What's In Blue

Posted Mon 11 Jun 2012

Côte d’Ivoire Consultations

This afternoon (11 June), the Council is scheduled to be briefed in consultations by Hervé Ladsous, head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), on the killings of seven UN peacekeepers in Côte d’Ivoire on Friday 8 June. (The timing of the consultations was confirmed only this morning.) It seems unlikely that there will be Council action following today’s consultations, although members are not ruling out further Council response as new information concerning the attacks comes to light.

The peacekeepers, all from Niger, were apparently shot by unknown militia fighters in the southwest of Côte d’Ivoire, near the Liberian border. A few hours after news of the attack reached New York on Friday afternoon, the Council issued a press statement (SC/10668) – introduced by France – condemning it “in the strongest terms.” The statement expressed concern about the “prevailing insecurity in western Côte d’Ivoire and the border area, and continued cross-border movements of armed elements, including militias and mercenaries.” (On its visiting mission to West Africa in May, the Council visited the Côte d’Ivoire/Liberia border so familiarity with the region and the issues at play should be high.)

The activities of mercenaries in this border area were discussed in the 7 December 2011 Panel of Experts’ (PoE) report on Liberia (S/2011/757), which was discussed by the Council on 9 December 2011. A substantial part of that report dealt with the impact of the return of an estimated 4,500 Liberian mercenaries who had been hired and deployed by former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo. The report noted that many of these mercenaries are now engaged in illicit gold mining and can be easily mobilised.

Additionally, the Côte d’Ivoire Group of Experts’ midterm report (S/2011/642), which was submitted on 17 October 2011, reported that after the serious nation-wide violence following presidential elections in November 2010, “thousands of weapons still remain unaccounted for” and these weapons “pose a threat to the stabilisation of the country.” The report cited the views of government interlocutors that the threat is particularly palpable in the west of the country, bordering Liberia. (The Group’s final report, contained in S/2012/196 of 14 April, reiterated those concerns about the need for the Ivorian authorities to effectively address disarmament and related issues and its important role in stabilising the country.)

On 7 June, after reports about the increasing threats posed by these militias, the Liberian government issued a statement. It noted the “numerous initiatives” Liberia had taken to “mitigate and eliminate the threats of insecurity to both [Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire] posed by the presence of non-state actors along the vast border areas” between the two countries.

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