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Report of the Secretary-General on the activities of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (S/2020/1293)

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I. Introduction

1. The present report covers the period from 23 June to 14 December 2020 and provides an overview of developments and trends in West Africa and the Sahel. It captures the activities of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) and highlights progress made in the implementation of the United Nations integrated strategy for the Sahel. In addition, it provides 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

2. Since the previous report (S/2020/585), citizen demands for inclusive participation in political processes and for effective and accountable governance have intensified across West Africa and the Sahel. Constitutional reforms are ongoing, despite challenges, in the Gambia and Guinea-Bissau. Terrorist activities have increasingly become intertwined with intercommunity and farmer-herder conflict, compounding a precarious security situation and acute humanitarian needs in large parts of the Sahel. While Governments in the subregion responded effectively to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, the pandemic has triggered a severe economic slowdown, which, along with climatic conditions, has exacerbated the already dire humanitarian situation.

3. Elections were held in Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea,
Liberia and the Niger. To varying degrees, tensions arose over the inclusivity of electoral processes, electoral management bodies and the accuracy of voter registers, among other contentious issues. In some cases, electoral preparations were accompanied by complaints by the opposition about the instrumentalization of the judiciary, COVID-19 emergency measures and the extension of presidential term limits.