Expected Council Action
In February, 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, on the latest and final report on UNOCI and recent developments.
The mandate of UNOCI expires on 30 June 2017, after which the mission is expected to be terminated.
Key Recent Developments
At its last meeting on Côte d’Ivoire on 28 April 2016, the Council unanimously adopted resolutions 2283 and 2284. The former terminated the sanctions regime, while the latter extended the mandate of the UN mission for a final period until 30 June. In line with resolution 2284, the military component of the mission will be withdrawn by 30 April while French forces will provide support for the mission until the end of its mandate on 30 June. Thereafter, the UN will continue its presence through its country team.
Following his re-election to the presidency in 2015, Alassane Ouattara vowed to initiate the process of reforming the constitution. Ouattara sought to modify the eligibility criteria for prospective presidential candidates. Under the constitution, both parents of a candidate had to have been born Ivorian citizens for the candidate to qualify for office. This issue has been at the core of the Ivorian crisis because of the substantial immigrant population in the north of the country. Ouattara was barred from running for the presidency in 2000 because of claims that his father was of Burkinabe origin. The ensuing civil war divided the country between the rebel-held north, which supported Ouattara, and the government-controlled south. During the 2010 elections and the crisis that followed, Ouattara’s opponents again claimed he was ineligible to run for office due to his alleged foreign origin.
On 11 October 2016, the parliament approved the new constitution that Ouattara had submitted earlier in the month. The new constitution sought to modify the eligibility criteria for presidential contenders by requiring that, in addition to being exclusively Ivorian, at least one of the candidate’s parents must be an Ivorian citizen by birth. Other changes included the creation of the post of vice president, who would be appointed by the president, and a senate. Some in the opposition claimed that Ouattara would use the vice presidency to establish a favourable successor to himself. Ouattara argued that the post of vice president would ensure continuity in case the president was unable to exercise his duties.
In a referendum held on 30 October 2016, Ivorians approved the new constitution, with more than 90 percent voting in favour. The turnout, which was about 40 percent, was lower than expected. The media reported sporadic violence at about 100 polling stations where opponents of the amendments tried to destroy ballot boxes and disrupt the vote. Some members of civil society and the political opposition had called for a boycott, arguing that drafting process was not inclusive and that voters were not properly informed about all the proposed changes. Nevertheless, Ouattara formally signed the new constitution into law on 8 November.
On 18 December 2016, the coalition of political parties led by Ouattara won an overwhelming majority in parliamentary elections, allowing him to form a new government. Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan dissolved the government on 10 January. The same day, Ouattara appointed Duncan to the new post of vice president. Guillaume Soro, a former leader of the rebel group Forces Nouvelles, was re-elected president of the National Assembly, a post he has held since 2012.
Concerns about the security situation emerged on 6 January when some elements of the army, demanding better pay and working conditions, mutinied against the government. Dissatisfied soldiers, predominantly former rebels integrated into the national army, took control of the second-largest city, Bouaké. Despite the mutiny, the situation was relatively calm, and no violence was reported. On 7 January, Defence Minister Alain-Richard Donwahi travelled to Bouaké to negotiate with the soldiers. Later that day, Ouattara announced that a deal had been reached with the rebellious soldiers to end a stand-off. While he acknowledged the soldiers’ grievances, Ouattara condemned the methods they had used to raise the issue with the government, which he said only damaged the image of the country following recent significant economic development. After the mutiny, Ouattara dismissed the heads of the army, police and gendarmerie.
On 13 January, a government delegation led by Donwahi held further negotiations with the soldiers in Bouaké. There were reports of gunfire in Bouaké and at other military installations throughout the country. The same day, both sides announced that an agreement had been reached though no details were made public. On 17 January, the government announced that it had started transferring funds to mutinous soldiers. Protests by soldiers erupted in several other cities that day, including in the capital, Yamoussoukro, where at least two soldiers were reportedly killed during the unrest. According to media reports, soldiers in other parts of the country wanted to receive the same compensation as the soldiers in Bouaké who initiated the revolt.
Human Rights-Related Developments
The Human Rights Council (HRC) considered the report of the independent expert on capacity-building and technical cooperation with Côte d’Ivoire in the field of human rights, Mohammed Ayat, during its 32nd session in June 2016 (A/HRC/32/52). The report, covering the period from 12 November 2015 to 31 May 2016, welcomed the progress that Côte d’Ivoire had made but also cautioned that challenges remained in terms of ensuring reconciliation and justice and the consolidation of democracy and human rights.
On 1 July 2016, the HRC adopted a resolution renewing the mandate of the independent expert for a final period until 30 June 2017. The resolution requested the independent expert to present his final recommendations to the HRC at its 35th session.
On 11 July 2016, a joint report by UNOCI and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on rape crimes and their prosecution in Côte d’Ivoire, covering the period from 1 January 2012 to 31 December 2015, concluded that rape crimes and impunity remain a problem and recommended a number of measures, including accelerating the implementation of the national strategy against gender-based violence and revising the criminal code to include a definition of rape and other forms of sexual violence.
In a statement on 20 January following his 10-17 January visit to Côte d’Ivoire, Ayat praised the successful organisation of the 2015 and 2016 elections and expressed satisfaction at the publication of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Dialogue Committee in November 2016, calling for its recommendations to be studied closely. Ayat further said that the government must continue to reform the security sector and strengthen institutions to preserve its achievements, noting his concern at military and police mutinies, violent incidents in Abidjan and civil servants’ strikes. He urged the government to adjust the handover plan with UNOCI and the UN country team to ensure necessary support for the promotion of human rights.
The most prominent issue for the Council is the ongoing drawdown of the UN mission and its imminent termination at the end June.
In light of the recent mutinies by soldiers throughout Côte d’Ivoire, an increasingly important issue for the Council will be monitoring closely the ability of the government to maintain security and political stability in the country.
The mutiny exposed several potential risk factors that the Council will follow closely. These are mainly the lack of cohesion in the military and inadequate control and command.
Considering the ongoing drawdown of the mission and the prevailing view among members that the country is relatively stable, the most likely option is for the Council to receive the briefing and take no action.
However, should the mutiny continue and threaten stability and security in the country, the Council could adopt a statement urging the relevant actors to defuse the tensions and resolve the issues through dialogue.
In the extreme case of an escalation of violence, the Council could consider delaying the termination of the UN mission and using the remaining UN troops or even authorising reinforcements to assist in restoring order.
Council members have maintained a common position on Côte d’Ivoire during the past several years. France, the former colonial power and penholder, has been the most prominent advocate for the UN to disengage from the country. In April 2016, France led the proposals in the Council to terminate the sanctions regime (resolution 2283) and extend for one last time the mandate of the UN mission (resolution 2284). In overwhelmingly supporting these actions, Council members indicated that Côte d’Ivoire has become a well-functioning country with a vibrant economy and security forces that are capable of maintaining security in the country. However, some members might question the assertions of stability in the country following the recent mutiny and could raise this during the meeting.
|Security Council Resolutions|
|28 April 2016 S/RES/2284||The Council extended the mandate of UNOCI for a final period until 30 June 2017, after which the mission would be terminated.|
|28 April 2016 S/RES/2283||The Council adopted a resolution terminating the sanctions regime in Côte d’Ivoire.|
|31 March 2016 S/2016/297||This was the special report of the Secretary-General on UNOCI.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|28 April 2016 S/PV.7681||This was the vote on resolutions 2284 and 2283.|
|Security Council Press Statement|
|14 March 2016 SC/12279||This was a press statement on the terrorist attack in Côte d’Ivoire.|