Expected Council Action
In May, the Council expects a briefing by José Ramos-Horta, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) on the Secretary-General’s consolidated report due 30 April that will cover UNIOGBIS and the restoration of constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau.
The Council is likely to adopt a resolution extending the mandate of UNIOGBIS, which expires 31 May.
Key Recent Developments
On 22 February, the Council reauthorised UNIOGBIS in resolution 2092 for a period of three months, thus allowing for a substantive re-evaluation of the mandate in May based in part on a forthcoming assessment by Ramos-Horta. The Council last discussed Guinea-Bissau in consultations on 6 March, following the 28 February report of the Secretary-General on the restoration of constitutional order (S/2013/123). The Council was apparently divided on whether or not to consolidate the reporting cycles for UNIOGBIS and the reports on the restoration of constitutional order (requested in resolution 2048). Proponents cited increased efficiency while opponents suggested more frequent meetings would signal greater Council interest.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the AU and the UN have each recently called for legislation for the restoration of constitutional order. ECOWAS issued a communiqué on 28 February encouraging interim President Manuel Serifo Nhamajo to propose a feasible transitional roadmap for the conduct of free and fair general elections during 2013, urging the National Assembly to promptly adopt the plan and extending the transitional period until 31 December. On 14 March, Ramos-Horta publicly called for the adoption of a roadmap for the transition by the end of the month. Similarly, on 22 March the AU Peace and Security Council urged local political actors to accelerate efforts to propose and adopt a transitional roadmap. The transitional roadmap is currently under consideration by the National Assembly.
On 23 March, the AU released the report of the Joint ECOWAS/AU/CPLP/EU/UN Assessment Mission to Guinea-Bissau, which was based on a trip to Guinea-Bissau from 16-21 December 2012 by representatives of the five organisations. The joint mission considered a wide range of issues facing Guinea-Bissau, including a stalled transition and electoral process, the need for security sector reform, impunity for human rights violations, drug trafficking and socioeconomic decline. The joint report emphasised the urgent need for a pacte de régime (a combined and revised transition pact and political agreement) ensuring the inclusivity and legitimacy of required governance reforms. The report also called for the re-engagement of the international community in Guinea-Bissau, with particular attention to modes of coordination and harmonisation.
The UN also conducted a separate technical assessment mission (TAM) in Guinea-Bissau from 16-27 March. The TAM—composed of officials from UN offices in Brindisi, Dakar, Geneva and New York—held meetings with various national stakeholders and international partners. The principal objective of the TAM was to make recommendations regarding potential changes to the mandate, structure and strength of UNIOGBIS. Based on the preliminary findings of the TAM, UNIOGBIS may be restructured, but the mandate and resources of the mission are less likely to be considerably altered.
In a move with potentially significant ramifications for the political transition process in Guinea-Bissau, on 2 April the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) arrested the former chief of the Guinea-Bissau navy, Admiral José Américo Bubo Na Tchuto. He was charged with conspiracy in an arms-for-cocaine deal, in which DEA informants impersonated Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) rebels. Guinea-Bissau’s top intelligence official, Serifo Mane, was suspended in the aftermath of Na Tchuto’s arrest. In a subsequent indictment on 18 April, the US also charged Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Antonio Injai with four counts of conspiracy related to importing cocaine from Colombia and exporting arms intended for the FARC. Injai is also currently under UN sanctions for his role in the 12 April 2012 coup.
Regarding the humanitarian situation, on 26 March the World Food Programme (WFP) announced that it had been forced to temporarily suspend food aid for an estimated 278,000 people (more than one-sixth of Guinea-Bissau’s population of 1.6 million) due to a lack of funding. WFP had not yet received donations to support the $7.1 million annual country budget. Guinea-Bissau, ranked 176th out of 187 countries surveyed by UNDP’s Human Development Index, is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 69 percent of the population living on less than two dollars a day and 33 percent living on less than one dollar per day.
The principal issue before the Council in May will be determining the preferred mandate, structure, strength and duration of UNIOGBIS.
The restoration of constitutional order remains a key area of concern for Council members.
Organised crime, especially in the form of drug trafficking, has become a conspicuously high-profile issue and may draw increased attention in the Council.
One option for the Council would be to authorise an expansion of UNIOGBIS, including increased staff and resources, in light of the recommendation in the joint assessment report for the international community to substantially re-engage in Guinea-Bissau.
An additional option for the Council would be, in line with its intention signalled in resolution 2092, to strengthen the sanctions regime by increasing the number of people targeted, broadening the type of sanctions beyond a travel ban, establishing a Panel of Experts and explicitly adding organised crime and drug trafficking as designation criteria.
Alternatively, the Council could authorise the addition of enhanced institutional capacity for UNIOGBIS to tackle drug trafficking and organised crime in collaboration with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
Council and Wider Dynamics
The successful conduct of a joint assessment by the UN, AU, EU, ECOWAS and the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP) could be an encouraging sign of increasing cooperation among international and regional actors.
However, there is also a difficult legacy of rivalry between ECOWAS and CPLP in Guinea-Bissau to overcome, pre-dating the Angolan Military Mission in Guinea-Bissau and the 12 April 2012 coup.
The UN, AU, EU and CPLP have also differed with ECOWAS on the issue of recognising the transitional government. ECOWAS has requested the AU to lift its suspension of Guinea-Bissau’s membership and asked the international community to ease the sanctions imposed on the country
The arrest of Na Tchuto and the indictment of Injai suggest the US has given new emphasis to targeting drug trafficking in West Africa, but it remains unclear what implications this may have for the political transition in Guinea-Bissau. To what extent this might affect US positions in the Council is also an open question.
Finally, there is a degree of optimism among Council members and other key stakeholders regarding the appointment of Ramos-Horta as the Special Representative. It is hoped that his experience and standing may help bridge differences among critical actors.
Togo is the penholder 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 Presidential Statements|
|21 April 2012 S/PRST/2012/15||This statement was on the coup in Guinea-Bissau.|
|28 February 2013 S/2013/123||This was the report of the Secretary-General on the restoration of constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau.|
|11 January 2013 S/2013/26||This was the Secretary-General’s report on UNIOGBIS covering developments since 17 July 2012.|
|Security Council Letters|
|31 December 2012 S/2012/974||This letter concerned the appointment of Jose Ramos-Horta as Special Representative and head of UNIOGBIS.|
|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 briefing was on developments in Guinea-Bissau and UNIOGBIS activities by the Department of Political Affairs and by Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotto (Brazil), the PBC configuration chair.|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|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.|
|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.|
Other Documents on Guinea-Bissau
PSC/PR/COMM.(CCCLXI) (22 March 2013) was a communiqué of the AU PSC.
053/2013 (28 February 2013) was a communiqué of the ECOWAS Authority.
OTHER RELEVANT FACTS
Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNIOGBIS
José Ramos-Horta (Timor-Leste)
UNIOGBIS Size and Composition
Strength as of 28 February 2013: 61 international civilians, 52 local civilians, two military advisers, 13 police, seven UN volunteers
Chair of the Guinea-Bissau Sanctions Committee
Ambassador Mohammed Loulichki (Morocco)
Chair of the Guinea-Bissau Configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission
Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti (Brazil)
ECOWAS Mission in Guinea-Bissau (ECOMIB) Size and Composition
Strength as of 29 November 2012: 677 soldiers and police from Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Senegal