Security Council Briefing: UNOCA/ LRA
Statement by H.E. Lise Gregoire-van Haaren,
Deputy Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations
New York, 13 December 2018
First allow me to thank SRSG Fall and Reena Ghelani of UN OCHA for their clear briefings today.
Today, I will focus on three issues:
- First, I will discuss concerns regarding the situation in Cameroon,
- Second, I will focus on the need to have risk assessments for the root causes of conflict,
- And third, I will highlight the importance of coordination among the different UN-offices in the region.
Mr. President, two years ago, teachers and lawyers in the Anglophone region of Cameroon asked for their minority rights to be protected in a peaceful protest. Today, the health and education sectors are shut down.
Indiscriminate violence has led to civilian deaths, reportedly by both the Cameroon army and the armed groups.
There are over 437.000 people displaced, and there is a clear risk of spillover to the region. This escalation of violence shows that conflict prevention requires more than just words. It must be followed up with action.
The Kingdom of the Netherlands fully supports the territorial integrity of Cameroon. We call on the government to start a meaningful and inclusive dialogue with all parties, including with women representatives.
We fully support the work of SRSG Fall, and call on the government of Cameroon to implement confidence building measures, including the release of political prisoners.
We thank SRSG Fall for his recent visit to the country and for giving this crisis the attention it deserves. Human rights violations by all parties need to be investigated, and the perpetrators must be held to account.
We call on the government of Cameroon and armed groups to grant full access to human rights observers and humanitarian workers to the Anglophone regions. To address the needs of the displaced population, increased funding for the Humanitarian Relief Plan is essential.
2. Risk assessment for the root causes of conflict
Mr. President, on my second point: the need to strengthen joint risk assessment for all root causes of conflict. During our presidency in March, the Kingdom of the Netherlands organized an open briefing on the root causes of conflict in the Lake Chad Basin. In the briefing, briefers, Council members and affected countries confirmed the urgent need to address the root causes of conflict, including climate change and water stress in the Lake Chad Basin.
The UNOCA PRST that was adopted in August 2018 highlights the need for risk assessments and long-term strategies to support stabilization and build resilience in the Central Africa region. As confirmed in the SG’s report, in a specific section, the adverse effects of climate change continue to be a threat to regional stability.
UNOCA has an important role to play in developing sound risk assessments and ensuring conflict, and climate sensitive programming.
We encourage UNOCA to continue to work with the UNOWAS, AU, Lake Chad Basin Commission, ECCAS, and other organizations to build on the information in the Secretary-General’s report, through further joint risk assessments for climate- and water-related security risks.
3. Coordination with other UN offices
Mr President, this brings me to my third point: on coordination between UN offices in the region. Given the complex situation in Central Africa, it is important that the different UN offices in the region maximise their cooperation and complement each other. It is essential that each office focuses on its niche role.
The Kingdom of the Netherlands sees a clear role for UNOCA to focus on conflict prevention, given its unique position as a regional office.
In this light, we welcome SRSG Fall’s engagement on the process of peaceful elections in countries that are not served by other UN offices, including in Sao Tome and Principe and Gabon, as well as on cross-border issues including transhumance and farmer-herder conflicts. It is important that the SRSG is allowed to use his good offices in the best possible way in the countries he focuses on.
We encourage all UN offices in the region to consider how to further increase cooperation and efficiency in the future.
In conclusion, Mr President, the important work of UNOCA and SRSG Fall show us that there are situations in Central Africa that are at risk of becoming a threat for international peace and security.
We hope that the next time the Council meets on this item, we can see that joint efforts by the UN and governments in the region will have led to tangible results.
Thank you very much, Mr. President.
Image: ©UN Photo/Manuel Elias