Expected Council Action
By 15 May the Council will receive recommendations from the Secretary-General on the UN’s role in supporting the peace process in Côte d’Ivoire. Discussions are expected to focus on how to help implement the recent Ouagadougou peace agreement and, more broadly, on the degree of international involvement in the process leading to the elections.
It seems likely that the Council will wait until June for any formal action, when the current mandate of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) expires.
Key Recent Developments
In our April Update, we described an initiative, led by France, to adopt a resolution amending the terms of resolution 1721 in line with the Ouagadougou agreement endorsed by the Council in a presidential statement on 28 March. Eventually, the idea of a resolution was deferred because of increasing scepticism about underpinning the Ouagadougou agreement with a Council resolution before any initial assessment of the prospects for its genuine implementation.
Early in April new Ivorian Prime Minister Guillaume Soro formed a government comprising thirty-one ministers, including eleven ministers from President Laurent Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), seven from the rebel Forces Nouvelles and five from each of the two leading opposition parties (the Rally of Republicans of Alassane Ouattara, and the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire of Henri Bédié).
On 11 April, the Defence and Security Forces of Côte d’Ivoire (FDS-CI), the Armed Forces of the Forces Nouvelles (FAFN) and the commanders of UNOCI and the of French Licorne forces signed a quadripartite agreement to eliminate the buffer zone known as the zone of confidence as of 16 April.
From 10 to 20 April, a UN technical assessment mission visited Côte d’Ivoire to determine expectations of the UN role in implementing the Ouagadougou agreement, how the UN could respond to those expectations, and develop recommendations for a possible new concept of operations and future drawdown of UNOCI.
On 13 April, the International Working Group (IWG) met in Abidjan and expressed readiness to support the Ouagadougou agreement. It also called for consultations on its future status with ECOWAS and the African Union with a view to making recommendations to the Security Council.
On 16 April, Medecins Sans Frontieres reported almost daily attacks against civilians in the former “zone of confidence” and serious concern that civilians are now left defenceless by the redeployment of the impartial forces.
initiating discussions in May on the future international presence in Côte d’Ivoire in view of the Secretary-General’s recommendations and assessment of the situation;
combining into one resolution a technical adjustment of previous Council decisions for conformity with the Ouagadougou agreement and a new mandate for UNOCI; or
deciding to adopt in May a resolution with the technical adjustment (changing the date of the election and the name of the prime minister) but deferring wider issues until June.
The Council faces a difficult task balancing two conflicting requirements: President Gbagbo’s preference for very limited international involvement in Côte d’Ivoire and a much more significant degree of international oversight over the electoral process preferred by Soro.
The Ouagadougou agreement foresees only three areas where roles remain for the international community:
supervision by the impartial forces of the National Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) Programme;
placement of impartial forces’ observation posts along the “green line”; and
obligation for the Evaluation and Monitoring Committee (set up by the Ivorian parties) to keep the Special Representative of the Secretary-General informed of progress in implementation of the agreement.
However, the international community until now has been broadly involved and the Council will have to decide:
whether the impartial forces will only have an observer role or whether they will provide military support to the joint units to be deployed within the zone of confidence;
UNOCI’s role in securing the identification process, as the Ouagadougou agreement specifies that security for the mobile courts, identification operations and the electoral process should now be provided by the Ivorian parties jointly;
whether and when a UNOCI drawdown should begin; and
the future of the IWG and the High Representative for Elections (not mentioned in the Ouagadougou agreement).
A related issue is whether there is a need for a new mandate for the impartial forces that are being redeployed from the zone of confidence to other parts of the country.
Still outstanding is the parties’ demand to add African troops to participate in peacekeeping operations. Since this seems to stem from Soro’s desire to obtain troops from Burkina Faso to ensure his own security, the issue is whether those troops should be incorporated into UNOCI, or whether they should be independent. And there is still an issue of underlying uncertainty, whether the Council should wait and see and take substantive decisions only after the implications of the Secretary-General’s report have been absorbed and perhaps after it has sent a mission to get first-hand impressions.
There is agreement on the necessity to adjust the international framework for the peace process in Côte d’Ivoire to the Ouagadougou agreement. However, action was postponed as most members thought it was necessary to receive an assessment of the situation.
On the one hand, there is a feeling that the will of the parties as embodied in the Ouagadougou agreement cannot be opposed. On the other hand, many see the need for close monitoring of the process leading to the elections to prevent the risk of renewed conflict.
There seems to be very limited support for an immediate lifting of targeted sanctions or a partial lifting of the arms embargo to allow the entry of light weapons. At press time there is no initiative from the sanctions committee to consider those issues. Many believe that it would be too risky before the elections. Also, in the absence of an official request from the parties or a recommendation by the Secretary-General, it seems that sanctions will not be on the agenda.
|Latest Security Council Resolutions|
|Latest Presidential Statement|
|Latest Secretary-General’s Report|
|Other UN Documents|
|The Zone of Confidence|
|Patrols within the Zone before 16 April|
Two-thirds of UNOCI troops are based either within the Zone (at check-points) or within close proximity of the Zone. They conduct daily patrols within the Zone. This will continue until all observation posts are dismantled.
|Ouagadougou Agreement (4 March 2007) (S/2007/144)|
|Quadripartite Agreement (11 April 2007)|
|UN and Impartial Forces|
|Special Representative of the Secretary-General|
|To be appointed|
|Principal Deputy Special Representative|
|Abou Moussa (Chad)|
|High Representative for Elections|
|Gérard Stoudmann (Switzerland)|
|Size and Composition of UNOCI (55 countries)|
|1 July 2006 – 30 June 2007 $472.89 million|
|French Licorne Force|
|Currently being reduced from 3,400 to 2,900 troops.|
www.onuci.org (official UNOCI website)