is always obeyed in counter-terrorism activities. Reports of human rights violations allegedly perpetrated by security forces, in some cases, accompanied by foreign mercenaries, are deeply troubling. Failure to ensure accountability serves only to further drive radicalisation.


To prevent further spread of terrorism, a greater focus must be placed on addressing the underlying drivers of radicalisation. We know that a military solution alone will not suffice when drivers of violence remain unaddressed.


Mr. President,


We share the Secretary General’s concern about the impact of unconstitutional changes of government on the stability of the sub-region, as well as on political, economic and social progress.


The role of ECOWAS is key. We welcome the outcome of the recent Summit, and its efforts to support political transitions in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea. We also commend its work on the review of the 2001 Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.


These transition processes must be genuinely inclusive. They should result in free, fair, transparent and credible elections and a return to constitutional order. Ireland deeply regrets the growing restrictions of civil liberties as well as the continued under representation of women in decision-making processes across the region.


We are also extremely concerned about the increasingly dire humanitarian situation. Climate shocks have contributed to the dramatic food crisis and we also remain concerned about the adverse implications of climate change for peace and security in the region.


In this regard, Ireland was delighted to co-organise April’s regional conference on climate change, peace and security in West Africa and the Sahel, to which the Special Representative referred earlier. We welcome the adoption of a call to action through which the countries of the region clearly recognised the challenges presented by climate related security risks. We hear their call for more inclusive and evidence-based analysis and policymaking, integrated partnerships, and scaled-up conflict-sensitive climate finance. The UN system, including the Security Council, has a critical role to play in enabling these actions.


Mr. President,


West Africa and the Sahel is at a crossroads. The challenges faced by the region are complex and far-reaching but they are not insurmountable. Achieving political stability through inclusive democratic governance, addressing drivers of violence, and alleviating the humanitarian crisis will help us ensure that the hard won gains of recent years will not be eroded.


In this context, we hope that the Council will unite in support for the continued work of UNOWAS and unanimously agree a PRST, which we will propose alongside our Ghanaian colleagues, to guide their vital work over the next 6 months. 


Thank you.


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