UNOWAS (West Africa and the Sahel)
On 8 December, the Council adopted a presidential statement on the Sahel. The statement covers challenges facing the region and highlights the different regional and international security and development initiatives. Compromises were reached to resolve contentious issues regarding the reporting cycle of the Secretary-General and recommendations on the location of the Special Envoy’s office, which had delayed the statement’s adoption at the Council’s briefing on the Sahel in November 2015.
On 25 November, Special Envoy Hiroute Guebre Sellassie briefed the Council on the latest report on the implementation of the UN’s integrated Sahel strategy (S/2015/866). At press time, negotiations for a draft presidential statement were ongoing.
On 6 October, Council members discussed developments in Burkina Faso under “any other business”. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, the head of UNOWA, briefed via video teleconference from Dakar. Council members issued a press statement on 12 October condemning the 10 and 11 October terrorist attacks by Boko Haram in Baga Sola, Chad and Kangaleri, Cameroon.
On 16 September, Council members issued a press statement condemning the detention by the Presidential Security Regiment (RSP) of transition President Michel Kafando, Prime Minister Isaac Zida and other ministers earlier that day in Burkina Faso. On 17 September, following the RSP’s announcement that it had taken over power, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman briefed Council members in consultations under “any other business”. Members issued a press statement later that day condemning RSP elements’ forceful seizure of power, and expressed strong support for UN, ECOWAS and AU mediation efforts in Burkina Faso. On 24 September, Council members welcomed the reinstatement of Kafando and the transitional authorities, calling for the resumption of the transition process without delay.
On 27 August, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman briefed Council members under “any other business” on his one-day visit to Burkina Faso. On 25 August, Feltman visited the country, together with UNOWA head Mohammed Ibn Chambas, ahead of the presidential and legislative elections scheduled for 11 October.
On 7 July, Mohammed Ibn Chambas, the head of UNOWA, briefed the Council on developments in West Africa and the latest Secretary-General’s report on the activities of UNOWA. The briefing was followed by consultations. A draft press statement was prepared by Nigeria, but Council members were unable to agree on the statement due to proposals by Chad to include references to the Multinational Joint Force being created to combat Boko Haram. It was never issued. On 28 July, the Council adopted a presidential statement commending Lake Chad Basin Commission members and Benin for their efforts to operationalise the MNJTF. The statement called upon the international community and donors to support the MNJTF, welcomed AU plans to organise a donors’ conference in support of the force and requested member states to contribute generously to an AU Trust Fund. In this regard, the presidential statement invited the Secretary-General to support the planned donors’ conference and requested him to advocate strongly with the international community and donors in support of these efforts.
On 7 April, Council members issued a press statement condemning recent attacks by Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria and Chad (SC/11852). The statement also urged, ahead of a planned summit between the Economic Community of West African States and the Economic Community of Central African States, for the two regional organisations to develop a common strategy and develop active cooperation and coordination to more effectively combat the Boko Haram threat.
On 30 March, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Kyung-wha Kang and the head of the UNOWA, Special Representative Mohammed Ibn Chambas, briefed the Council on the security, political and humanitarian situation in Boko Haram-affected areas, followed by consultations. In March, four expert-level meetings were held on a draft resolution on Boko Haram and the Multinational Joint Task Force that had been introduced by Chad on behalf of the three African members of the Council. Following differences that arose during these negotiations between Chad and Nigeria over whether the resolution should be adopted under Chapter 7, on 26 March, the draft was raised under “any other business”.
In February, Council members issued three press statements condemning Boko Haram attacks: SC/11763 on 2 February, SC/11768 on 5 February and SC/11780 on 13 February. In addition, the 2 February statement urged enhanced regional cooperation to combat the group and commended Chad’s assistance. The 5 February statement also welcomed the expert meeting being held in Cameroon to complete the concept of operations for the Multinational Joint Task Force. During 10 February consultations, under “any other business”, Council members were briefed by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman on Burkina Faso. Feltman had been in Burkina Faso on 4 February, the same day that members of the presidential guard called for the resignation of the interim prime minister. He told Council members that Burkina Faso’s transition is still fragile and stressed the need for the Council to support the transition, which envisages elections to restore constitutional order in October. Feltman also briefed on his visits to Ghana and Togo and said there are political tensions in Togo ahead of the presidential elections in March.
On 8 January, the Council was briefed by the Special Representative and head of UNOWA, Mohammed Ibn Chambas (S/PV.7357) on the latest UNOWA report (S/2014/945). He highlighted the fragile political situations in a number of West African countries in the lead-up to presidential and legislative elections in 2015 and 2016. He placed particular emphasis on the risk of pre- and post-electoral violence for Nigeria’s elections in February and the impact of the Boko Haram insurgency. On 19 January, the Council adopted its first presidential statement on Boko Haram (S/PRST/2015/4). It condemned recent Boko Haram attacks, highlighting the group’s use of children as suicide bombers on 10 and 11 January and Boko Haram’s attack on the town of Baga, Nigeria from 3 to 7 January. The Council deplored human rights violations by the group and expressed serious concern over the scale of the growing humanitarian crisis. Expressing deep concern that Boko Haram was undermining the peace and stability of the West and Central African region, the Council urged Lake Chad Basin Commission countries and Benin to undertake further planning toward the operationalisation of the Multinational Joint Task Force to combat the group.
On 11 December 2014, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Sahel, Hiroute Guebre Sellassie, briefed the Council on progress towards the implementation of the UN Sahel strategy (S/PV.7335). In addition, Sellassie noted the negative security impact that conflicts in Libya, northern Nigeria, northern Mali and the Central African Republic were having on the region. Council members also made statements. On 31 December 2014, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman briefed Council members in consultations on the failed coup in the Gambia.
On 4 November, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman briefed Council members in consultations on Burkina Faso under “any other business” on the resignation of Burkina Faso’s long-standing president Blaise Compaoré following protests against his intention to amend the constitution to allow him to run for president in 2015. Council members issued a press statement on 5 November urging security forces to hand over power to a civilian-led transition and take immediate steps to restore constitutional order. On 10 November, Council members issued a press statement condemning a suicide attack earlier that day at a school in Nigeria that reportedly killed 48 people (SC/11639). Another press statement on 17 November welcomed the appointment of Michel Kafando as the president for the period of transition.
On 27 August, the Council adopted a presidential statement on the Sahel. The adoption occurred more than two months after the Council’s 19 June briefing by Special Envoy to the Sahel Hiroute Guebre Sellassie. The statement encouraged greater cooperation among stakeholders to implement the UN’s Sahel strategy and with the Office of the Special Envoy. It further changed the reporting cycle on the implementation of the UN’s Sahel strategy, requesting the next report by 30 November 2015.
Special Representative Said Djinnit briefed the Council on 8 July on the latest Secretary-General’s UNOWA report, followed by consultations. The next day Council members issued a press statement welcoming Djinnit’s efforts in his capacity as UN High Representative to Nigeria and wider international efforts to address the threat of Boko Haram; expressing concern over the ebola outbreak in West Africa; and endorsing the establishment of a new analytical unit in UNOWA.
On 19 June, the Special Envoy for the Sahel, Hiroute Guebre Sellassie, briefed the Council on the implementation on the UN integrated Sahel strategy (S/2014/397). Sellassie highlighted the deteriorated situations in Libya, Mali and Nigeria and said that addressing security challenges in the Sahel requires a flexible geographic definition of the region. Sellassie also raised concerns about “competing” interventions and strategies within the UN and the need for greater coordination (S/PV.7203).