January 2009 Monthly Forecast

Posted 24 December 2008
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West Africa Regional Issues (UNOWA)

Expected Council Action
In January the Council is expecting the second semi-annual report of the Secretary-General on the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA), which is due by 31 December. The mandate of UNOWA expires on 31 December 2010.

Recent Key Developments
On 18 July the Council was briefed in private consultations by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and head of UNOWA, Said Djinnit, on the Secretary-General’s first semi-annual report on UNOWA. The report covered the period from 1 January to 30 June and was submitted in line with the Council’s written request to the Secretary-General on 21 December 2007 for more frequent reports on the office. The report indicated that significant progress had been made in peace consolidation and democratic governance in the subregion with peaceful elections organised and increased international engagement in peacebuilding efforts. The Council took no action on this report.

Peacekeeping missions in the subregion are beginning to draw down as a result of the strengthened national capacity for post-conflict reconstruction, for example, in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Two countries of the subregion, Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone, had been placed on the agenda of the UN Peacebuilding Commission (PBC).

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has been displaying increased capacity to tackle political, security, economic and social challenges in the area, including effects of the global food crisis.

Key challenges confronting the region identified by the Secretary-General included perennial issues of high rates of youth unemployment, rapid urbanisation and irregular migration, emerging or increasing issues of human and drug trafficking, insecurity in the Sahelian region, and social and economic (notably food) crises.

Drug trafficking is a particularly serious and growing problem in the subregion. During a high-level conference on security aspects of drug trafficking held in the Cape Verdean capital Praia, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), António Maria Costa, on 28 October cautioned that West Africa was at the heart of an illegal drug trade transporting massive amounts of narcotics from South America to Europe with dangerous implications for the region. He estimated that at least fifty tonnes of cocaine from Andean countries passed through the subregion annually, destined mostly for France, Spain and the United Kingdom with a value of some $2 billion. According to a report launched by UNODC at the Praia meeting, cocaine seizures in the subregion had doubled every year for the past three years.

During the meeting, ECOWAS ministers agreed on a political declaration on drug trafficking and organised crime in West Africa and an ECOWAS regional response plan. The declaration expresses political commitment by ECOWAS governments for fighting the illicit drug trade while the response plan outlines actual steps to meet the challenges, assigns responsibilities to relevant stakeholders and sets out the timeframe for expected concrete results to determined projects and tasks.

Key Issues
The key issue for Council members is whether a regional approach to trends in peace and security in the West African subregion is paying dividends. The second semi-annual report is expected to highlight cross-cutting and cross-border developments in the subregion. It is also expected to focus on efforts being made by UNOWA to raise awareness of emerging threats and challenges in promoting consultations and synergies at the subregional level and in liaising with and assisting ECOWAS in the promotion of peace and stability.

Council options include:

  • issuing a press statement highlighting key concerns if it is assessed that the regional approach is not delivering as expected;
  • considering the Secretary-General’s report without making any statement;
  • utilising discussion of the report to assess various fragile situations currently not on the Council’s agenda but subsumed under the regional mandate of UNOWA (e.g. Guinea and Mauritania); and
  • using the event to build on its collaboration with the PBC and emphasising the role for UNOWA in working with the PBC on consolidating peace in the West African subregion.

Council Dynamics
Council members expect the Secretary-General’s second semi-annual report to provide an overarching view of the subregional situation. The renewal of UNOWA’s mandate in December 2007 was somewhat bumpy for the Secretariat because a number of Council members were dissatisfied with UNOWA’s progress. The Council accordingly requested more frequent reports in order to be more regularly informed about the work of the office and to assess its continued utility. For more detailed information on this issue please refer to our June 2008 Forecast.

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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/2008/426 (30 June 2008) was the first semi-annual report of the Secretary-General on UNOWA.
  • 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)

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

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