Russian foreign policy
Russian policy in Africa
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Statement by Alexander Konuzin, Russia's Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, at the Official UN Security Council Meeting Held on January 23, 2004, on the Carrying-out of the Recommendations of the SC Mission to West Africa

119-26-01-2004

West Africa is one of the world's most unstable areas, and this predetermines the heightened attention to its problems on the Security Council's part. The Council's mission during its trip to the region in June 2003 sent a serious signal to the parties in conflict about the need to honor the commitments assumed to end hostilities, to reach a political settlement, to observe undeviatingly human rights and the rules of humanitarian law and to comply with the relevant UNSC resolutions.

West Africa is one of the world's most unstable areas, and this predetermines the heightened attention to its problems on the Security Council's part. The Council's mission during its trip to the region in June 2003 sent a serious signal to the parties in conflict about the need to honor the commitments assumed to end hostilities, to reach a political settlement, to observe undeviatingly human rights and the rules of humanitarian law and to comply with the relevant UNSC resolutions. It is important for the SC to keep track of how these signals have been regarded by the parties and to what extent the demands of the international community have been fulfilled by the parties in conflict.

We have carefully studied the Secretary General's report on the progress in carrying out the recommendations of the SC mission to West Africa and in general agree with the assessments and findings contained in it. In the context of resolving the specific crisis situations in the subregion we consider it important to note the following.

The military coup staged in Guinea Bissau on September 14 last year has confirmed the fears of the mission's members. After a visit to Guinea Bissau and acquaintance with the situation on the ground, this scenario was regarded by us as very likely in case of continued pursuit of the irresponsible policy of the previous leadership of the country. The recommendations prepared by us for Guinea Bissau remain as relevant in the new conditions too. The key task of holding elections after the unconstitutional change of power is becoming even more important. We welcome the mindset of the new authorities in Guinea Bissau to restore constitutional order as soon as possible through holding parliamentary, and then also presidential elections to democratic standards. In the context of accomplishing this task and rectifying the grave socioeconomic situation in Guinea Bissau the question becomes even more acute of providing that country necessary assistance on the part of the international community, which the SC has been regularly calling for.

The recent positive shifts in settlement in Cote d'Ivoire have reanimated the peace process in that country and offers the hope that the goals declared in the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement can be achieved. We are pleased with the carrying-out of a number of important recommendations of the mission, where we emphasize the appointment of the power ministers, the ECOWAS forces' provision of security for the Ivorian politicians and the adoption of a law on amnesty. At the same time in carrying out the recommendations with regard to such key tasks as implementing the DDR program, disbanding paramilitary units and extending administrative rule to the entire national territory the progress is very insignificant. To consolidate and subsequently develop the peace process in Cote d'Ivoire there is a need for the intensification of international assistance. We count on a resolution to be soon agreed upon conclusively and adopted in the Security Council that sanctions the conduct of a comprehensive UN peacekeeping operation in the RCI.

The long-persistent instability in Liberia is justifiably considered the most negative factor for peace and security in all of West Africa. The key to reconciliation in the subregion lies in a comprehensive and lasting settlement of the Liberian conflict. We welcome the progress in the peace process in that country, for which the UN peacekeeping operation has been a catalyst. We note that the main UN mission's recommendations concerning Liberia have either been carried out or are in the stage of implementation. At the same time a weight sits heavy on our conscience as impunity continues there for crimes, including the involvement of children in combat actions. Of great significance for the consolidation of the positive dynamics in Liberian settlement is the speediest completion of the full deployment of a peacekeeping operation in that country in accordance with the SC-approved parameters.

On the whole we are pleased with the course of the peace process in Sierra Leone and the implementation of the SC mission's recommendations concerning that state. Nonetheless the Sierra Leonean authorities have yet to do a great deal as the UN peacekeeping operation is wound down in that country. The most important tasks for the leadership of Sierra Leone pertain to the solution of existing domestic security problems, the strengthening of control over natural resources, including diamonds, and the consolidation of the civilian administration all over the territory of the country.

The extensive range of recommendations made by the SC mission also encompasses the problems of a general character for the states of the West Africa subregion that exert a direct effect on the course of the conflicts and reflect on the situation of the population in those countries - mercenaries, multitudinous armed groups, cross-border spillovers of conflicts, the illegal trade in arms, the recruitment of child soldiers, and massive violations of human rights and the rules of international humanitarian law. It is advisable to discuss these problems thoroughly at a separate meeting of the Security Council after the publication of the Secretary General's report on the cross-border problems of West Africa with recommendations as to practical measures for how to resolve them.

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