June 2007 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 May 2007
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AFRICA

Côte d’Ivoire

Expected Council Action
The Council plans to visit Côte d’Ivoire on 19 June as part of a regional trip for relationship-building with regional organisations, in particular the African Union. In late June the Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) which expires on 30 June. Some mandate adjustment in light of the Ouagadougou Agreement and recent recommendations from the Secretary-General are expected.

The Council is also expecting recommendations from the African Union on the future of the International Working Group (IWG).

The next report of the Sanctions Committee’s Group of Experts is due in early June. The Group’s mandate expires on 15 June. The Council is expected to adopt a resolution renewing it for six months. The Committee may also consider an Ivorian request for an exemption to the arms embargo to allow the government to import light arms.

Key Recent Developments
The Secretary-General’s report on the future UN role in Côte d’Ivoire in light of the Ouagadougou Agreement was published on 14 May. The report noted that implementation of the agreement started on schedule with establishment of the integrated command centre, formation of a new government, issuing an ordinance granting amnesty for national security crimes committed since September 2000, lifting of the zone of confidence and deployment of mixed police units in the buffer zone. However, the 23 April deadline for dismantling militias, redeploying state officials in the country and launching mobile court hearings for national identification was missed.

The report did note the determination of the parties to implement the Ouagadougou Agreement, resulting in a more relaxed political atmosphere and a significant decrease in hate speeches in the media. In light of this positive political security climate, it suggested that there was no longer a need for UNOCI reinforcements as originally requested by rebel Forces nouvelles leader Guillaume Soro to ensure security of key political leaders.

The Secretary-General also reported that national stakeholders had stressed that continued UN assistance for the peace process was essential. He recommended that UNOCI:

  • support all tasks of the integrated command centre, including disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration (DDR), the voter identification process and security-sector reform;
  • reinforce its presence in the west;
  • support the restoration of state administration in the country;
  • support the identification and registration of voters and the electoral processes, especially through security and technical assistance, and adjust its current electoral mandate to include coordination of international observers;
  • continue to promote and protect human rights and assist the government in the formulation and implementation of a national human rights action plan; and
  • be extended for an additional six months with a troop-level review process in September in light of progress toward DDR and administration redeployment. 

The report also recommended that the UN elections certification role be given to the Secretary-General’s Special Representative instead of the High Representative for the Elections, while not replacing the certification prerogatives of national institutions.

The report was welcomed by both parties in Côte d’Ivoire. Council consultations were held on 18 May, following a briefing by Djibrill Bassolé, Minister for National Security of Burkina Faso, on behalf of the peace process facilitator, President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso. He attributed the delays in April to technical challenges.

Government militias started to disarm on 17 May. Three collection sites were set up in the west and Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo said that around 1,000 weapons had already been collected. Also in April the World Bank promised $100 million for disarmament of ex-combatants.

In late May, the Secretary-General received from the Burkina Faso facilitator a request to exempt light weapons from the Côte d’Ivoire arms embargo. At press time, the request had not yet been submitted to the Sanctions Committee or the Security Council. The Ivorian government had already requested an exemption in December but it had not been approved.

Options
The Council will most likely renew the UNOCI mandate for six months. As part of this renewal, it has the following options:

  • strictly follow the Secretary-General’s recommendations regarding the force’s mandate;
  • use broader language allowing room for interpretation, thereby providing flexibility;
  • reaffirm the Ouagadougou timetable but not specify an elections deadline;
  • request the Secretary-General to report to the Council by 30 September for a review of the UNOCI troop level;
  • endorse the African Union’s recommendations on the IWG;
  • agree to grant a special authorisation for the import of light weapons; or
  • require that conditions and deadlines be met before granting the authorisation.

Key Issues
The main issue is how to transform current UN tasks established in resolutions 1721 and 1739 to fit into a peace consolidation framework based on the Ouagadougou Agreement. (See our December 2006 Forecast for details of the 1721 mandate and our 2 April Update on the Ouagadougou Agreement.)

