West Africa

Archive Profile

2014 Country/Region Profile

West Africa has continued to make impressive progress in moving past the conflicts of its recent history, and moving towards greater stability, better governance and more equitable rule of law. Economically, some areas of the sub-region, such as Cote D’Ivoire, consistently posts impressive growth rates and is frequently cited as an example of the continent’s untapped potential. However, these positive features coexist uneasily with more worrisome negative trends, some of which echo previous conflict drivers.

In particular, West Africa is acutely vulnerable to internal and external stressors that target its remaining structural and institutional weaknesses. The devastation that the Ebola crisis has already wrought is the most recent, and extreme, example. A number of issues will continue to test governments, democratic processes, and efforts to support poverty reduction and the rule of law, including the following: growing income inequality; food insecurity; the presence of large numbers of underemployed and dissatisfied young people frustrated with their governments on a variety of issues. Moreover, the challenge of porous borders for states trying to stem the flow of arms, insurgents, and drugs, as well as the ongoing crisis in Mali, will continue to test governments, democratic processes and efforts to support poverty reduction and the rule of law.

Background

United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA) UNOWA became operational in January 2002 as the UN’s first regional political mission, Its goal is to promote an integrated sub-regional approach to peace and security challenges in the fifteen member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Mauritania.  UNOWA’s mandate has been renewed until December 2016 with a focus on three core objectives: Monitoring political developments, carrying out good offices, and enhanci Read More...

Key developments

CNMC (box) The UN established the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission (CNMC) in 2002 at the request of both governments to assist with implementation of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling on the land and maritime boundary between Cameroon and Nigeria. The CNMC is institutionally co-located with UNOWA. The SRSG is the Chairman of the CNMC and, until its conclusion in October 2013 with the final meeting held in Geneva, was also the chairman of the Follow-Up Committee for the Greentree A Read More...

Conclusion

On 18 September 2014, the Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2177, co-sponsored by an unprecedented 130 countries, calling for immediate action on the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) called the outbreak “likely the greatest peacetime challenge the UN and its agencies have ever faced.” There are multiple concerns about the severity and manner in which this crisis has the potential to reverse gains and Read More...

Background

In early 2012, the governments of Mali and Guinea-Bissau were overthrown in successive military coups. Both crises, as well as continued violence and illicit trafficking in Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia’s border region, pose serious risks to the region’s delicate gains of the past several years. They also demonstrate the continuing structural weaknesses in the region, including porous borders, weak rule of law and justice systems, widespread corruption, and socioeconomic problems such as high Read More...

Key developments

In January 2002 the UN established its first regional political office to promote an integrated subregional approach to peace and security challenges in West Africa. Covering the fifteen member states of ECOWAS and Mauritania, the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA) has the broad mandate to enhance the contributions of the UN toward achieving peace and security in the region. UNOWA also supports the efforts of the Manu River Union (MRU) in this direction. Among its core functions, UNOWA carries ou Read More...

Conclusion

West Africa’s diverse challenges and precarious security situation call for increased coordination and cooperation between all relevant actors, including the UN system, regional organizations, and bilateral actors. As developments in the region throughout 2012 have shown, hard-won gains in peace and development are delicate and easily undone. Notes 1. The other member states of the West Africa Coast Initiative are Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. 2. MISSANG was repor Read More...