Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau

Amy Tachco
Political Coordinator
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
February 14, 2018


Thank you very much, Mr. President. And I want to thank SRSG Touré for his briefing, as well as Ambassador Vieira, not only for your briefing, but for your leadership in the Guinea-Bissau configuration of the peacebuilding commission.

This Council has witnessed dramatic recent success in West Africa, in places that experienced years or even decades of violence and tragedy. These include the first democratic transfer of power in Liberia in over 70 years, the continued consolidation of democracy in the Gambia, as well as the strong economic growth in countries across the region.

However, many serious and profound challenges remain, like the terrorist threat posed by Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa, elections and reform challenges facing countries with upcoming democratic transitions, and humanitarian crises and displacement, all of which merit continued attention by the Security Council. Given the urgency and magnitude of these problems, the United States believes that a self-inflicted 30-month-old political impasse like that in Guinea-Bissau is unacceptable.

For too long, we have gathered to hear updates on fits and starts of political progress that eventually fade back to obstruction and obfuscation from the country’s leadership.

The United States is profoundly disappointed by President Vaz’s decision to ignore the Conakry Agreement in failing to appoint a consensus Prime Minister and create an inclusive government. President Vaz must take urgent steps toward a unity government that will pave the way to peaceful legislative elections in May.

Bissau-Guineans are understandably frustrated at the failure of their government to make progress on implementation of the agreement, and they deserve better. Time is running out. We have witnessed rising tension in Bissau as political gatherings have provoked clashes, as Bissau-Guineans publicly express their frustration with a sclerotic political process. These clashes led to crackdowns by the Bissau-Guinean leadership. The government must respect the people’s right to peaceful expression and protect those rights.

On February 4, ECOWAS took the ambitious step to sanction 19 spoilers of the Conakry Agreement, including their family members. The United States applauds efforts to hold those in power accountable and push them toward finally doing what is right for Bissau-Guineans. We applaud the renewal of ECOMIB and encourage the Bissau-Guinean military to continue its political non-interference while playing its constitutional role.

Mr. President, the international community and the United Nations have for years put resources into Guinea-Bissau to do important things for the benefit of its people. But with a gridlocked government, important issues like security sector reform, combatting transnational organized crime, narcotics, and human trafficking, cannot be adequately addressed. This is an unacceptable situation.

As Ambassador Haley has noted in the peacekeeping context, the United Nations cannot operate effectively in environments with uncooperative governments. This also applies to political missions like UNIOGBIS. For UNIOGBIS to continue on this path would not be a continuation of a partnership with a willing government, but simply enabling its obstruction.

Elections must proceed on time and will require support, but the government must first end the impasse to convince its partners that international support will build on established political progress and a willingness to overcome differences and get the government working again.

In conclusion, we draw attention once more to everyday Bissau-Guineans who, for the better part of their lives, have never known the stability of sustainable democratic governance. This Council must keep them in mind as we take steps to put pressure on leaders to abandon their self-serving willfulness and take action to better the lives of their people. They should know that now, our patience has run out.

Thank you.