Expected Council Action
In September, the Council will likely be briefed in consultations by Jeffrey D. Feltman, the head of the Department for Political Affairs, on the latest Secretary-General’s report (S/2012/554) on the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS).
No outcome is expected from the briefing.
The mandate of UNIOGBIS expires on 28 February 2013.
Key Recent Developments
On 21 July, the transitional government in Guinea-Bissau set up on 23 May as a result of a deal brokered by ECOWAS following the 12 April coup, elaborated a four-point program of action focusing on the following:
- preparing for and conducting presidential and legislative elections in April 2013;
- strengthening the rule of law, including combating impunity and reforming the justice sector;
- combating organised crime, corruption and drug trafficking; and
- embarking on security sector reform.
That same month, the country experienced a crippling strike by health workers protesting unpaid salaries.
On 23 August, the transitional government announced that it will renegotiate a deal with a mining company, Angola Bauxite, as the current agreement, signed by the ousted civilian government, is unfair. Angola Bauxite was jointly created in 2007 by the governments of Angola and Guinea-Bissau and various private investors to carry out mining operations and investments, including a $500 million plan to build a mine and deep-water port in Guinea-Bissau to handle bauxite. Coup leaders cited Angola’s military presence in the country, which they claimed was meant to protect former Prime Minister and presidential candidate Carlos Gomes Júnior, as the key reason for the 12 April coup.
The transitional government, which includes two army officers, is led by Serifo Nhamadjo as President and Rui Duarte Barros as Prime Minister. The ECOWAS brokered deal which created the transitional government resulted in the military formally retreating to the barracks and the reinstatement of the elected Parliament, though there is no obvious role for it in the transition phase. ECOWAS has since deployed a 629-man police and army contingent, called the ECOWAS Mission in Bissau (ECOMIB). It replaced the Angolan military mission, MISSANG, which completed withdrawal from Guinea-Bissau on 9 June. ECOMIB is to assist in security-sector reform and help steer the country through the transition to civilian rule following the April 2013 elections.
On 23 August, the West African Economic and Monetary Union announced a loan of $28.5 million to Guinea-Bissau to be used for security sector reforms.
The Council last discussed Guinea-Bissau on 26 July when Joseph Mutaboba, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of UNIOGBIS, said that the humanitarian and economic situation in the country had deteriorated further. He cited the Guinea-Bissau Farmers’ Association as saying that the 2012 production of cashew nuts was forecast to drop to about 100,000 tonnes “as a result of the April 12 coup.” This, he said, “is particularly disturbing” considering that cashew production accounts for 90 percent of the national income and the sector employs almost 80 percent of the labour force.
Four days after the briefing, on 30 July, Council members, in a press statement (SC/10734), called on all political and civil society actors in Guinea-Bissau to engage in a consensual, inclusive and “nationally owned” process to restore constitutional order in the country. The statement underlined the need for “concrete measures in key areas for long-term stability in Guinea-Bissau, among those the reform of the security sector, the fight against impunity and the fight against drug-trafficking.” Council members condemned the “continuing interference of the military in politics” and expressed concern about “reports of an increase in drug trafficking since the 12 April coup d’état.” The statement stressed the importance of coordination of international efforts to address the crisis in Guinea-Bissau and called on the Secretary-General to consider “the convening of a […] high-level meeting, bringing together the UN, AU, ECOWAS, CPLP, EU and other international partners, as well as all relevant national stakeholders in order to produce a comprehensive and integrated strategy for the full restoration of constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau, the promotion of democracy and rule of law.” On 13 June, the Council announced the appointment of Ambassador Mohammed Loulichki (Morocco) as chair of the new Sanctions Committee on Guinea-Bissau. The Committee was established by resolution 2048, adopted on 18 May. On 18 July, the Committee added six individuals—all of them Guinea-Bissau army officers—to be subjected to foreign travel ban, in addition to five senior officers already subjected to the sanctions under resolution 2048.
Human Rights-Related Developments
UNIOGBIS held a two-day colloquium on justice attended by 60 representatives of the country’s criminal justice institutions (judges, prosecutors and police investigators). At the end of the 1 August event, Prosecutor-General Edmundo Mendes underlined the need for greater coordination among justice institutions in the delivery of justice and upholding basic human rights. The participants recommended, among other issues, that the government improve formal communication among the various institutions of justice and provide additional training for judges and justice officials.
