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Activities of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel; Report of the Secretary-General (S/2022/521)


I. Introduction

  1. The present report covers the period from 22 December 2021 to 22 June 2022 and contains an overview of developments and trends in West Africa and the Sahel and the activities of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS). It also highlights progress made in the implementation of the United Nations integrated strategy for the Sahel and includes an update on the situation in the Lake Chad basin, pursuant to Security Council resolution 2349 (2017).

II. Developments and trends in West Africa and the Sahel

  1. Following the coups d’état in Mali and Guinea in 2021, the military takeover in Burkina Faso and the attempted coup in Guinea-Bissau in the first half of 2022 have further exposed the underlying fragilities of democratic governance in the subregion. Despite initial promises, the de facto authorities are yet to address systemic on security and governance. Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali remain suspended from both the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union. To date, de facto authorities have resisted demands by ECOWAS for a “timely” return to constitutional order. In Burkina Faso, however, the appointment of the former President of the Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, as ECOWAS Mediator for Burkina Faso raises the prospects for progress on the attainment of a consensual road map. Against this backdrop, ECOWAS continued the review of its 2001 Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance and related legal instruments towards strengthening democracy, freedom and good governance in the subregion.

  2. In contrast, peaceful and participatory parliamentary and local elections were held in the Gambia in April and in Senegal in January, respectively. However, as highlighted in subsequent sections of the report, the low number of women elected to public office in both countries underscores the need for increased efforts to address structural impediments to women’s full and meaningful participation and representation in politics across the subregion. In some countries of the subregion, the continuing trends of political polarization and disagreements over the inclusivity of electoral processes and institutions risked compromising electoral contests and outcomes in the reporting period. In other countries, the alleged instrumentalization of the judiciary in targeting opposition actors and independent bodies further undermined trust in State institutions. On a positive note, in Côte d’Ivoire political dialogue initiatives progressed and contributed to assuaging long-standing grievances.

  3. The insecurity engendered by activities of non-State armed groups increased, resulting in rising levels of displacement both within and across borders, jeopardizing progress in education and other sectors. Terrorist incidents in coastal countries of the subregion demonstrated the persistent threat of a southward expansion of terrorism. As part of their efforts to address and prevent terrorist attacks, coastal countries have intensified collaboration under the Accra Initiative. Burkina Faso and the Niger have recalibrated their counter-terrorism strategies to include local dialogue and reintegration initiatives.

  4. The humanitarian situation reached alarming proportions, compounded by a bleak outlook for harvests as violence and insecurity hampered access to farmlands in some areas. Over 40,800 people fled their countries, bringing the total number of refugees across the subregion to nearly 1.1 million as at May. At the s ame time, as regional economies emerged from the aftershocks of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, rising food and energy prices have further exacerbated existing vulnerabilities and inequalities.