What's In Blue

Côte d’Ivoire Sanctions Committee Briefing

Tomorrow (25 October) Ambassador Gert Rosenthal (Guatemala), chair of the 1572 Côte d’Ivoire Sanctions Committee, will brief Council members in consultations on the midterm report (S/2012/766) of the Panel of Experts (PoE) that assists the Committee. The Committee discussed the report on 12 October and it does not seem likely that any action will be taken at this stage. (The final report of the PoE is due in April 2013 at which time the sanctions measures are also due to be renewed.)

There are a number of areas in the report that are likely to be of interest to Council members including the regional dimension of the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire. The report provides details of the geopolitical reach of the anti-government forces in Côte d’Ivoire and the illicit movement of arms into the country to support these forces.

The efforts by exiled supporters of former President Laurent Gbagbo, currently awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, to destabilise the region may also be brought to the attention of Council members. The PoE report revealed that at the end of June 2012, a meeting took place in a military camp in Bamako, Mali between representatives of pro-Gbagbo rebels and members of the military junta that seized power in Mali on 22 March, including coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo. The report notes that during the meeting, “members of the Malian Junta expressed interest in supporting destabilisation operations that would compromise efforts of ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] and its current Chairman, Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara, to promote peace and stability in the subregion.”

Other worrying developments highlighted in the report include the existence of a command centre infrastructure set up by the pro-Gbagbo rebels in Accra, Ghana as well as training camps in the dense rainforests of eastern Liberia. The report also cites military actions that have been conducted since early 2012 in Côte d’Ivoire from Ghana and the transfer of funds from Ghana to Liberia, which is identified as a recruitment platform and rear operating base..

Although the Council in resolution 2045 of 26 April, which renewed the mandate of the PoE and modified the existing arms embargo, specifically demanded that member states, particularly in the subregion, implement the sanctions measures, it appears that Council members may not be ready at this point to single out Ghana, Liberia or Mali.

It seems that a number of Council members have concerns about the report. Russia is of the opinion that the PoE overstepped its mandate in reporting on activities in Ghana and Mali. It seems that other Council members, including France and the US, believe the report might rely too much on anecdotal evidence, and that it has the potential of complicating what is already a very difficult situation in Mali.

On diamonds, the PoE reports extremely limited progress on the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. It states that there has not been any evidence of a “planned and executable import/export process to comply with the minimum requirements of the Kimberley Process”. It seems likely that the US, the current chair of the Kimberley Process, and South Africa who will take over as chair at the end of the year, will be particularly interested in these findings and the recommendation to guarantee support to the government of Côte d’Ivoire including on technical assistance during Kimberley Process planning and implementation phases.

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