December 2011 Monthly Forecast


Expected Council Action 
In December, the Council is expected to renew the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS), which expires on 31 December, by adopting a new resolution extending the mandate for 12 months.

Key Recent Developments
On 3 November, the Council discussed the Secretary-General’s latest report on UNIOGBIS, which was submitted on 31 October. The Council was briefed by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Guinea-Bissau, Joseph Mutaboba; Ambassador, Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti (Brazil), chair of the Guinea-Bissau configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC); and Maria Helena Nosoline Embalo, Guinea-Bissau’s Minister of Economy, Planning and Regional Integration.

Mutaboba reported a series of peaceful demonstrations by the opposition against the government over its perceived lack of action on serious human rights and rule of law-related issues, including the assassination of top political figures in 2009. The demonstrators called for the dismissal of Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior, whom they blame for stalling the investigations into the killings, and condemned President Malam Bacai Sanhá for not heeding their call to dismiss the Prime Minister. Mutaboba noted that drug trafficking and organised crime “remain a constant threat to the fragile stability” that Guinea-Bissau has enjoyed for the past 18 months, adding that the “efficient combat against drug trafficking continues to be hampered by a variety of internal and external technical factors.” This seems to be a reversal of the upbeat assessment Viotti made on 28 June, when she 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 (TCU). Mutaboba reported that there was still a lack of “reliable data on actual quantities of drugs that transit through” Guinea-Bissau.

As part of its rule-of-law and security-sector reform assistance, UNIOGBIS 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 PBC, which in the coming months will disburse $16.8 million for such police stations and also for courts, a judiciary-training centre, the pension fund for the armed forces and measures to address the problem of drug trafficking. Serious 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. Inter-community violence over access to land in June led to the death of two people.

During the November briefing , Embalo noted that her government lacks the technical and financial capacity to ensure the rule of law but that the government is moving forward with its justice sector reform, including prison system reform, strengthening criminal justice legislation and tackling transnational crime.

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 as key issues in building peace in the country.

Human Rights-Related Developments
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Guinea-Bissau, Joseph Mutaboba, told the Council on 3 November that the investigations into the 2009 political assassinations, including that of President João Bernardo Vieira, remained to be concluded, suggesting larger problems with justice-sector reform in the country. 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 with the UNIOGBIS 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 2009 assassinations 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
Since it gained independence from Portugal after a bloody and prolonged armed struggle, Guinea-Bissau has been subject to political upheavals and even normative collapse. Unlike its neighbours, it is largely resourced-starved, and it did not inherit functioning political institutions from Portugal at independence. Worse, the bitterness of the war of liberation was such that the newly independent government, controlled by a revolutionary council, executed thousands of African soldiers who had fought for the Portuguese. Thousands fled the country as a result. To date, Guinea Bissau’s diaspora population, in West Africa and Europe, remains a key factor in the country’s charged political climate, and reconciliation and inclusive national dialogue as part of a belated transitional justice effort remain key underlying issues.

Options for the Council include:

Council Dynamics
Though Guinea-Bissau is currently not a contentious item on the Council’s agenda, some members are likely to insist on changing the reporting period for UNIOGBIS from 12 months to six months. This is so in large part because of the apparent fluidity of the situation in the country, and the fact that unlike in other thematic situations, only elected Council members have led on it. (Nigeria, which currently leads on Guinea Bissau, is leaving the Council in December.)

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UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1949  (23 November 2010) renewed the mandate of UNIOGBIS until 31 December 2011.
  • S/RES/1876(26 June 2009) extended the mandate of UNOGBIS until 31 December 2009.

Latest Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2011/655 (31 October 2011) covers major developments in Guinea-Bissau since June.
  • S/2011/370 (17 June 2011) covers major developments in Guinea-Bissau from 15 February to June.
  • S/2011/73 (15 February 2011) covers major developments since 25 October 2010.

Press Statements

Latest Meeting Records

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 Guinea-Bissau Configuration of the PBC


Full Forecast