Security Council Briefing: Lake Chad Basin

Statement by Karel J.G. van Oosterom,
Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations in New York

New York, 22 March 2018

With the adoption of Resolution 2349 on the Lake Chad Basin one year ago, this Council recognized that security, development, and human rights are interlinked.

This Council also recognized that these links are vital to achieve an effective and comprehensive approach to stabilization, reconciliation and countering terrorism.

But we must also strengthen preventive action. The current crisis in the Lake Chad Basin is a result of our collective inaction in addressing root causes fifteen years ago.

Let me highlight this by looking at three root causes that we are particularly concerned about in this context:

  1. Water and climate change,
  2. Socio-economic challenges, and
  3. Lack of inclusion and empowerment of women.

1. Water and climate change

The first root cause I will address is water and climate. Secretary-General Guterres said: “Water, peace and security are inextricably linked.” He’s absolutely right.

As others have said, today is World Water Day. Another reason I highlight the example of water availability and the challenges posed by increased climate variability around Lake Chad.

These two factors have real effects on livelihoods, on farming, on fishing, and on food security. As Mr. Bila said so eloquently earlier today.

Building resilience to prevent further tensions requires investment in sustainable, integrated water management; all this, while taking into account the effects of climate change.

This month, the High Level Panel on Water, of which my Prime Minister is an active member, presented its report. Let me highlight some of its recommendations:

  • Address the adverse impacts and challenges water can cause,
  • Emphasize the need for adequate risk assessment and management solutions,
  • Address the water-related root causes;
  • And pursue pre-emptive actions.

These recommendations are crucial for both water scarcity and climate change. 

2. Lack of socio-economic opportunities

This second root cause we want to highlight is the lack of socio-economic opportunities. Lack of these opportunities makes the population vulnerable to recruitment by violent extremists, as Mrs. Nagarajan made clear earlier.

The region itself has risen up to address this challenge, and we commend them for it.  

The Multinational Joint Task Force, uniting Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, has pushed back Boko Haram and ISIL. I pay tribute to their efforts and I welcome the presence of our colleagues with us today.

But more needs to be done to address the underlying factors that drive people towards violent extremism.

The recent joint UN mission is a good first step in developing conflict-sensitive programming across the UN system, to improve socio-economic opportunities. 

We call upon the UN to strengthen this approach – and to improve reporting on these efforts to this Council.

3. Inclusion and empowerment of women

This brings me to the third root cause I would like to address, the inclusion and empowerment of women. Or rather the lack of it.

Women and girls in the Lake Chad Region are disproportionally affected, as targets of terrorism and by lost livelihoods. As Mrs. Nagarajan made clear, in these challenging situations the most vulnerable become even more vulnerable.

But women are also strong actors in building resilience and advancing sustainable development in the region.

We need an integrated response, a response that ensures the full inclusion and participation of women and girls, as stewards of their own futures.

Call to action

Let me continue with the following call to action:

To ensure a more integrated, long-term approach to sustaining peace in the Lake Chad region, we ask the UN the following:

  1. We need integrated risk assessment, conflict-analysis and early warning.
  2. We need more capacity for joint risk assessments and management by all UN organizations.
  3. We need to take climate change into account.
  4. We need to ensure conflict-, gender-, and climate sensitive planning and programming, such as stabilization plans that take into account the availability of resources around Lake Chad.
  5. And finally, we need comprehensive evaluations and reports to thoroughly analyse the many risks to peace and security, and their effects on other programmes in the region. The upcoming UNOWAS report offers a good opportunity to put this into practice.
  6. We need to use the lessons of the Lake Chad Basin and the need for preventive action to other regions. We need to imply them elsewhere.


In conclusion, with Resolution 2349, the Security Council showed its ability to call for early action in the Lake Chad Region.

But the Lake Chad Basin is not unique. Root causes of conflict are visible in many places in the world.

Let Resolution 2349 not be an exception, but the rule; so that the Council takes preventive action for future generations.

Thank you.