What's In Blue

Posted Thu 21 Feb 2013

Renewal of the Guinea-Bissau Mission Mandate

The Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) tomorrow morning (22 February) for a period of three months, as recommended by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his 11 January report on Guinea-Bissau (S/2013/26). This will be the first renewal of the mission’s mandate since the 12 April 2012 coup.

While Council members are aware that the changed circumstances since the last renewal warrants possibly significant alteration to the UNIOGBIS mandate, at this point it appears that there will be no change to the mandate. It seems that negotiations on the mandate renewal were relatively straightforward and there was little appetite among
Council members to introduce anything new for either UNIOGBIS or the 2048 Guinea-Bissau Sanctions Committee. It appears that Council members want to give the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General, José Ramos-Horta, time to conduct an on the ground assessment. His observations, which will be reflected in the Secretary-General’s next report due at the end of April, will help inform the drafting of a new, potentially very different, UNIOGBIS mandate.

Although there are no fundamental changes to the mandate, the draft resolution apparently highlights a number of concerns including the importance of creating a conducive environment for elections and the need for a rapid return to constitutional order. It seems the draft text also includes language on the need to protect human rights, put an end to impunity and bring to justice those who commit human rights violations. (Some Council members appear to be concerned that those involved in political assassinations, dating back to before the 12 April coup have not been brought to justice.)

It seems that the Council also makes a direct reference to being willing to consider appropriate measures against those involved in drug trafficking and organised crime in Guinea-Bissau. (The Secretary-General has requested the creation of a panel of experts to investigate the identity and activities of those involved in drug trafficking and organised crime in Guinea-Bissau.)

Tomorrow’s resolution is also likely to express the Council’s intention to take into account the recommendations of an AU-led joint assessment mission to Guinea-Bissau in the drafting of a future UNIOGBIS mandate. The assessment mission, whose final report is yet to be issued, brought together five key international players—the AU, ECOWAS, the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries, the EU and the UN to assess the political and security situation in Guinea-Bissau, and to explore avenues for building consensus and promoting cooperation among the participating organisations.

It seems that the report’s recommendations will focus on a number of key areas, including the need for strong and coordinated international community engagement to ensure the inclusivity of the transition as well as political, financial and technical support towards the adoption of a new transitional regime pact and the holding of transparent, credible and open elections. The development of two action plans—one on defence and security sector reform and the issue of impunity and one on drug trafficking—is also likely to be raised in the report’s recommendations.

In consultations on 5 February, the Council received a briefing by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Tayé-Brook Zerihoun on the situation in Guinea-Bissau and on UNIOGBIS’ activities. Zerihoun highlighted key elements of the Secretary-General’s 11 January report, which noted that while there has been some progress in the transition process, impunity remains a major concern in the country. Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti (Brazil), Chair of the Guinea-Bissau configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, also briefed the Council, noting the continued suspension of projects under the Peacebuilding Fund since the 12 April coup.

In March the Council will have the opportunity to assess the situation in Guinea-Bissau further when a briefing on efforts to restore constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau is scheduled.

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