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Statement by Ambassador Jürgen Schulz in the Security Council VTC Meeting on UNOWAS, July 9

09.07.2020 - Speech

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I would like to start by commending UNOWAS and SRSG Chambas's work. Your cooperation is a prime example for the holistic approach that is needed for the stability in the entire region. We expressly welcome the good offices of the SRSG and the continuous support for inclusive dialogue. Especially in light of upcoming elections in the region, dialogue is essential.

Both the regional office and the SRSG enjoy full German support. We appreciate very much the comprehensive SRSG Report and all of its recommendations, particularly on the climate and security nexus. We look forward to the UNOWAS study on the security implications of climate change.

I would like to start by commending UNOWAS and SRSG Chambas's work. Your cooperation is a prime example for the holistic approach that is needed for the stability in the entire region. We expressly welcome the good offices of the SRSG and the continuous support for inclusive dialogue. Especially in light of upcoming elections in the region, dialogue is essential.

Both the regional office and the SRSG enjoy full German support. We appreciate very much the comprehensive SRSG Report and all of its recommendations, particularly on the climate and security nexus. We look forward to the UNOWAS study on the security implications of climate change.

We also thank Ms. Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim for her passionate and very concrete briefing. Her plea for the many concrete things that she reminded us of, and she made very tangible for us here what we often discuss in more abstract terms. Thank you very much for this.

Reviewing the Secretary General's report and listening to the interventions today, I would like to make points on four issues. First of all, climate and security. We have heard today in the briefings again and UN institutions have documented time and again: the impact of climate change on security and stability in West Africa and the Sahel is considerable. The effects of climate change caused more conflicts, they exacerbate existing ones between herders and farmers. And in addition, they lead to disputes over scarce resources. Effects of climate change, also include increased food insecurity in the region. All of this creates a breeding ground for violence, violent extremism and terrorism and is often the starting point for people to migrate to other regions. And this is why it was vital to include the climate and security nexus in the UNOWAS mandate at the beginning of this year. We feel this is absolutely vital and we cannot ignore the reality any longer.

Secondly, on women, peace and security, we have heard a lot about this today as well. Gender inequality obviously prevails. Women and girls continue to be the main target of sexual and gender-based violence. We thus commend the integration of the gendered dimension in the work of UNOWAS. We welcome efforts to increase women's meaningful participation in political and security processes. Much more needs to be done and gender equality is not a goal in itself, but the full, effective and equal participation of women substantially increases the chances for sustainable peace and stability.

Thirdly, on regional cooperation, all of the challenges the region faces can only be overcome through regional cooperation. Many previous speakers have alluded to this. UNOWAS successfully collaborates with regional partners and the coordination with other UN entities, such as UNOCA, country offices, UN agencies and the Peacebuilding Commission remains important. Germany commends existing regional cooperation, including the engagement of the G5 Sahel and the work of ECOWAS. At the same time, any international engagement must go hand-in-hand with the principles of national ownership. It's the primary responsibility of governments to build trust in state institutions, to ensure the rule of law and to guarantee respect for human rights, to engage with civil society and to integrate women and youth.

In this context, it is encouraging to learn about positive developments, such as further progress made in The Gambia. We are on the other side, however, concerned about tensions and violence in the context of electoral processes, for example, in Guinea and Guinea-Bissau. We remain deeply worried about the deteriorating security situation in West Africa and the Sahel in particular in Burkina Faso, Mali and the Lake Chad Basin. An increase in terrorist activities and organized crime, intercommunal violence, continued political tensions, human rights violations and abuses and the exacerbated humanitarian crises are alarming and often mutually reinforcing.

Before concluding a final word on COVID-19. The ongoing COVID-19 crisis and its humanitarian and socio economic consequences that aggravate the challenging situation in the region. The call for a global ceasefire by the Secretary-General, which the Security Council endorsed Resolution 2532 last week has an essential, literally vital importance to West Africa and the Sahel. Germany commends the efforts by many governments to contain the spread of the pandemic. At the same time, we urge all actors to fully respect human rights. Preserving freedom of opinion and expression as well as access to information remain even more important in these difficult times.

We also thank Ms. Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim for her passionate and very concrete briefing. Her plea for the many concrete things that she reminded us of, and she made very tangible for us here what we often discuss in more abstract terms. Thank you very much for this.

Reviewing the Secretary General's report and listening to the interventions today, I would like to make points on four issues. First of all, climate and security. We have heard today in the briefings again and UN institutions have documented time and again: the impact of climate change on security and stability in West Africa and the Sahel is considerable. The effects of climate change caused more conflict that exacerbate existing ones between partners and farmers. And in addition, they lead to disputes over scarce resources. Effects of climate change, also include increase food insecurity in the region. All of this creates a breeding ground for violence.

Violent extremism and terrorism often the starting point for people to migrate to other regions. And this is why it was vital to include the climate and security nexus in the UNOWAS mandate at the beginning of this year. We feel this is absolutely right and we cannot ignore the reality any longer.

Secondly, on women, peace and security, we have heard a lot about this today as well. Gender inequality obviously prevails. Women and girls continue to be the main target of sexual and gender-based violence. We thus commend the integration of the gendered dimension in the work of us. We welcome efforts to increase women's meaningful participation in political and security processes. Much more needs to be done and gender equality is not a goal in itself, but the full, effective and equal participation of women substantially increases the chances for sustainable peace and stability.

Thirdly, on regional cooperation, all of the challenges the region faces can only be overcome through regional cooperation. Many previous speakers have alluded to this. UNOWAS successfully collaborates with regional partners and the coordination with other UN entities, such as, UNOCA, country offices, UN agencies and the Peacebuilding Commission remains important. Germany commends existing regional cooperation, including the engagement of the G5 Sahel and the world of ECOWAS. At the same time, any international engagement must go hand-in-hand with the principles of national ownership. It's the primary responsibility of governments to build trust in state institutions, to ensure the rule of law and to guarantee respect for human rights, to engage with civil society and to integrate women and youth.

In this context, it is encouraging to learn about positive developments, such as further progress made in the Gambia. We are on the other side, however, concerned about tensions and violence in the context of electoral processes. For example, in Guinea and Guinea-Bissau. We remain deeply worried about the deteriorating security situation in West Africa and the Sahel in particular in Burkina Faso, Mali and the Lake Chad Basin. An increase in terrorist activities and organized crime, intercommunal violence, continued political tensions, human rights violations and abuses and the exacerbated humanitarian crises are alarming and often mutually reinforcing.

Before concluding a final word on COVID-19. The ongoing COVID-19 crisis and its humanitarian and socio economic consequences that aggravate the challenging situation in the region. The call for a global ceasefire by the Secretary-General, which the Security Council endorsed Resolution 2532 last week has an essential, literally vital importance to West Africa and the Sahel. Germany commends the efforts by many governments to contain the spread of the pandemic. At the same time, we urge all actors to fully respect human rights. Preserving freedom of opinion and expression as well as access to information remains  even more important so in these difficult times.

 

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