Bureau des Nations Unies pour l’Afrique de l’Ouest


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.


The mandate of UNOWA was established in 2002 for a three year period and renewed in 2005 S/2005/16, in 2007 S/2007/753 and in 2010  through Security Council Letter S/2010/660 .

UNOWA is entrusted with the overall mandate of enhancing the contributions of the UN towards the achievement of peace and security in West Africa. This includes governance, mainstreaming security sector reform into development strategies, defining an integrated sub regional approach to humanitarian, human rights and gender issues, curbing corruption, poverty alleviation, addressing youth unemployment as well as cross-border illicit trafficking and organized crime. These emerging destabilizing issues can be considered as new threats to security.

UNOWA’s core functions consist of:

  • Monitoring political developments in West Africa, carry out good offices roles and special assignment on behalf of the Secretary-General and enhance subregional capacities for conflict prevention and mediation in countries of the subregion.
  • Enhancing subregional capacities to address cross-border and cross-cutting threats to peace and security, in particular, election-related instability and challenges related to security sector reform, transnational organized crime, illicit trafficking and terrorism.
  • Promoting good governance and respect for the rule of law, human rights and the mainstreaming of gender in conflict prevention and conflict management initiatives in West Africa.
  • Facilitating the implementation of the International Court of Justice ruling of 10 October 2002 on the land and maritime boundary dispute between Cameroon and Nigeria.

The Secretary-General reports every six months the Security Council on the fulfillment of the mandate of the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA)