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Building Upon Momentum From National Dialogue Can Help Cameroon Resolve Political, Humanitarian Crises, Special Representative Tells Security Council

This is what the Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), François Louncény Fall, told the Security Council on December 6, 2019, about Cameroon. Read the full report from the UN’s coverage team.

Swift implementation of recommendations that emerged from Cameroon’s recent national dialogue can contribute significantly towards resolving the political and humanitarian crisis enveloping that country’s North‑West and South‑West regions, the Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) told the Security Council today.

François Louncény Fall, who also serves as the Secretary‑General’s Special Representative for that subregion, stressed the need to build upon the momentum generated by the national dialogue — which took place from 30 September to 4 October — and to pursue further discourse among all stakeholders in order to quell underlying tensions among marginalized communities.  The elections announced for 2020 will be a crucial test of democracy and the determination of national stakeholders to achieve genuine stability and socio-economic development for all Cameroonians, he continued, urging all sides to step up their efforts to protect and promote human rights and to tackle impunity.

Presenting the Secretary‑General’s latest report on the situation in Central Africa and on UNOCA’s activities (document S/2019/913), he also underscored the wider security, humanitarian, socioeconomic and human rights challenges in the 11‑nation subregion, including climate change, attacks by Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin and threats to shipping in the Gulf of Guinea.  Drawing attention to positive developments, he pointed to institutional reforms to the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), which are set to be adopted at an upcoming summit, as well as elections scheduled for various countries of the subregion in 2020 and 2021.

Sasha Lezhnev, Deputy Director of Policy for the Enough Project, emphasized that, in their efforts to end violent conflict in Central Africa, the Security Council and UNOCA should focus on the financial aspect of the subregion’s crises.  Sanctions should be refocused to target networks of peace‑process spoilers.

Pointing out that the hundreds of millions of dollars generated by conflict resources are traded regionally and internationally, he said the Expert Panels on the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have reported extensively on how gold, diamonds and other minerals that finance armed groups are smuggled across Africa and on to the United Arab Emirates.  It is the middlemen, financial facilitators, and corrupt officials enabling such trade who should be targeted for sanctions rather than the lowest rungs in the supply chain — the armed commanders who rarely cross borders.

In the ensuing debate, Equatorial Guinea’s representative, also speaking for Côte d’Ivoire and South Africa, urged the parties involved in the conflict in Cameroon to heed the call to join negotiations and resolve differences through compromise.  While commending Governments in the subregion for their efforts to meet humanitarian challenges, she also noted that international assistance will also be critical going forward.

Calling for a halt to human rights abuses, the United Kingdom’s delegate urged that all recommendations that had emerged from the national dialogue be implemented, including strengthening bilingualism and engaging diaspora groups.  “Words need to be matched by actions” to prevent the situation from deteriorating, he stressed.

The United States representative, Council President for December, spoke in her national capacity, underlining that what started as a political and human rights crisis in Cameroon has become an urgent humanitarian situation, with 1.9 million people, mostly children, in need of assistance.  Welcoming Swiss mediation efforts, and urging UNOCA to play a more assertive role, she too called on the Government and separatist groups to engage in dialogue.

China’s delegate said Central Africa’s many challenges can be traced back to insufficient, unbalanced and unequal development.  However, he also pointed out that, while the international community should support development efforts, the situation in some parts of the subregion does not threaten international peace and security and therefore does not require United Nations intervention.

Indonesia’s representative said credible elections in Central Africa will be critical for addressing the root causes of conflict.  Governments must not only regain the trust of the people, but also of each other.  “Trust is important and partnership is key,” he stated.

Also speaking were representatives of the Dominican Republic, Belgium, Russian Federation, Kuwait, Poland, Peru, and Germany.

The meeting began at 3:03 p.m. and ended at 4:34 p.m.

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