Expected Council Action
In March, the Council will be briefed in consultations on the quarterly report on efforts to restore constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau following the 12 April 2012 coup, possibly by Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs. No outcome is expected.
The mandate of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) expires on 31 May 2013.
Key Recent Developments
The Council received a briefing by Zerihoun on 5 February that focused on the situation in Guinea-Bissau and activities undertaken by UNIOGBIS. Zerihoun highlighted key elements of the Secretary-General’s report of 11 January, noting that while there has been some progress in the transition process, impunity remains a major concern in the country (S/2013/26).
Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti (Brazil), chair of the Guinea-Bissau configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), also briefed the Council on 5 February, noting the continued suspension of projects under the Peacebuilding Fund since the coup.
In line with the recommendation of the Secretary-General, resolution 2092 was adopted on 22 February renewing UNIOGBIS’s mandate for an additional three months. While there is new language reflecting issues that have emerged since the adoption of the previous mandate in resolution 2030 (21 December 2011), the mandate itself remains largely unchanged to allow José Ramos-Horta, the incoming Special Representative of the Secretary-General, time to conduct an assessment of the situation on the ground, which will be reflected in the Secretary-General’s next report. After the three-month period, a new resolution will be negotiated that is expected to result in a new and significantly different UNIOGBIS mandate.
On 17 January, the main opposition party, the Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde (PAIGC), and four other parties, joined the political transition pact and the political agreement that had been signed by the military junta and 17 political parties on 16 and 18 May 2012 respectively. The signing of these documents is expected to facilitate the parliamentary review of both documents, as well as the drafting of a new transitional regime pact. It is also expected to facilitate consensus on a roadmap that would clarify the modalities of the transition, including its duration and the timeline for elections, which were originally scheduled for April but have been postponed.
An AU-led joint assessment mission visited Guinea-Bissau from 16-21 December and brought together five key international, regional and subregional players—the AU, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP), the EU and the UN—all of whom are closely following the situation in the country. The mission met with a wide range of national actors, with the objectives of assessing the political and security situation, exploring avenues for building consensus and promoting cooperation among the participating organisations.
At an AU meeting on 26 January, mission participants agreed on the need to undertake a second joint assessment mission following the adoption of the transition roadmap by the People’s National Assembly.
At press time, the final report of the joint assessment mission had yet to be issued. It seems that the report’s recommendations will focus on a number of key areas, including the need for strong and coordinated international community engagement to ensure an inclusive transition as well as political, financial and technical support towards the adoption of a new transitional regime pact and the holding of free and fair elections. The development of two action plans—one on defence and security sector reform and the issue of impunity and one on drug trafficking—is also likely to be raised in the recommendations.
As noted in the 31 December report issued by the 2048 Guinea-Bissau Sanctions Committee, violations of the travel ban by two individuals were recorded and confirmed by the Committee (S/2012/975). The possibility of imposing further sanctions—such as an assets freeze—continues to be discussed within the Committee.
Some progress has been made since the Secretary-General’s calls, in his reports of 27 November 2012 (S/2012/887) and 29 September 2008 (S/2008/628), for the Security Council to consider establishing a panel of experts to conduct an investigation into drug trafficking and organised crime in Guinea-Bissau. Council members have experienced difficulties reaching consensus on this issue in the past; however, resolution 2092 raises the issue of drug trafficking in no less than three preambular and two operative paragraphs. While it is unlikely to be addressed in the immediate future, there remains a possibility that such a panel may be established by amending the existing sanctions regime.
Human Rights-Related Developments
Addressing the issue of impunity during the 5 February briefing Zerihoun noted that none of the individuals involved in the violations that followed the alleged counter-coup of October 2012 have been brought to justice—although there are reports that 17 detainees were charged by the Military Court and are awaiting trial. He also pointed out that UNIOGBIS staff have visited detention centres and have confirmed inadequate detention conditions including detainees’ lack of access to medical care, food and water.
The overarching issue for the Council remains the restoration of constitutional order through free and fair elections.
A related issue of concern for Council members is the role key international and regional stakeholders will play in the country’s transition, including support for the transition roadmap.
Ongoing issues include drug trafficking, organised crime and impunity related to numerous political assassinations, of which several actors have been accused dating back to before the 12 April coup.
