Expected Council Action
In August, the Council will receive a briefing on Guinea-Bissau from the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Modibo Touré, followed by consultations. Ambassador Antonio de Aguiar Patriota (Brazil), chair of the Peacebuilding Commission’s (PBC) Guinea-Bissau configuration, is also expected to brief.
Also in August, the 2048 Committee is expected to consider a Secretary-General’s report on the Guinea-Bissau sanctions ahead of a Council review of the sanctions in September.
The mandate of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) expires on 28 February 2017.
Key Recent Developments
August will mark one year since President José Mário Vaz dismissed the government of Domingos Simões Pereira, triggering Guinea-Bissau’s ongoing political crisis.
On 7 March, the Council visited Guinea-Bissau. At the time, Guinea-Bissau was facing an impasse in the National Assembly over whether 15 dissident members of parliament from the majority African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) could retain their seats. In meetings with Vaz, Simões Pereira and others, members urged them to resolve the crisis through dialogue and on the basis of the country’s laws and constitution.
On 5 April, the Supreme Court ruled that the 15 deputies could retain their seats. With this ruling, Prime Minister Carlos Correia was unable to have his national programme approved. On 12 May, Vaz dismissed the Correia government.
On 26 May, Vaz appointed Baciro Djá as prime minister. Vaz had named Djá prime minister in August 2015 after dismissing Simões Pereira, but Djá resigned when the Supreme Court determined that the appointment was unconstitutional. This second appointment occurred after Vaz requested a proposal for a new government from the opposition Party for Social Renewal, which has formed a coalition in the National Assembly with the 15 dissident PAIGC deputies. Upon announcing the appointment, members of Correia’s cabinet refused to leave the government palace, claiming they would only hand over their offices to a government nominated by the PAIGC, which remained the majority party. For two weeks, national guard forces surrounded the building. Following negotiations mediated by religious leaders and the international community, the stand-off ended on 9 June with the former government agreeing to leave the palace. On 15 July, the Supreme Court ruled that Vaz’s latest appointment of Djá was constitutional.
Amidst these tensions, the heads of state and government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) held their 49th ordinary session on 4 June. They renewed the mandate of the ECOWAS Mission in Guinea-Bissau (ECOMIB) for an additional year. This ended worries that ECOMIB, credited with deterring military interference, would withdraw at the end of June without new donor funding, which was offered by the EU. ECOWAS leaders further decided to dispatch a presidential mission to Guinea-Bissau, comprising the presidents of Guinea, Senegal and Sierra Leone. Thirdly, the ECOWAS Commission was requested to consult with the Community of Portuguese Language Countries to organise a meeting of the International Contact Group on Guinea-Bissau (ICG-GB). The presidential mission has yet to visit Guinea-Bissau and there has been no announced plan for holding an ICG-GB meeting.
Also in June, the International Monetary Fund suspended its loan programme to Guinea-Bissau due to the government’s bailout of two banks in July 2015. On 1 July, the government announced Guinea-Bissau’s first three known cases of Zika virus.
Council members have discussed Guinea-Bissau several times since returning from their visit. They discussed developments on 13 May under “any other business” in consultations and again in consultations on 26 May, issuing press elements after both meetings calling for the sides to resume dialogue. On 14 June, Touré briefed the Council via video teleconference. The next day, members issued a press statement expressing support for ECOWAS’s 4 June decisions and signalling their readiness to take necessary measures to respond if the situation worsened. On 25 July, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman visited Guinea-Bissau, meeting with Vaz, other key political actors, the Supreme Court president, civil society and the diplomatic corps.
Developments in the PBC
On 16 May, the Guinea-Bissau country configuration issued a statement highlighting the need to mobilise resources for ECOMIB. On 9 June, it received a briefing from Touré and issued a statement supporting the outcomes of the recent ECOWAS summit.
Angola previously proposed that Patriota accompany the Council in Guinea-Bissau during its visiting mission. This was opposed by the US, it seems with backing of other permanent members.
