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Report of the Secretary-General on the activities of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (S/2021/1091)


I. Introduction

1. The present report covers the period from 18 June to 21 December 2021 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), including with regard to progress made in the implementation of the United Nations integrated strategy for the Sahel. In addition, it 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

2. Following the conclusion of the 2020–2021 electoral cycles, democratic consolidation in the region remained inconsistent. A coup d’état took place in Guinea in the wake of a second coup in Mali. In contrast, a peaceful and credible presidential election was held in Cabo Verde, setting a positive example for democracy.

3. Dialogue processes continued in Burkina Faso, Senegal and Togo to build consensus on political and security matters. Conciliatory gestures by the Presidents of Benin and Côte d’Ivoire lowered political tensions in the two countries. Constitutional reform processes in the Gambia and Guinea-Bissau failed to move forward in polarized political climates. Transitional justice processes in Liberia and the Gambia prompted national conversations on justice, accountability and reconciliation. Against that background, the commitment expressed by the Heads of State of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to review and update Protocol A/SP1/12/01 on Democracy and Good Governance Supplementary to the Protocol relating to the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security appears to signal the intention of ECOWAS to address underlying grievances related to governance deficits, non-respect of presidential term limits and unconstitutional changes of government.

4. On the security front, large-scale coordinated attacks by terrorist and extremist armed groups against military and civilian targets continued. The third meeting of the Lake Chad Basin Governors’ Forum for Regional Cooperation on Stabilization, Peacebuilding and Sustainable Development and the third meeting of the governors of the Liptako-Gourma border regions enabled stakeholders to exchange views on cross-regional and intercommunal cooperation with a view to responding to and addressing the root causes of insecurity, which continued to cause massive loss of lives, displacements and infringements of children’s right to education. Meanwhile, there was increased focus and attention on the potential impact on neighbouring countries, including those in the Sahel, of the withdrawal of foreign forces, foreign fighters and mercenaries from Libya and elsewhere.

5. Despite resumed growth in the economies in the subregion, lack of access to essential services and socioeconomic inequality, compounded by the effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, sparked protests in many countries.