January 2012 Monthly Forecast

Posted 23 December 2011
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AFRICA

Côte d’Ivoire

Expected Council Action
In January the Council is expected to discuss a midterm report of the Secretary-General on the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) expected by the end of December 2011. The Council will likely issue a press statement welcoming the successful conduct of legislative elections in December 2011 and underlining the importance of addressing the key remaining issues that would help consolidate peace and democracy in the country: completing the disarmament and reintegration process; security sector reform; addressing issues relating to national reconciliation, including the setting up of the Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission; and addressing impunity for past abuses.

The mandate of UNOCI expires on 31 July 2012.

Key Recent Developments
On 29 November 2011, former President Laurent Gbagbo was transferred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to face charges of crimes against humanity as an “indirect co-perpetrator” of murder, rape, persecution and other inhumane acts. Gbagbo had been detained in the north of the country since April 2011 and was charged on 18 August with “economic crimes” that included his alleged looting of half a billion dollars from the state treasury. (President Alassane Ouattara’s government had insisted that the prosecution for economic crimes is separate from other charges that may be brought against Gbagbo, either by the national judiciary or the ICC.)

On 30 November 2011, Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front Party announced that it was withdrawing from the legislative elections, as well as from the country’s national reconciliation process, as a result of what it considered Gbagbo’s illegal transfer to the ICC. The UN positioned 7,000 troops in Abidjan, the capital, and in the western part of the country to help stave off election-related violence. To complement UNOCI’s security capacity during this period, the Council approved in late November 2011 a request from the Secretary-General for the transfer of three armed helicopters and two military utility helicopters from the mission in Liberia to Côte d’Ivoire from 3 to 31 December 2011.

On 8 December 2011, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of UNOCI, Albert Gerard Koenders, briefed the Council on preparations for the elections. On 11 December, as many as 1,160 candidates from 35 parties contested 255 legislative seats. In the event, few incidents of violence were reported during the polling, though voter turnout was predictably low—35 percent—but higher than earlier estimates. On 17 December, however, violence erupted between government forces and youths in the western region of Vavoua, 280 miles from Abidjan; six youth were gunned down. UNOCI urged the government to investigate the killings, and on 19 December, the government announced that seven ‘volunteer’ soldiers implicated in the killings had been arrested.

On 14 December 2011, Chairperson of the AU Commission Jean Ping congratulated the Ivorian people and leaders for the peaceful elections, calling them “a further testimony to their commitment to work towards the consolidation of peace in Côte d’Ivoire.” The elections, Ping said, “represent a new step in the establishment of republican institutions and the process of strengthening democracy in Côte d’Ivoire.”

The election results were announced on 16 December 2011. Outtara’s Rally of Republicans party won 127 out of 255 seats in the legislature, and the Democratic Party, which is in coalition with Ouattara’s party, won 77 seats, giving the government a formidable 80 percent control of parliament. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon hailed the elections as “peaceful and orderly”, and the Economic Community of West African States, which had sent 60 monitors to observe the elections, released a statement calling the elections free and fair.

On a visit to New York shortly after the elections, Prime Minister Guillaume Soro said on 15 December that Côte d’Ivoire would ratify the Rome Statute once parliament begins deliberations. Soro, who led the Force Nouvelles rebel group that backed Outtara—and  which human rights activists have accused of widespread violations—also said that he was ready to face the ICC if charged. Soro met with the Secretary-General and, separately, each of the P5 members of the Council.

The 11-member South African-styled Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which President Outtara set up in May as a key transitional justice mechanism, was launched in September with Charles Konan Banny, a former prime minister, as chair. Gbagbo’s party has said it will not cooperate with the Commission.

Concerns about the activities of former Liberian mercenaries recruited and deployed by Gbagbo along the Côte d’Ivoire-Liberia border were underlined in the latest report of the Liberia Sanctions Committee’s Panel of Experts, which was discussed by the Council on 9 December. A substantial part of the report deals with the impact of the return from Côte d’Ivoire of an estimated 4,500 mercenaries, many of whom are now engaged in illicit gold mining in Liberia close to the western part of Côte d’Ivoire. The report notes that these former fighters can be easily mobilised.

The authors of the report interviewed several former mercenary commanders, now engaged in gold mining, and noted that funds accruing from illicit gold mining are significant enough that they should be closely monitored to ensure they are not used to destabilise the two countries. In response, the Council adopted resolution 2025 on 14 December 2011, urging the Liberian government to “improve its control over the gold sector and adopt the necessary legislation in this regard, and focus its efforts on establishing effective governance of the gold production sector.”

