April 2011 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 March 2011
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Côte d’Ivoire

Expected Council Action
The Council seems likely in April to increase the amount of attention it is giving to the situation in Côte d’Ivoire. Securing implementation of resolution 1975 adopted on 30 March under Chapter VII will be a major focus. But the rising pressure from ECOWAS for a more robust approach will also be a factor.

In addition the sanctions committee will discuss the sanctions regime. The report of the group of experts is also due to be considered in April. The Council is likely to renew the sanctions regime and the mandate of the group of experts, which expire on 30 April and additional names for targeted sanctions may be considered.

The Secretary-General’s report on the peacekeeping operation, UNOCI, and the situation in Côte d’Ivoire was due on 31 March. The current mandate of UNOCI expires on 30 June.

Key Recent Developments
The security situation in Côte d’Ivoire has continued to deteriorate steadily. Despite an AU decision on 10 March confirming support for Ouattara, who is widely recognised as the winner of the 28 November 2010 presidential elections, Laurent Gbagbo still refuses to cede office. Military clashes have escalated between Gbagbo’s forces and former rebel Forces Nouvelles. At press time the former rebel Forces Nouvelles were reported to have captured five towns. Ouattara has recognised Forces Nouvelles and renamed them the Ivory Coast Republican Forces. Both sides have been using heavy weapons resulting in considerable casualties with 462 people reported killed and a sharp deterioration in the humanitarian situation.

At press time there were reports from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) of up to a million displaced persons. Over 90,000 Ivorian refugees are estimated to be in Liberia. The Golf Hotel—which serves as the operational headquarters of Ouattara, who is being protected by the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI)—remains under siege by pro-Gbagbo forces. International rights bodies, such as Human Rights Watch, reported incidents of xenophobic attacks from both sides of the Ivorian political divide.

On 3 March the Council issued a press statement in which it condemned the threats, obstructions and acts of violence by Gbagbo’s forces against UN personnel and violence by all parties against civilians and urged UNOCI “to use all necessary means to carry out its mandate, in particular to protect the civilians”.

On 3 March pro-Gbagbo security forces shot and killed seven women during a demonstration in the Abobo district of Abidjan by hundreds of women protesting against Gbagbo’s continued stay in office.

On 10 March, the AU’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) endorsed the recommendations of its high-level panel for the resolution of the Ivorian crisis. The PSC confirmed that Ouattara was the sole legitimate president of the country. It decided that he should lead a unity government, including pro-Gbagbo elements. The PSC also requested the Chair of the AU commission to appoint a High Representative for the implementation of the overall political solution proposed by the panel. The AU decision, was rejected by Gbagbo’s camp.

On 11 March the Council issued a press statement welcoming the AU PSC decision and anticipated the appointment of the High Representative for the implemenatation of the AU’s overall political solution to the situation in Côte d’Ivoire.

On 17 March mortars were fired by forces loyal to Gbagbo into a market area in the Abobo district of Abidjan, resulting in the killing of more than 25 civilians with more than 40 wounded. The Secretary-General condemned the attack and urged the Council “to take further measures with regard to the Ivorian individuals who are instigating, orchestrating and committing the violence.”

On 18 March the Gbagbo camp appealed for an inter-Ivorian dialogue and called for an end to the violence. However, Gbagbo’s minister for youth, Charles Blé Goudé (who has been on the Council’s sanctions list since 2006), subsequently called on young Ivorians to enlist in the army en masse “to free Côte d’Ivoire from bandits.”

On 21 March the Council conveyed to the press its “indignation” over the 17 March attacks on the market in Abobo. The Council reiterated its “determination to impose measures, including targeted sanctions, against those who impede the peaceful resolution of the crisis, obstruct the work of UNOCI and other international actors in Côte d’Ivoire or commit violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.”

On 21 March the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo, told the BBC that the court was gathering information on possible war crimes being committed in Côte d’Ivoire.

On 24 March ECOWAS requested the Security Council to strengthen the mandate of UNOCI, to enable the “Mission to use all necessary means to protect life and property, and to facilitate the immediate transfer of power to Ouattara”, as well as to “adopt more stringent international targeted sanctions” against Gbagbo and his associates. It recalled its decisions of 7 and 27 December 2010 (especially paragraph 10 of the latter which stated: “In the event that Mr. Gbagbo fails to heed [the] immutable demand of ECOWAS [to hand over power], the community would be left with no alternative but to take other measures, including the use of legitimate force, to achieve the goals of the Ivorian people.”) ECOWAS seemed to be indicating that it had lost confidence in AU leadership on the issue.

On 25 March the Human Rights Council decided to send an independent commission of inquiry to investigate allegations of serious abuses and violations of human rights committed in Côte d’Ivoire following the 28 November 2010 elections.

Also on 25 March, there was a briefing by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Nigeria and France circulated a draft resolution.

On 26 March Ouattara rejected the AU’s choice of Foreign Minister Jose Brito of Cape Verde as its High Representative for the implementation of the political solution recommended by the AU high level panel. Ouattara indicated that Brito’s close personal and political relationship with Gbagbo made him unsuitable for a mediatory role.

On 29 March the Gbagbo camp called for a ceasefire, seemingly trying to accept only part of the 10 March AU decision.

