What's In Blue

Posted Fri 13 Jun 2014

Briefing and Consultations on Côte d’Ivoire

On Monday (16 June), the Security Council will be briefed by Aichatou Mindaoudou Souleymane, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), on the 15 May report of the Secretary-General (S/2014/342). Ambassador Youssoufou Bamba (Côte d’Ivoire) is also expected to make a statement. The briefing will be followed by consultations. France, the penholder on Côte d’Ivoire, circulated a draft resolution renewing UNOCI’s mandate, which expires on 30 June, on 10 June. Negotiations started on 12 June and, at press time, adoption was scheduled for 25 June.

In addition to highlighting the main progress and remaining challenges in Côte d’Ivoire outlined in the Secretary-General’s report, Mindaoudou is also likely to discuss significant developments since then. She may address relations between the government and the former ruling party, Front populaire ivoirien (FPI). The FPI announced that it would no longer participate in dialogue with the government due to the transfer of Charles Blé Goudé, an ally of former President Laurent Gbagbo, to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 20 March. Furthermore, the FPI called for a boycott of the national census on 29 March.

However, the parties resumed dialogue on 22 May. There may be interest from Council members in learning more about what prompted the renewal of talks on 22 May, the substantive issues that have been discussed by the government and the FPI in recent weeks and how much progress is being made on them. During the 22 May talks, the government agreed to release 150 additional detainees close to Gbagbo and asked the FPI to lift its boycott on the national census. So far, however, only 50 detainees have been released, and the FPI has not ended its boycott call on the census. The impact of the FPI boycott and the likelihood of its lifting may be an issue discussed on Monday.
Progress on electoral reforms ahead of the October 2015 presidential elections may also be a point of interest for Council members. The National Assembly adopted a law restructuring the composition of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) on 28 May, which reduces the IEC Central Committee from 31 to 17 members.

The security situation in western Côte d’Ivoire is also likely to be a topic of discussion on Monday. On 15 May, 10 civilians and three soldiers were reportedly killed during an attack by gunmen in Fété in the south-western Côte d’Ivoire. The attack highlighted the capacity challenge faced by the local authorities to address security issues. As observed by the Secretary-General’s report, Côte d’Ivoire still faces threats to its stability, and the root causes of the conflict, including land and nationality issues, remain to be addressed. In this sense, progress and challenges in terms of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR); security sector reform (SSR); and accountability for human rights violations may also be part of the briefing. Additionally, some Council members will be interested in hearing whether the resurgence of hate speech in the media remains a concern ahead of the October 2015 presidential elections.

Mindaoudou may update Council members on the Gbagbo case before the ICC. On 12 June, the Preliminary Chamber of the ICC confirmed the charges of crimes against humanity against Gbagbo and moved the case to trial.

Mindaoudou is expected to express support for the Secretary-General’s recommendation to adopt a prudent approach in downsizing the mission given the sensitivity of the electoral period. In resolution 2112 of 30 July 2013, the Council expressed its intention to consider reducing UNOCI’s troop strength by 1,700 military personnel between July 2014 and June 2015. In his latest report, however, the Secretary-General called for a reduction of only 1,100 troops by June 2015. While the majority of Council members, including the P3, seem to be in favour of the intentions expressed in resolution 2112, some Council members would prefer a more cautious reduction of the number of troops, as envisaged by the Secretary-General.

In his latest report, the Secretary-General also asked the Council to approve the establishment of a 650-troop quick-reaction force within UNOCI that could also be deployed to Liberia in case of a serious deterioration in security there. He recommended that the Council allow all military aviation assets of UNOCI and the UN Mission in Liberia to be utilised in both Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia. Most Council members seem to agree with these recommendations, but a few delegations would like to obtain more information on the functioning of this quick-reaction force and its terms of reference. Further discussion on this topic is expected on Monday.

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