Human Rights-Related Developments
During its 32nd session, the Human Rights Council considered the report of the special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Mónica Pinto, who visited the country from 10 to 16 October 2015 (A/HRC/32/34/Add.1). The report contains a number of conclusions, including that impunity is rampant, political instability is high and the crimes of the past are still to be addressed. The report also found that the treatment of cases does not always respect due process, and judicial delays often amount to a denial of justice; in addition, judges, prosecutors, lawyers and court staff are not adequately trained to discharge their professional functions and corruption is widespread, including among actors in the justice system. The report’s recommendations include taking urgent measures to establish tribunals (foreseen in the country’s constitution to settle “social disputes”, whether civil or criminal) and the necessary corresponding prosecution offices; conducting a comprehensive review of domestic legislation to harmonise its content with the country’s international obligations; and effectively investigating and prosecuting all serious human rights violations and politically motivated crimes.
How the Council can support efforts to end the political crisis is a key issue.
The possibility of military interference remains a concern.
The impact of the political crisis on government services and socio-economic conditions is of increasing concern. Related to this is donors’ withholding of pledges from the 2015 Brussels donor conference.
Within the 2048 Sanctions Committee, important issues will include any recommendations of the Secretary-General about how sanctions or the threat of sanctions might be used to address the crisis; the possible role of a panel of experts, such as to monitor donor aid and drug trafficking; and de-listing of individuals no longer meeting the sanctions criteria.
The Council could adopt a presidential statement:
- expressing continued concern over the ongoing political and institutional crisis;
- urging the deployment of the ECOWAS presidential mission;
- encouraging the ICG-GB to hold a meeting to strengthen the coherence of international diplomatic efforts;
- further encouraging the inclusion of key Bissau-Guinean political actors at such a meeting to agree on a stability pact; and
- commending the military for its continued non-interference.
Senegal has been active in keeping the Council’s attention on Guinea-Bissau. As its neighbour, Guinea-Bissau’s stability is of paramount importance to Senegal, in particular to avoid the resurgence of conflict in the Casamance region. Angola, which is a member of the CPLP, also is keenly interested in developments. More broadly, the Council mission to Guinea-Bissau heightened members’ concerns over the situation as it exposed the depth of divisions. They remain concerned about the risk of military interference, which would undo the international community’s efforts, both political and financial investments, following the 2012 coup. Members are further concerned that such regional problems as organised crime, drug trafficking, piracy and terrorist groups may benefit from the political stalemate or a deterioration of the situation.
There is frustration among members that the Council’s actions, which included the visiting mission, and the region’s close engagement have been unable to end the stalemate. For some members, however, as long as this remains an internal political dispute, it is not necessarily an issue for the Council, despite the presence of UNIOGBIS.
Other dynamics include different views on the use of sanctions, with some members likely to oppose any expansion of the regime. There are some diverging views over disbursing donor funds. Countries that made pledges at the Brussels conference in 2015 have withheld distributions, noting that conditions have greatly changed since then. This money also represents some of the international community’s potential leverage. Some members, though, believe more should be done to disburse funds that can help the general population. A dynamic that has played out over the last two years has been efforts by several elected members to reduce references in the UNIOGBIS resolutions to drug trafficking. The P5 have opposed such changes. For that reason, this year’s resolution renewing UNIOGBIS called on the Secretary-General to include in his reporting an assessment of progress towards combatting drug trafficking so that members would have a common understanding of the problem.
Senegal is the penholder on Guinea-Bissau. Uruguay is chair of the 2048 Committee.
UN Documents on Guinea-Bissau
|Security Council Resolution|
|26 February 2016 S/RES/2267||This was a resolution renewing the mandate of UNIOGBIS for one year.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|14 June 2016 S/PV.7714||This was a briefing on Guinea-Bissau’s ongoing political crisis.|
|Security Council Press Statement|
|15 June 2016 SC/12405||This press statement expressed support for decisions taken at the 4 June ECOWAS summit and encouraged national actors to abide by the constitution and the rule of law.|