Expected Council Action
In September, Council members expect to hold consultations to receive a briefing from José Ramos-Horta, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and the head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS), and discuss the most recent report of the Secretary-General on the restoration of constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau, issued on 21 August (S/2013/499). The Council is likely to take no action.
Key Recent Developments
The Council last considered Guinea-Bissau on 22 May, when it unanimously adopted resolution 2103 extending the mandate of UNIOGBIS until 31 May 2014 (S/PV.6968). Resolution 2103 established a revised ten-point mandate for UNIOGBIS, including democratisation, capacity-building, rule of law and human rights, drug trafficking and organised crime, peacebuilding and the coordination of international assistance. Previously, on 9 May, Ramos-Horta briefed the Council regarding the 6 May report of the Secretary-General on UNIOGBIS and the restoration of constitutional order (S/2013/262). Representatives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP), the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) and Guinea-Bissau also addressed the Council (S/PV.6963).
On 28 June, Transitional President Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo set a date for elections, announcing over state radio that “conditions are ripe for holding safe and secure legislative and presidential elections on November 24”. From 3-16 July, a Needs Assessment Mission led by the UN Department of Political Affairs, evaluated the pre-election environment. On 15 July, Ramos-Horta met with Nhamadjo to share the preliminary conclusions of the mission, which will make recommendations about how the UN can assist with the elections. On his private blog, Ramos-Horta disclosed that the government had proposed a $40 million election budget, but he thought that $15 million was more realistic. On 8 August, former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior, one of the two finalists for the second round presidential election that was aborted by the 12 April 2012 military coup, announced that he would return from exile in Portugal in order to contest the presidential election.
On 17-18 July, ECOWAS held a summit meeting on Guinea-Bissau and other regional issues. The final communiqué extended the mandate of the ECOWAS Mission in Guinea-Bissau (ECOMIB) until 16 May 2014 and reiterated the call for the lifting of sanctions on Guinea-Bissau and the re-engaging of bilateral donors. President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria echoed these themes when he addressed the summit stating that “the challenges facing Guinea-Bissau are complex in nature” and urging the EU and the AU “to recognise the transitional government and lift the sanctions on Guinea-Bissau, to allow the resumption of bilateral cooperation with the international community.”
On 18 July, Ramos-Horta attended a meeting of the Council of Ministers of the CPLP in Maputo, Mozambique. The ministers adopted a declaration on the situation in Guinea-Bissau urging political actors: to create conditions for the safe return of Bissau-Guinean citizens in exile, to hold elections with full respect for democratic processes and human rights, and to fight impunity and drug trafficking (S/2013/510). The declaration further noted that a lack of effective civilian oversight over the security apparatus threatens the functioning of state institutions. The CPLP also reiterated its commitment to coordinating with other international partners on Guinea-Bissau.
According to a report released by the World Food Programme (WFP) office in Guinea-Bissau, the country is facing a situation of high food insecurity. This is largely due to a sharp decline in the price of cashews, an industry that accounts for 90 percent of the export revenue and provides income for 80 percent of the population. The terms of trade between cashews and rice have declined from a one-to-one ratio to a three-to-one ratio (i.e., farmers have to sell 3 kilograms of cashews in order to buy 1 kilogram of rice). Ussama Osman, the WFP country director, stated that international sanctions and the suspension of aid to Guinea-Bissau were having a negative humanitarian impact. “There is need for immediate financial support from the donors”, he said. “They have to realize that political pressure, sanctions and boycott are punishing the most vulnerable”.
Human Rights-Related Developments
Ivan Šimonović, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, visited Guinea-Bissau from 7 to 11 July. He met with the transitional authorities and civil society representatives, while also visiting a prison in Mansoa and a detention centre and a hospital in Bissau. On 10 July, Šimonović attended a national conference on impunity, justice and human rights, stating that impunity remains the main challenge to the protection of human rights and the stability of the country. He said that the number of gross human rights violations has increased since the promulgation of the amnesty law in 2008 and following the 2012 coup. Šimonović stressed that certain human rights prerequisites must be in place for the 24 November elections to be free and fair.
The Council, in considering the Secretary-General’s latest report, will be principally concerned with the restoration of constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau.
More specifically, the Council is likely to be focused on how the UN can most effectively facilitate the 24 November legislative and presidential elections.
The ongoing challenges posed to Guinea-Bissau by drug trafficking and transnational organised crime could also be an issue of concern for the Council.
The Council may wish to consider the following options:
- requesting an update from the Secretary-General regarding progress in ensuring an adequate anti-drug component within UNIOGBIS;
- reiterating its encouragement for member states to provide financial backing for the work of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in Guinea-Bissau;
- requesting a briefing from the Electoral Assistance Division of the Department of Political Affairs regarding the assessment mission and preparations for elections; and
- issuing a presidential or press statement signalling the Council’s focus on the need for timely, free and fair elections.
Council and Wider Dynamics
Council members showed a high degree of unity with the unanimous adoption of resolution 2103. There also appears to be cautious optimism among Council members that UNIOGBIS under the leadership of Ramos-Horta will manage to fulfil those aspects of its near-term mandate relating to the facilitation of elections.
Nonetheless, while setting a date for legislative and presidential elections could be seen as a positive step toward the restoration of constitutional order, the Council is unlikely to substantively change its approach to Guinea-Bissau until more concrete progress has been demonstrated. For example, the call by ECOWAS for lifting sanctions is unlikely to be considered at this juncture.
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 May 2013 S/RES/2103||This resolution revised the mandate and structure of UNIOGBIS and extended it for one year.|
|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.|
|21 August 2013 S/2013/499||This report of the Secretary-General was on the restoration of constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau.|
|18 June 2013 S/2013/359||This Secretary-General’s report was on transnational organised crime and illicit drug trafficking in West Africa and the Sahel.|
|6 May 2013 S/2013/262||This was a consolidated report of the Secretary-General on UNIOGBIS and the restoration of constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau.|
|Security Council Letters|
|26 August 2013 S/2013/510||This letter transmitted to the Council two outcome documents from the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries meeting in Maputo, Mozambique.|
|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 May 2013 S/PV.6968||This meeting concerned adoption of resolution 2103.|
|9 May 2013 S/PV.6963||At this meeting, the head of UNIOGBIS briefed the Council.|
|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.|