March 2008 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 February 2008
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Guinea-Bissau

Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to receive the Secretary-General’s quarterly report on the activities of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS), created in 1999 to help consolidate peace efforts in the country. The Council is also expected to receive the Peacebuilding Commission’s (PBC) advice on the situation in Guinea-Bissau, requested from the PBC in a letter on 11 December. It is unclear whether the Council will deliberate on the expected reports in March.

Recent Developments
On 19 December, the PBC placed Guinea-Bissau on its agenda. The Council on 11 December had written to the PBC indicating its support for the request made by Prime Minister Martinho N’Dafa Cabi of Guinea-Bissau for the country to be placed on the Commission’s agenda. Members of the Council also invited the PBC to provide advice on the situation in the country, which has become a haven for South American cartels smuggling cocaine to Europe. On 28 December, the Chairman of the PBC wrote to the President of the Security Council informing him of the admission of Guinea-Bissau onto the Commission’s agenda and of his intention to respond to the latter’s request for advice.

On 12 December, the Council was briefed by the Secretary-General’s Representative in Guinea-Bissau, Shola Omoregie, on the situation in the country on the basis of the Secretary-General’s latest report. Under Secretary-General Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drug and Crime, also briefed the Council during the meeting on the urgency of combating the concurrent phenomenon of international drug trafficking through Guinea-Bissau. A few days later, at a conference in Lisbon where he drew heavily on his comments to Council, Costa stated: “Guinea-Bissau is under siege. The threat posed by drug traffickers is so great that the state is on the verge of collapse.” He warned that the task was enormous as the state had lost control of its territory: it had one rusty ship to patrol a rugged coastline, no control of airspace, and no radios or phones for police. By contrast, drug operatives had much greater resources at their disposal. Costa recommended a long-term development plan and short-term enhancement of security measures.

In a press statement issued after the meeting, the Council reiterated its concern at the security threat posed by drug trafficking and organised crime and it noted the progress made by the government of Guinea-Bissau, with the support of the international community and the UN system, towards developing a robust anti-narcotics trafficking programme. It stressed the importance for a successful outcome of the Lisbon Conference on 19 December and the regional conference on drug trafficking to be organised later this year by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The statement called on the international community to support security-sector reform in the country and encouraged all national stakeholders to support the organisation of free and fair legislative elections in 2008.

In an exchange of letters (S/2007/700 and S/2007/701) between the Secretary-General and the Council President in late November and early December, the mandate of UNOGBIS was extended until 31 December 2008 and revised. The mandate now allows UNOGBIS to assist in mobilising international support for the government’s efforts to eradicate drug trafficking.

The revised mandate of UNOGBIS for 2008 includes:

  • assisting national reconciliation and dialogue;
  • facilitating security-sector reform;
  • supporting efforts to combat drug trafficking, human trafficking and organised crime;
  • assisting in the holding of legislative elections in 2008;
  • promoting respect for the rule of law and human rights;
  • integrating a gender perspective into peacebuilding activities;
  • facilitating efforts to curb proliferation of small arms and light weapons;
  • assisting in galvanising international assistance; and
  • improving cooperation with the AU, ECOWAS, the Community of Portuguese-Language Countries, the EU and other international partners.
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The Secretary-General’s letter also referred to the Council’s presidential statement of 19 October requesting him to recommend ways the UN could effectively assist the country’s efforts towards stabilisation. The Secretary-General said he would explore the possibility of transforming UNOGBIS into an integrated mission after legislative elections later this year.

Related Developments in the Peacebuilding Commission
The Commission on 19 December established a country-specific configuration (CSC) to support Guinea-Bissau’s peacebuilding initiatives following the inclusion of that country on the PBC’s agenda. The CSC is chaired by Brazilian Ambassador Maria Luiza Viotti. During the first meeting of the Guinea-Bissau CSC on 21 January, the chair talked about her forthcoming visit to the country (23-25 January), with the aim of:

  • acquainting the PBC with the situation and priorities for peacebuilding;
  • discussing the major peacebuilding issues and challenges; and
  • explaining the processes and purpose of the PBC’s involvement to actors in the country.

