Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at the UNSC Briefing on UNOCA - Central Africa
Statement15 December 2021
I would like to thank SRSG Fall for his briefing today and as others have done, Mr. President, I wanted to recognise your own contribution on these issues during your term on the Council, it has been very important to our work here at this table.
Ireland would like to commend the extensive activities being carried out by UNOCA to maintain and improve regional cooperation, including with the Economic Community of Central African States and other regional organisations. We certainly applaud the efforts to pursue peace and security, to combat hate speech, and to address the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 by advancing vaccination campaigns.
I would like to say a special thank you to you, Special Representative, for your participation in regional stabilisation, peacebuilding and sustainable development meetings. We very much welcome the work that you did in a joint visit to Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria, alongside Special Representative Annadif of UNOWAS. We know that you assessed the impact of the crisis in the Lake Chad basin, in the course of that visit, and for us that is the type of practical cooperation between UN regional missions that is really critical in addressing the many cross-border security and humanitarian challenges that we have heard about today which face the region. So, we very much welcome that ongoing cooperation.
Earlier this week, as you know, Ireland and Niger brought a draft Resolution on Climate and Security to a vote at the Security Council. This resolution attracted 113 co-sponsors from right across the UN’s membership and we believe it would have been an important first step in establishing a strengthened framework for future action. Unfortunately, despite the broad support, the resolution was not adopted by the Council. We continue to see its value, not least in a discussion like the one we are having here today.
We cannot ignore the reality and impact of climate related security risks. Last week, the Council heard from almost sixty members of the UN, who under the able Chairmanship of President Bazoum of Niger debated the topic of “security in the context of terrorism and climate change”. It was really striking that the briefers on the day referred to the interlinkages between the adverse impacts of climate change and recruitment by terrorist groups, including Boko Haram, particularly in the Sahel and Lake Chad basin. The activities of Boko Haram and the expansion of Islamic State West Africa Province are a concern. Ireland strongly supports efforts to address root causes of conflict and remains firmly committed to the implementation of a triple nexus approach.
Intercommunal clashes around the Lake Chad basin are deeply troubling. According to UNHCR, the climate crisis has heightened tensions along the tributaries of Lake Chad in recent decades, where the reduction in water levels is sparking violent clashes between fishermen and herders. This fighting has caused the displacement of thousands of people to Cameroon and Chad. We are concerned that this displacement also has a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable in society, and for that we say women and children, and is likely to further exacerbate existing tensions, as well as, as we heard today, create new ones.
Ireland is pleased to note, as we heard today, that UNOCA has collaborated with the UN Climate Security Mechanism and other partners to conduct an analysis on the key security risks and threats aggravated by climate and environmental changes in the sub-region, including a field visit to Cameroon. Ireland is a proud supporter of the Climate Security Mechanism, and we very much look forward to the presentation of the findings of this analysis, including its recommendations.
Ireland commends the holistic, regional, approach taken by UNOCA, ECCAS, the African Union and the Peacebuilding Fund in supporting the important transition process in Chad, but we remain concerned by the significant security, political and humanitarian challenges in the country and indeed their impact on the wider region.
Ireland also commends the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) for their work leading to the adoption of the Joint Roadmap for Peace in the Central African Republic, and welcomes the subsequent ceasefire. However, we continue also to have concerns about the humanitarian and human rights situation in the country. We echo the Secretary General’s call for respect of the ceasefire, and a return to the 2019 Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation.
We have heard again today of the dire humanitarian situation in Central Africa, and the staggering numbers of people in need of humanitarian assistance. At the same time, attacks against humanitarian, health and education personnel and facilities continue with impunity. We condemn such attacks and we call for perpetrators of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses to be held accountable, and brought to justice.
Finally, Ireland welcomes the important work that UNOCA is carrying out to further the Women, Peace and Security agenda across the region. The role of women in governance, in mediation and in peacebuilding processes, is fundamental for advancing the stability and prosperity of the region. Engagement with women-led civil society, and ensuring that those women are engaged directly in diplomatic and political processes - I always say, in the room and at the table - is crucial to bringing about peace and security in Central Africa. We urge all of the Governments in the region to further embed this approach in their own work. It is the smart thing to do.