Statement delivered by Deputy Permanent Representative Ambassador Trine Heimerback in the Security Council meeting on the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), 7 July 2022.

I thank SRSG Annadif for his briefing, and UNOWAS for its key role in preventive diplomacy. We further welcome the strong briefing from civil society by Ms. Magigi – and on the important tie-ins between the Peacebuilding Commission and this Council by Ambassador Fatima.

Let me upfront also pay our deepest respect and condolences to MINUSMA's troops, who again this week fell victims to a mine – after what has been a tragic past month, with unusually high casualties.

Norway welcomes the progress made by ECOWAS in negotiations with Mali and Burkina Faso on transition timetables and benchmarks, resulting in the lifting of some economic and financial sanctions. We also welcome the release of President Kaboré.

For the sake of both national and regional stability, the transition authorities in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea must now make good on their promises.

In Mali, we also expect the authorities to respect this Council's new mandate for MINUSMA, and its status of forces agreement– including by allowing for mandated reporting and timely rotations of troops.

We appreciate ECOWAS' review of the Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, and urge consensus on this important instrument.

But while governance crises continue to hamper governments from fulfilling their responsibilities, humanitarian responses cannot wait. Throughout the region, food prices and the number of food insecure people are rising by the day.

Despite military take-overs in several countries, we also see few signs of increased security for civilians. Instead, what we see, is insecurity that is spreading--especially from central Sahel towards coastal States.

In the past months, we have also seen terrorist attacks in countries such as the Ivory Coast, Togo, and Benin. This trend clearly merits our collective vigilance.

The worrisome trend- and the regrettable Malian decision to withdraw from the G5 Sahel cooperation- further underlines the timeliness of the high-level panel on security and development in the Sahel. We count on former President Issoufou to steer it to swift, realistic, and tangible recommendations.

In our view, the panel's security thinking should take a holistic approach, including on political dialogue. Discussions cannot shy away from financing, or from mandates for robust, regionally led operations. These must also be founded on human rights due diligence, and OHCHR compliance frameworks. That joint security responses are indeed possible, is shown by the issue of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

On this, we welcome positive trends thanks to strong leadership by Nigeria, Ghana and other coastal countries—matched by stronger international support.

Ahead of next year’s ten-year mark for the Yaoundé framework, this Council's resolution 2634 should serve as a strong call to action for a final push.

As the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report states:

“There is increasing evidence linking increased temperatures and drought to conflict”. “Though not the only cause, climate change undermines human livelihoods and security in Africa”.

An increased number of regionally focused reports show particularly strong effects of climate change on security in West Africa and the Sahel.

Norway therefore welcomes UNOWAS' work on this-- including by briefing the Peacebuilding Commission, and supporting ECOWAS and States to develop strategies to address the adverse impacts.

Such support to prevent problems, jointly with other actors in the region, shows UNOWAS at its best.