West Africa shows a mixed picture of hope and concerns. For the past years, there have been improvements in the areas of conflict prevention, recovery and peacebuilding. However, that progress is threatened by insufficient guarantees and assurances for sustainable progress.
A number of West African countries have embarked on the path to peace and stability. However, large parts of the sub region have known instability and conflict for several years. As a result, four countries – Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone – host UN peace missions, while the UN system as a whole is active in a wide range of political, development, human rights and humanitarian activities.
To better address the cross-border impact of conflict in West Africa and harmonize UN activities in the sub region, the UN Secretary-General, in agreement with the Security Council, established in January 2002 the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA).
UNOWA was the first regional conflict prevention and peacebuilding office of the United Nations. Its overall mandate is to enhance the contributions of the UN towards the achievement of peace and security in West Africa. It intends to promote the integration of a sub regional approach in addressing issues that impact stability in West Africa.
UNOWA works in synergy with other United Nations entities in regional organizations in West Africa to raises attention on and tackle the situation in the sub region. Its action is focused on a number of priorities: encouraging recovery efforts in countries affected by crisis, consolidating good governance and the rule of law, promoting human rights and gender mainstreaming, and raising awareness of the imperative need for economic growth and the fair distribution of wealth.