The key issue for the Council remains the restoration of constitutional order and the prevention of further military incursions in politics.
Other issues include combating the stranglehold of drug-trafficking and organised-crime networks on the military and political elite, as well as undertaking a comprehensive security-sector reform process.
Options for the Council include:
- issuing a press statement calling for the convening of a meeting of all international players on Guinea-Bissau and reiterating the call for clear steps towards constitutionality by the transitional government; or
- taking no action at this moment.
Council and Broader Dynamics
Though there is unanimous agreement about the need for restoring constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau, the Council remains divided on some key approaches. Most Council members reject the idea of dealing directly with the transitional government, which is the product of a deal with an illegitimate military junta, and they have not recognised it. There is considerable anxiety within the Council around giving the impression of endorsing the 12 April coup or rewarding in any way the coup leaders, who—though retreated to the barracks—remain influential in the government, with two of their handpicked allies (military officers) being part of the transitional government.
Portugal, which has been playing a prominent role in the Council on this issue—it drafted the last statement, as well as resolution 2048—wants to see a greater role for the CPLP, which has been neutralised in Guinea-Bissau by ECOWAS. Togo, which leads on Guinea-Bissau in the Council, has stuck to the line adopted by ECOWAS, which is to allow the transitional government one year to conduct elections and to avoid any reference to the legitimacy of the elections of 18 March or that of front-runner Gomes Júnior.
There is, in other words, a stalemate on this issue, and this is unlikely to be broken in the foreseeable future. An indication of a new approach could be when, as is envisaged, the authorities in Guinea-Bissau appoint a new Permanent Representative to the UN. If the credentials of the new representative are accepted by the Secretary-General, then it might send a signal to many countries that currently do not accept the legitimacy of the transitional regime—including members of the EU and some key members of the Security Council—that there is perhaps need for a new approach towards Guinea-Bissau.
Selected UN Documents
|Security Council Resolutions|
|18 May 2012 S/RES/2048||This resolution imposed travel bans on coup leaders and set up a new sanctions committee.|
|21 December 2011 S/RES/2030||This resolution renewed the mandate of UNIOGBIS until 28 February 2013.|
|23 November 2010 S/RES/1949||This resolution renewed the mandate of UNIOGBIS until 31 December 2011.|
|Security Council Presidential Statements|
|21 April 2012 S/PRST/2012/15||This statement was on the coup in Guinea-Bissau.|
|17 July 2012 S/2012/554||This was the report of the Secretary-General on developments in Guinea-Bissau.|
|30 April 2012 S/2012/280||This was a Secretary-General report on the situation in Guinea-Bissau.|
|21 October 2011 S/2011/655||This was a report of the Secretary-General on developments in Guinea-Bissau and on the activities of UNIOGBIS.|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|30 July 2012 SC/10734||This press statement on Guinea-Bissau was issued after the 26 July briefing.|
|20 July 2012 SC/10721||This press release concerned the addition of six army officers to the Guinea-Bissau Sanctions Committee’s list of individuals subject to a foreign travel ban.|
|8 May 2012 SC/10640||This press statement followed the 7 May briefing on Guinea-Bissau.|
|13 January 2012 SC/10521||This statement was on the death of President Malam Bacai Sanh and an abortive coup in Guinea-Bissau on 26 December 2011.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|26 July 2012 S/PV.6818||Special Representative and head of UNIOGBIS Joseph Mutaboba introduced the Secretary-General’s latest report on Guinea-Bissau to Council members.|
|21 April 2012 S/PV.6755||This was a meeting on Guinea-Bissau.|
|28 March 2012 S/PV.6743||The Council was briefed by Mutaboba and Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti (Brazil), Chair of the Guinea-Bissau country-specific configuration of the PBC.|
|3 November 2011 S/PV.6648||This was a meeting on Guinea-Bissau.|
|Security Council Letters|
|23 April 2012 S/2012/254||The Secretary-General transmitted two letters, one from former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes JÃºnior and one from Kadré Désiré Ouedraogo, President of ECOWAS Commission.|
Other Relevant Facts
Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNIOGBIS
Joseph Mutaboba (Rwanda)
From 21 December 2011 until 28 February 2013.
Chair of the Guinea-Bissau Configuration of the PBC
Ambassador Maria Luiza Viotti (Brazil)