On 30 March, the Council adopted resolution 1975 imposing targeted sanctions against Gbagbo and four of his associates, including his wife. The resolution also welcomes AU and ECOWAS political initiatives towards finding a solution to the situation in Côte d’Ivoire and calls on all parties to pursue the overall political solution of the AU. The Council seems to support the AU PSC decision to appoint a high representative and called on all parties to “fully” cooperate with him. There were differences that emerged in the negotiations, including reservations by India, Russia and China about the wording of references to the ICC and the status of the declaration of 18 April 2003 by Côte d’Ivoire accepting jurisdiction of the ICC in terms of Article 13 of the Rome Statute, as well as how best to intensify the protection of civilians by UNOCI, with some emphasising the need for impartiality and others the need to prevent use of heavy weapons. Overall the resolution seems to be a compromise. The main new element is the application of sanctions to Gbagbo himself and his immediate circle. This partly satisfies the ECOWAS request for stringent measures while at the same time continues to leave some space for a political solution by endorsing the AU position.

Key Issues
A key issue in April, given the extension of targeted sanctions to Gbagbo and his circle, will be the role of the sanctions committee in assessing compliance with the sanctions regime.

A related issue will be how to ensure maximum impact of the sanction measures on their targets.

A second key issue for the Council will be closely monitoring the impact of UNOCI in implementing the enhanced protection of civilians task set out in resolution 1975 and also the repercussions for UNOCI itself.

Another issue will be whether to proceed with an additional list of individuals and new entities for targeted sanctions, as threatened in resolution 1975. The group of experts’ reportedly recently proposed six additional names and three new entities for targeted sanctions to Council members. Only three of the experts’ proposed additional names were reflected in the resolution 1975.

A major underlying issue for the Council is whether its decision in resolution 1975 to continue to throw weight behind the AU initiative will actually restore momentum to the peace process in Côte d’Ivoire, especially given the sense of frustration in ECOWAS with the dynamics in the AU. A closely related issue for the Council remains that of balancing its own role and the roles of the regional and subregional organisation in dealing with the matter.

Options include:

  • renewing the current sanctions regime without any significant changes;
  • imposing new targeted sanctions on additional persons; and
  • if the standoff continues, taking up the request by ECOWAS to support its decisions of December 2010, or other robust possibilities.  

Council Dynamics
There is consensus among Council members about renewing the sanctions regime and the mandate of the group of experts. The Council’s stringent measures against Gbagbo in resolution 1975 have given new impetus within the Council for action to be taken in that regard.

The proposal by the group of experts seems to buttress the case for additional sanctions.

The US and European members of the Council appear ready to support additional sanctions, since the US and EU have already imposed sanctions on wider pro-Gbagbo elements. African members generally take a cue from related AU positions but in this case Gabon and Nigeria are supportive of the much stronger ECOWAS position. South Africa is more reluctant but its role as a member of the AU High Level Panel that recommended recognition of Ouattara as the winner of the presidential elections is a key factor.

Russia and China, who have in the past expressed reservations about the imposition of sanctions, reportedly questioned the rationale for additional sanctions during the 25 March meeting but in the end agreed. Russia and China also seemed to accept the proposal to emphasise that UNOCI should use all possible means to carry out its mandate to protect civilians, provided it was done impartially so as not to prejudice prospects for a political solution.

Council members remain cautious about ECOWAS’s December proposal for the Council to authorise formally a possible use of force by ECOWAS, because there is recognition of the fact that consensus may not be easily reached among members at this stage. While consensus exists among Council members about the need to address the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the country there currently is reticence among some Council about endorsing ECOWAS’s use of force. (Russia, China and South Africa in particular had reservation about some aspects of ECOWAS’s resolution and pushed for the Council to “note” rather than “welcome” it.)

UN Documents

Selected Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1975 (30 March 2011) imposed sanctions on Gbagbo and his circle.
  • S/RES/1968 (16 February 2011) extended the mandate of troops temporarily deployed from UNMIL to UNOCI for another three months.
  • S/RES/1967 (19 January 2011) authorised an increase of 2,000 troops in the overall strength of UNOCI military personnel and extended the mandate of troops temporarily deployed from UNMIL to UNOCI.
  • S/RES/1946 (15 October 2010) renewed the sanctions and the mandate of the group of experts until 30 April.
  • S/RES/1528 (27 February 2004) established UNOCI.

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

Selected Letters

  • S/2011/182 (24 March 2011) was from the delegation of Nigeria transmitting the ECOWAS resolution of 24 March to the Council, and requesting that it be discussed during consultations on 25 March 2011.
  • S/2011/5 (7 January 2011) recommended additional military capacity to be authorised for UNOCI.
  • S/2010/493 (23 September 2010) was from the Secretary-General informing the Council about the head of UNOCI’s certification of the Ivorian electoral process.

Latest Press Statements

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission

Choi Young-jin (Republic of Korea)

UNOCI Force Commander

Major General Gnakoudè Béréna (Togo)

UNOCI Police Commissioner

Maj. Gen. Jean Marie Bourry (France)

Chair of the Sanctions Committee

Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti (Brazil)

Size and Composition of UNOCI

Strength (as of 31 January 2011): 7,578 troops, 176 military observers, 1,270 police personnel, 389 international civilian personnel, 737 local staff and 255 UN volunteers

Approved Budget

1 July 2010-30 June 2011: $485.1 million

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