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Weekly Spotlight 11th June 2023

1. Caribbean Nations Security Conference

From the 6th-8th of June, the annual Caribbean Nations Security Conference (CANSEC) was hosted in in Montego Bay, Jamaica. In keeping with Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness’s desire to place cybersecurity and environmental issues at the forefront of the Caribbean security agenda, this year’s conference focussed on several of these key themes, with the overall theme being “Strengthening Regional Security Through Informed Action”.

2. Sierra Leone Elected to United Nations Security Council

For the first time in 52 years, Sierra Leone was elected to become a non-permanent member state of the United Nations Security Council on the 6th of June. The nation’s unopposed membership bid received 188 votes from the general assembly, and will join Algeria, Guyana, South Korea, and Slovenia for a two-year term commencing in January 2024. This election marks a significant foreign policy success for Sierra Leone, who from 1991-2002 was engulfed by a civil war between the Revolutionary United Front and the national government which left over 500,000 dead. Sierra Leone’s subsequent successes in implementing peacebuilding initiatives over the last 20 years has fostered a desire to play an active role in multilateral geopolitics, and to continuously collaborate with the international community to keep its national security structures intact. Sierra Leonean Foreign Minister David Francis commented that the election was "a great day for this small, progressive and confident country...which has successfully transitioned from war to peace".

3. Uganda Confirms Deaths of 54 Soldiers in Al-Shabaab Attack

On the 3rd of June, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni confirmed the deaths of 54 African Union (AU) peacekeepers during an attack by Al-Shabaab the previous week. At 05:00 local time on Friday 26th May, Al-Shabaab launched a coordinated attack against an AU military base in Southwestern Somalia. The base, located in Bulo Marer, 120 kilometres southwest of the capital Mogadishu, was assaulted by a combination of cars laden with explosives and suicide bombers, leading to the deaths of several Ugandan military personnel. Ugandan soldiers have been stationed in Somalia as part of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), which has been present in Somalia since 2007 to assist the central government in combatting Islamism extremists. The death toll, whilst significantly less than Al-Shabaab’s estimate of 137, nevertheless demonstrates the group’s enduring presence in the horn of Africa.

4. Vanuatu Aims for Australian Security Deal Ratification by End of 2023

Following the agreement of a security pact with Australia in December 2022, Vanuatu's Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau announced his ambition to ratify the agreement by the end of 2023. During a visit to Vanuatu’s Capital Port Vila from Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles, Mr Kalsakau stipulated that whilst Vanuatu's National Security Council was still "going through the text", his intention was to bring the deal before the government’s Council of Ministers and the national parliament by the end of 2023.


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