Expected Council Action
In October the Council is expected to be briefed in consultations by the chair of the Côte d’Ivoire Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Gert Rosenthal (Guatemala), and to consider the midterm report of the Group of Experts (GoE) that supports the Sanctions Committee. Resolution 2045 of 26 April adopted a set of renewed and modified sanctions on Côte d’Ivoire, and extended the mandate of the GoE monitoring the situation to 30 April 2013. The resolution requested the GoE to submit a midterm report to the Committee by 15 October, and a final report as well as recommendations to the Council through the Committee 15 days before the end of its mandate.
No Council action is likely after the briefing.
The mandate of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) expires on 31 July 2013.
Key Recent Developments
On 26 July, the Council adopted resolution 2062 extending the mandate of UNOCI until 31 July 2013. The resolution emphasised that the protection of civilians “shall remain the priority for UNOCI,” and authorised the mission to use “all necessary means” to carry out this mandate within its capabilities and its areas of deployment.
In line with the 29 March special report by the Secretary-General (S/2012/186), resolution 2062 mandated the reduction of UNOCI’s military component by the equivalent of one battalion “to be implemented as soon as practical.” UNOCI’s police numbers, however, would remain the same, at 1,555 personnel. (The special report recommended the reduction of 850 troops in the military component in Abidjan).
On 18 July, Albert Gerard Koenders, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of UNOCI, briefed the Council on recent developments in the country. He noted the killing of seven UN peacekeepers from Niger on 8 June; 11 other people, including local security personnel, were also killed on that same day. Koenders told the Council the country remains volatile, attributing this to the convergence of weapons, armed elements, former combatants and militias, as well as competition over the control of resources in a situation of weak state institutions.
On 20-22 May, Council members, led by Ambassador Gérard Araud (France) and Ambassador Kodjo Menan (Togo), visited Côte d’Ivoire as part of their mission to West Africa. Reporting to the Council on 31 May, Deputy Permanent Representative Martin Briens (France) noted that among the remaining challenges to the country were “border security, reconciliation, the fight against impunity and the deep-rooted causes of the Ivorian conflict, such as land-title disputes.”
Resolution 2045 had, in view of these challenges, reiterated previous measures relating to an embargo on arms imports into the country, stating that for a period ending on 30 April 2013, “all States shall take the necessary measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to Côte d’Ivoire, from their territories or by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, of arms and any related materiel, whether or not originating in their territories.” (During their mission to the country, Council members received requests from officials in Côte d’Ivoire to lift the arms embargo completely on the government.) The resolution added an exemption, however, stating that the measures “shall no longer apply to the provision of training, advice and expertise related to security and military activities, as well as to the supplies of civilian vehicles to the Ivorian security forces” as well as to “supplies of non-lethal military equipment intended solely for humanitarian or protective use, as notified in advance” to the Sanctions Committee. The resolution maintained the restrictions on exporting of all rough diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire. The measures imposing travel bans on selected individuals were also maintained.
Ambassador Rosenthal last briefed the Council as chair of the Sanctions Committee on 18 April during consultations on the Committee’s activities and the final report of the GoE, which was submitted to the Council on 11 April. That 348-page report contained detailed information on the issue of arms. It recorded numerous violations of all the measures, including the arms embargo, travel ban and the restrictions on diamonds, over the past year. It noted that the sanctions regime imposed on Côte d’Ivoire since 2004 “has prevented the import of heavy weapons systems.” However, lack of cooperation with the UN has “undoubtedly allowed parties to the conflict to import, store and distribute small arms and light weapons and related materiel according to their strategic needs.” The Ivorian authorities, the report said, “do not have the capacity to properly control the transit of goods in northern Côte d’Ivoire and the circulation of weapons there remains an important concern”.
On diamonds, the report noted that significant illegal mining activity had been ongoing in the northern part of the country and that this meant that diamonds were being smuggled out in violation of the embargo and Kimberley Process guidelines. The report noted that since “the basic economic structure of the former Forces Nouvelles, in particular in those areas that continue to be under the influence of zone commanders, remains somewhat intact, it can be contemplated that this structure, or elements of this structure, continue to benefit from diamond revenues, as do non-Ivorian individuals and entities who remain unlicensed.” As Côte d’Ivoire remains the only diamond-producing country that cannot legally export diamonds, the report called on the government to engage with its neighbours to seek assistance and take advantage of their experience and knowledge with regard to the development of Kimberley Process compliance and meeting the minimum requirements.
The report said that Charles Blé Goudé, a notorious former ally of former President Laurent Gbagbo and a key individual on the travel ban list, is believed to be active in violent anti-government activities from a neighbouring country, constituting a clear violation of the travel ban.
Human Rights-Related Developments
During her opening statement at the September session of the Human Rights Council, Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, recalled her July condemnation of the ethnically-motivated attacks on internally displaced persons in Côte d’Ivoire and reiterated that no national reconciliation could be achieved without impartial justice and full accountability. She said that her office would continue to provide assistance and advisory services to the Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission to facilitate the organisation of national consultations as well as strengthening its compliance with international human rights standards and good practices.
The key overarching issue for the Council is the continuing violent activity of anti-government forces in the country, threatening the fragile stability of the country and the lives of UN personnel, including UNOCI troops.
A closely related issue is how to control the flow and movement of arms and armed personnel in the country and enhance the implementation of Council-imposed sanctions.
Ensuring the implementation of measures to address impunity in the country, including assisting the efforts undertaken by the International Criminal Court, is an ongoing issue.
Options for the Council include:
- receiving the briefing and taking no action; or
- issuing a press statement emphasising the need for compliance with the measures in resolution 2045 by all parties in Côte d’Ivoire and neighbouring countries.
Council members appear to be in agreement in their concern about the proliferation of weapons—many of them unaccounted for—in the country, as well as the presence of ill-trained and undisciplined forces within the security agencies, including the army and police. Therefore, though the government of President Alassane Ouattara is well respected within the Council, members are unlikely to contemplate lifting the arms embargo at this stage.
France is the lead country in the Council on Côte d’Ivoire.
UN Documents on Côte d’Ivoire
|Security Council Resolutions|
|26 July 2012 S/RES/2062||This resolution renewed the mandate of UNOCI until 31 July 2013.|
|26 April 2012 S/RES/2045||This resolution renewing the Cote d’Ivoire sanctions regime and renewed the mandate of the Panel of Experts.|
|29 June 2012 S/2012/506||This was the Secretary-General’s report on UNOCI.|
|29 March 2012 S/2012/186||This was a report on Cote d’Ivoire.|
|24 June 2011 S/2011/387||This was a report of the Secretary-General on Cote d’Ivoire.|
|Sanctions Committee Document|
|11 April 2012 S/2012/196||This was a report of the Group of Experts supporting the Sanctions Committee on Cote d’Ivoire.|
|Security Council Letter|
|11 June 2012 S/2012/430||This was from Jeannot Kouadio-Ahoussou, Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire, requesting the extension of the mandate of UNOCI.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|18 July 2012 S/PV.6808||Special Representative and head of UNOCI Albert Gerard Koenders briefed the Council.|
|31 May 2012 S/PV.6777||This was the briefing on the Council’s visit to West Africa from 18 to 24 May.|