A likely option for the Council is to receive the briefing and take no action at the current time, while awaiting the finalisation of the joint assessment mission report and the Secretary-General’s next report—which will draw on the findings of the Special Representative’s assessment—due in May.
Further options that could be discussed in March, for consideration at the subsequent briefing and consultations expected in May, include:
- harmonising the reporting cycles of both UNIOGBIS and resolution 2048;
- establishing a Panel of Experts to assist the 2048 Sanctions Committee in monitoring sanctions’ implementation;
- delinking in resolution 2048 the designation criteria listed in operative paragraph seven from operative paragraph six to enable the Sanctions Committee to take further action against those involved in drug trafficking and organised crime in Guinea-Bissau as hinted in resolution 2092; and
- mandating an independent commission of inquiry to investigate political assassinations not covered by the 2008 amnesty law (which applies to acts committed up to 6 October 2004) in light of the weak state of the national judiciary.
Council and Wider Dynamics
Council members’ discussions of Guinea-Bissau continue to be based on the balancing of their international and regional interests, which for some members includes not fraying relations with key partners such as ECOWAS to ensure effective cooperation on Mali and the Sahel.
Meanwhile, it appears that the AU may be warming to ECOWAS’s requests (on 11 November 2012 and on 19 January) for the AU to lift its suspension of Guinea-Bissau.
While it seems that ECOWAS and CPLP have put their differences of opinion aside in the spirit of collaboration, reflected by their participation in the joint assessment mission, there remain concerns that these differences may re-emerge at any time.
Council members and other key stakeholders have expressed support for the appointment of Ramos-Horta as Special Representative; however, some may harbour concerns about his close CPLP connections.
Togo is the lead country on Guinea-Bissau, and Morocco is the chair of the 2048 Guinea-Bissau Sanctions Committee.
UN Documents on Guinea-Bissau
|Security Council Resolutions|
|22 February 2013 S/RES/2092||This resolution renewed the mandate of UNIOGBIS until 31 May 2013.|
|18 May 2012 S/RES/2048||This resolution imposed travel bans on coup leaders and set up a new sanctions committee.|
|Security Council Press Statement|
|21 April 2012 S/PRST/2012/15||This statement was on the coup in Guinea-Bissau.|
|11 January 2013 S/2013/26||This was the Secretary-General’s report on UNIOGBIS covering developments since 17 July 2012.|
|Sanctions Committee Documents|
|31 December 2012 S/2012/975||This letter transmitted the annual report of the Guinea-Bissau Sanctions Committee’s activities from 18 May to 31 December 2012.|
|20 July 2012 SC/10721||This press release concerned the addition of six army officers to the Guinea-Bissau Sanctions Committee’s list of individuals subject to a foreign travel ban.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|22 February 2013 S/PV.6924||The resolution renewing UNIOGBIS’s mandate was adopted at this meeting.|
|5 February 2013 S/PV.6915||This meeting was on developments in Guinea-Bissau and on the activities of UNIOGBIS.|
|Security Council Press Statement|
|13 December 2012 SC/10857||Expressed serious concern over the lack of progress in the restoration of constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau. The statement noted that stabilisation can only be achieved through genuine dialogue and effective civilian oversight of the military and condemned the armed attacks of 21 October expressing deep concern over the reports of killings and serious human rights violations in the aftermath of those attacks.|
|Security Council Letter|
|31 December 2012 S/2012/974||This letter concerned the appointment of JosÃ© Ramos-Horta as Special Representative and head of UNIOGBIS.|
Other Relevant Facts
Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNIOGBIS
José Ramos-Horta (Timor-Leste)
UNIOGBIS Size, Composition and Budget
Strength as of 31 December 2012: 61 international civilians; 53 local civilians; two military advisers; 16 police; seven UN volunteers
1 January 2010—31 May 2013
Chair of the Guinea-Bissau Sanctions Committee
Ambassador Mohammed Loulichki (Morocco)
Chair of the Guinea-Bissau Configuration of the PBC
Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeird Viotti (Brazil)
ECOWAS Mission in Guinea-Bissau (ECOMIB) Size and Duration
Strength as of 6 November 2012: 629 soldiers and police (contributing countries: Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Senegal); March 2012—17 May 2013