July 2010 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 July 2010
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AFRICA

UN Office for West Africa

Expected Council Action
In July the Council is expecting the report of the Secretary-General on UNOWA, which is due by 30 June. Head of UNOWA Said Djinnit is to brief the Council. The mandate of UNOWA expires on 31 December 2010.

Key Recent Developments
On 12 January the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA), Said Djinnit, briefed the Council on the Secretary General’s 31 December 2009 report on UNOWA. Djinnit said the subregion presented a mixed picture of hope and concern, with notable improvements in conflict prevention, recovery and peacebuilding being threatened by weak national institutions in many countries.

On 13 May Djinnit told the press in New York that the UN was working to ensure that democratically elected administrations were established in Guinea and Niger. He said that UNOWA, in conjunction with the Economic Community of West African States and the AU, had ensured that the necessary legislative measures and key documents needed to hold the presidential election on 27 June in Guinea were in place.

Regarding Niger, the UN was engaged in supporting the short-term transitional process that Niger’s leadership had committed itself to. This was expected to result in the holding of the first round of elections by the end of 2010. (In February, a military junta in Niger dissolved the government, detained the president and suspended a contested constitution that would have allowed then-president Mamadou Tandja to remain in power beyond the stipulated term.)

Developments relating to West Africa’s emergence as a major transit hub for trafficking Latin American drugs to markets in Europe continued over the past six months. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime indicated that while seizures of narcotics have decreased in the region over the past three years, the drug trade is on the increase, with traffickers resorting to more sophisticated methods, making the narcotics more difficult to intercept.

Between 28 May and 1 June, Liberia deported seven people to the US after they were arrested for allegedly trying to ship 4,000 kilograms of cocaine there. The suspects were accused of trying to bribe key Liberian officials to facilitate large shipments of cocaine over the past three years. (The deportees were subsequently charged by prosecutors in New York with conspiracy to import cocaine.)

On 8 April the US accused two military officials in Guinea-Bissau, former Navy Chief Rear Admiral José Américo Bubo Na Tchuto and Air Force Chief of Staff Ibraima Papa Camara, of drug running and imposed financial sanctions and proscribed US citizens doing business with them under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, commonly known as the drug kingpin act. On 8 June, Gambian authorities intercepted about two tonnes of cocaine bound for Europe with a street value estimated at US$1 billion, together with large quantities of cash, arms and numerous revealing computer records. Twelve suspected traffickers were arrested.

The Secretary-General visited three West African countries in June:

  • Benin, where he held discussions with President Boni Yayi on the country’s upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections;
  • Sierra Leone, where he highlighted the successes of the country in consolidating peace and visited the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the UN-supported war crimes tribunal set up to deal with the worst acts committed during that country’s civil war which ended in 2002; and
  • Cameroon, where he underlined the great potential of Africa to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, with international support. Ban also decried unconstitutional changes of government, corruption, nepotism and tyranny.
  • On 16 June the UN World Food Programme, which ran the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), indicated that it was compelled to suspend flights to three West African countries—Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia—because it has been unable to raise the $2.5 million required to continue operating until the end of this year. (The West African coastal service of UNHAS had been serving a number of humanitarian passengers, including employees of UN agencies, donor representatives and NGOs, benefiting an estimated 250,000 people in some of the inaccessible parts of the three countries.)

Key Issues
The key issue for Council members is assessing whether and how UNOWA’s regional approach to trends in (e.g. mediation, elections, etc.), and challenges to, peace and security in the West African subregion is adding value to peace consolidation in West Africa.

Options
Options for the Council include:

  • issuing a statement highlighting key issues raised in the Secretary-General’s upcoming report and reiterating the Council’s support for the work of UNOWA;
  • considering the Secretary-General’s report without making any statement;
  • building on its collaboration with the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) by emphasising that UNOWA should work closely with the PBC on consolidating peace in the West African subregion; and
  • using discussion of the report to assess various fragile situations in countries on the Council’s agenda that are not immediately due for consideration (e.g. Côte d’Ivoire), together with those currently not on the Council’s agenda but subsumed under the regional mandate of UNOWA (e.g. Guinea, Mauritania and Niger).

Council Dynamics
Council members expect the Secretary-General’s report to provide an updated overarching view of the subregional situation and the meeting to present an opportunity for taking stock of current security trends.

In the past some Council members have been critical of UNOWA’s continued utility. However, the prevailing view among Council members now seems to be that the insights offered through the work of the office may be utilised in structuring the Council’s responses to country-specific situations on its agenda and relevant thematic issues (e.g. drug trafficking) and monitoring pertinent developments in countries in the region that are not on formally on its agenda, as well as in helping it anticipate and shape future actions. Nevertheless, there seems to be some ongoing resistance to whether this remains the right long-term model.

Nigeria is the lead country on this issue in the Council.

UN Documents

Selected Presidential Statements

  • S/PRST/2009/32 (8 December 2009) was on threats posed by drug trafficking.
  • S/PRST/2009/20 (10 July 2009) was on the situation in West Africa.
  • S/PRST/2009/11 (5 May 2009) expressed concern about the resurgence of unconstitutional changes of government in Africa.

Selected Letters

  • S/2008/128 (26 February 2008) and S/2008/127 (21 February 2008) was an exchange of letters between the Secretary-General and the Council regarding the appointment of Said Djinnit as Special Representative for West Africa and Head of UNOWA.
  • S/2007/754 (21 December 2007) and S/2007/753 (28 November 2007) was an exchange of letters between the Secretary-General and the Council regarding the extension UNOWA until 31 December 2010 and more frequent reporting.
  • S/2005/16 (14 December 2004) conveyed the Secretary-General’s intended mandate functions and activities of UNOWA from 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2007.
  • S/2004/858 (25 October 2004) and S/2004/797 (4 October 2004) was an exchange of letters between the Secretary-General and the Council regarding the extension UNOWA for three years.
  • S/2001/1129 (29 November 2001) welcomed the intention of the Secretary-General to establish UNOWA.

Selected Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2009/682 (31 December 2009) was the last report on UNOWA.
  • S/2008/426 (30 June 2008) was the first semi-annual report 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 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.

Other

  • S/PV.6256 (12 January 2010) was the verbatim record of the latest briefing by Said Djinnit to the Council.

Selected UNOWA Studies and Concept Papers

Available at http://www.un.org/unowa/unowa/studies/studies-cp.htm

  • 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 2010): 13 international civilians; ten local civilians; four military advisers

UNOWA: Duration

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

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