What's In Blue

Mandate Renewal of UN Mission in Guinea-Bissau

Tomorrow (23 February), the Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) until 28 February 2018. The adoption follows last week’s briefing and consultations with the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to Guinea-Bissau, Modibo Touré, on the continuing political crisis that has left the country without a fully functioning government for a year-and-a-half (S/PV.7883). Senegal circulated an initial draft on 16 February. Members did not meet on the draft text, and the draft resolution was put in blue on Tuesday following comments by email.

The draft resolution fully endorses the recommendations from a recent strategic review regarding the need for UNIOGBIS to refocus its efforts towards political capacities in support of the Special Representative’s good offices and political facilitation role, and to streamline its management structure. The Secretary-General’s 7 February report (S/2017/111), which outlines the findings of the December 2016 strategic review, recommended restructuring UNIOGBIS’s “operational posture” by strengthening its political capacities, which could be done by freeing up resources from its programmatic capacities. The mission has found it difficult to move forward with its programmatic activities due to the unresolved political crisis.

The draft resolution endorses the 14 October 2016 Conakry Agreement. The agreement, signed by Bissau-Guinean actors, outlined a plan for implementing the ECOWAS-brokered 10 September roadmap that the sides agreed to for resolving the political crisis. However, there has been little progress in its implementation. The draft resolution calls upon stakeholders to strictly respect and comply with the Agreement and the roadmap.
This includes emphasising the importance of passing reforms outlined in the Agreement to address structural causes of the crisis and related to the upcoming 2018 and 2019 elections. Explicit language has been added to the priority areas of the mandate of UNIOGBIS for the mission to support the review of the constitution. The lack of clarity in the constitution over the distribution of power between the president and prime minister has been considered one of the precipitating causes of the crisis.

In the draft resolution, the Council encourages ECOWAS to continue to engage in its good offices and mediation efforts. It further encourages ECOWAS to consider extending the mandate of the ECOWAS Mission in Guinea-Bissau (ECOMIB) and urges bilateral regional and international partners to consider providing financial assistance to sustain the force. ECOMIB has been credited with deterring potential military interference during the crisis. In December 2016, however, the ECOWAS Authority, reiterated its intention to withdraw ECOMIB when its mandate ends at the end of June 2017. In contrast to the last two years, Council members did not have divergent views on streamlining drug trafficking references in the resolution. This perhaps reflects concerns that transnational organised crime groups could take advantage of the political impasse.

The new draft resolution seems to echo the unanimity members expressed during their 14 February meeting on Guinea-Bissau with Touré, who depicted a political situation that is becoming more tense and polarised. During consultations, it seems that all members expressed support for the Conakry Agreement, and the importance of its implementation. Members further echoed support for the proposed restructuring of UNIOGBIS. Following the meeting, Council members issued press elements which included encouraging ECOWAS to maintain ECOMIB’s presence beyond June 2017, and for international partners to consider extending their support to the force. There was no discussion on using the threat of sanctions during consultations, nor apparently during exchanges on the draft text. This is something the Secretariat has previously suggested the Council may wish to consider, including for those persistently violating or ignoring the Conakry Agreement. The resolution calls for a Secretary-General’s report to the 2048 Guinea-Bissau sanctions committee in August on the continuation of the sanctions regime, as previous resolutions have done over the last two years.

Last week, the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) and the Peacebuilding Commission’s (PBC) Guinea-Bissau country configuration held meetings on Guinea-Bissau. In the AU PSC’s communiqué from its 13 February meeting and in the statement issued following the PBC country configuration’s 15 February meeting, similar calls were made calling upon the sides to implement the Conakry Agreement and the Roadmap.

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