July 2012 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 June 2012
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AFRICA

Côte d’Ivoire

Expected Council Action
In July the Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) before it expires on 31 July. Albert Gerard Koenders, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Côte d’Ivoire and head of UNOCI, will likely brief the Council on developments and the Secretary-General’s most recent report (S/2012/186). Hervé Ladsous, head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), is also expected to brief the Council, followed by consultations.

Key Recent Developments
Seven UN peacekeepers from Niger were killed in Côte d’Ivoire on 8 June. The peacekeepers were apparently attacked by unknown militia fighters in the southwest of Côte d’Ivoire, near the border with Liberia. Eleven others, including local security personnel, were also killed. A few hours after news of the attack reached New York, the Council issued a press statement (SC/10668), introduced by France, condemning it “in the strongest terms.” The statement expressed concern about the “prevailing insecurity in western Côte d’Ivoire and the border area and continued cross-border movements of armed elements, including militias and mercenaries.” On 11 June, Ladsous briefed the Council on the killings.

The attack happened two days after Togo—responding to a request by Côte d’Ivoire— arrested and deported a former Defence Minister, Moïse Lida Kouassi, who served under former Côte d’Ivoire President Laurent Gbagbo. Kouassi is currently detained in Côte d’Ivoire and is the first senior ally of Gbagbo to be captured almost a year after the government of President Alassane Outtara issued an arrest warrant for 24 allies of Gbagbo.

Four days after the attack on the peacekeepers, Côte d’Ivoire announced that it had foiled a coup attempt by officers loyal to Gbagbo. The government also blamed the killings on a pro-Gbagbo network reportedly operating in neighbouring Ghana and alleged that this network was funding mercenaries in Liberia operating next to the Ivorian border.

The activities of mercenaries in this border area were highlighted in the 18 November 2011 report by the Panel of Experts on Liberia (S/2011/757), which the Council discussed on 9 December 2011. A substantial part of that report dealt with the impact of the return of an estimated 4,500 Liberian mercenaries whom Gbagbo had hired and deployed. The report noted that many of these mercenaries are now engaged in illicit gold mining and can be easily mobilised.

Additionally, the midterm report of the Group of Experts (GoE) on Côte d’Ivoire (S/2011/642), which was submitted on 17 October 2011, reported that after the serious nation-wide violence following the 2010 presidential elections, “thousands of weapons still remain unaccounted for” and these weapons “pose a threat to the stabilisation of the country.” The report cited the views of government interlocutors that the threat is particularly significant in the west of the country, bordering Liberia. (The 16 March final report of the GoE (S/2012/196), reiterated concerns about the need for the Ivorian authorities to effectively address disarmament and related issues.)

Some reports suggest that Thomas Yaya Nimely, a former Liberian Foreign Minister and chairman of the defunct Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL)—which was funded by Gbagbo in 2003 in the last rounds of the civil war in Liberia—may be the key link between the pro-Gbagbo network in Ghana and the restive mercenaries in the border area. (Gbagbo had accused then Liberian President, Charles Taylor, of supporting anti-government rebels in Côte d’Ivoire, and he retaliated by supporting the anti-Taylor MODEL.)

On 7 June, after reports about the increasing threats posed by these militias, Liberia announced in a statement that it had taken “numerous initiatives” to “mitigate and eliminate the threats of insecurity to both countries (Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire) posed by the presence of non-state actors along the vast border areas”. It then announced a wanted list of ten ex-leaders of MODEL, including Amos Cheyee, Isaac Sayou Chegbo and Charles Blé Goudé.

Violence in which scores of people were killed had been ongoing for several months. In early February DPKO sent an assessment mission to Côte d’Ivoire to look at various contentious issues, including security relating to overall stability in the country. The mission’s report (S/2012/186), submitted to the Council on 29 March, expressed unease about the whereabouts of thousands of Liberian mercenaries who had served in Côte d’Ivoire and about weapons caches that are believed to be in the border areas between Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia. It noted that despite the “political will expressed at the highest levels in Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia, so far no national strategy has been developed in either country to address, in a more comprehensive manner, border security and the issue of Ivorian and Liberian former combatants.”

