Expected Council Action
In June, the Council is scheduled to receive a briefing from the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), Aïchatou Mindaoudou, regarding the Secretary-General’s semi-annual report on UNOCI.
The Council is likely to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of UNOCI, which expires on 30 June. The authorisation of French forces supporting UNOCI, also due to expire on 30 June, may also be renewed by the Council.
Key Recent Developments
On 15 May, 13 politicians formed an opposition coalition, Coalition national pour le changement (CNC), to challenge incumbent President Alassane Ouattara and his ruling party, Rassemblement des républicains, in the presidential election this October. According to media reports, the CNC is largely composed of dissidents who have left the Parti démocratique de Côte d’Ivoire (which has backed Ouattara’s candidacy), such as former prime minister Charles Konan Banny and the ex-president of the national assembly Mamadou Koulibaly. Other members of the CNC include Aboudramane Sangare, who heads a faction of hardliners in the Front populaire ivoirien, the party of former president Laurent Gbagbo. The CNC’s charter calls for Gbagbo, who is in custody at The Hague awaiting trial by the ICC, and other “political prisoners” to be released.
The ICC announced on 7 May that the joint trial of Gbagbo and the former minister of youth, Charles Blé Goudé, would start on 10 November. (Before the ICC combined it with Goudé’s on 11 March, Gbagbo’s trial had been scheduled to start on 7 July.) Gbagbo and Goudé have each been charged with four crimes against humanity (murder, rape, other inhumane acts or attempted murder and persecution) during a period of post-election violence in Côte d’Ivoire between 16 December 2010 and 12 April 2011.
The Secretary-General’s 7 May report on UNOCI makes three main recommendations regarding the peacekeeping operation:
- extend UNOCI’s mandate for a period of one year;
- maintain UNOCI’s current authorisation of 5,437 military personnel and 1,500 police personnel and postpone any further drawdowns of deployed personnel until after the electoral period; and
- expand UNOCI’s electoral assistance mandate as outlined in the Secretary-General’s report of 12 December 2014.
More specifically, the electoral assistance would include deploying dedicated expertise to support the Special Representative’s good offices mandate, assisting national authorities in developing an operational plan for the October 2015 presidential election and providing limited logistical support.
Ambassador Cristián Barros (Chile), chair of the 1572 Côte d’Ivoire Sanctions Committee, briefed the Council on 22 April regarding the final report of the Group of Experts and a Committee meeting held on 10 April. He summarised several of the concerns outlined in the Group’s report, including the continued presence of “elements linked to the radical pro-Gbagbo group”; large amounts of unregulated arms and ammunition in the country; inadequate police capacity, particularly with respect to the need to maintain public order during the upcoming presidential election; a lack of cohesion in the military; an incomplete disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) process; and cross-border linkages among non-state armed groups in Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia.
On 28 April, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2219, renewing the targeted sanctions of the 1572 Côte d’Ivoire sanctions regime until 30 April 2016. These include a partial arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze. The mandate of the Group of Experts supporting the 1572 Côte d’Ivoire Sanctions Committee was also extended, until 30 May 2016. Following the vote, Ambassador Bafetigue Ouattara (Côte d’Ivoire) noted the “cautious posture” of Council members regarding any potential modification of sanctions preceding the October 2015 election, while stating his government’s support for completely removing the sanctions regime and continuing the drawdown of UNOCI toward a full withdrawal by early 2017.
Human Rights-Related Developments
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on 13 March welcomed the 9 March decision by the parliament of Côte d’Ivoire to eliminate capital punishment from its penal code. It had been abolished by the country’s constitution, which was adopted in 2000, but had remained in the penal code.
The independent expert on capacity-building and technical cooperation with Côte d’Ivoire in the field of human rights, Mohammed Ayat, provided the Human Rights Council with an oral update during its 28th session on 24 March. Referring to the upcoming presidential elections in October, he emphasised that continued efforts by the government to improve security were essential and that the most delicate task in connection with this was the DDR of former combatants. Some 30,000 combatants await demobilisation and reintegration. Dialogue with the opposition and listening to social movements were indispensable to further improve the security situation, he added. A written report will be submitted at the 29th session.
