Expected Council Action
In January, the Council is expected 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 mandate of UNOCI expires on 30 June 2016. Current sanctions—a partial arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban—expire on 30 April 2016, while the mandate of the Group of Experts expires on 30 May 2016.
Key Recent Developments
A charged electoral environment characterised the run-up to Côte d’Ivoire’s presidential election in October 2015. A faction of the Front populaire ivoirien (FPI), the party of former president Laurent Gbagbo, continued to call for a boycott of the elections, and a number of unauthorised protests organised by the opposition were broken up by security forces, including demonstrations on 10 September 2015 that became violent in several cities and led to three deaths. Over the course of the official election campaign from 9 to 23 October 2015, three candidates dropped out of the race, alleging that the election would not be fair and also calling on their supporters to boycott the vote.
Despite the tensions, the election occurred on 25 October 2015 without significant incidents and was judged positively by the approximately 5,000 international and national monitors who observed the poll. According to provisional results published on 28 October, President Alassane Ouattara was re-elected in a landslide, receiving 83.6 percent of the vote, with the next leading candidate, Affi N’Guessan of the FPI, obtaining just 9.3 percent of the vote. Voter turnout was reported at 52 percent. N’Guessan and other candidates conceded defeat that same day. The FPI faction that boycotted the election rejected the outcome, claiming irregularities. The Constitutional Council confirmed the results on 2 November. Ouattara was sworn in on 3 November 2015.
In other developments, on 28 October 2015, the International Criminal Court announced that the joint trial of Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé would be postponed from 10 November 2015 to 28 January 2016 in order to evaluate Gbagbo’s fitness to stand trial.
The Secretary-General’s 8 December 2015 report characterised the security situation in Côte d’Ivoire as “generally stable but fragile”. A worrying trend were attacks on two Malian towns near the Côte d’Ivoire border on 10 and 28 June 2015 that were claimed by the extremist group Ansar al Dine. An estimated 15 assailants carried out attacks in the early morning of 2 December 2015 against two army camps in Olodio in Côte d’Ivoire’s southwest, killing 11 Côte d’Ivoire soldiers. Four attackers were also killed. Security forces subsequently arrested eight other assailants.
In November 2015, the Council approved the temporary deployment of troops from UNOCI’s quick-reaction force to the Central African Republic (CAR) for a period not to exceed eight weeks. They will reinforce the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the CAR ahead of the upcoming constitutional referendum and first round of elections there. On 26 November 2015, 250 UNOCI troops deployed to the CAR.
The Secretary-General’s latest report recommended that, in light of the successful presidential election, UNOCI reduce its military component to 4,000 personnel by 31 March 2016 from its current total of 5,412 personnel. (UNOCI’s authorised military component is 5,437 personnel.) While noting that the presidential election was a key milestone, the Secretary-General’s report raised several concerns. These include the fact that Côte d’Ivoire continues to struggle with the divisive issue of who is an Ivoirian national, and that further progress in national reconciliation is needed, such as publicly releasing and discussing the report of the Dialogue, Truth and National Reconciliation Commission, which the government has not done. The report further noted the slow pace in holding perpetrators of crimes committed during the 2010 post-election crisis accountable, the prevalence of sexual violence and high rates of criminality.
Côte d’Ivoire has experienced strong post-conflict economic growth over the past year. The International Monetary Fund projected in September that the country’s economy would expand by 8.4 percent in 2015 and experience similar growth in 2016.
On 17 December, while briefing the Council, Ambassador Cristián Barros (Chile), the chair of the 1572 Côte d’Ivoire Sanctions Committee, noted that Côte d’Ivoire had made important steps in re-establishing its democracy and in regaining control over its territory. He stated that a strong argument could be made for lifting the sanctions regime in the near future.
The Committee last met on 11 September 2015 to discuss the interim update report of the Group of Experts. (A Committee meeting scheduled for 16 December 2015 had to be cancelled, and at press time the statements prepared by the planned briefers, Côte d’Ivoire Ambassador Claude Stanislas Bouah-Kamon and the Coordinator of the Group of Experts, were expected to be circulated to Committee members.)
Human Rights-Related Developments
The independent expert on human rights in Côte d’Ivoire, Mohammed Ayat, visited the country for the third time from 2 to 12 November 2015. In a 13 November press release, Ayat praised the success of the October 2015 presidential elections and commitments to strengthen national reconciliation, adding that no human rights violations were recorded during the October poll. However, the pursuit of all those responsible for serious human rights violations since the beginning of the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire and the fight against impunity remain major challenges for reconciliation, he said.
The key issue is the future of UNOCI, in particular the mission’s drawdown and possible termination. A strategic review of UNOCI will be conducted in early 2016 to develop options and timelines for UNOCI’s eventual withdrawal; those will be provided in a report to the Council expected by the end of March.
In addition to the successful conduct of the presidential election, important issues in considering UNOCI’s conclusion include the security situation on ground, Ivorian security forces’ capacity to maintain stability and the political environment around legislative elections scheduled for December 2016.
Connected with the drawdown of the mission is the eventual termination of the 1521 Côte d’Ivoire sanctions regime.
The Council may approve through a letter or resolution the Secretary-General’s recommendation to reduce the military component of UNOCI to 4,000 personnel by 31 March 2016.
A resolution could additionally:
- commend Côte d’Ivoire for the peaceful and successful conduct of the 25 October 2015 presidential election;
- reiterate the importance of Côte d’Ivoire’s making further progress on issues such as national reconciliation, promoting human rights and addressing sexual violence; and
- state that the Council looks forward to receiving options and recommendations on UNOCI’s future in the Secretary-General’s special report due in March.
There is a great deal of support among Council members for the drawdown of UNOCI and its future withdrawal. After the presidential elections in October, support among members for downsizing and terminating UNOCI and ending the sanctions regime will likely be stronger. A number of members hold the view that the operation might be terminated by the end of 2016 and that the sanctions regime might be ended in coordination with that or possibly sooner.
France is the penholder on Côte d’Ivoire. Chile has been the chair of the 1572 Sanctions Committee, a role that will be taken over by incoming member Uruguay in 2016.
UN DOCUMENTS ON CÔTE D’IVOIRE
|Security Council Resolutions|
|25 June 2015 S/RES/2226||This was a resolution extending the mandate of UNOCI for an additional year.|
|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.|
|8 December 2015 S/2015/940||This was on the situation in CÃ´te d’Ivoire.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|17 December 2015 S/PV.7586||This was a briefing by the chairs of subsidiary bodies.|