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Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Office for West Africa (S/2009/682)

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I. Introduction

1. The present report is submitted pursuant to the request contained in the letter dated 21 December 2007 from the President of the Security Council (S/2007/754), in which the Council called on me to report on the fulfilment of the mandate of the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA) every six months. The report covers the period from 1 July to 31 December 2009. It focuses on cross-cutting and cross-border issues in West Africa and on activities undertaken by UNOWA in cooperation with other United Nations entities and regional organizations, including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), as well as civil society and other international organizations.

II. Cross-border developments and trends

2. During the reporting period, West Africa continued to make progress in a number of areas, including the rule of law and human rights, crisis recovery and the fight against cross-border organized crime, especially drug trafficking. However, serious challenges, such as climate change, criminal activities, and weaknesses in governance and in the management of the security sector, continued to undermine progress achieved so far and to threaten peace and stability.

3. A number of West African countries continued to face varying degrees of political crises during the reporting period. Likewise, some economic and humanitarian challenges escalated rapidly, reducing the ability of West African countries and their regional and international partners to respond in an effective and timely manner. For instance, the effects of climate change, especially the flooding that occurred during the last rainy season, reached a scope and depth never seen before in the subregion. Also, criminal networks are using increasingly sophisticated tactics and are engaging in unlawful activities on a larger scale.