Expected Council Action
In April, Council members expect a briefing in consultations by the chair (Chile) or one of the vice-chairs (Australia and Rwanda) of the 1572 Côte d’Ivoire Sanctions Committee on the final report of its Group of Experts (GoE). A resolution renewing the sanctions measures and the mandate of the GoE (both of which expire on 30 April) is likely.
The mandate of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) expires on 30 June.
Key Recent Developments
Council members were last briefed on sanctions against Côte d’Ivoire in consultations on 24 October 2013, by Ambassador Gert Rosenthal (Guatemala), the then chair of the 1572 Côte d’Ivoire Sanctions Committee. He discussed the midterm report of the GoE which noted that while Côte d’Ivoire was focused on implementing a system of controls and statistics on the diamond-trading chain to meet the Kimberley Process (KP) Certification Scheme’s minimum standards, it failed to address the issue of diamond-smuggling in violation of the sanctions regime (S/2013/605).
KP Chair Welile Nhlapo briefed the Sanctions Committee on 9 December on the findings of the 22 November final communiqué from the KP plenary meeting. The communiqué noted that Côte d’Ivoire had fulfilled the KP Certification Scheme’s minimum requirements “as possibly could be achieved under the UN embargo”.
On 19-20 March, a ministerial delegation from Côte d’Ivoire held bilateral meetings with Chile, the current chair of the 1572 Sanctions Committee, and other delegations in New York to discuss the lifting of the diamond embargo.
The Sanctions Committee held an informal meeting on 21 March to discuss the elements to be included in a response to a note verbale dated 4 February 2014 from Côte d’Ivoire regarding its transition strategy towards the lifting of the diamond embargo. The Committee also discussed the resurgence of hate speech in media as mentioned by the Secretary-General in his last report on UNOCI (S/2013/761), considering the importance of the issue in the context of the upcoming presidential elections in October 2015. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) briefed on the most recent cases of hate speech and presented options for the Council to address this issue. The Committee decided to not take further actions at this stage but to continue monitoring this issue.
In other developments, on 13 January, the mandate of the Commission for Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation was renewed for another year.
Direct dialogue between the government and the opposition Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), resumed on 15 January, with 34 associates of former President Laurent Gbagbo released on 31 January. On 7 February, the prosecutor of the Abidjan court released another 48 individuals who had been detained since the 2010-2011 post-election crisis. Gbagbo’s son, Michel, was arrested on 14 February at Abidjan airport as he was trying to leave the country. He was subsequently released and prohibited from travelling outside the country due to the upcoming start of his trial for crimes committed during the post-election crisis.
Four soldiers of the Forces républicaines de Côte d’Ivoire were killed and two UNOCI peacekeepers injured in the south-western town of Grabo on 23 February. Investigations are ongoing to determine whether it was a cross-border attack from Liberia, in which case it would be the first such attack reported since March 2013. The latest report of the Panel of Experts of the 1521 Liberia Sanctions Committee revealed that the Bureau of Operational Intelligence of the Côte d’Ivoire Ministry of the Interior has been paying Liberian mercenaries not to launch attacks against Côte d’Ivoire (S/2013/683). On 12 and 14 February, Liberia arrested nationals of Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia suspected of recruiting mercenaries in counties bordering Côte d’Ivoire and subsequently handed them over to Côte d’Ivoire for further investigation.
During consultations on the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) on 20 March, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet briefed Council members on the strategic review of UNMIL and UNOCI conducted by DPKO in February. Mulet formulated preliminary recommendations for enhanced cooperation between the two peacekeeping operations, including the development of a UNOCI quick-reaction force. Specific proposals will be included in the next Secretary-General’s report on UNOCI, due in May.
The Council was last briefed on UNOCI on 27 January by Special Representative of the Secretary-General Aïchatou Mindaoudou Souleymane via videoconference (S/PV.7102).
On 22 March, Côte d’Ivoire transferred Charles Blé Goudé, a former Gbagbo ally, to the ICC after its Pre-Trial Chamber I rejected on 3 March a request to postpone his surrender to The Hague.
Human Rights-Related Developments
Doudou Diène, the Independent Expert for the Human Rights Council (HRC) on the situation of human rights in Côte d’Ivoire, visited the country from 11-23 February. Diène called on Côte d’Ivoire to resolve key issues before the October 2015 presidential elections, including the reform of the Independent Electoral Commission, the updating of the electoral list, the unbiased reintegration of ex-combatants, the organisation of trials related to the post-election crisis and reparation for victims of the crisis. Diène warned that provisional releases of detainees should not lead to a de facto general amnesty. Diène presented his latest report to the HRC on 25 March (A/HRC/25/73).
The key issue for the Council will be deciding whether and when the sanctions regime should be revised.
A closely related issue is how to enhance the implementation of the arms embargo in the country.
An ongoing issue is the security situation along the border with Liberia.
Remaining deep political divisions are a concern, especially in view of the October 2015 elections and the gradual drawdown of UNOCI.
Main options for the Council include:
- maintaining the sanctions regime without modifications and renewing the mandate of the GoE;
- welcoming progress with regards to the KP Certification Scheme minimum requirements and lifting the diamond embargo; or
- renewing the sanctions regime for a period shorter than a year, with a view to reviewing the sanctions regime before possibly modifying or lifting the sanctions.
Additional options include some or all of the following:
- creating more exemptions to the arms embargo;
- either easing the notification and authorisation-request requirements on arms transfers or incorporating further language to provide technical support to Côte d’Ivoire to make sure that all relevant information is included in these notifications;
- lifting targeted sanctions on individuals who are key to the reconciliation process in view of the 2015 elections; and, although less likely,
- threatening targeted sanctions against those in Côte d’Ivoire that are recruiting mercenaries.
A less likely option is for the Council to include in the resolution non-sanction related language, such as expressing concern at the resurgence of hate speech.
Council members have generally been in agreement on Côte d’Ivoire, including on the downsizing of UNOCI. On sanctions, most Council members have not yet formulated a position on the possibility of modifying the regime. Several Council members seem to be ready to lighten the sanctions regime, especially the diamond embargo. (The EU seems to be in favour of the possible lifting of the diamond embargo.)
Council members view the situation on the border as improving although they agree that they should remain vigilant to the mercenary threat. The Council has not yet resolved how to best address this issue.
During the negotiations last June on resolution 2112 to renew the UNOCI mandate, Rwanda raised some reservations about the language referring to the cooperation between the government of Côte d’Ivoire and the ICC. This issue is, however, unlikely to be raised until the next renewal of the mission mandate in June.
France is the penholder on Côte d’Ivoire, while Chile is the chair of the 1572 Côte d’Ivoire Sanctions Committee.
UN Documents on Côte d’Ivoire
|Security Council Resolution|
|25 April 2013 S/RES/2101||This resolution renewed the sanctions regime on Côte d’Ivoire and the mandate of the Group of Experts until 30 April 2014.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|27 January 2014 S/PV.7102||This was a briefing by Aïchatou Mindaoudou Souleymane, the Special Representative and head of UNOCI.|
|24 December 2013 S/2013/761||This was a Secretary-General report on UNOCI.|
|Sanctions Committee Document|
|11 October 2013 S/2013/605||This letter transmitted the mid-term report of the 1572 Sanctions Committee’s Group of Experts.|