She subsequently reported on 5 February to the CSC on the trip. On 13 February, the CSC was briefed by the Peacebuilding Support Office and the World Bank on mapping of resources and shortfalls in funding for peacebuilding in Guinea-Bissau.

On 20 February, the CSC held a meeting on Guinea-Bissau during which the Prime Minister N’Dafa Cabi of Guinea-Bissau made a presentation on his country’s identified priority areas for assistance from the PBC and the peacebuilding challenges. At press time, the CSC was set to start preliminary discussions on elements for a strategic framework for the country on 27 February.

Key Issues
The immediate task for the Council will be to consider and follow up on recommendations from the Secretary-General’s report and PBC’s advice and to identify key areas where the Council could take action.

Options

Options before the Council include:

  • issuing a statement to encourage synergy and interaction with PBC country-specific strategies;
  • further amending the existing UN mission mandate to enhance collaboration between UN operations and PBC activities, based on recommendations from the Secretary-General and the PBC; and
  • establishing more regular and timely interaction with the PBC on the situation in the country. This could include invitations for briefings from PBC representatives when the Council considers the situation in Guinea-Bissau.

Council Dynamics
Council members appear to be awaiting the Secretary-General’s report to inform any subsequent action that they may decide to take on the situation in the country. UNOGBIS could be transformed into an integrated mission after legislative elections, if they are successful.

Following the recent admission of Guinea-Bissau onto the agenda of the PBC, Council members are poised to interact with the Commission, especially through the submission of the requested advice from the PBC on the country as well as allowing the Commission to have the space to respond to the “peacebuilding gap” in the country.

No single member has leadership of the issue at this stage. African members remain concerned about ensuring effective consolidation of peace efforts. European members are particularly concerned about the country’s emergence as a major transit hub for drug trafficking to Europe.

Underlying Problems
Problems include an alarming increase in organised crime, drug trafficking, trafficking in children for domestic or farm work, and the proliferation of illicit small arms. Guinea-Bissau’s lack of economic diversity has impaired the government’s capacity to deal with these issues as it lacks adequate funding. Its law enforcement capabilities are nearly non-existent. Political tensions are reportedly intensifying, ahead of legislative elections scheduled for this year. The inclusion on the PBC’s agenda is expected to help to mobilise international assistance to meet some of the most crucial of these challenges.

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.

Selected Reports and Letters

  • S/2007/744 (11 December 2007) was the letter from the Council to the PBC recommending that Guinea-Bissau be included on the agenda of the PBC and requesting for advice on the situation in the country.
  • S/2007/700 (28 November 2007) and S/2007/701 (3 December 2007) was an exchange of letters recommending extension of UNOGBIS until 31 December 2008 and noting the activities of UNOGBIS.
  • S/2007/715 (6 December 2007) was the latest report on UNOGBIS.

PBC Documents

  • PBC/2/INF/1 (13 February 2008) indicated the membership of the PBC Organizational Committee and membership of the country-specific configurations.
  • PBC/2/OC/9 (1 February 2008) was the letter from the Chairperson of the PBC listing the UN members states, organisations and entities constituting the latter configuration.

Other

  • S/2008/87 (28 December 2007) was the letter from the Chairperson of the PBC informing the President of the Security Council about the placement of Guinea-Bissau on the Commission’s agenda and taking note of the Council’s for advice on the situation in the country.
  • SC/9198 (12 December 2007) was the latest press statement by the Council on Guinea-Bissau.

Other Relevant Facts

Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNOGBIS

Shola Omoregie (Nigeria)

Size of UNOGBIS Staff

thirty, including international civilians, military advisers, a police adviser and local civilians

Duration

6 April 1999 to present; mandate expires on 31 December 2008

Useful Additional Source

Assisting Guinea-Bissau: International Conference on Drug Trafficking in Guinea-Bissau , speech by Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, in Lisbon, Portugal, 19 December 2007.

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