Central Africa ‘Richer in Opportunities and Resources’ than Challenges, Official Tells Security Council, Detailing Political Developments, Climate Change Impacts

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Central Africa is “richer in opportunities and resources than in challenges”, the Organization’s senior-most official in the subregion told the Security Council today in a briefing that touched on political developments and the impact of climate change on security. 

Abdou Abarry, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) applauded the extraordinary solidarity shown by Chad and the Central African Republic in welcoming Sudanese refugees.  The States of the subregion are also actively cooperating on security issues, he said, pointing to the first Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) summit on maritime security and the One Forest Summit where Heads of State focused on climate security and the preservation of the Congo Basin.

As the subregion continues to face the effects of climate change, recently demonstrated by the floods in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, he added that it is crucial to adopt a holistic approach to peace and security.  Political and socioeconomic measures are essential, he said, cautioning that purely military responses will be insufficient to address the root causes of insecurity.

On the political front, he drew attention to the establishment of a framework for political parties in Chad, as well as the appointment of women to the positions of Vice-President in Gabon and Angola and of Prime Minister in Equatorial Guinea.  However, the crisis in the north-west and south-west regions of Cameroon has entered into its seventh year as the country continues to suffer attacks from violent extremist groups and the influx of Central African refugees, he reported. 

Also briefing the Council today was Gilberto Da Piedade Verissimo, President of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), who highlighted a host of diverse security challenges in the subregion, from armed groups and secessionist factions to marine crime and the illegal exploitation of natural resources.  The conflict in Sudan, expansion of Boko Haram’s activities to all States bordering Lake Chad and the entrenchment of terrorist movements in the Sahel-Sahara area are also worrying, he said. 

Yet, despite this complex context, “ECCAS remains the regional economic community par excellence on Central Africa,” he asserted.  Spotlighting its mediation efforts between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda as well as those between the Congolese Government and armed groups, he also noted that in Chad, ECCAS supported that country’s electoral transition process.  As well, the first quarter of 2023 was marked by several elections in ECCAS member States which were more or less peaceful, he added.

Pledging to strengthen its cooperation with various United Nations mechanisms including, among others, the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa to the missions in Democratic Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic (MINUSCA), he pointed out that the support that these mechanisms provide can be more effective if their mandates are better tailored to a subregional context. 

“Take risks with civil society and women,” Marie Tamoifo, Founder of the Network of Young Leaders for Sustainable Management of Central African Forest Ecosystems (REJEFAC), exhorted the Council in her briefing.  Highlighting the vibrant and dynamic work of the youth- and women-led organizations in her network in 10 countries of Central Africa, she pointed to her organization’s training programme for 100 young reporters and climate and biodiversity ambassadors, its initiatives for the solar electrification of households and the distribution of solar-powered sewing machines to seamstresses in rural and urban areas. 

However, despite the billions of dollars announced with great fanfare by the international community, such civil society activism, which ensures regional stability, remains under-funded, she pointed out.  The crucial grassroots work done in Yaoundé, N’Djamena or Kinshasa is invisible in the environmental diplomacy in New York or Paris.  Calling on the international community to do away with the plethora of international intermediaries with conditions on their aid, she highlighted the need for green, decent jobs to counter youth radicalization and gender-based violence. 

She also pointed to the exceptional ecosystems of the Congo Basin and the Lake Chad Basin and its potential to become the world’s leading green lung.  On the other hand, climate-related security challenges, from the increase in organized crime and the activities of non-State armed groups to man-wildlife conflicts, demonstrate that climate change impacts security and insecurity impacts climate change, she stressed, adding:  “Unless politicians take care of young people, the winds of change will prompt young people to take care of politicians.”

In the ensuing discussion, several speakers pointed to the devastating consequences of climate change in the region and called for holistic approaches. 

Gabon’s representative, also speaking for Ghana and Mozambique, pointed out Africa is the continent that pollutes the least but is the most vulnerable to natural disasters.  Drawing attention to recent floods in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said that competition over access to drinking water and natural resources undermines the resilience of populations and reinforces inter-community violence.  Underscoring the crucial role of the Congo Basin’s tropical forests in reducing the impact of climate change, he said the international community must uphold the commitments made at the One Forest Summit in his country’s capital, Libreville. 