Although there is considerable support for the Secretary-General’s recommendations, the main challenge is how to incorporate them into the upcoming resolution. The role of UNOCI and that of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative now has to be balanced to reflect the parties’ greater ownership of the peace process, but remain sufficiently involved at all stages to ensure that peace and security are maintained and that free and fair elections will be conducted in a timely manner. Related issues concerning detailed aspects of the UNOCI mandate covering human rights and protection of civilians may also arise.  However, it seems unlikely that these would be changed.

A connected and major issue is the role of the UN in the electoral process. Because the High Representative for the Elections was a substitute for Ivorian authorities on electoral matters, the Secretary-General recommended that the post be abolished and that the certification responsibility for all stages of the electoral process be transferred to his Special Representative. This was the most divisive issue between the parties.

Another issue is whether the IWG, previously monitoring the peace process at the local level, should be disbanded.

At press time the Council is discussing the terms of reference for its visit. The issue here is to signal to Côte d’Ivoire that the Council is ready to support its efforts. Because a draft resolution may be ready beforehand, the visit may also be an occasion to incorporate Ivorian concerns into the draft.

Another important issue is the request for an arms embargo exemption for light weapons for law and order purposes. No official request from Côte d’Ivoire has been received yet. But the nature of the request-whether it includes lethal or non-lethal equipment-is likely to also be an issue.

A final issue is whether the Sanctions Committee will also receive a request to immediately lift individual sanctions as mentioned in the Ouagadougou Agreement.

Council Dynamics
There seems to be wide consensus that the Council should follow the recommendations of the Secretary-General on the role of the UN in the peace process. The general view is that the UN should be available to help on the road to peace and remain committed to overseeing the electoral process in a free and fair manner. Some Council members, during the 18 May consultations, also expressed the need for vigilance if there are further delays in implementing the Ouagadougou timetable.

It is unclear at press time whether all members would agree to the arms embargo exemption. The parties and the facilitator seem to believe this is necessary to fight armed bandits and would also be a token of the Council’s willingness to help implement the peace process. On the other hand, few if any Council members believe that the presence of more weapons in the country will be helpful. Indeed, the DDR process is already complicated by large quantities of weapons. Some Council members are reluctant to authorise the import of lethal weapons.

At press time there is no official request for an immediate lifting of individual sanctions, and the matter has not been discussed.

Underlying Problems
Some militias based in the west have expressed dissatisfaction at not being included in the peace process. This may pose problems for disarmament.

Serious violations of human rights continue and were not addressed in the Ouagadougou Agreement. A 22 May UNOCI statement condemned the pillage and extortion of two Ivorian human rights organisations.

The main security challenge currently comes from the western part of the country, where killings and rapes have increased since the zone of confidence was dismantled. It is a mountainous and heavily forested region where gangs of armed bandits thrive.

Selected UN Documents

 Latest Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1739 (10 January 2007) extended the UNOCI mandate until 30 June 2007 with increased troop levels.
  • S/RES/1721 (1 November 2006) prolonged by one year the transitional period in Côte d’Ivoire and reinforced the powers of the prime minister.
 Latest Presidential Statement
  • S/PRST/2007/8 (28 March 2007) endorsed the Ouagadougou Agreement, supported the appointment of Soro as prime minister and requested a report from the Secretary-General on the UN’s future role in the peace process.
 Latest Secretary-General’s Report
 Other UN Documents
  • S/2007/223 (19 April 2007) was the latest IWG communiqué, requesting its two co-chairs to consult with ECOWAS and the African Union on its future role and make recommendations to the Security Council.

Other Relevant Facts

 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
  • Authorised strength as of 2 June 2006: up to 8,115 military personnel and up to 1,200 police
  • Strength as of 30 April 2007: 9,211 total uniformed personnel, including 7,854 troops, 200 military observers and 1,157 police
  • Key troop-contributing countries: Bangladesh, Pakistan, Jordan, Morocco, Ghana
 Cost
 1 July 2006 – 30 June 2007 $472.89 million

Full forecast