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Statement on behalf of the EU to the Security Council on cross border issues in West Africa

Date of Speech : 27-02-2005

Place : New York

Speaker : Jean-Marc Hoscheit, Permanent Representative of Luxembourg to the UN

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

Mr. President,

I have the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey and Croatia, the Countries of the Stabilization and Association Process and potential candidates Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, and the EFTA countries Iceland and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this statement.

Mr. President,

The European Union thanks the Secretary General for his report on Ways to Combat Sub-regional and Cross-border Problems in West Africa and commends the efforts of the Secretary General’s Special Representative, Mr. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah in this context. The report outlines steps taken or envisaged to develop an integrated regional approach to conflict prevention in West Africa, which is in our view the only viable approach.

The European Union attaches great importance to its partnership with Africa and its people, and is committed to continuously strengthen its ties with the African Union and sub-regional organizations. We believe that the promotion of lasting peace, as a pre-condition to sustainable economic and social development, constitutes one of the major challenges facing the international community.

Mr. President,

The EU regrets that West Africa is still affected by armed conflict, which puts at risk, beyond the unspeakable human suffering, the long-term development of the whole region. The EU is following the recent political developments in Togo with great concern. It calls for full respect for civil liberties and demands an immediate return to constitutional and legal order, to open the way for free and transparent presidential elections. In this context, we fully support the actions by the African Union and ECOWAS to restore constitutional order and the democratic process. The EU is also concerned about the prospects for real progress in Côte d’Ivoire, and calls again on parties to make progress towards the full implementation of the Linas-Marcoussis and Acra III agreements.

Mr. President,

Let me insist on three aspects which we believe are of particular relevance in the context of the development of an integrated and coordinated approach to conflict prevention in West Africa:

1.  The need to join forces to address post-conflict situations

The report is clear on the need for the different UN missions to work together and to implement a constructive partnership between the UN system, development partners and ECOWAS. In this context, the EU welcomes the periodic meetings between the five UN peacekeeping and political missions in West Africa.

Together with ECOWAS and the African Union, the UN and the EU have a critical role to play in West Africa in the area of conflict prevention and peace building, and need to establish a more effective partnership. The EU is pleased to note that first steps have been taken to develop truly collaborative arrangements for addressing cross border problems based on the principle of African ownership, and is looking forward to the plan of action to be submitted in June 2005 by the joint UNOWA-ECOWAS-EU working group. Another positive example is the collective effort to be launched this year aimed at improving cross-border movement of people and goods. Our common goal should now be to make our dialogue more operational and to encompass in a comprehensive way all the various initiatives, including through the efforts of the Special Representative of the EU Presidency to the Mano River Union countries.

2. The need to strengthen regional capacity building

In November 2004, the EU adopted an Action Plan for support to Peace and Security in Africa which primarily addresses issues of capacity building. The Action Plan identifies practical ways to support African organizations in building autonomous conflict prevention and management capacities, complementing the initiatives taken under the Cotonou agreement and the Africa Peace Facility. The EU invites them to come forward with initiatives for long-term capacity building. A comprehensive €10 million program to enhance capacities in conflict prevention and management is being designed with ECOWAS, involving the UN.

ECOWAS has become a stabilizing force in the region and has already proven its comparative advantage in conflict prevention and management. The challenge for ECOWAS remains to integrate short-term crisis management activities into a longer term preventive strategy. The EU will intensify its political dialogue with ECOWAS and its member states, in particular on policies geared to address the structural, root causes of conflict in a sustainable manner and on the role of regional economic integration for peace and security.

3. The need to urgently address specific cross-border issues

In his report, the Secretary General provides an update on the efforts to address a range of key cross-border issues. While some progress has been achieved, a lot remains to be done, and more collective and better targeted efforts are necessary in many areas.

We addressed the most pressing issue of children affected by armed conflict in this chamber two days ago.

The proliferation of small arms remains an important source of destabilization and conflict in the region. Resolute and coordinated action is needed. During last week’s open debate on small arms, the EU has had the occasion to express its commitment to contribute to halt the scourge of uncontrolled accumulation of small arms.

Whereas the EU welcomes the recent renewal for three years of the Moratorium on the importation, exportation and manufacture of small arms in West Africa, we encourage the efforts of the ECOWAS Small Arms Control Program to transform the Moratorium into a legally binding instrument.

The European Union also supports the recommendation of the Secretary General that the Security Council should consider giving peacekeeping missions the authority and resources to monitor and enforce arms embargoes, as well as the idea of marking and tracing small arms used in peacekeeping missions. The publication of a "naming and shaming" list of individuals and entities violating the arms embargoes and the ECOWAS moratorium, as well as bringing those responsible of criminal activities in the field of human trafficking and trafficking of natural resources before the International Criminal Court should be envisaged.

On disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR), we commend the ongoing efforts by the various UN presences in West Africa to find ways to harmonize programs and to eliminate inconsistencies, with a view to reduce cross-border movement of combatants and weapons. The EU agrees that the reintegration phase is critical for the successful completion of DDR programs and calls for increased international support, including through funding, for this type of activities in countries, such as Liberia and Sierra Leone, which are emerging from conflict. Particular attention should also be paid to programs for children and women combatants, as well as to job creation.

The importance of Security Sector Reform (SSR) as a means to improve national governance and the quality of security through institutional change is obvious, both within countries and on a regional level. ECOWAS projects in the field of Security Sector Reform can be financed through the EU’s Africa Peace Facility and we encourage the Western Africa region to undertake initiatives in this field. In this context, the EU welcomes the intention of UNOWA to produce regionally integrated programs before the end of 2005.

Mr. President,

The EU support for peace and security in West Africa is part of a coherent EU policy towards Africa. € 235 million have been earmarked by the EU for West Africa within the current Regional Indicative Program, mainly in the sectors of regional economic integration and transport. The EU’s integrated, long term strategy for West Africa is aimed at creating lasting peace and sustainable development, in particular through economic integration and the setting up of a customs union between ECOWAS countries. It includes continuous attention for the vulnerable position of women and children and the increased risks of HIV/AIDS in armed conflict.

While the primary responsibility for progress in West Africa rests with leaders and their communities, let me conclude by reassuring you that the work of the EU will be based on the principle of full co-operation and coordination with all actors in the field, including civil society organizations.

Thank you, Mr. President.

This page was last modified on : 14-03-2005

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