France’s delegate also highlighted that Summit, organized by his country and Gabon, on protecting tropical forests.  The Council must listen to its African members and civil society who have warned time and time again about the link between climate and security, he emphasized, calling on all Member States to join collective efforts, including acceding to the United Nations Climate, Peace and Security Mechanism. 

The representative of the United Arab Emirates pointed out that the increasingly erratic rainfall in the subregion has resulted in heavy flooding in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Cameroon, even as southern Angola faces the worst drought in 40 years.  Climate change is exacerbating the tensions among communities, especially between herders and farmers across the region, she said. 

Along those lines, Switzerland’s representative added that UNOCA’s special adviser on climate and security should contribute to addressing this critical nexus.  Security responses alone cannot offer a lasting solution, he emphasized, highlighting the importance of good governance and inclusive political dialogue, including through the full participation of all civilian actors. 

The meeting began at 10:04 a.m. and ended at 11:55 a.m.

Briefings

ABDOU ABARRY, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), noted that, since his last presentation of the Secretary-General’s report in December 2022, he has visited the 11 countries falling under UNOCA’s mandate.  In his exchanges with various political and civil society actors, he reported that “Central Africa is richer in opportunities and resources than it is in challenges”.  Detailing concrete efforts, he spotlighted the dialogue between Faustin-Archange Touadéra, President of the Central African Republic, and Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, President of the Transition and Head of State of the Republic of Chad, on the revitalization of cooperation between the two countries.

Further, he noted the subregion States’ engagements on security issues, which resulted in the first Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) summit on maritime security and the One Forest Summit where Heads of State focused on climate security and the preservation of the Congo Basin.  Such efforts are essential as the region continues to face the effects of climate change, recently demonstrated by the floods in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, he said.  

In addition, the region has continued to pay particular attention to the political participation and representation of women in key positions, he said, spotlighting the appointment of women to the positions of Vice-President in Gabon and Angola, and of Prime Minister in Equatorial Guinea.  He also highlighted an increase in calls for dialogue in the region to respond to challenges related to governance and human rights.  In Chad, the transitional authorities continued to implement the recommendations resulting from the “Inclusive and Sovereign National Dialogue”.

 In addition, a framework for political parties and a national commission for the organization of the constitutional referendum in November have been established in Chad, he continued.  However, these bodies need to include all political actors.  In this regard, he commended the cooperation between ECCAS and UNOCA to help create a space for more inclusive dialogue, incorporating all political actors.   He also encouraged the countries of the region which will organize elections in the coming months to ensure their inclusiveness.  

Turning to Cameroon, he said that the crisis in the north-west and south-West regions has entered into its seventh year as the country continues to suffer attacks from violent extremist groups and the influx of Central African refugees.  He called on the international community to provide all necessary support to help the country exit the crisis through peaceful means and ensure rehabilitation of the affected regions.  

He also noted that in São Tomé and Príncipe, the determination of the authorities to implement a justice and security sector reform illustrated that the country is willing to address the structural problems that threaten its peace and stability.  However, he expressed concern over the persistence of violations of human rights, in particular freedom of expression, in certain countries of the subregion, stressing that attacks journalists must stop. 

He underlined that recent developments on the border between Chad and the Central African Republic and the impact of the Sudanese crisis on these two countries demonstrate the urgent need to adopt a holistic approach to peace and security in Central Africa.  In this context, he highlighted the extraordinary solidarity shown by the two countries, which have already welcomed 100,000 and 10,000 Sudanese refugees respectively.  Chad will needs $129.8 million to welcome 100,000 refugees over the next six months.  Without a quick and peaceful resolution to the conflict, the effects will be disastrous not only for Sudan, but also for all countries in the Lake Chad Basin region.  The joint military operations — recently carried out by Chad and the Central African Republic on their common border — attest to their willingness to strengthen their bilateral cooperation and meet their common security challenges.  He encouraged the two States to make use of all existing bilateral cooperation mechanisms, in particular their joint cooperation commission.  

