Expected Council Action
In June, the Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) before it expires on 30 June. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Côte d’Ivoire, Aïchatou Mindaoudou Souleymane, is also expected to brief the Council on recent developments and the Secretary-General’s report.
The current mandate of the French forces in the country also expires on 30 June.
Key Recent Developments
A strategic review of UNOCI and the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) conducted by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in February concluded that the situation in the Liberia-Côte d’Ivoire border area had considerably improved since 2012, encouraging the voluntary return of refugees (S/2014/342). Due to security improvements, the deployment of surveillance drones at the border—requested by Côte d’Ivoire last year—has been put on hold until further consultations with the government.
Recent events, however, call into question these conclusions about the improved situation at the border. On 15 May, 10 civilians and three soldiers were reportedly killed during an attack by gunmen in the south-western Côte d’Ivoire. The army retook control of the area on 16 May after launching a counter-offensive. This was the third attack reported near the border with Liberia since the beginning of the year, with the first two occurring on 23 February and 26 April.
At a 16 May meeting of the 1521 Liberia Sanctions Committee with its Panel of Experts (PoE), the PoE said it had determined that the 23 February attack was a politically motivated cross-border attack. Further investigations were needed to determine the nature of the two other attacks. The PoE warned that the number of such attacks could increase with the upcoming October 2015 presidential elections. Additionally, the latest report of the Group of Experts (GoE) of the 1572 Côte d’Ivoire Sanctions Committee noted that the mercenaries in Liberia and the Ivorian militia remained highly operational (S/2014/266).
Ahead of the presidential elections, tensions remain between the government and the former ruling party, Front populaire ivoirien (FPI). Following the 20 March decision by the government to transfer Charles Blé Goudé, an ally of former President Laurent Gbagbo, to the ICC, the FPI announced it would no longer participate in dialogue with the government. On 29 March, the FPI called for a boycott of the national census that began on 17 March. The government and the FPI resumed dialogue on 22 May.
A new coalition composed of 12 opposition parties under FPI coordination, the Alliance des forces démocratiques de Côte d’Ivoire (AFDCI), was created on 26 March. The AFDCI called on 3 April for the establishment of a new framework for discussions with the government, including a neutral mediator. Additionally, a new pro-Gbagbo political party, the Front populaire uni (FPU), was created on 19 April, distinguishing itself from the more radical opposition of the FPI.
On 9 April, the government approved a draft bill restructuring the composition of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). Following criticism from the opposition, the bill was later amended, but it remains controversial. On 28 May, the National Assembly adopted the bill. The Central Committee of the IEC was reduced from 31 to 17 members.
In resolution 2112 of 30 July 2013, the Council expressed its intention to consider reducing UNOCI’s troop strength by 1,700 military personnel between July 2014 and June 2015. In his latest report, the Secretary-General recommended that the Council take a prudent approach in downsizing the mission given the sensitivity of the electoral period. He called for a reduction of 1,100 troops by June 2015, with an additional reduction of 2,000 troops by mid-2016 after the peaceful conclusion of the 2015 elections. The Secretary-General also asked the Council to approve the establishment of a 650-troops quick-reaction force within UNOCI that could be deployed to Liberia in case of a serious deterioration in security there.
During a visit to Côte d’Ivoire on 10 May, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian of France announced that the French forces stationed in Côte d’Ivoire since 2002 would be restructured as of 1 January 2015 as an advance operational force that would support the fight against terrorism in the Sahel.
In justice-related developments, on 8 April the defence team for former First Lady Simone Gbagbo confirmed to the ICC her preference to be tried in Côte d’Ivoire.
On 24 April, Ambassador Cristián Barros (Chile), the chair of the Côte d’Ivoire Sanctions Committee, briefed Council members in consultations on the final report of the GoE (S/2014/266). On 29 April, the Council adopted resolution 2153, lifting the ban on importing rough diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire. It partially lifted the arms embargo, making a distinction between non-lethal and lethal arms, and eased the embargo on light arms. It renewed the modified sanctions regime until 30 April 2015 and the mandate of the GoE for 13 months.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 23 April, Doudou Diène, the independent expert on the situation of human rights in Côte d’Ivoire for the Human Rights Council (HRC), called for broad consultations with all political and civil society actors on the bill reforming the IEC. The IEC has been the most sensitive institution of the post-electoral crisis. Diène said political actors must reach consensus on the mapping of electoral districts and lists and on the composition of the IEC. The HRC will consider Diène’s report (A/HRC/26/52) during its June session.
Following its 29 April review of Côte d’Ivoire, the HRC’s working group of the Universal Periodic Review adopted a report on 2 May. Côte d’Ivoire accepted 178 of the 186 recommendations from the interactive dialogue, including those on accountability, sexual violence and national reconciliation. Another six recommendations will be examined by the country before September (A/HRC/WG.6/19/L.4).
The extent of UNOCI’s downsizing, in the period leading up to the 2015 elections is the key issue.
The resurgence of attacks along the Liberia-Côte d’Ivoire border is a key issue, especially in the context of Council discussions about whether and when to scale back or lift entirely the remaining Liberia sanctions.
Remaining deep political divisions is a key concern, especially while elections-related reforms are underway.
The revival of hate speech with a potential of inciting violence is a growing concern.
Main options for the Council include:
- authorising the reduction of UNOCI’s force by 1,100 troops by June 2015 as recommended by the Secretary-General; or
- maintaining the reduction of UNOCI’s force by 1,700 military personnel by June 2015 as expressed in resolution 2112.
The Council may also:
- authorise the establishment of a quick-reaction force within UNOCI that could provide support in Liberia;
- call on the government to undertake further efforts to ease political tensions ahead of the elections; or
- affirm its readiness to impose sanctions on individuals inciting public hatred.
Council members generally agree on the establishment of a quick-reaction force and the downsizing of the mission, while keeping in mind the remaining political and security challenges and the 2015 presidential elections. During the adoption of resolution 2153 on the Côte d’Ivoire sanctions, the US initially advocated for a more prudent approach than the one suggested by France with regards to easing the arms embargo. It remains to be seen whether this dynamic will reappear during the negotiations on UNOCI.
France is the penholder on Côte d’Ivoire.
UN Documents on Côte d’Ivoire
|Security Council Resolutions|
|29 April 2014 S/RES/2153||This resolution lifted the diamond embargo on Cote d’Ivoire and partially lifted the arms embargo. It renewed for a year the financial and travel measures on target individuals as well as the sanctions on arms and lethal material, and it renewed for thirteen months the mandate of the Group of Experts assisting the 1572 Sanctions Committee on Cote d’Ivoire.|
|30 July 2013 S/RES/2112||This resolution renewed the mandate of UNOCI until 30 June 2014.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|29 April 2014 S/PV.7163||This was the record of the meeting during which resolution 2153 was adopted.|
|27 January 2014 S/PV.7102||This was a briefing by Aïchatou Mindaoudou Souleymane, the Special Representative and head of UNOCI.|
|15 May 2014 S/2014/342||This was a report of the Secretary-General on Côte d’Ivoire.|
|Sanctions Committee Document|
|14 April 2014 S/2014/266||This was a final report of Group of Experts assisting the 1572 Sanctions Committee on Cote d’Ivoire.|