The report, however, did not anticipate the scale of the insecurity, in particular the targeting of UN troops and, apparently, the threat to the Ivorian government. It noted only that “incidents by various perpetrators continued to take place throughout the country, highlighting the vulnerability of civilians.”

Council members visited the Côte d’Ivoire-Liberia border on 22 May during their mission to West Africa. Briefing the Council on the visit on 31 May, Deputy Permanent Representative Martin Briens (France), noted that the field visit to western Côte d’Ivoire was “a turning point” in the trip. He said the Council “was able to take stock of the new threats to peace and security that justify the enhanced UNOCI presence in that part of the country and strengthened means to protect civilians, including through inter-mission cooperation with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).” He also said that people on the ground expressed to members of the delegation “their serious concerns about the movement of weapons, attacks by combatants based in Liberia, the insecurity caused by the traditional Dozo hunters, problems with the Ivorian security forces, the humanitarian challenges to returns and the confusion surrounding land ownership.”

On 11 June, the Secretary-General transmitted a 25 May letter (S/2012/430) from the Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire, Jeannot Kouadio-Ahoussou, requesting the extension of the mandate of UNOCI in all its aspects beyond 31 July, so as to ensure the successful conduct of local elections, which are expected to take place during the last quarter of this year.

Human Rights-Related Developments
On 13 June, Doudou Diène, the UN independent expert on the human rights situation in Côte d’Ivoire, urged all Ivorians and the international community to maintain their commitment to national reconciliation in the aftermath of the attack that killed seven UN peacekeepers. Earlier this year, Diène had reported to the UN Human Rights Council that most human rights violations in the country resulted from the difficulty of reforming the security sector and re-establishing governmental authority over the entire territory. Following this latest incident, Diène exhorted the authorities in Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia to work together to prevent cross-border attacks as well as to conduct investigations to identify, arrest and prosecute those responsible.

Key Issues
The key issue for the Council is containing the emerging security threats in the western region of the country and ensuring that the perpetrators of the attacks on UN peacekeepers are identified and held responsible.

A related issue is further developing the inter-mission cooperation between UNOCI and UNMIL to ensure that the border regions between the two countries are pacified.

Options

  • adopting a resolution extending the mandate of UNOCI and underscoring the importance of the inter-mission cooperation between it and UNMIL;
  • and renewing the mandate of UNMIL in advance of its 30 September expiry to ensure more robust action against the mercenaries in the border region and facilitate better coordination between the two missions.

Council Dynamics
Following the visit to West Africa from 19-23 May, there is consensus among Council members on the need to pacify the western region of Côte d’Ivoire and particularly on the need to maintain inter-mission cooperation between UNOCI and UNMIL for that purpose.  

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

  • S/2012/186 (29 March 2012) was a special report by the Secretary-General on UNOCI.
  • S/2011/387 (24 June 2011)

Letters

  • S/2012/430 (25 May 2012) was from Jeannot Kouadio-Ahoussou, Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire, requesting the extension of the mandate of UNOCI.
  • 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/2011/469 (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

  • S/PV.6777 (31 May 2012) was the briefing on the Council’s visit to West Africa from 18 to 24 May.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission

Albert Gerard Koenders (Netherlands)

UNOCI Force Commander

Maj. Gen. Muhammad Iqbal Asi (Pakistan)

UNOCI: Size, Composition, Cost and Duration

Strength (as of 31 May 2012): 10,933 total uniformed personnel including, 9,400 troops, 196 military observers, 1,337 police personnel
Main troop contributors: Bangladesh, Pakistan, Senegal, Jordan, Morocco, Malawi and Nigeria
Annual Budget: $645,961,400 (1 July 2011-30 June 2012)Duration: 4 April 2004 to present; mandate expires 31 July 2012