Expected Council Action
In April, the Council expects a briefing by Edmond Mulet, the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, on the situation in Côte d’Ivoire and on the Secretary-General’s special report requested by resolution 2062 with, inter alia, recommendations on possible adjustments in the structure and strength of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI).
The Council also expects a briefing in consultations by the chair of the 1572 Côte d’Ivoire Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Gert Rosenthal (Guatemala) on the final report of its Group of Experts (GoE). A new resolution renewing the sanctions measures and the mandate of the GoE is the likely outcome.
The current mandate of UNOCI expires on 31 July 2013 and the sanctions regime and the mandate of the GoE expire on 30 April 2013.
Key Recent Developments
Koenders briefed the Council on recent developments in Côte d’Ivoire on 17 January. He noted how—despite the existence of a comprehensive security sector reform (SSR) strategy and a national disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) policy—security continues to be a challenge.
Paramilitary groups have continued to operate in the country and along the borders with Ghana and Liberia, potentially further destabilising the country, as exemplified by the mid-March deadly attacks in the town of Zilebly, close to the Liberian border.
Charles Blé Goudé, an ally of former President Laurent Gbagbo and former leader of the Young Patriots militia, was arrested on 17 January in Ghana. Blé Goudé was listed in the travel ban and asset freeze list of the Côte d’Ivoire Sanctions Committee. He was extradited to Côte d’Ivoire and has been charged with war crimes, murder and theft of public funds.
The prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, confirmed on 19 February the charges pending against Gbagbo, who may bear criminal responsibility for four counts of crimes against humanity for the post-electoral violence that hit the country in late 2010 and early 2011. The news resulted in violent clashes among pro- and anti-Gbagbo demonstrators.
Despite the release of political detainees in late December 2012 and the work of the Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the divisions within the country continue to be blatant. Regional and local elections, originally scheduled for February, were postponed to 21 April to allow all major political parties to participate. However, Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) leaders have announced that the party will not participate in the April elections.
A technical assessment mission from UN headquarters was deployed from 2 to 16 February. The mission evaluated the situation on the ground and assisted UNOCI in developing benchmarks with the government to measure progress. Its findings will feed into the special report to the Council to be submitted by 31 March. As requested in resolution 2062, the report is supposed to include benchmarks to measure and track progress towards the achievement of long-term stability in the country, recommendations on possible adjustments in UNOCI’s structure and strength, options to reinforce inter-mission cooperation arrangements between UNOCI and the UN Mission in Liberia and an assessment of the implementation of UNOCI’s protection of civilian strategy.
Rosenthal last briefed the Council as chair of the 1572 Sanctions Committee on 25 October 2012 during consultations on the Committee’s activities and the midterm report of the GoE (S/2012/766). The report recorded numerous violations of all the measures, including the arms embargo, the travel ban and the restrictions on diamonds, during the previous six months. The report provided details of the regional geopolitical reach of the Ivorian anti-government forces and the illicit movement of arms into the country to support these forces. Furthermore, the GoE stated its concern regarding the lack of implementation of the sanctions measures imposed on Côte d’Ivoire by member states, which constituted a serious issue in the monitoring of both the arms and diamond embargoes.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 19 March, the independent expert on the situation of human rights in Côte d’Ivoire, Doudou Diène, presented to the Human Rights Council his report for the period 15 July-15 December 2012 (A/HRC/22/66 of 7 January 2013). The expert undertook his third visit to the country from 24 September to 12 October 2012. Diène reported that large-scale attacks that took place in August-September 2012 against the Forces Républicaines de Côte d’Ivoire (FRCI) in an attempt to destabilise the country resulted in the killing of 60 people including FRCI troops and civilians, wounded others and displaced populations in the west of the country. The FRCI reacted vigorously to these attacks, at times disproportionally, leading to human rights violations, including killings, arbitrary arrest and detention and torture. Diène also highlighted the persistence of intercommunity tensions, the resurgence of acts of sexual violence and serious violations against children and the urgent need to fight impunity.
