June 2008 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 May 2008
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AFRICA

United Nations Office for West Africa

Expected Council Action
The semi-annual report of the UN Office in West Africa (UNOWA) is expected in June. The mandate expires on 31 December 2010.

Recent Developments
On 21 December 2007, UNOWA’s mandate was renewed from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2010 through an exchange of letters between the UN Secretary-General and the president of the Security Council (letters S/2007/754 and S/2007/753). While retaining the overarching goal of enhancing UN contribution towards peace and security in West Africa, the mandate was revised to highlight specific objectives, functions and activities, including:

  • supporting and liaising with major stakeholders in implementing sub-regional plans, strategies and recommendations drawn up by the Economic Community of West African States and other key partners;
  • conducting its good offices role to prevent conflict and in peacebuilding efforts; and
  • preparing periodic updates on the impact of conflicts on the sub-region; and organising studies, fora and seminars to assist in developing practical and concerted strategies to address current and emerging issues (including drug and arms trafficking, transitional justice and security sector reform).

In its letter to the Secretary-General, the Council asked for semi-annual reports on UNOWA’s fulfilment of its revised mandate.

On 26 February, Said Djinnit of Algeria was appointed as Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and Head of UNOWA by an exchange of letters (S/2008/128 and S/2008/127) between the Secretary-General and the president of the Council. Djinnit visited Burkina Faso, Cape Verde and Senegal where issues including the global food crisis and insecurity in the Sahelian region were discussed as part of his initial consultations with regional leaders.

Key Issues
The key issue for the Council whether the refinement of UNOWA will be successful in producing up-to-date, expert information from UNOWA on the regional dimensions of peace and security in West Africa. Perennial cross-border issues such as the proliferation of small arms and light weapons are expected to be addressed in the Secretary-General’s report. But it may also highlight relatively newer elements like the growth of organised drug trafficking and regional security threats potentially posed by the global food crisis.

Options
Options for the Council include:

  • issuing a press statement highlighting pertinent issues raised in the Secretary-General’s report;
  • considering the Secretary-General’s report without making any statement;
  • utilising the discussion of the report to exchange views on fragile situations not on the Council’s agenda but subsumed under the regional mandate of UNOWA (e.g. Guinea, or the Tuareg insurgency in the Sahelian countries of Mali and Niger); and
  • a more formal statement encouraging collaboration between the Peacebuilding Commission and UNOWA in consolidating peace in the West African sub-region.

Council Dynamics
In December 2007, the Council requested more frequent reports in order to be more regularly informed about the work of UNOWA and assuage concerns of some countries (including the US) about the continued utility of the office. (The Secretary-General had originally proposed a three-year extension of the mandate, subject to a midterm review in line with past practice. However, the Council called for semi-annual reports in a marked departure from previous practice.)

UN Documents

Selected Presidential Letters

  • S/2008/128 (26 February 2008) was the letter of the president of the Security Council taking note of the intention of the Secretary-General to appoint Said Djinnit as Special Representative.
  • S/2007/754 (21 December 2007) welcomed the intention of the Secretary-General to extend the mandate of UNOWA until 31 December 2010 and requested more frequent reports.
  • S/2004/858 (25 October 2004) was the letter of the president of the Security Council welcoming the Secretary-General’s decision to extend the mandate of UNOWA.
  • S/2001/1129 (29 November 2001) welcomed the intention of the Secretary-General outlined in S/2001/1128 (26 November 2001) to establish UNOWA for three years from January 2002 to 31 December 2004, subject to a review after its first year of operation.

Selected Secretary-General’s Letters

  • S/2008/127 (21 February 2008) was a letter conveying the Secretary-General’s intention to appoint Said Djinnit as his Special Representative for West Africa and Head of UNOWA.
  • S/2007/753 (28 November 2007) was a letter conveying the Secretary-General’s intention to renew the mandate of UNOWA until 31 December 2010.
  • S/2005/16 (14 December 2004) was the Secretary-General’s letter to the Security Council conveying the intended mandate functions and activities of UNOWA from 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2007.
  • S/2004/797 (4 October 2004) was the Secretary-General’s letter indicating his intention to extend the mandate of UNOWA for three years.

Selected Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2007/294 (18 May 2007) was a midterm review of UNOWA initially envisaged for July 2006.
  • S/2007/143 (13 March 2007) was the report on cross-border issues in West Africa.
  • S/2004/797 (4 October 2004) was a review of activities and performance of UNOWA spanning the January 2003 to July 2004 period.

Selected UNOWA Studies and Concept Papers

  • Working Document on Sanctions in Africa (June 2007)
  • Security Landscape and Peace Consolidation in West Africa (March 2007)
  • Youth Unemployment and Regional Insecurity in West Africa – A UNOWA Issue Paper, 2nd edition (August 2006)
  • Life after State House: Addressing Unconstitutional Changes in West Africa – A UNOWA Issue Paper (March 2006)
  • Youth Unemployment and Regional Insecurity in West Africa – A UNOWA Issue Paper, 1st edition (December 2005)
  • Elections scheduled between April 2005 and December 2007 in West Africa (June 2005)
  • Security Sector Reform and Conflict Prevention in West Africa: Challenges and Opportunities – Dakar Workshop (November 2004)
  • The Regional Impact of the Crisis in Côte d’Ivoire (April 2004)

These studies and concept papers are available at http://www.un.org/unowa/studies/studies-cp.htm.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General

Said Djinnit (Algeria)

UNOWA: Size and Composition

Staff Strength (as of 30 April): six international civilians; 11 local civilians

UNOWA: Duration

29 November 2001 to present; mandate expires on 31 December 2010

Full forecast