However, the situation in the Lake Chad Basin and the Sahel shows that a purely military response will be insufficient to address the root causes of insecurity.  Political and socioeconomic measures are also essential; otherwise, armed groups will continue to instrumentalize inter-basin community conflicts such as those related to transhumance.  On the issue of the cross-border management of the activities of armed groups, he pointed to a UNOCA/ United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) technical mission which has been deployed in the four countries of the Lake Chad basin, to assess the impact of violent extremism on local populations. 

The security situation in Central Africa has also been marked by an increase in maritime piracy incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, which underlines the need to strengthen interregional cooperation, he continued.  Three years have passed since the implementation of the institutional reform of ECCAS which has continued to play a central role on issues of peace and security in the sub-region.  However, the ECCAS institutional reform process requires sustained financial support, he said, calling on the States of the sub-region to put in place mechanisms that can allow sustainable financing of the Organization’s activities.  In addition to the aforementioned challenges, Central Africa is being hard hit by the crisis in Ukraine, which is reflected in inflation, fuel price rises and shortages, he stressed, adding that if the socio-economic situation worsens further, it could result in an uptick in social upheaval which would undermine stability in the country.

GILBERTO DA PIEDADE VERISSIMO, President of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), noting the signs of hope and encouragement in its member States’ security situation, stressed that their efforts are worthy of support.  However, Central Africa still faces major security challenges which vary from country to country, including, among others, armed groups; secessionist factions; illicit arms circulation; marine crime; the illegal exploitation of natural resources; intercommunal conflicts; and humanitarian crises induced by armed conflicts, natural disasters and the tensions between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda.  In addition to these internal challenges, the region’s security situation is being negatively impacted by the conflict in Sudan, the expansion of Boko Haram’s activities to all States bordering Lake Chad and the entrenchment of terrorist movements in the Sahel-Sahara area.

However, despite differences of opinion, ECCAS member States continue their determined stride towards democratic governance, with 2022 and the first quarter of 2023 marked by several elections which were more or less peaceful, he reported. Elections at several levels in the Central African Republic, Gabon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are expected in 2023 as are constitutional referenda in Congo, the Central African Republic and Chad.  “The more our Community, ECCAS, continues to support member States in organizing electoral processes, the more we become acutely aware of the challenges these States are facing,” he underscored. 

Such challenges concern disagreements over the composition of bodies responsible for elections, electoral legislation, voter register credibility and the authenticity of results, he explained.  Nevertheless, be it security or political governance challenges, ECCAS now has the appropriate instruments to facilitate its political, peace and security-related work.  In Chad for example, it supported that country’s transition process by opening a liaison office in N’Djamena, deploying a fact-finding mission and establishing a platform to facilitate communication between transition authorities and entities opposed to the ongoing transition process.  For its part, ECCAS will continue to support Chad until the Government organizes elections.

“ECCAS remains the regional economic community par excellence on Central Africa,” he asserted.  In accordance with the principle of complementarity, it supports the mediation efforts between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda as well as those between the Congolese Government and armed groups.  He noted that six of its member States, who are also members of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, have spoken out about its desire to join the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo also known as the Addis Ababa Framework Agreement.  The growing strength of ECCAS’ new governance, peace and security structures will gradually allow the Community to effectively support the subregion’s States on their quests for peace, security, stability and objective, he emphasized. 

To achieve this objective, ECCAS will continue to strengthen its cooperation with various United Nations mechanisms addressing issues of democracy, peace and security in Central Africa, including, among others, the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa, Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region, the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).  The support that these mechanisms provide can be more effective if their mandates are better tailored to a subregional context, he pointed out.

