As Central Africa enters era of consolidating peace, new threats — piracy, drug trafficking — need regional response, says UN Secretary-General, in message
NEW YORK, January 17, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's message to the fifteenth ordinary session of the Conference of Heads of State and Governments of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), read by Abou Moussa, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Central Africa and Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa, in N'Djamena, 15 January:
On the occasion of the fifteenth ordinary session of the Conference of Heads of State and Governments of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), I would first of all like to commend the Government and the Chadian people for having accepted to host this important meeting, and for the generous hospitality extended to its participants. I also commend the States members of ECCAS for the significant achievements accomplished in the areas of regional integration and the strengthening of cooperation for peace, security and stability in the subregion.
The Central African subregion has experienced several armed conflicts which seriously destabilized a number of States, and affected their peoples deeply. These conflicts compromised the core elements of economic growth, and held back progress towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.
Thanks to the political will of the Governments of the subregion, and the general support of the organizations and institutions from the international community, Central Africa is steadily emerging from this period of turbulence, and embarking on a new phase of reconstruction and the consolidation of peace.
The current trend is encouraging, because a decrease in conflict means more resources devoted to constructive investments, and more opportunities for economic and social development.
The United Nations stood with the Governments and people of Central Africa during the past difficult years, and the United Nations will continue to support the States and peoples of the subregion in their efforts to permanently break away from the cycle of violence and enter a new era of peace and security.
While pleased with the positive trends in conflict resolution, the restoration and the consolidation of peace, I am also concerned by the growing incidences of non-military threats to peace and security in Central Africa.
Maritime insecurity and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, the challenges which rebellious groups pose for state authority, drug trafficking, human trafficking, in particular of children, the proliferation of light weapons and insecurity along the major roadways linking the countries of the subregion constitute, among others, the new threats which could potentially set back the significant progress achieved by the subregion towards a better future in peace, security and development, in order to improve the quality of life of states and the peoples of the Central African subregion.
I note, with appreciation, that ECCAS and its member States are conscious of this emerging situation. There is profound thinking within the subregion on how to collectively respond to this situation. Pertinent preventive diplomacy institutions are being established, and relevant mechanisms are being strengthened at the level of States, and at the subregional level.
The inclusion of consideration of these new threats on the agenda of the fifteenth ordinary session of the Conference of Heads of State and Governments testifies to the fact that the political authorities of ECCAS at highest levels are seized with these threats.
These threats require regional and cross-border responses as well. The need for regional and cross-border responses raises the new challenge of coordination of our efforts.
The mission of United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), which was established with a mandate from the Security Council, at the request of the States of the subregion, is to work closely with member States and institutions of the subregion to respond to the peace and security initiatives in Central Africa. I seize this opportunity to thank the leaders of the subregions for the reception accorded UNOCA, and for my Special Representative for Central Africa.
UNOCA is a preventive diplomacy framework at the service of Central Africa. I am confident you will make good use of the Office, and that together, Central Africa, ECCAS and with the partners, in particular the United Nations, we will continue to strengthen the significant progress made for effective regional integration for lasting peace and security in the subregion.