What's In Blue

Posted Wed 25 Apr 2012

Côte d’Ivoire Sanctions Renewal

Tomorrow (26 April), Council members are scheduled to adopt a resolution renewing the Côte d’Ivoire sanctions regime for 12 months. The resolution, which will also renew the mandate of the Panel of Experts (PoE) that supports the 1572 Sanctions Committee, was put in blue this afternoon. Apparently the draft resolution rolls over most of the measures in resolution 1980. (Resolution 1980, adopted on 28 April 2011, renewed for a year an arms embargo, a ban on the diamond exports and targeted sanctions on a number of individuals.)

On 18 April, Ambassador Gert Rosenthal (Guatemala), the chair of the 1572 Committee, briefed Council members during consultations about the Committee’s activities and on the final report of the PoE. It seems that while most Council members were supportive of the progress made under President Alassane Ouattara, there was acknowledgement that many challenges remained, including violations of the arms embargo and continued diamond smuggling.

While some Council members indicated an interest in scaling back measures over time if the security situation improves, it appears that there was general agreement that sanctions could play a significant role in supporting Côte d’Ivoire’s post conflict recovery. This appears to have led to agreement that there should be no change in the Côte d’Ivoire sanctions regime for now but that there would be a midterm review of the measures by 31 October 2012. It seems possible that the sanctions regime could then be modified depending on progress made in relation to DDR and SSR, national reconciliation and the fight against impunity.

The latest report (S/2012/196) by the PoE, released on 14 April, contains detailed information on the issue of arms. (An arms expert joined the PoE on 20 December 2011.) It records numerous violations of the arms embargo – one of the key measures in the resolution – over the past year. It notes that “effective measures” need to be taken by neighbouring states to “dismantle the networks” carrying out arms trafficking into Côte d’Ivoire. It also calls for the opening of immediate “judicial investigations of those involved in such networks.”

A key new change in the draft resolution is that it introduces a level of flexibility to the arms embargo, approving “supplies of arms and other related lethal equipment to the Ivorian security forces, intended solely for support of or use in the Ivorian process of SSR, as approved in advance by the Committee.”

On diamonds, the report notes that significant illegal mining activity has been going on in the northern part of the country. This indicates that diamonds are being smuggled out in violation of the embargo and Kimberley process guidelines. The report called on the Ivorian government to “fully engage with all of its neighbours and Sierra Leone, in order to seek assistance and to take advantage of their experience and knowledge databases with regard to the development of Kimberley Process compliance and meeting the minimum requirements.”

In line with these findings, the draft resolution calls on the Ivorian authorities to “create and implement an action plan to enforce the Kimberley Process rules in Côte d’Ivoire.” It also calls on the government to work closely with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme to “conduct a review and assessment of Côte d’Ivoire’s internal controls system for trade in rough diamonds…with a view to possibly modifying or lifting” the sanctions on diamonds.

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