December 2007 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 November 2007
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Guinea-Bissau

Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to receive a letter from the Secretary-General advising that he intends to extend the mandate of the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS), which expires on 31 December. The Council is likely to respond to the Secretary-General with a letter approved under the “silence procedure.” If objections arise, discussions between experts or informal consultations are possible.

Key Recent Developments
There is mounting concern over Guinea-Bissau’s growing role as a drug trafficking transit point from South America to Europe and beyond. This was highlighted in the Secretary-General’s September UNOGBIS report and reflected by the Council in its presidential statement of 19 October. It also arose at the eleventh high-level meeting between the heads of UN missions in Africa, held in Dakar, Senegal on 4 November. The Secretary-General’s report also noted that drug trafficking is jeopardising the democratisation process. In all three cases particular concern was expressed over threats to regional stability.

On 6 September in Brussels, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the EU held their first expert meeting on the issue of drugs, acknowledging the need for joint action on trafficking from West Africa. Peace and security and drug trafficking in the region will also be on the agenda of the second EU-Africa Summit, being hosted by Portugal, the current EU Council president, in Lisbon on 8-9 December.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released a situation report, Cocaine Trafficking in Western Africa, in October. The report underlined the problems arising from inadequate law enforcement in weak states, including Guinea-Bissau. At a conference in Madrid on 15 November, the head of UNODC, Antonio Maria Costa, said that the value of the drug trade in Guinea-Bissau may be as high as national income.

The October presidential statement noted concern over the security and safety of government officials involved in fighting drug trafficking and organised crime. The need for security sector reform was on the agenda of both the last meeting of the International Contact Group on Guinea-Bissau (France, Gambia, Guinea, Portugal, Senegal, Spain and the Executive Secretariats of ECOWAS and the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries) held in New York on 24 September, and that of the ECOWAS-EU Ministerial Troika held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso on 11 October. At the former, states pledged assistance with strengthening institutions. At the latter, an EU operation to support security sector reform was discussed, including the fight against narcotics.

On 17 November, the International Monetary Fund announced that Guinea-Bissau would receive $5.6 million in Emergency Post-Conflict Assistance in 2008 in recognition of fiscal responsibility since the new prime minister, Martinho Ndafa Kabi, took office in April.

A request that Guinea-Bissau be placed on the agenda of the Peacebuilding Commission was made in a letter from the prime minister to the Secretary-General, received on 11 July. In his September UNOGBIS report, the Secretary-General stated that he had brought this request, supported by the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries, to the attention of the Security Council. In its October presidential statement, the Council noted the request and said it would consider it “as a matter of priority.”

Options
Options in December include:

  • a simple response to the Secretary-General indicating that the Council supports extension of the current mandate of UNOGBIS;
  • requesting the Secretary-General to report to the Council on options to enhance support for democratisation and to combat drug trafficking;
  • issuing a presidential statement indicating an intention to take a higher profile interest in the situation in Guinea-Bissau; and
  • taking up the request that Guinea-Bissau be placed on the agenda of the Peacebuilding Commission.

Key Issues
The most pressing issue is the mandate of UNOGBIS, which ends on 31 December. But perhaps more significant over the medium-term is the issue of whether the Council will take a higher profile interest in Guinea-Bissau due to the impact on stability of the growing drug trafficking problem, the fragility of the democratisation process and the further weakening of the economy. The related issue of the request regarding the Peacebuilding Commission is also a major policy issue.

Council Dynamics
Guinea-Bissau has been a low priority for the Council. However, the recent presidential statement reflected growing acknowledgement of the need to further support the fragile democratisation process and fight against drug trafficking. No objections are expected from Council members to the extension of the UNOGBIS mandate.

Ghana is the lead country on this issue.

UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1580 (22 December 2004) revised and extended the mandate of UNOGBIS.
  • S/RES/1233 (6 April 1999) supported the Secretary-General’s decision to establish UNOGBIS.

Latest Presidential Statement

  • S/PRST/2007/38 (19 October 2007) called on the government and the UN system to take further action on drug trafficking and organised crime.

Reports and Letters of the Secretary-General

  • S/2007/576 (28 September 2007) was the latest report on UNOGBIS.
  • S/2006/975 (13 December 2006) and S/2006/974 (8 December 2006) was an exchange of letters recommending extension of UNOGBIS until 31 December 2007 and noting the activities of UNOGBIS.

Other

  • SC/9145 (19 October 2007) was the latest press statement by the Council.


Other Relevant Facts

Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNOGBIS

Shola Omoregie (Nigeria)

Size of UNOGBIS Staff

29, including international civilians, military advisers, police advisers and local civilians

Duration

6 April 1999 to present; mandate expires on 31 December 2007

Useful Additional Sources
Cocaine Trafficking in Western Africa, UNODC situation report, October 2007

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