January 21, 2008 - UN Peacebuilding Commision representative heads to Bissau
UN News Centre - A senior Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) representative heads today to Guinea-Bissau for talks with Government officials, civil society groups, members of the private sector and international partners to help chart how the United Nations advisory body can help prevent the West African country from sliding back into war or chaos.
Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, the Permanent Representative of Brazil to the UN and the chair of the Commission's country-specific configuration on Guinea-Bissau, will assess the situation and then report back to the Commission with recommendations for specific forms of assistance, UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters.
Her mission to Bissau, the capital, is tasked with building a partnership with the Government, civil society, the private sector and others, particularly international partners, so that there is consensus on the next steps forward for the Commission's work.
Last month Guinea-Bissau became the third country on the Commission's agenda - joining Burundi and Sierra Leone - after the Security Council backed a request from the Government of the country, which has increasingly been beset by problems caused by drug trafficking and organized crime.
The Council heard briefings from senior UN officials that the value of the drug trade in Guinea-Bissau is greater than the entire national income and that, using a combination of threats and bribes, traffickers are infiltrating State structures and operating with impunity.
Police and judicial authorities have become overwhelmed both by the scale of the problem and by the alliance between foreign criminal groups and powerful local figures.
Guinea-Bissau also struggles with problems regarding governmental capacity, security sector reform, economic recovery and the upcoming scheduled elections.