Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Situation in West Africa and the Sahel (via VTC)

Rodney Hunter
Political Coordinator
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
January 11, 2021

AS DELIVERED

Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you Special Representative Chambas for your informative briefing today. You and your team were very busy during the past few months indeed.

This past fall, UNOWAS played an integral role in supporting free and fair presidential elections in five West African nations. The COVID-19 pandemic complicated the situation, and we extend our appreciation to you, and your team, for your tireless support of long-term stability and security in the region. Though much work needs to be done, we are seeing progress. These five elections in West Africa occurred in a relatively calm environment and happened without serious electoral problems. We are confident UNOWAS’ support will continue to show success during Niger’s second round of presidential elections in February.

Turning to Guinea-Bissau, I would like to thank SRSG Sori-Coulibaly for her dedication to UNIOGBIS and seeing the mission through to completion. The closure of UNIOGBIS on December 31 is a sign of the country’s development and political progress. However, while great strides have been made, the UN Country Team and UNOWAS must remain engaged and promote continued political stability in Guinea-Bissau. The citizens of Guinea-Bissau deserve continued progress and not to lose the gains UNIOGBIS fostered. The international community must, therefore, remain vigilant. We welcome the work of regional organizations like ECOWAS to foster stability in Guinea-Bissau and the broader region.

The UN has proven its ability to promote capacity building and foster regional stability. Yet the scourge of terrorism continues to plague the region on a weekly, if not daily, basis. We are deeply concerned about the resulting continued instability across the Sahel. As we have said before, we join our colleagues to condemn the attacks that killed 100 civilians in Niger on January 2. These cowardly and heinous attacks must stop. There is no place in the modern world for violence against innocent people.

To help stabilize the Sahel, regional governments must continue to strengthen state institutions, provide good governance to their citizens, and give humanitarian organizations unfettered access to reach those in need. Governments undermine their own credibility when state officials, particularly security forces, violate or abuse human rights and fail to protect their citizens. All parties must respect humanitarian principles and international humanitarian law.

And finally, Mr. President, turning to Mali, the United States extends its deepest sympathies to the families of the five French soldiers from Operation Barkhane who were recently killed. Attacks against international security forces must stop. We are thankful the January 7 attack on a MINUSMA base resulted in zero causalities.

International security forces are not alone the solution to the scourge of terrorism. Stability there can only come from within the country, through democratic reforms, greater governmental presence in the North, and better public services. We are encouraged that the Algiers Accord’s signatory parties recently released a revised roadmap to fulfill the Accord’s benchmarks. We hope the Council will continue to urge the signatory parties forward on this positive trajectory, and assist the transitional government to fulfill its stated commitment to critical reforms during the transition period.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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