What's In Blue

Posted Wed 16 Jan 2013

Côte d’Ivoire Briefing and Consultations

Tomorrow afternoon (17 January), the Security Council will be briefed by Albert Gerard Koenders, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), followed by consultations. It seems that a press statement may be issued following the meetings, although no formal Council pronouncement is required. (UNOCI’s current mandate expires on 31 July 2013.)

Council members are anticipating that Koenders will focus on the key issues raised in the Secretary-General’s 28 December 2012 report (S/2012/964), in particular the current status of the reconciliation process in Côte d’Ivoire, as well as security sector reform and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration matters. At the forefront of members’ minds will be the series of security incidents that took place between August and October 2012, which seem to have highlighted the need for a stronger and more effective security sector. (These incidents included attacks targeting security forces in and around the largest city, Abidjan, as well as along the borders with Ghana and Liberia. According to the Secretary-General’s report, the attacks were aimed at destabilising the government of President Alassane Ouattara and were allegedly linked to allies of former President Laurent Gbagbo.)

Council members will be keen to hear Koenders’ views on these incidents and what actions are underway to increase the effectiveness of the armed forces, as well as the police and gendarmerie. In this context, Koenders is also likely to discuss progress on the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of former combatants.

The recent attacks also drew attention to the political fractures and mistrust that remain in Côte d’Ivoire more than 18 months after the violent post-election crisis. It seems that the attacks may have further focused Council members’ minds on the issues of political dialogue and reconciliation and the efforts of the Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the country.

Council members will also be interested in hearing updates from Koenders on the upcoming local elections, which were originally slated for February 2013, although there are now indications that these will be postponed. It seems that the possible postponement of the elections may present an opportunity to further engage the political opposition and ensure an inclusive national reconciliation process, an issue that is likely to be discussed among Council members tomorrow.

Some Council members may also take the opportunity to express their concern at the human rights situation in Côte d’Ivoire, including on the need for due process and equitable justice for perpetrators of human rights violations—loyal to both President Outtara and former President Gbagbo—following the post-elections crisis.

It seems that most Council members generally agree on the key issues related to UNOCI, including the need to strengthen the security sector, and tomorrow’s consultations are not likely to be contentious. As the Council is not required to take any decision with regard to its mandate, members have the option of expressing their concern regarding the reconciliation process and the security situation through a press statement although the Council could equally choose to simply continue to watch the situation closely at this time.

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