For information only - not an official document.
21 December 2000

Secretary-General’s Message to Summit Meeting in Mali
Of Economic Community of West African States

NEW YORK, 20 December (UN Headquarters) - This is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message, delivered on his behalf by his Special Representative for Sierra Leone, Oluyemi Adeniji, to the extraordinary meeting of the Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Bamako, Mali, on 15 December:

I should like, first of all, to pay tribute to President Alpha Oumar Konaré for his determination and the lofty vision which he brings to the chairmanship of your organization. Under his leadership, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has acquired a new stature both in the subregion and at the international level. His personal commitment to peace in West Africa, especially in the countries of the Mano River basin and in Guinea-Bissau, has earned him the gratitude, admiration and respect of his peers.

Despite limited human and financial resources, ECOWAS has been able to establish institutions and mechanisms to promote economic integration and peace and security in the subregion. Remarkable progress has been achieved, and your determination to address together the challenges that your countries will have to face is praiseworthy.

During the past year, you took many measures to restore stability and put an end to the bloody conflicts that continue to affect several countries of the subregion.

As far as Sierra Leone is concerned, it was thanks to the joint efforts of ECOWAS, the Sierra Leonean Government and my Special Representative that a ceasefire agreement was signed last month in Abuja. However, the situation is still fragile and we must remain vigilant. Together, we must attack the root causes of this conflict in order to prevent any likelihood of a resumption of hostilities.

At the moment, I am particularly concerned by the deterioration in the situation at the border zone between Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The brutal attacks perpetrated in Guinea in the past few days have resulted in the deaths of many innocent civilians and displaced many others in a region which already has hundreds of thousands of refugees.

We must put an end to this increase in violence, which is threatening to destabilize the country and the entire region and to further complicate the already difficult task of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and its partners.

As you know, early this week the Secretariat made a series of suggestions to the Security Council concerning the situation in Guinea. We proposed that a public debate be held on the humanitarian and security problems affecting the three countries of the Mano River basin.

I also called on the Council and the international community as a whole to support the efforts of ECOWAS to stabilize the situation in Guinea and in the neighbouring countries. I am determined to do all within my power to help you restore calm in the region. I have asked my Special Representative for Sierra Leone to make recommendations as to how we can better support your efforts and your initiatives.

Whether the aim is to restore peace in Sierra Leone or to make sure that the recent attacks in Guinea do not destabilize the country, the United Nations and ECOWAS must act as partners. I should like to congratulate Mr. Lansana Kouyaté, Executive Secretary of ECOWAS, for the efforts he is making to forge a dynamic partnership between our two organizations. I, for my part, have set up an interdepartmental working group at Headquarters to advise me on what we might do to strengthen our cooperation.

The United Nations is determined to help West Africa solve its problems. Together, we can make sure that the region returns to the path of peace and development to which all people aspire.

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