“WEST AFRICA STATEMENT “Report of the Secretary-General on ways to combat subregional and cross-border problems in West Africa” (S/2004/200)
Statement by Ambassador Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg
Permanent Representative of Brazil to the UN
 Security Council, New York, 25 March 2004

 

Mr. President,

 

May I express our honor in seeing you presiding over the work of the Security Council as we consider today a very important question, that of recent developments in West Africa. I also would like to welcome the participation of the Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ghana and current Chairman of the ECOWAS, Mr. Nana Akufo-Addo, as well as of other speakers. I thank all of them for their valuable statements

 

Mr. President,

 

The Security Council has before it a comprehensive report (S/2004/200) presented by the Secretary-General. We appreciate the fact that the Council has been frequently seized of the situation in West Africa – and this does not necessarily mean that the situation on the ground is deteriorating, quite the contrary, although the latest news on disturbances in Abidjan are certainly worrisome.

 

The Council has been looking more often into the matter because there is a growing understanding of the importance of a comprehensive regional approach to deal with the consequences of long years of conflict and instability in the region.

 

As the delegation of Brazil stated in January when we considered the progress report on recommendations of the Security Council mission to West Africa, a regional approach can be determinant to the solution of problems that affect many countries in a similar way and require common and concerted efforts.

 

Mr. President,

 

Brazil fully supports the recommendations made by the Secretary-General and his Special Representative for West Africa. Concerted action among UN political and peacekeeping missions and agencies, common border management and strengthening of arms control institutions are some of the urgently needed initiatives that the Council should endorse.

 

With the support of the international community, ECOWAS has a fundamental role to play in strengthening the 1998 moratorium on small arms in the region. We also welcome the Secretary-General’s recommendation for a meeting of defense ministers later this year, which should count with the full involvement of the African Union.

 

The Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP) has also been actively engaged in promoting peace and stability in West Africa. Together with ECOWAS, the CPLP has provided its good offices in Guinea Bissau after the events of September 2003, and has worked with the parties in order to ensure a peaceful solution to the political crisis. We are looking forward to the holding of parliamentary elections in Guinea Bissau on March 28th and expecting an orderly transitional period in that country.

 

Mr. President,

 

It is the view of my delegation that the issue of development should be particularly stressed. Combating subregional and cross border problems, such as the use of child soldiers, the resort to mercenaries, the existence of flows of refugees will not be successful in the long term if enough emphasis is not placed on development.

 

A program for sustained development has to be set up pari passu with DDR programmes. The Secretary-General has stated that “to address the needs of the communities receiving demobilized soldiers,/ disarmament, demobilization and reintegration should be accompanied by community development programmes.” We certainly agree. However concrete recommendations on how to deal with this aspect of peace-building are yet to be presented.

 

We have consistently advocated a greater involvement of ECOSOC in this process. Alongside measures to regulate the exploitation of natural resources in the region and to favour fair trade of African commodities, the UN and its agencies should be capable of designing focused development strategies to enable post-conflict communities to resume growth and generate employment and entrepreneurship. It is the only way to respond to the social needs of populations on a sustainable manner. In the long run, the lack of economic activity for the adult population and of schooling for children is likely to contribute to further conflict in the region. 

 

This is an additional reason why the UN has a responsibility to maintain its presence in post-conflict areas. UN peace-keeping operations need to have an exit strategy, but we believe that an effective exit strategy is not only downsizing the military presence – it necessarily includes many other dimensions, among them the launching of a consistent social and economic regional development program.

 

Mr. President,

 

It is not enough to create a stable security environment and hold national elections; the international community has also to shoulder Government’s efforts to consolidate peace and promote national recovery, tackling properly the root causes of conflict. Otherwise, the achievements reached will remain fragile and even elusive.

 

One last word, on disseminating the right ideas. We consider that the role to be played by the media in supporting sustainable peace efforts cannot be belittled. The public information structure of this Organization, in particular the information centers existing in the region should be actively working with local radio stations to raise awareness to the bitter consequences of conflict and alternatives to it. We consider this of particular importance in the case of West Africa, in view of the cross-border dimension of conflicts in the region.

Thank you very much.