MARIE TAMOIFO, Founder of the Network of Young Leaders for Sustainable Management of Central African Forest Ecosystems, paying tribute to Nelson Mandela and Wangari Mathai as her role models, highlighted her work coordinating youth and women’s networks in 10 countries of Central Africa, her extensive platform on WhatsApp and other social networks and a training programme for 100 young reporters and climate and biodiversity ambassadors. Calling on Council members to imagine the transformations that would be possible with long-term support for such activities, she said:  “Unless politicians take care of young people, the winds of change will prompt young people to take care of politicians.” 

Pointing to the lack of support from the Governments of the region, the African Union and the international community, she said that vulnerable groups remain the hardest hit by conflict and climate.  Further, young people and women regularly find themselves at the heart of these scourges.  Her organization works to raise public awareness of the need to protect forests and their territories, she said, adding that it encourages the participation of women and youth in decision-making. 

Outlining a range of capacity-building activities, she spotlighted her organization’s “model COP workshops, called COP Chez Nous,” which enables participants to draw up joint position papers and designate climate and biodiversity ambassadors at rural and urban levels.  Other programmes have focused on the solar electrification of over 300 households, the installation of solar refrigerators and photovoltaic kits for vaccine storage in health centres and a pilot project to distribute solar-powered sewing machines to seamstresses in rural and urban areas. 

Noting that these actions remain unseen and under-funded, despite the billions of dollars announced with great fanfare by the international community, she described the resourcefulness, determination and teamwork of the self-taught young men and women in her region whose actions contribute to the development and stability of their countries.  However, while their work in Yaoundé, N’Djamena or Kinshasa is invisible in the environmental diplomacy in New York or Paris, she underscored that Central Africa is rich in resources and active, dynamic youth.

The region is poised to become the world’s leading green lung, she said, adding that it will be a major investment and conservation destination.  Highlighting its strategic position, as well as the exceptional ecosystems of the Congo Basin and the Lake Chad Basin, she pointed to the climate-related security challenges posed by increased human migration, the rise in communal violence, the increase in organized crime and the activities of non-State armed groups. Other challenges include the increased pressure on the coastline, rise in crime and maritime piracy, man-wildlife conflicts and the growing threat to the Congo Basin rainforest, to name a few. 

“The cause-and-effect relationship works both ways:  climate change impacts security, and insecurity impacts climate change,” she pointed out, calling on the Council to build on the perspectives that young people and women themselves bring to the table.  Green, decent jobs will help prevent the radicalization of young people and the exposure of young girls and women to all forms of violence.  Do away with the plethora of international intermediaries with conditions on their aid, she said, and instead, “take risks with civil society and women”. 

Statements

MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon), also speaking for Ghana and Mozambique, welcomed the elections which were held in several countries of the region.  Post-crisis initiatives such as the Nairobi and Luanda processes attest to Africa’s commitment to restore peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said, noting that this regional involvement embodies the “African solutions to African problems” principle.  He also welcomed the measures taken by Chad’s transitional authorities to ease political tensions and prepare for the constitutional referendum and the presidential elections.  An inclusive approach that included youth and women to political and peace processes in Central Africa is also important.  However, he voiced concern regarding, among others, violent extremism, cross-border crime, maritime insecurity, illicit trafficking in natural resources and inter-community clashes, exacerbated by the effects of climate change.  He also denounced the growing use of explosive devices by terrorist groups and attacks and abductions targeting civilian populations, which lead to massive displacement of populations.  

Further, he strongly condemned the ongoing terrorist attacks by Boko Haram and dissident groups in Cameroon and Chad.  In view of the resurgence of pirate attacks off the coast of Gabon, maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea deserves particular attention as well.  On the humanitarian front, he expressed concern about armed violence as well as natural factors, such as floods and droughts.  Security challenges result in record levels of refugees and displaced persons in the region, particularly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Africa is the continent that pollutes the least and is the most vulnerable to natural disasters, he said, adding that competition over access to drinking water and natural resources undermines the resilience of populations and reinforces inter-community violence and the recruitment of young people by terrorist and armed groups.  In that regard, he pointed to the crucial role of the tropical forests of the Congo basin in reducing the impact of climate change and called on the international community to uphold the commitments made at the recent One Forest Summit in Libreville. 

JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom), noting the important electoral and transitional milestones facing the subregion, said that the transition in Chad is one such potential milestone.  However, the Chadian Transitional Authorities must honour conditions set out in the May 2023 African Union Peace and Security Council communiqué.  Citing the response to last October’s demonstrations as “concerning”, he encouraged the Transitional Authorities to work with UNOCA and ECCAS to ensure accountability and the release of protestors detained without due legal process. Paying tribute to Chad’s hosting tens of thousands of refugees fleeing the crisis in Sudan and adding that his country is providing $3 million in humanitarian assistance, he urged the Chadian Transitional Authorities to use their influence with Sudan’s generals and encourage adherence to the ceasefire, the facilitation of humanitarian access and progress towards a peaceful resolution to the crisis.  He also expressed concern about the situation in Cameroon, especially the humanitarian impact of the conflict in the north-west and south-west regions.  More so, it is essential that UNOCA’s work on climate security in Central Africa continues. Voicing concern over the destabilizing role the Wagner Group, he said they are a driver of conflict and resource competition, motivated by their exploitation of natural resources.  “They are a part of the problem, not the solution,” he added.

ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan), stressing that civic space must be protected and the electoral system transparent and credible, expressed his expectation that Chad’s referendum on the new constitution will take place as planned on 19 November. Initiatives and efforts by regional States to tackle an increasing trend in armed conflicts, growing violent extremism, and heightened intercommunal tensions, as well as the spread of hate speech and disinformation, must respect human rights and include the voices of women and youth.  The clashes in Sudan are compounding the already volatile conditions in the region, he pointed out, noting that his country will be providing assistance to Sudan’s neighbouring countries to address the needs of refugees and returnees.  Noting ongoing humanitarian challenges in Cameroon’s north-west and south-west regions, he said all stakeholders, including the Government, must make further efforts to resolve the crisis in line with the recommendations that emerged from the 2019 Major National Dialogue.  His country will continue to assist in strengthening the resilience of climate-vulnerable groups through enhancing climate change adaptation and climate disaster risk reduction.  It has also been providing development assistance with an emphasis on institution-building and human resource development, he added.

ALEXANDRE OLMEDO (France), welcoming the solidarity among Sudan’s neighbouring countries who have welcomed refugees, said his country, alongside its European partners, is also responding to the humanitarian crisis and meeting people’s needs. Pointing to the devastating consequences of climate change in the region, he highlighted the One Forest Summit, organized by France and Gabon, on protecting tropical forests.  This Council must listen to its African members and civil society who have warned time and time again about the link between climate and security, he emphasized, calling on all Member States to join collective efforts, including acceding to the United Nations Climate, Peace and Security Mechanism.  Underscoring that upcoming elections in several countries must be carried out in an inclusive, credible and calm way, he also said that Chadian authorities must be encouraged to continue their efforts to foster national reconciliation.  Voicing concern about the situation in north-west and south-west Cameroon, he encouraged the Cameroonian authorities to continue dialogue towards a political solution.  Welcoming the work undertaken by UNOCA with ECCAS to support security sector and justice sector reforms in São Tomé and Príncipe, he called on Council members to provide the Special Representative with the support he requires to discharge his mandate by adopting a presidential statement.

ADRIAN DOMINIK HAURI (Switzerland), underlining the multidimensional, cross-border, inter-connected and sizeable nature of Central Africa’s security challenges, stressed the importance of UNOCA’s engagement with the region’s States and other missions.  The growing insecurity and deteriorating human rights situation in some countries notably threatens to impact all of Central Africa.  Against that backdrop, he welcomed the Central African Republic’s collaboration with Cameroon on strengthening security in border areas and encouraged further cooperation with neighbouring States.  In light of the increased number of people in need, including those fleeing the conflict in Sudan, parties must respect international humanitarian law and facilitate rapid and unhindered humanitarian access.  Since security responses alone cannot offer a lasting solution, strengthening good governance and promoting inclusive and transparent political dialogue remains essential. However, for this to happen, civilian actors — including the opposition and especially women — must be able to fully participate and human rights must be respected.  Moreover, the visible impact of climate change on the region must be considered.  In that regard, UNOCA’s special adviser on climate and security should contribute to addressing that critical nexus, he said, also adding his support for UNOCA and a presidential statement. 

