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UN must support Central Africa to stabilize itself

UN must support efforts of Central Africa to stabilize itself, a UN official says

A senior United Nations official, introducing a report on the conflict-plagued Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), called on the Security Council to assist the area in its efforts to stabilize itself and build peace and democracy.

"We wish to call upon the international community to continue to support the efforts of ECCAS countries to promote sustainable peace and development, as well as curb the widespread circulation of weapons and mercenaries in the subregion," Assistant Secretary-General Tuliameni Kalomoh told the Council.

"It would be also important that the international community undertake to support the economic stabilization of Central African countries emerging from conflict and embarked on democratic reforms," he added.

Earlier in the year Mr. Kalomoh led a 14-member multi-disciplinary assessment mission, appointed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, to review the situations in the 11 countries making up ECCAS.

He noted the enormous human and natural resources of ECCAS. "A climate of sustainable peace, backed by constructive national and regional policies and supportive international cooperation would help direct these resources towards the improvement of conditions for the people of the subregion," he said,

In its report, submitted to the UN Secretary-General and later forwarded to the Security Council, the mission concludes: "The root causes of the current situation in the Central African subregion can, in particular, be traced to at least two main internal sources, namely, the crisis of governance and the widespread poverty, which have, in several cases, been compounded by external factors."

In a letter to the Security Council, accompanying the report, Mr. Annan said while he generally agreed with the main conclusions "I also believe that there is a need for greater coordination and coherence in the activities of the different components of the United Nations system."

He noted that he already had three Special Representatives working on problems in the subregion, including the Great Lakes area.

Rather than set up a UN office for the region, therefore, he said, he would appoint a Special Envoy, who would be available to work on political and other issues, as required, by interfacing with national leaders and with senior UN system officials.

The report says the attempted coup d'etat in relatively stable Sao Tome and Principe barely a month after the mission's visit shows the volatility of the area.

"Despite, or perhaps, because of having abundant resources, the subregion is plagued by conflicts over natural resources," the report says.

"Major transnational companies operating in those countries have not always demonstrated sufficient social environmental sensitivity, leaving the conditions of the people and of the local communities unimproved," it adds.

Poor governance practices, such as lack of accountability and transparency, impunity, exclusion, socio-economic marginalization and the absence of the rule of law and respect for human rights have triggered or exacerbated conflicts, the report says.

"Cross-border challenges, such as population movements, drugs and small arms trafficking, as well as the transnational movements of mercenaries and militias should be addressed more vigorously and proactively, with the support of the United Nations," it says.

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