Statement by Ambassador Günter Sautter in the Security Council VTC meeting on UNOCA, December 9

09.12.2020 - Speech

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It is good to hear in today’s discussion that there is a high degree of consensus in the Council. UNOCA’s work in the Central African region is valuable. The office continues to have an important stabilizing role. In light of the upcoming elections in the region, the good offices of SRSG Fall are particularly important and we welcome his efforts to facilitate an inclusive dialogue.

Cross-cutting issues and trans-border challenges with detrimental effects in the whole region can only be solved through transnational cooperation. This is why we encourage UNOCA to continue to closely cooperate and coordinate with regional actors. As a means of preventive diplomacy, strategic cooperation with the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) needs to be strengthened. Furthermore, we have seen in last Friday’s meeting how essential cooperation is between the UN and the AU.

On COVID-19, we commend the swift response by many governments to contain the spread of the virus. While it is important to take into account health and economic implications, the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including hidden consequences like the increase in domestic violence, is equally important to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. In this context, regional and international cooperation is key and we commend the joint approach through the COVID-19 Regional Response Strategy adopted by the ECCAS Heads of State and Government.

Climate change is another destabilizing factor. Its security implications can no longer be ignored. They are well documented in the SG report at hand: food insecurity, disputes over scarce resources, conflicts between herders and farmers. All those grievances create a breeding ground for violence, violent extremism and terrorism and they lead to migration and displacement. This is why we welcome that UNOCA includes the effects of climate change in its work and we encourage it to put an even stronger focus on it.

Germany remains deeply concerned about the humanitarian crises in several parts of the region, often caused and worsened by an increase in violence. The numerous horrendous attacks by Boko Haram and other terrorist groups, mostly against civilians, and the attacks against humanitarian workers are appalling. We are also worried about reports that state actors such as defense forces violate human rights. This cannot be justified. It only has the effect of creating or worsening a cycle of violence.

Women, Peace and Security is another aspect that we find important. Aggravated, sexual and gender-based violence continues to affect mainly women and girls. We must not stand by. The need to fully implement the Women, Peace and Security agenda is undeniable. Gender equality is not only a moral obligation in itself; the full, effective, meaningful and equal participation of women substantially increases the chances for sustainable peace and stability. We appreciate that UNOCA will continue its strong gender focus.

Let me now turn to Cameroon, where cross-cutting challenges accumulate and reinforce a multi-faceted crisis. It requires greater international attention, also because of its potential impact on the entire region. A peaceful resolution of the conflict in the Anglophone regions is the most pressing issue. We are deeply concerned about the recent rise of violence. We condemn in the strongest terms the attack against a school in Kumba on October 24th. There will be no military solution of the conflict. Inclusive political dialogue is the only viable path to peace. Measures taken so far – including legislation adopted in the aftermath of the Grand Dialogue National – do not suffice.

There will be no sustainable peace process without direct negotiations between the Cameroonian government and the separatists. We strongly support the Swiss-led mediation process, which aims to improve the conditions for such negotiations. Conflict parties must show resolve to deescalate and act in a spirit of compromise. Activities of diaspora groups in social networks, including incitement to hatred and violence, open calls for secession, and attacks against Cameroonian embassies, are not acceptable. The Cameroonian government – on the other hand - must do more to address the legitimate aspirations of Anglophones, including taking concrete steps to strengthen regional self-governance.

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