April 2008 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 March 2008
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AFRICA

Côte d’Ivoire

Expected Council Action
The Council will review the Secretary-General’s report, due 15 April, on preparations for the electoral process in Côte d’Ivoire. The sanctions’ Group of Experts is expected to submit its interim report to the Côte d’Ivoire Sanctions Committee. The Council will review the sanctions regime, particularly sanctions against individuals and diamond sanctions, by 30 April. (The mandate of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) continues until 30 July).

Recent Developments
On 15 January 2008, the Council renewed the mandate of UNOCI and the French forces until 30 July to assist the Ivorian parties in implementing the outstanding objectives under the 2007 Ouagadougou Agreement (including identification and registration of voters, disarmament and dismantling of militias, and the unification and restructuring of the defence and security forces). The Council accepted the Supplementary Agreements, signed on 28 November by President Laurent Gbagbo and Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, which delayed the date for national elections until June. The Council requested the Secretary-General to keep it regularly informed, particularly about the preparations for the elections.

The Secretary-General reported on 2 January that while security and political conditions in Côte d’Ivoire had improved in recent months, those gains were fragile in light of the slow progress in achieving key benchmarks of the Ouagadougou Agreement, including those concerning the dismantling of militias and disarming ex-combatants. He explained that while the national armed forces and those of the Forces Nouvelles had shown more resolve to collaborate, “systematic factors of instability” continued to pose a threat to the future of the peace process. These factors include the lack of significant progress in unifying the defence and security forces and the dismantling of militias, as well as a rise in criminal activities due to weapons proliferation.

The Secretary-General noted that achieving the goals set out in the various agreements would require a redoubling of efforts by the parties and their international partners, including provision of resources required for a number of key processes, the identification of the population, voter registration, disarmament and the reestablishment of state authority. He further noted that developments since the signing of the supplementary agreements to the Ouagadougou Agreement were encouraging and might later lead to proposals for a gradual downsizing of UNOCI troop levels.

On 17 March, UNOCI transferred control of three disarmament facilities in the country’s northern region, which has been under the de facto control of the rebel Forces Nouvelles since 2002, to the Ivorian Government as part of a new beginning for the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) effort. At a ceremony held to mark the event in the northern town of Ferkessedougou, 118 former rebel fighters surrendered their weapons to formally join the DDR process outlined by the Ouagadougou Agreement.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative (SRSG) to Côte d’Ivoire, Choi Young-Jin, and President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso, facilitator of the Ivorian peace process, met on 23 January in Ouagadougou to discuss ways of accelerating the peace process underway in Côte d’Ivoire to end the crisis that has divided the country between the rebel-held north and government-controlled south since 2002.

On 28 February, the director of UNOCI’s electoral assistance division, Ahmedou El Becaye Seck, announced in Abidjan that the mission had repaired almost 90 percent of polling stations across Côte d’Ivoire ahead of the national presidential elections planned for June. UNOCI had also assisted in updating the country’s electoral cartography to enable easier identification of the population and register voters before the polls by local authorities.

In mid-February, the 2007 annual UN report on children and armed conflict was issued, indicating that Côte d’Ivoire had been taken off the UN Secretary-General’s global list of child recruiters because militias and other armed groups were said to have stopped recruiting children into their ranks. However, some NGOs operating in the country, such as Save the Children, say that while there is no evidence that children are being recruited or are active soldiers, many are still associated with the armed forces and are working for combatants by cooking, cleaning and running errands.

On 25 March, election certification criteria proposed by the SRSG were welcomed by the Ivorian parties and promulgated.

Key Issues
A major issue is assessing progress of the electoral process, which appears to be slow.

Another key issue is the review of the sanctions regime on Côte d’Ivoire (arms embargo, assets freeze, travel ban and diamond sanctions). The Ivorian authorities have not requested any specific exemptions from the sanctions regime although the Council has indicated its preparedness to consider a request along those lines (e.g. partial lifting of the arms embargo for law and order purposes).

Options
Options before the Council include:

  • maintaining the current sanctions regime;
  • renewing sanctions with modifications (an unlikely option at this stage, especially since the Ivorian authorities have not yet made a formal request to the Sanctions Committee for any specific exemption); and
  • addressing the risk of postponement of the national elections scheduled for June and perhaps approving procedures for closer monitoring of progress in the coming months.

Council Dynamics
Council members appear pleased with the relative progress being made in stabilising the security situation in Côte d’Ivoire. However, consensus seems to be emerging within the Council that the sanctions regime and the mandate and size of UNOCI should not be changed until after the elections. Council members remain anxious about progress with the elections and are awaiting the Secretary-General’s report to inform their deliberations. There is a fear that it is becoming less likely that elections will be held in June because of the slow pace in meeting benchmarks (e.g. identification and registration of voters, the disarmament process and dismantling of militia, and the unification and restructuring of the defence and security forces).

Some Council members (e.g. Indonesia, South Africa and China) have in the past pushed for some form of relaxation of sanctions in line with positive developments in the country. However, there now seems to be an understanding within the Council to adopt a cautious approach on sanctions around negative developments on the ground by scheduling periodic reports.

France traditionally plays a leading role on this issue in the Council together with African members.

UN Documents

Latest Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1795 (15 January 2008) extended the mandate of UNOCI until 30 July 2008 and requested a report on the preparation of the electoral process no later than 15 April 2008.
  • S/RES/1782 (29 October 2007) extended the sanctions regime until 31 October 2008.
  • S/RES/1765 (16 July 2007) extended the mandate of UNOCI until 15 January 2008.
  • S/RES/1761 (20 June 2007) extended the mandate of the Group of Experts until 31 October 2007.
  • S/RES/1727 (15 December 2006) renewed the sanctions regime until 31 October 2007.
  • 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 Guillaume Soro as prime minister and requested a report from the Secretary-General on the UN’s future role in the peace process.

Latest Security Council Press Statement

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

  • S/2008/1 (2 January 2008) was the Secretary-General’s latest report on UNOCI.

Other

  • S/2007/611 (17 October 2007) was the latest report of the Group of Experts on Côte d’Ivoire.
  • S/2007/515 (30 August 2007) was the report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in Côte d’Ivoire.
  • S/2007/223 (19 April 2007) was the latest International Working Group’s communiqué, requesting its two co-chairs to consult with ECOWAS and the AU on its future role and recommendations to Security Council.
  • S/2007/144 (13 March 2007) contained the Ouagadougou Agreement.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General

Choi Young-Jin (Republic of Korea)

Group of Experts

Grégoire Bafouatika, Republic of Congo (aviation)
Agim de Bruycker, Belgium (diamonds)
Lipika Majumdar Roy Choudhury, India (finance/Coordinator of the Group)
Claudio Gramizzi, Italy (arms)
Vernon Paul Kulyk, Canada (customs)

Size and Composition of UNOCI

  • Strength as of 31 January 2008: 9,138 total uniformed personnel, including 7,840 troops, 187 military observers and 1,111 police
  • Key troop-contributing countries: Bangladesh, Ghana, Jordan, Morocco and Pakistan

Approved UNOCI Budget

1 July 2007 – 30 June 2008: $470.86 million

 

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