UN lobbies Namibia for regional office in southern Africa

13 Jul 2017 20:00pm
WINDHOEK, 13 JUL (NAMPA) – United Nations (UN) Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Tayé-Brook Zerihoun met with President Hage Geingob at State House on Thursday to lobby the establishment of a UN Regional Office for southern Africa.
The proposed office would support the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in terms of capacity building and help pre-empt situations that could possibly lead to tensions within the region.
“Although the SADC region is relatively more stable than other African regions, it does have challenges of its own. There are crosscutting issues like the challenge of terrorism, human trafficking and host of other issues which don’t respect national borders that need to be addressed regionally,” Zerihoun said.
He said the UN can add value to the region’s efforts of dealing with crosscutting issues.
According to the ASG, there is overwhelming support for such an office “but there is no consensus”.
“This is an office which could be can be opened only at the express request of the region [SADC]. It’s not supply driven, it’s not decided in New York, it has to be decided in the region,” he said.
Zerihoun said the UN has regional offices in the West and Central African regions.
These regional offices have allowed the United Nations to actively support regional initiatives in the areas of early warning and conflict prevention.
Zerihoun told Geingob he was retiring at the end of September 2017, and was approached in particular to make a last ditch effort.
Geingob said maybe the SADC leadership is reluctant to the UN regional office request because they have other pressing issues that they are paying attention to like the reform of the UN Security Council.
“We are hitting our heads on the wall. It’s a simple thing we are talking about; the world must live to today’s realities. Now [between] having an office here and fighting to get the Security Council reform, we think we will pay attention to that one [Security Council reform] more,” Geingob said.
Zerihoun was accompanied by the UN Resident Coordinator to Namibia Anita Kiki Gbeho, Graham Maitland, Director of the Africa I Division in the UN’s Department of Political Affairs; and Lipuo Moteetee, Political Affairs Officer in the UN Department of Political Affairs Liaison Team to the SADC Secretariat in Gaborone, Botswana.
Zerihoun was scheduled to return to New York after meeting with Geingob.