SC: Central Africa / UNOCA

Statement by Alternate Political Coordinator Vebjørn Heines in the UN Security Council meeting on the United Nations Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), 15 December 2021.

I thank SRSG Fall for his comprehensive briefing. Even when UNOCA's work is not very visible, we know it continues to play a key role in the region.


Let me start today on the coast, where the menace of piracy and armed robbery persists. Every year, piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea has direct, indirect, and opportunity costs for the surrounding regions- to the amount of almost 2 billion US dollars. This figure was one of the findings of a Norwegian-funded, UNODC-supported cost-analysis report for the coastal States, launched last week. If we add to this monetary cost, the human cost of risks to seafarers, then maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea clearly deserves more focus. To this end: Norway – in close cooperation, and consultation, with incoming members Ghana, Gabon, and other regional countries – intend to introduce a resolution to address the issue.

The utility of such a resolution would be threefold:

One: To increase attention around this important issue in the region, and beyond;

Two: To encourage the ongoing, and commendable national, regional, and international efforts;

And three: as we approach the ten-year mark of the last resolution, and the Yaoundé Code of Conduct, a new resolution is an opportunity to take stock of what works, and what can be improved.


Now moving onshore, let me highlight three other key issues of: preventative diplomacy, the protection of education, and climate and security. Firstly, on preventive diplomacy:

Even when countries in the region are not formally on the Council's agenda, it is important that we heed the warning signs -- and use all our tools to act early to prevent them from ending up there. The Council's role cannot be reduced to that of a firefighter- rushing to scenes after-the-fact. Instead, we must make best use of mitigating measures- including UNOCA's preventive toolbox. And, as always, one of the most effective ways to ensure ongoing sustainable peace, is to ensure the inclusion of all stakeholders – not least women.

Secondly, as stressed by recently adopted resolution 2601: The destruction of educational facilities, and denial of access to education, has immediate and long-term negative impacts on the lives of children and youth, their communities, and societies. Norway strongly condemns reported continued attacks against schools and education facilities in parts of Cameroon, as well as in other countries in the region. We are pleased that the recent extension of MINUSCA’s mandate in the Central African Republic contains strong language on the importance of protection, and continuation, of education in conflict.

And lastly, we can no longer ignore the fact that climate change increases security challenges – including in Central Africa. In Burundi, as of August 2021, there were more than 96,000 internally displaced persons due to natural disasters.  In Cameroon and Chad, intercommunal clashes between herding and farming communities, compounded by climate change, led to deaths and injuries. 

While this Council continues to catch up to this reality, Norway will maintain its to support UNOCA's climate and security project. We're happy to see that this has now moved into a second phase.

President, in conclusion,
In an increasingly complex security landscape, the answers are often closer cooperation across borders, and regional initiatives. On all of the issues I have mentioned today, UNOCA plays a key role in bringing actors like ECCAS, the AU, UNOWAS, and others together to act. Norway will continue to strongly support these efforts.

Thank you.