HERNÁN PÉREZ LOOSE (Ecuador), voicing his hope that the electoral processes planned for 2023 will be carried out peacefully and transparently, stressed that the participation of citizens — including women and young people — will be crucial to consolidate democracy and strong institutions.  He also condemned the violence being conducted by the region’s non-State groups, adding that his Government stands in solidarity with victims.  Further, countries must continue fighting against terrorism in a coordinated manner.  Human rights and international humanitarian law must always be respected, he underscored, expressing his concern over the impact of Sudan’s conflict on the region as a whole. On the situation in Cameroon, he called on parties to continue their dialogue especially since peaceful negotiations are the way forward to protect civilians and avoid more victims. Turning to the region’s human rights and freedom situation more broadly, he emphasized that the abduction and killing of journalists is unacceptable as are the torture and killing of detainees. Those responsible for such acts must be held accountable.  “Lasting peace can only be achieved through development,” he said, adding:  “Creating opportunities for the people and improving their living conditions are both vital tasks to create and maintain stability and security.”

ALBANA DAUTLLARI (Albania), calling on Chad’s authorities to protect human rights, urged all parties to pursue constructive dialogue for that country’s return to a constitutional order.  Preserving democratic gains across the region more broadly demands continuous efforts to safeguard civic space and human rights and ensure accountability.  She also stressed that the political situation in the Central African Republic remains worrying, especially with human rights and humanitarian law violations being committed by all parties, including the Wagner Group.  Obstructions to MINUSCA’s mandate are unacceptable and the Status of Forces Agreement must be respected.  Yet despite national and regional efforts in the region, armed groups persist.  The Multinational Joint Task Force notably cannot end their activities if their exploitation of resources, recruitment or propaganda as an alternative to State weaknesses go unchecked.  Welcoming Cameroon’s encouraging actions in particular, she emphasized that the Government should ensure unhindered humanitarian operations and foster a political environment which enables broader political participation and reconciliation. Challenges on the border between Sudan, Chad and the Central African Republic should be addressed with continued dialogue and enhanced regional coordination.  She also highlighted climate change’s role as the underlying, silent driver of conflict and hardship. 

ROBERT A. WOOD (United States), expressing support for an inclusive and sustainable democratic transformation in Chad, called on the Government to hold accountable those responsible for killings and abuses during the October 20 protests.  Expressing concern about the continued violence in Cameroon and condemning all attacks against civilians, he stressed the need for political dialogue with all stakeholders in that country.  He also urged the authorities of the Central African Republic to revitalize the 2019 Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation.  While that country has many partners who wish to assist in its development, the Government’s relationship with the Wagner Group hinders others from fully engaging with it, he warned, also noting that Boko Haram and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as Da’esh in West Africa, continue to destabilize the region.  Expressing support for the coordination efforts of regional States and the multinational joint task force to combat these terrorist groups, he commended Gabon’s leadership in efforts to preserve the world’s tropical rainforest by hosting the One Forest Summit in Libreville.

FRANCESCA GATT (Malta), expressing regret about the pending adoption of a presidential statement on UNOCA, notwithstanding the Council’s commitment to addressing the multiple challenges that threaten Central Africa, voiced hope that an agreement can be reached in a timely manner.  She commended the efforts of the Special Representative for steering UNOCA’s mandate and work and welcomed the ongoing coordination with MINUSCA, MONUSCO, the Special Envoy for the Great Lakes and subregional organizations.  Regarding Chad, she noted reports of arrests, transfers to a high-security prison, public hearings and convictions following the protests last October.  Cameroon is experiencing multiple crises from terrorism to competition for resources, to the refugee crisis, she noted, encouraging the Special Representative’s continued efforts towards mediation in support of Cameroonian authorities.  She also voiced concern about the shrinking civic space in certain countries and the repeated threats to the safety of journalists, noting that they only fuel further violence and misinformation.  In addition, women’s full, equal and meaningful participation must stay at the forefront of the Council’s considerations, she said, welcoming the latest efforts geared towards women’s leadership in political offices, including in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