The key overarching issue for the Council is the security situation, in particular the recent series of attacks against civilian populations, the government and UN personnel.
A related issue is the impact of such attacks on already existing divisions throughout the country, hampering the possibility of a credible political dialogue and national reconciliation.
Concerns about the upcoming 21 April elections are another related issue, given that the FPI has decided to boycott them and that UNOCI’s electoral assistance division was shut down.
In spite of the recent establishment of the National Security Council, SSR—including the DDR process—remains a key issue due to the ongoing circulation of large numbers of weapons in Côte d’Ivoire.
A closely related issue is how to control the flow and movement of arms in the country and the region and how to enhance the implementation of Council-imposed sanctions or whether to revise the existing sanctions to make them better suited to the current situation.
A further related issue, if contemplating easing notification requirements when renewing sanctions, will be to consider how non-lethal equipment (such as satellite phones or uniforms) can act as force multipliers.
A broader issue is the cross-border linkages of anti-government groups, which continue heightening the regional dimensions of the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire.
Options for the Council include:
- to maintain the sanctions regime without modifications and to renew the mandate of the GoE, strongly emphasising the need for compliance with the sanctions measures; or
- to sharpen further the sanctions regime in light of the anticipated downsizing of UNOCI by emphasising private companies’ responsibility for ensuring compliance with the sanctions and requiring the issuance of end-user certificates; and
- to emphasise the need for Côte d’Ivoire and all countries in the region to facilitate the work of the GoE by replying in a timely manner to its queries, granting access to all necessary documents, and ensuring that companies based in their countries do likewise.
At least one Council member, echoing Côte d’Ivoire’s worries, has expressed its reservations regarding the downsizing of the mission by one battalion before July. However, as the decision was already agreed upon in resolution 2062 (and deferred in October 2012 following a letter from the Secretary-General), no further questioning of this decision is expected. Regarding further downsizing, Council members might express different views, mainly if the conclusions of the GoE report on the compliance with the sanctions regime are rather pessimistic.
Also, while President Alassane Ouattara’s leadership has been hailed in recent Secretary-General’s reports, some Council members have shown frustration at the worsening of the security situation since last summer. In addition, accounts of retaliation and violent clashes initiated by pro-government militias might prevent the Council from easing the arms embargo when it comes to the provision of lethal equipment for the government, as Côte d’Ivoire has requested.
France is the penholder on Côte d’Ivoire, while Guatemala is the chair of the 1572 Côte d’Ivoire Sanctions Committee.
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 for 12 months, renewed the mandate of the Panel of Experts and rolled over most of the measures in resolution 1980.|
|31 December 2012 S/2012/964||This was a report on UNOCI.|
|29 March 2012 S/2012/186||This was a special Secretary-General’s report on the reduction of UNOCI’s military component.|
|Security Council Letters|
|16 October 2012 S/2012/772||This was a letter from the Secretary-General to the Council recommending a deferment in the reduction of UNOCI’s military strength.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|17 January 2013 S/PV.6902||This was a briefing by Albert Gerard Koenders, Special Representative and head of UNOCI, who focused on the current status of the reconciliation process, as well as in the areas of security sector reform and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration.|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|8 June 2012 SC/10668||The Council condemned the attack by unknown militia fighters which killed seven peacekeepers from Niger and eleven others in the southwest of Cote d’Ivoire near the Liberian border.|
|Sanctions Committee Documents|
|15 October 2012 S/2012/766||This was the midterm report of the Group of Experts on Cote d’Ivoire.|
OTHER RELEVANT FACTS
Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNOCI
Albert Gerard Koenders (Netherlands)
UNOCI Size and Composition Strength as of 31 January 2013:
418 international civilians, 767 local civilians, 9,361 troops, 195 military observers, 1,462 police and 179 UN volunteers
4 April 2004 to present