My delegation is grateful to you for convening this meeting and thanks Ambassador Jones Parry for introducing the report.
First of all, I take this opportunity to mention that in ten days time, President Lula will take part in a meeting of
the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries, the CPLP, in Sao Tome and Principe and pursuing our policy of cooperation and solidarity with Africa, he will also visit Cape Verde and Gabon. West Africa faces us from the other side of the Atlantic and is very close to our hearts and mind. We consider that discussions pertaining to countries of the region should have the full involvement of all Council Members.
Progress being made in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau is quite impressive. In Côte d’Ivoire the political
deadlock seemed insurmountable, but having heard USG Guéhenno’s briefing last Tuesday, we have renewed hope that the difficult situation in that country will benefit from the personal involvement of the Secretary-General in Addis Ababa and the upcoming meeting in Accra (29/jul).
We are also very pleased by the active engagement of Heads of State of the region and ECOWAS in the process of assisting Ivoirian parties return to the negotiation table.
In the countries I mentioned poverty and unemployment represent a permanent source of instability and insecurity.
We consider that the Council should be regularly informed about what specific projects are being carried out by UNDP and UN country teams in order to foster economic occupation in the short-term, in particular of young people – who are mostly likely to fall prey to militias and armed groups. Although direct responsibility for development initiatives falls elsewhere within the Organization, their link to peace and security becomes ever more evident. This is why theattention devoted by the Council to development in post-conflict areas should be increased.
We were also very encouraged by the intention of ECOWAS to develop a conflict prevention strategy. It is our expectation that in the future the Council will be working within a framework of conflict-avoidance initiatives and not only of peacekeeping operations.
Cooperation between ECOWAS and the UN Office for West Africa is very welcome and we agree that the Office’s needs for additional resources be looked into as a matter of priority. It seems, however, that having been created upon ECOWAS’ call for a regional approach to threats to peace and security, the Office would benefit from being located in Abuja.
With regard to Guinea-Bissau, our delegation has always stressed the importance of joint work done by the Security
Council and ECOSOC and it is a very positive sign that the mission was undertaken jointly with the Ad-Hoc Advisory
Group. The international community must remain fully engaged in Guinea-Bissau, so that the investment made there is not in vain. The significant progress made in the political transition should not be lost through insufficient economic activity. We call upon the Bretton Woods institutions and development partners to step up their financial and technical assistance to the country, looking forward to a smooth process towards sustainable peace, that will culminate in the presidential elections in March 2005.
A matter of great concern is the large amount of arms held by the population, as the report has indicated. There are
concerns that arms from other countries in the sub-region might be heading to Guinea-Bissau. We wonder if the high
ratio of combatants to weapons noted in Liberia could mean that arms are being smuggled out of one country into another, in particular into those without a UN military presence, as is the case of Guinea and Guinea-Bissau.
The joint mechanisms of cooperation among peacekeeping operations in the region should prevent that from happening. We fully agree with the mission’s recommendation that the Security Council should give consideration to the issue and that ECOWAS should include Guinea-Bissau in its regional policies of containing proliferation. The fact stated in the report that ECOWAS is planning to strengthen its moratorium on small arms and to replace it with a mandatory convention is already a welcome development. The Council should support this initiative.
On the question of a regional approach to cross-border problems, it seems, from the recommendations contained in the report, that the harmonization of various DDRRR [DD, triple R] programs in the region has not progressed as much as expected. It is probably the single most important item of coordination between UN peacekeeping missions in West Africaand it should be constantly pursued and include, as recommended by the Security Council, countries neighboring those emerging from conflict.
Finally, I would like to add, since Brazil chairs the Sanctions Committee for Sierra Leone, that the point raised
in paragraph 42 of the report has also been brought to the attention of the members by the Special Court and the
Committee will be looking into the matter as soon as next week. The Committee will give due consideration to the
request of ‘a priori’ exemption from the travel ban for those under the custody of the Court, shall they need urgent
removal for medical treatment.