On 31 March, the Human Rights Committee—a body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by its state parties—adopted its concluding observations on the initial periodic report of Côte d’Ivoire. On 19 March, Committee members had raised concerns over judicial independence, long pre-trial detention, suspicions of torture carried out by the secret service, gender equality, the public participation of women in administration, marital and domestic violence, female genital mutilation and child trafficking. The work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in combating impunity was also raised, as were investigations into cases of enforced disappearances. Committee members welcomed reforms to the penal code and praised significant advancement in efforts to eliminate forms of child labour.
The main issue for the Council with respect to the situation in Côte d’Ivoire remains the potential for election-related violence in October similar to the clashes in 2010 and 2011, which resulted in more than 1,000 civilian deaths. Côte d’Ivoire’s long history of seven postponements of its presidential election from October 2005 to the eventual polls on 31 October and 28 November 2010 (initially with authorisation by the AU and endorsement by the Council, then via mechanisms of the Ouagadougou peace agreement, and finally unilaterally by then-President Gbagbo) coupled with the state’s institutional weakness for effectively managing the 2010 election, are worth keeping in mind during the current pre-election period.
In particular, numerous risk factors identified in reports by the Group of Experts and the Secretary-General remain of concern during the pre-election period, including:
- the continued presence of “radical” supporters of former president Gbagbo;
- widely held perceptions of victor’s justice by opposition party members;
- large amounts of unregulated arms and ammunition available in the country;
- weak police capacity for crowd control and a lack of cohesion in the military;
- thousands of former combatants yet to be included in the DDR process; and
- links between non-state armed groups in Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire.
With respect to UNOCI’s mandate, there seem to be three main options for the Council (in declining order of probability):
- following the Secretary-General’s recommendations by renewing the mandate of UNOCI for one year, maintaining current authorisation levels for troops and police at least until after the electoral period and adding new election-related components;
- renewing the mandate of UNOCI for one year, maintaining current authorisation levels for troops and police at least until after the electoral period, but not adding any new election-related components; or
- renewing the mandate of UNOCI for one year, but immediately continuing the drawdown process and not adding any new election-related components.
The Council could also consider requesting an interim 90-day oral briefing between now and October with a specific focus on election-related developments.
Council and Wider Dynamics
The renewal of the 1572 Côte d’Ivoire sanctions regime in April is likely indicative of how the Council will approach the upcoming mandate renewal of UNOCI in June. In his 22 April briefing to the Council, the Committee chair identified numerous factors potentially influencing the risk of future conflict in Côte d’Ivoire, particularly within the context of the upcoming presidential election. Cognisant of these factors, the Council renewed sanctions measures without modification for one year. Meanwhile, Ambassador Ouattara said the government of Côte d’Ivoire supports terminating the sanctions regime and continuing the drawdown of UNOCI but tacitly acknowledged that neither was probable until after the elections in October. There is likely to be strong support among Council members for the recommendations of the Secretary-General, particularly regarding maintaining UNOCI’s deployment levels during the pre-election period. Adding an electoral component, as was done with the UN Mission in Liberia for senatorial elections in December 2014, also seems probable.
France is the penholder on Côte d’Ivoire and Chile is the chair of the 1572 Côte d’Ivoire Sanctions Committee.
|Security Council Resolutions|
|28 April 2015 S/RES/2219||This was a resolution renewing sanctions measures (partial arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze) until 30 April 2016 and renewing the mandate of the Group of Experts until 30 May 2016.|
|25 June 2014 S/RES/2162||This resolution renewed UNOCI for a year; reinforced the role of the Special Representative in supporting political processes underway in Côte d’Ivoire; reduced UNOCI military and police components by 30 June 2015; and called for the establishment of a quick reaction force within UNOCI.|
|3 June 2005 S/RES/1603||This resolution endorsed the Pretoria Agreements, established a High Representative for the Elections in Côte d’Ivoire and renewed the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire’s mandate until 24 June.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|28 April 2015 S/PV.7436||This meeting concerned the adoption of resolution 2219.|
|22 April 2015 S/PV.7431||This was a briefing by Ambassador Cristián Barros (Chile), chair of the 1572 Côte d’Ivoire Sanctions Committee.|
|Sanctions Committee Document|
|13 April 2015 S/2015/252||This was the final report of the Group of Experts of the 1572 Côte d’Ivoire Sanctions Committee.|
|7 May 2015 S/2015/320||This was a report of the Secretary-General on UNOCI.|
|12 December 2014 S/2014/892||This was a report of the Secretary-General on UNOCI.|