United Nations: India has said the United Nations should become a more effective partner of the African Union to help resolve conflicts in the region as transnational organised crimes, including drug trafficking, proliferation of arms and terrorism threaten peace and security in the region.
   
Participating in a UN Security Council debate on problems of transnational organised crimes in West Africa and the Sahel region, India's Permanent Representative Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri said over last year, several problems in the region have accentuated.
   
"The conflict in Libya has created new problems of proliferation of armed groups and weapons and thus exacerbated existing problems," Puri said.
   
Transnational organised crimes, including illicit drug trafficking, piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and arms trafficking transcend national boundaries and may pose long-term threats.
   
They are undermining efforts of the governments and international community to ensure peace and stability, he said.
   
Puri said countries in West Africa and Sahel are more democratic today than in the past and have achieved respectable rates of economic growth.
   
However, the military operations carried out ostensibly for protection of civilians have resulted in millions of civilians in the Sahel, Maghreb and West African regions being adversely affected.
   
"They have resulted in deterioration of security, economic and humanitarian situations in the entire region," he said.
   
In a relatively short period of time, countries in the region have witnessed influx of nearly half a million returnees as well as the large inflow of arms and ammunition.
   
Such a scenario has put tremendous burden on governments in the region and strained their limited capacity to deal with transnational organized crimes.
   
Illicit drug trafficking and its growing links to financing of terrorism, proliferation of weapons as a result of conflicts in Cote d’Ivoire and Libya, piracy in the Gulf of Guinea demand action at the national and regional levels with the constructive assistance of the international community, he said.
   
"The United Nations should lead the international efforts and focus on institution and capacity building and provision of adequate resources to the national authorities and regional and sub-regional organizations.
   
"We think that the UN should become a more effective partner of the AU in resolution of African conflicts. The relevant UN agencies should support the regional and sub-regional organizations and assist in their capacity building and in facilitating their implementation," Puri added.
   
He said a comprehensive strategy to deal with the problems should include creation of effective government institutions, particularly in the fields of security and law enforcement.
   
Countries concerned should implement legal and administrative measures to combat organized crime as promotion of democracy and the rule of law will not only help establish peace and security but also help in socio-economic development.
   
Further, the strategy should facilitate regional cooperation under the auspices of the relevant regional and sub-regional organizations such as the African Union and Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS).
   
Puri added that addressing these problems will not only help the region but also have a positive effect on democracy and development in Africa as a whole.
   
"A number of countries in the region, including Mali, Senegal and Guinea Bissau, face crucial elections this year. We hope that elections will be held in a peaceful manner and further strengthen the roots of democracy in these countries and the larger region," he said.

(Agencies)