What's In Blue

Posted Tue 21 May 2013

Renewal of UN Mission Mandate in Guinea-Bissau

Tomorrow, 22 May, the Security Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution extending the mandate of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) for a period of one year. The current authorisation of UNIOGBIS is due to expire on 31 May. The draft resolution was circulated on Wednesday night and, following three days of expert level negotiations, went under silence today until 2 pm and is now in blue.

On 22 February, the Council reauthorised UNIOGBIS in resolution 2092 for a period of three months, in anticipation of a more substantive re-evaluation of the mandate in May following a forthcoming assessment by José Ramos-Horta, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNIOGBIS, who had just been appointed to the position.

Council members appear to have been strongly influenced by the Secretary-General’s recommendations. In his report of 6 May on Ramos-Horta’s technical assessment mission in Guinea-Bissau (S/2013/262), the Secretary-General recommends a two-phase process towards full restoration of constitutional order and medium-term stability in the country. The report provides recommendations for revisions to the mandate of UNIOGBIS which have been largely followed in the draft resolution.

Under this re-adjusted mandate, UNIOGBIS will be involved in the following areas: (1) national reconciliation, (2) elections, (3) democratic institutions, (4) criminal justice, (5) security sector reform, (6) drug trafficking and organised crime, (7) human rights, (8) gender in peacebuilding, (9) peacebuilding partnerships and (10) donor coordination. The draft resolution also supports the Secretary-General’s recommendation for restructuring, which would add a second Deputy Special Representative and two regional field offices.

The theme of organised crime and drug trafficking is prominent in the draft resolution, mentioned in seven preambular paragraphs and six operative paragraphs. This is also an area that was highlighted in Ramos-Horta’s briefing to the Council on 7 May, where he stressed the negative impact of transnational organised crime and drug trafficking on Guinea-Bissau’s peace and stability.

The Secretary-General’s recommendation for a panel of experts and sanctions regime targeting drug traffickers to be established by the Council was not taken up by Council members. Although a few members appeared supportive of the idea during the briefing and consultations last week, it appears that no one was willing to push for inclusion of this recommendation in the draft resolution. It seems some members argued that having an anti-drug component within UNIOGBIS would be more effective and immediate than sanctions and a panel of experts. Others did not like the independence of a panel of experts while it seems Togo is generally reluctant to impose sanctions against Guinea-Bissau.

Instead, the draft resolution requests the Secretary-General to ensure that UNIOGBIS has the relevant capacity and expertise to fight drug trafficking. It also calls upon the authorities in Guinea-Bissau to adopt and implement national organised crime legislation, encourages members of the international community to cooperate toward more effective air control and maritime surveillance, requests the Special Representative to coordinate UN anti-drug activities, and encourages the provision of technical support to Guinea-Bissau to combat organised crime.

One area that was a subject of extended discussion in negotiations was reference to “national authorities” and “Guinea-Bissau authorities”. Argentina and Guatemala were uncomfortable with the Council indirectly or implicitly conferring undue legitimacy on the current regime in Guinea-Bissau by referring to them as “authorities”. Other Council members, particularly Togo, argued that this was accepted language which had already been used in resolution 2092. (ECOWAS, of which Togo is a member, recognises the transitional government in Guinea-Bissau unlike the UN, AU, EU and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries.) Some Council members further argued that recent trends have been toward democratisation and therefore the terminology should not be controversial, but Argentina and Guatemala countered that this would be sending the wrong message to Guinea-Bissau as the democratic transition process remains far from complete. Ultimately, the references to “national authorities” and “Guinea-Bissau authorities” remained in the draft resolution, but there was some change to the language on depicting the nature of recent developments in Guinea-Bissau to take into account concerns about painting too positive a picture.

There had been some discussion in past consultations regarding UNIOGBIS and the 2048 Guinea-Bissau Sanctions Committee reporting cycles and whether or not they should be consolidated. Some Council members had suggested consolidation would be more efficient, while others had stated that more frequent reporting would signal greater Council intent or that the issues are discrete and should be treated separately by the Council. In a compromise solution, this resolution “resets the clock” for the UNIOGBIS and 2048 reporting cycles: future reports will be issued according to 180 day and 90 day intervals respectively from the date of adoption. When the reporting cycles coincide (as half of the quarterly 2048 reports will do with the semi-annual UNIOGBIS reports), they will be “concurrent” rather than “consolidated”.

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