UNOCI maintains a significant troop presence in western Côte d’Ivoire. Anxieties about the volatility of this area of the border influenced aspects of resolution 2008, which renewed the mandate of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) on 16 September 2011, emphasising the need for the two missions to “regularly coordinate their strategies and operations in areas near the Liberian-Côte d’Ivoire border…to prevent armed groups from exploiting the seam of political boundaries.”

Human Rights-Related Developments
The UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Côte d’Ivoire, Doudou Diène, visited the country from 7 to 13 December 2011 to raise the profile of human rights in the 11 December legislative elections, the first to take place since the presidential poll in December 2010. Speaking after the elections, Diène described human rights in Côte d’Ivoire as “weak”. Alluding to several incidents of violence during the polls, Diène expressed concern that weapons continued to circulate illegally. The Independent Expert will present a report to the Human Rights Council in March 2012 on the findings of his visit.

 

Key Issues
The key issue for the Council is to ensure that Outtara’s government builds on the momentum provided by the successful legislative vote to address the remaining challenges facing the country, including completing the disarmament process, embarking on security sector reform and pursuing a policy of national reconciliation.

A related issue concerns supporting the work of the ICC in prosecuting those guilty of serious crimes relating to the post-electoral violence early this year, including associates of Gbagbo and possibly Outtara.

 

Options
The Council could:

  • issue a press statement welcoming the outcome of the legislative elections and drawing attention to the remaining tasks, including security sector reform, reconciliation and combating impunity; or
  • discuss the report and take no action.

Council Dynamics
Côte d’Ivoire is not a contentious situation in the Council. All Council members support the recent action taken by the ICC in transferring Gbagbo to The Hague to face trial. (The 1572 Côte d’Ivoire sanctions committee, in fact, had to lift the travel ban imposed on Gbagbo in order to authorise his transfer to The Hague.) Some are more eager than others to have associates of Outtara face a similar fate. France and Nigeria co-sponsored resolution 1975 of 30 March 2011, which imposed targeted sanctions and reaffirmed UNOCI’s mandate to protect civilians, and cooperation between UNOCI and UNMIL—on which the US leads—has been very good.

France is the lead country in the Council on Côte d’Ivoire.

UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/2025 (14 December 2011) extended the sanctions regime on Liberia and the mandate of its Panel of Experts
  • S/RES/2008 (16 September 2011) extended the mandate of UNMIL until 30 September 2012 and called on UNOCI and UNMIL to coordinate strategies and operations in the Liberia-Côte d’Ivoire border regions.
  • S/RES/2000 (27 July 2011) renewed the mandate of UNOCI at its current force levels (including the earlier ad-hoc increases) until 31 July 2012.
  • S/RES/1992 (29 June 2011) extended the temporary redeployment of helicopters from UNMIL to UNOCI until 30 September.
  • S/RES/1980 (28 April 2011) extended the sanctions regime and the mandate of the group of experts monitoring it for one year.
  • S/RES/1967 (19 January 2011) authorised the redeployment of aviation assets from UNMIL to UNOCI.

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

Letters

  • S/2011/577 (15 September 2011) was from the Secretary-General to the President of the Council on the inter-mission (UNOCI and UNMIL) use of three helicopters and the transfer of 150 military and 100 police personnel from UNOCI to UNMIL from 1 October to 30 November 2011.
  • S/2011/468  (26 July 2011) and S/2011/469 (28 July 2011) was an exchange of letters containing the Secretary General’s intention to appoint Albert Gerard Koenders as Special Representative for Côte d’Ivoire and head of UNOCI.
  • S/2011/419  (7 July 2011) appointed four individuals to the group of experts for the Côte d’Ivoire sanctions committee.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission

Albert Gerard Koenders (Netherlands)

UNOCI Force Commander

Maj. Gen. Jean Marie Bourry (France)

Chair of the Sanctions Committee

HE Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti (Brazil)

UNOCI: Size, Composition, Cost and Duration

Authorised Strength: 11,142 total uniformed personnel, including 9,600 troops, 192 military observers, 1,350 police
Strength (as of 31 July 2011): 8,974 troops, 193 military observers, 1,276 police personnel
Main troop contributors: Bangladesh, Pakistan, Jordan, Morocco and Malawi
Annual Budget: $486.7 million
Duration: 4 April 2004 to present; mandate expires 31 July 2012

Full forecast

 

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