June 2008 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 May 2008
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Guinea-Bissau

Expected Council Action
The Council expects to receive the Secretary-General’s quarterly report on the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS). A Council statement is possible. The mandate of UNOGBIS expires on 31 December.

Recent Developments
On 25 March, Guinea-Bissau enacted an amnesty for political-military violations against state security extending back to 6 October 2004. It does not rule out future civil lawsuits and allows for compensating victims. The proponents of the amnesty (e.g. the military) see it as assisting in national reconciliation and setting the stage for security sector reforms. However, there have been concerns from civil society about the absence of truth and restitution measures.

On 26 March, the Council was briefed in an open meeting by the Representative of the Secretary-General, Shola Omoregie, on the situation in Guinea-Bissau. In addition, the chair of the Peacebuilding Commission’s (PBC) country-specific configuration on Guinea-Bissau, Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti of Brazil, briefed on Council on the PBC’s engagement in the country. Also, Ambassador Alfredo Cabral, Guinea-Bissau’s Permanent Representative, expressed gratitude at his country’s inclusion in the PBC’s agenda. The briefing was followed by informal private consultations. Members are reported to have requested the Secretary-General to submit further details in his next report on drug trafficking and alleged terrorist activity in Guinea-Bissau. Omoregie met the chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee and the executive director of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate to discuss concerns about terrorism.

In a press statement on 27 March, the Council reaffirmed support for efforts by the government of Guinea-Bissau and its partners to consolidate peace. It expressed satisfaction with PBC efforts to develop a strategic peacebuilding framework and noted the 25 March announcement by Guinea-Bissau President João Bernardo Vieira to hold legislative elections on 16 November. The Council recalled its October 2007 request to the Secretary-General to present proposals on how the UN could provide effective integrated and holistic assistance.

On 28 April, the UN Peacebuilding Fund agreed to provide Guinea-Bissau with $6 million to assist national peacebuilding efforts. (The Fund was set up last year to help bridge the gap faced by countries between the initial phase of emerging from conflict and later recovery stages.)

Related Developments in the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC)

The PBC’s country-specific configuration on Guinea-Bissau visited the country from 6 to 11 April with the objective of:

  • discussing the major priorities and challenges regarding peacebuilding initiatives being carried out by the government to tackle challenges and the kind of international support the country requires;
  • visiting project sites relevant to peacebuilding; and
  • discussing Peacebuilding Fund activities and setting up the National Steering Committee (comprising of UN representatives, the government, international donors and civil society) tasked with overseeing the selection of projects and allocation of funding.

The country-specific configuration has since briefed the Organisational Committee of the PBC on the field mission and has been deliberating on peacebuilding priorities expected to be factored into an eventual strategic framework.

Key Issues

Immediate key issues for the Council are security in the lead up to the legislative elections, including keeping the electoral process on track and the future of UNOGBIS. In December, the Secretary-General indicated that he would explore the possibility of transforming UNOGBIS into an integrated mission after the elections. Members are likely to want advice on what this might entail, as indicated in their latest press release.

Other issues include developments on the drug trafficking front and possible terrorist activity in the country.

Options
Possible options for the Council include:

  • a statement urging the government and stakeholders to keep the legislative elections on track and encouraging peace-consolidation efforts; and
  • a decision to maintain regular engagement with the PBC on the situation in the country, including invitations for briefings from PBC representatives and seeking the PBC’s advice on the situation the country.

Council Dynamics
Most Council members now consider UNOGBIS’ role to be vital in the lead up to the legislative elections. However, African members want to see more immediate support for peace-consolidation efforts. Western members may prefer to see the outcome of the elections before determining further concrete involvement. Most members, especially the Europeans, want a much more comprehensive picture of drug trafficking. The Council’s call for more information on alleged terrorist activity seems to be motivated by its cautious approach.

Underlying Problems
Guinea-Bissau has limited capacity to effectively police its national territory. Capacity in government ministries is also weak and the country is faced by serious socio-economic challenges. Consequently, it is particularly vulnerable to organised crime, social unrest, the narcotics trade and, perhaps also, possible terrorist activity.

UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1580 (22 December 2004) revised and extended the mandate of 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/2008/181 (17 March 2008) was the latest report on UNOGBIS.
  • S/2007/744 (11 December 2007) was the letter in which the Council requested information from the PBC on the situation in Guinea-Bissau.

PBC Documents

  • PBC/2/INF/1 (13 February 2008) indicated the membership of the PBC Organisational Committee and membership of the country-specific configurations.
  • PBC/2/OC/9 (1 February 2008) was the letter from the chair of the PBC listing the UN member states, organisations and entities constituting the Guinea-Bissau country-specific configuration of the PBC.

Other

  • SC/9286 (27 March 2008) was the latest press statement by the Security Council on Guinea-Bissau.
  • S/PV.5860 (26 March 2008) was a briefing on developments and PBC activities in Guinea-Bissau.
  • S/2008/87 (28 December 2007) was the letter from the chair of the PBC informing the president of the Council about the placement of Guinea-Bissau on the PBC’s agenda and taking note of the Council’s request for advice on the situation in the country.

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

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