DAI BING (China), highlighting his country’s increased input in the region, said that the ongoing situation across multiple African countries towards political stability proves that solutions to African problems must be found within.  Thus, the international community must respect their sovereignly and ownership. Accordingly, imposing unilateral sanctions will not lead to a solution but only aggravate tensions.  He stressed the need to support regional organizations in their response to security challenges, noting that piracy in the Gulf of Guinea remains rampant.  Also, the spillovers of the situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and the turmoil in Sudan are exacerbating the humanitarian and refugee crisis in the region.  Against this backdrop, he urged the international community to support capacity-building in regional counter-terrorism forces and to increase input in maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.  To diffuse conflict-related risks, States should provide concrete assistance to countries in the region and maintain the current level of humanitarian funding, he asserted.

JOÃO GENÉSIO DE ALMEIDA FILHO (Brazil) expressing support for the continued engagement of UNOCA and ECCAS in enabling the political transition in Chad, noted the progress achieved in preparation for its constitutional referendum in November.  Noting his country’s historic and linguistic ties to “the sister nation of São Tomé and Príncipe”, he highlighted its 2021 peaceful transfer, expressed concern about the attack on the headquarters of armed forces last November and welcomed the efforts of the local authorities to strengthen security sector reforms.  Also highlighting improvements to maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, he said:  “This is first and foremost an achievement by the States of the region.”  However, there is no room for complacency lest hard-won gains be reversed, he stressed, adding that as a member of the Group of Friends of the Gulf of Guinea, Brazil stands ready to continue supporting countries of the region through cooperation and naval operations.  Central Africa faces multidimensional, cross-border threats to peace and security, he said, highlighting the activities of ISIL/Da’esh and Boko Haram in the Lake Chad basin.  Socioeconomic development will be key to address the root causes of such situations, he added, calling for a global effort to reduce economic and social disparities between different regions of the world.

ANNA M. EVSTIGNEEVA (Russian Federation) pointed out that the subregion’s armed forces contend with illegal armed groups, highly porous borders and insufficient resources to enact effective border control.  Radical Islam is growing increasingly popular as illegal armed groups have enhanced their organizational structure to conduct military operations, terrorist attacks and kidnappings, among other activities.  To effectively fight this threat, there must be systematic and collective efforts, she insisted, calling for strengthened bilateral and multilateral cooperation including on building coastal States’ capacity to tackle piracy. For its part, her Government is following the developments in Cameroon, whose English-speaking provinces have problems rooted in colonial times, Chad and the Central African Republic.  Moscow will continue its assistance to Bangui on combatting illegal armed groups and extending the State’s presence.  It also calls on the Council to lift its arms embargo, which will strengthen the Central African Republic’s defence capabilities.  Turning to the subregion’s concerning humanitarian situation, she called on the international community to provide increased support.  Such requisite support however must have “unswerving respect” for the sovereignty, independence and decisions of the subregion’s States, especially since they must play a key role in crisis prevention and conflict settlement.

LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates), Council President for June, speaking in her national capacity, praised UNOCA’s preventive diplomacy and mediation efforts. Welcoming the recent appointment of women to key political positions in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, she expressed support for the local-level cross-border fora between Chad and Cameroon, bilateral joint commissions, and other regional initiatives that can help stakeholders in the region better align their priorities when it comes to managing borders.  Adequate border management can curtail the flow of arms and the illicit trade of natural resources, she said, expressing concern about the resurgence of Boko Haram attacks in the Lake Chad Basin.  While the increasingly erratic rainfall has resulted in heavy flooding in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Cameroon, southern Angola faces the worst drought in 40 years.  Climate change is exacerbating the tensions among communities, especially between herders and farmers across the region, she said, highlighting her country’s efforts to draw attention to this matter.

Source: Press UN