November 2011 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 October 2011
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Expected Council Action
In November, Council members are expected to consider the Secretary-General’s report on the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS), which was to be submitted by the end of October. The head of UNIOGBIS, Joseph Mutaboba, will likely brief the Council. No Council action is expected in November. The mandate of UNIOGBIS expires on 31 December.  

 Key Recent Developments
On 28 June, the Council was briefed by Mutaboba and by the chair of the country’s PBC configuration, Ambassador Maria Luisa Viotti (Brazil). Viotti reported “positive developments” in the fight against drug trafficking, including Guinea-Bissau’s implementation of the West African Coast Initiative by appointing the management board and the chair of the Transnational Crime Unit.

As part of its rule of law and security sector reform assistance, UNIOGBIS for its part has since February provided technical and financial support for the vetting and certification of police and internal security agencies. In September, the mission opened the first of a planned one dozen “model police stations” slated to be inaugurated in the next two years around the country. Funding comes from the Peacebuilding Commission, which in the coming months will disburse $16.8 million for such police stations and also for courts, a judiciary training center, the pension fund for the armed forces and measures to address the problem of drug trafficking and unemployment.

But challenges remain in establishing the legitimacy of the state, the rule of law and respect for civilian control of the security sector. The military is still seen to be the real power in the country, and there are concerns that key figures are part of the international narcotics hub. There was concern as well when Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Jr. offered on 10 September to welcome Muammar Qaddafi “with open arms” in Guinea-Bissau, even though there was an international arrest warrant out for the former Libyan leader.

On 29 September, the Secretary-General and Prime Minister Gomes held talks in New York on the implementation of a peacebuilding plan, including social and political reforms. The Secretary-General stressed the importance of inclusive political dialogue and reform of the security and justice sectors in Guinea-Bissau as key issues in building peace in the country.

Mutaboba met with Guinea-Bissau’s general prosecutor on 5 October and with the judiciary police director the following day. The meetings were held to discuss ongoing UN support for strengthening capacity of national institutions to combat impunity and maintain constitutional order, public security and the full respect for the rule of law.

Human Rights-Related Developments
On 12 September, the Prime Minister and Mutaboba inaugurated the country’s first model police station. In his June report on the situation in Guinea-Bissau, the Secretary-General had stressed that the construction of model police stations, together with the training of police officers to staff them, was an essential step in national efforts to restore authority and re-establish public security conditions. He hoped that this development would “help break with past practice of frequent disregard for the rule of law and human rights”.

Key Issues
The key issues for the Council correspond to the UNIOGBIS’s strategic work plan and benchmarks set out in 2010. It appears that the most pressing of these are reform of the security sector and entrenchment of the rule of law, as well as issues relating to illicit trafficking, in particular child trafficking, drug trafficking and organised crime.

A related issue is continuing impunity, since senior army officers suspected of being involved in the assassinations of 2009 remain in powerful positions.

A related issue down the line is to prepare for an eventual transition from UNIOGBIS to a UN country team by combating impunity, enhancing the legitimacy of civilian rule, and ensuring civilian control of the military.

Underlying Issues
Guinea-Bissau seems to have stumbled from one crisis to another since it gained independence from Portugal in 1973 after prolonged armed conflict. The bitterness of the war of liberation was such that the new independent government, controlled by a revolutionary council, carried out reprisal attacks on African soldiers who had fought for the Portuguese. Thousands of these former soldiers may have been massacred or fled the country. To date, reconciliation and inclusive national dialogue as part of a belated transitional justice effort remain key underlying issues.

One option for the Council is to simply take no action in November but rather adopt a wait-and-see stance until the end of December when UNIOGBIS’s mandate comes up for renewal.

 Another option is for the Council to issue a presidential statement noting peace consolidation efforts made so far and signalling the Council’s concern that this should remain on track.

Council Dynamics
Guinea-Bissau is currently not a contentious item on the Council’s agenda, due in large part to the evident fragility of the situation there, the widespread concern about the country’s role as a major hub for global narcotics and other illicit traffickers and a more recent concern that without serious support from the international community it might be used as a base for pirates who have recently stepped up attacks on maritime traffic in the Gulf of Guinea.

Nigeria is the lead country on this issue in the Council.

UN Documents

Security Council Resolution

  • S/RES/1949 (23 November 2010) renewed the mandate of UNIOGBIS until 31 December 2011.

Secretary-General’s Report

  • S/2011/370 (17 June 2011) covers major developments in Guinea-Bissau from 15 February 2011.
  • S/2011/73 (15 February 2011) covers major developments since 25 October 2010.

Press Statements

  • SC/10301 (28 June 2011)
  • SC/10184 (25 February 2011)

Meeting Records

  • S/PV.6569 (28 June 2011)  
  • S/PV.6489 (25 February 2011)

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNIOGBIS

Joseph Mutaboba (Rwanda)


1 January 2010 to present; mandate expires 31 December 2011

Chair of the Sierra Leone Configuration of the PBC


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