What's In Blue

Posted Fri 24 Jan 2014

Briefing and Consultations on Côte d’Ivoire

On Monday (27 January), the Security Council will be briefed by Aïchatou Mindaoudou Souleymane, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), on the latest report of the Secretary-General (S/2013/761) via videoconference. (It seems some Council members would have preferred Mindaoudou to brief in person as it will be her first briefing since her appointment in May and her arrival in the country last July.) Ambassador Youssoufou Bamba (Côte d’Ivoire) is also expected to make a statement. The briefing will be followed by consultations and no outcome is expected.

The Council was last briefed on UNOCI on 18 July 2013 by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous (S/PV.7004). Mindaoudou is expected to highlight the main progress and challenges presented in the Secretary-General’s latest report (S/2013/761). In spite of gradual improvements, the report notes an overall fragility in the security situation particularly along the border with Liberia. It also notes progress such as the adoption of land ownership and nationality laws, the endorsement of a comprehensive cross-border security strategy for states that are members of the Mano River Union, as well as efforts to advance the security sector reform agenda. It however raises concern with regard to one-sided justice focusing on persons affiliated with the regime of former President Laurent Gbagbo and with the delays in disarming former combatants.

One worrisome trend mentioned by the Secretary-General’s report that some Council members may want to raise is the resurgence of hate speech in some media outlets. Recent attacks against journalists include the killing of the editor of the magazine Tomorrow on 14 November, and the kidnapping of a journalist from the daily newspaper Le Nouveau Réveil on 18 November, who was released the following day.

Council members may also like to hear an update on any progress in terms of dialogue between the government and the opposition Ivorian Popular Front . Remaining deep political divisions are a concern, especially in view of the October 2015 elections and the gradual drawdown of the mission.

Cooperation between the International Criminal Court (ICC) and Côte d’Ivoire is likely to be a topic of discussion on Monday as the government announced last September that former first lady Simone Gbagbo would face trial in Côte d’Ivoire rather than in The Hague. Additionally, in January the government asked for more time to respond to an ICC request for Charles Blé Goudé, a notorious former ally of Gbagbo whose arrest warrant was unsealed last September, to be transferred to The Hague. (In resolution 2112, the Council urged the government to continue its cooperation with the ICC.)

As requested by resolution 2112, the latest Secretary-General’s report includes refined strategic benchmarks to measure progress in the achievement of long-term stability in the country as well as information on the ongoing analysis of the comparative advantages of UNOCI and the UN country team. Council members may be interested in discussing this analysis, particularly in relation to the areas identified by the report where the country team could in the near future assume some of UNOCI’s responsibilities, i.e. regarding gender, child protection and HIV/AIDS. The report indicates an increase in reported incidents of sexual and gender-based violence and that sixty percent of victims were children. The Secretary-General highlights a clear risk that “unless additional resources accompany the transfer of critical tasks to the country team, those tasks may no longer be performed at all, possibly undermining gains critical to the sustainability of peace and stability.”

An update on the drawdown of UNOCI could also be of interest to Council members as well as any challenges encountered in terms of security on the ground. Resolution 2112 renewed UNOCI for 11 months but reduced its military component to 7,137 military personnel.

Although not addressed in the Secretary-General’s report, the Council could ask to be updated on the timeline of the deployment of drones to monitor the Liberia-Côte d’Ivoire border. In his previous reports, the Secretary-General had mentioned that he intended to deploy unarmed unmanned aerial systems to UNOCI, following an assessment of their deployment in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The first unarmed aerial vehicle was launched on 3 December in the DRC.

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