Expected Council Action
In February, the Council is expected to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS), which expires on 28 February. Prior to the renewal, Special Representative Miguel Trovoada is expected to brief on the Secretary-General’s UNIOGBIS report. Ambassador Antonio de Aguiar Patriota (Brazil), as chair of the Guinea-Bissau country configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), will also brief. Consultations will follow the briefing.
Key Recent Developments
Since the restoration of constitutional order following parliamentary and presidential elections in April and May 2014, the situation in Guinea-Bissau has progressed positively overall. On 11 November 2014, the National Assembly reactivated the Commission for Constitutional Review, which will be chaired by National Assembly President Cipriano Cassamá. The National Assembly has also reactivated the national dialogue and reconciliation process, with the expectation of holding a national conference on reconciliation in 2015.
On 13 November 2014, the defence minister established a committee to review the list of military personnel that the Permanent Secretariat for the Security Sector Reform Steering Committee presented on 15 September. In total, the list identifies 2,282 personnel to be retired over a five-year period, including 753 individuals in the first year. The list of names is included as part of a proposal on retirement packages for the military and police.
On 2 December 2014, Guinea-Bissau reopened its border with Guinea, which had been closed since 14 August to prevent the spread of Ebola.
Amidst renewed international engagement, the first meeting of the International Contact Group on Guinea-Bissau in more than two years was held in New York on 18 November 2014, bringing together representatives of almost 60 countries and inter-governmental organisations. The Contact Group issued a communiqué afterwards welcoming the government’s planned reforms. It further supported the need to maintain the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Security Mission in Guinea-Bissau (ECOMIB), which is assigned to carry out security sector reform (SSR) and maintain security, and invited the Council to coordinate the mission with UNIOGBIS’ mandate. The Contact Group also called on international partners to participate in an international donor conference to be held in Brussels (the donors’ roundtable is scheduled for 26 March). Meanwhile, ECOWAS extended the mandate of ECOMIB on 15 December 2014 for six months until 30 June.
The Council last met on Guinea-Bissau on 18 November 2014 and on 25 November, it adopted resolution 2186 renewing UNIOGBIS’ mandate.
The 19 January report of the Secretary-General on Guinea-Bissau included the findings and recommendations of a strategic assessment mission conducted by the UN from 3 to 14 November 2014 as requested in resolution 2157 to ensure that UNIOGBIS’s future mandate is aligned with the new government’s priorities. The report emphasises that a continued cooperative relationship between Guinea-Bissau’s political leaders—in particular, the president, prime minister and president of the National Assembly—remains essential for continued progress. While the report indicates that the current UNIOGBIS mandate remains relevant, it recommends strengthening the mission’s role in good offices, support to a national dialogue and reconciliation process and coordination of international partners and mobilisation of international assistance. The Secretary-General additionally recommended the Council support ECOMIB’s continuation.
Developments in the PBC
An informal meeting of the Guinea-Bissau configuration was held on 21 January 2015. Christopher Coleman of the Department of Political Affairs briefed on the outcome of the strategic assessment mission. Guinea-Bissau’s Prime Minister, Domingos Simões Pereira, and Trovoada also addressed the configuration and exchanged views with members on preparations for the upcoming donor roundtable.
Human Rights-Related Developments
Guinea-Bissau’s second Universal Periodic Review was held on 23 January at the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/WG.6/21/GNB/1). The report lists recommendations of the first periodic review in 2010 that have not been implemented, including enacting a law protecting human rights defenders and journalists and ratification of the Rome Statute of the ICC, the optional protocol to the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights, the international convention for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance and the optional protocol to the convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, among other treaties.
The main issue will be renewing the UNIOGBIS mandate, including possible adjustments based on the findings of the strategic assessment mission.
Supporting sustained international attention on Guinea-Bissau to help the government fulfil its reform agenda, and avoid an unravelling of recent progress, is another issue. In this regard, the upcoming donors’ roundtable will be important.
The financial strains facing ECOWAS to continue supporting ECOMIB entirely on its own is an important issue. Related to this is progress in SSR.
On-going issues are the fight against drug trafficking, natural resource management, the national reconciliation process and combatting impunity.
The resolution renewing UNIOGBIS’s mandate may:
- increase the emphasis on the Special Representative’s good-offices role and the mission’s activities in supporting national dialogue and reconciliation and in coordinating international partners and mobilising assistance;
- maintain tasks for strengthening democratic governance, strategic and technical advice to rule of law institutions, support to SSR, assistance to combat drug trafficking, human rights promotion, protection and monitoring, and mainstreaming a gender perspective in peacebuilding;
- strongly appeal for the international community to support the upcoming donor’s conference; and
- encourage countries to support ECOMIB financially and with personnel.
Council and Wider Dynamics
The Council tends to follow the lead of Guinea-Bissau’s partners, ECOWAS and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP). Council member Nigeria, also a member of ECOWAS, is ECOMIB’s main contributor. New Council member Angola, which is a CPLP state, had a security sector reform mission, the Angolan Military Mission, in Guinea-Bissau until the 12 April 2012 coup. The Angolan mission was replaced by ECOMIB amidst tensions with the Guinea-Bissau military and West African countries. Now these differences, along with the divisions that existed between CPLP and ECOWAS following the coup, have greatly improved, demonstrated by the reactivation of the Contact Group.
Nigeria would like greater burden-sharing for the ECOMIB mission as it faces challenges being the force’s primary contributor. At the last Council meeting, several speakers appealed for financial support for ECOMIB, including Prime Minister Simões Pereira.
The Council additionally seems to have strong confidence in Patriota as PBC country-configuration chair for Guinea-Bissau. Nigeria is the penholder on Guinea-Bissau.
|Security Council Resolutions|
|25 November 2014 S/RES/2186||This was a resolution renewing the mandate of UNIOGBIS for three months.|
|29 May 2014 S/RES/2157||This resolution renewed UNIOGBIS for a further six months.|
|19 January 2015 S/2015/37||This was a report on the activities of UNIOGBIS, including the findings of the UN strategic assessment mission to Guinea-Bissau.|
|Security Council Letters|
|11 November 2014 S/2014/805||This was the Secretary-General’s assessment of UNIOGBIS.|
|23 July 2014 S/2014/529||This Council letter requested a written update from the Secretary-General on the comprehensive review of UNIOGBIS by 12 November 2014.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|18 November 2014 S/PV.7315||This was a briefing on the situation in Guinea-Bissau.|