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UN Mission in Côte d’Ivoire: Presidential Statement Marking the Mission’s End

Tomorrow (30 June), the Security Council is expected to adopt a presidential statement that welcomes the completion of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI). France, the penholder on Côte d’Ivoire, circulated a draft statement to the wider membership last Friday (23 June). Following one round of negotiations yesterday (28 June), the draft passed through silence procedure today.

In April 2016, the Council adopted resolutions 2283 and 2284 which respectively ended the Côte d’Ivoire sanctions regime and extended the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission for a final time, until 30 June. The military component of UNOCI completed its withdrawal on 30 April and the mission is scheduled to finalise the process of transition to the UN country team by tomorrow (30 June), when UNOCI’s mandate formally ends.

On 2 June, the Council heard the final briefing on the situation in Côte d’Ivoire by Aïchatou Mindaoudou, Special Representative and head of UNOCI. Mindaoudou emphasised that Côte d’Ivoire has made significant progress in the 13 years since UNOCI was deployed. On the political front, she said that Côte d’Ivoire had held successful presidential elections in 2015, as well as successful legislative elections that included the participation of all major political parties and a constitutional referendum in 2016. Nevertheless, Mindaoudou voiced some concern regarding the soldiers’ revolts earlier this year, noting that she had called on the government to improve the army’s discipline and to carry out further security sector reform.

Mindaoudou highlighted three lessons she had learned from her experience in Côte d’Ivoire that she suggested could be useful in other peacekeeping contexts. First, a peacekeeping mission needs to work with a government that is determined to assume “its responsibilities to the people it serves” to be successful. Second, she noted that the leadership of the Council is important, referring to the “risks that [it] was able to take that led to the success of UNOCI, starting with the strong political mandate bestowed upon my predecessors and myself and supported by the trust of the Security Council.” Third, she said that peacekeeping was “much more likely to succeed…where there is a coalition of international partners working to achieve the same goal of peace,” referring to the efforts of the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), women members of civil society groups, and others with regard to Côte d’Ivoire.

In their statements, Council members said that peacekeeping had been successful in Côte d’Ivoire, while also commending the government for the progress made. Several Council members pointed out that the lessons learned from UNOCI could be useful for improving future peacekeeping operations.

The final UNOCI briefing provided the Council members an opportunity to assess the mission’s work, and highlighted key issues that were incorporated into the draft presidential statement produced by France. In the draft presidential statement, the Council takes note of the briefing by the Special Representative, including the assessments, lessons learned, and recommendations proposed in her briefing.

In addition to welcoming the important contribution of UNOCI in promoting peace, stability and development, it commends the government for progress achieved in consolidating peace, stability and economic prosperity. The statement calls on the government to continue to address the remaining challenges such as security sector reform, national reconciliation, and human rights. It emphasises that despite the withdrawal of UNOCI, the UN will continue to support the country in sustaining peace. It further welcomes the ongoing engagement of the Secretary-General and the UN Country Team in supporting the government’s efforts to preserve and consolidate peacebuilding gains.

Côte d’Ivoire, as well as many members of the Council, has previously emphasised that lessons learned from UNOCI should be used to improve future peacekeeping operations, a point echoed by Mindaoudou in her recent briefing. To address this, the presidential statement requests the Secretary-General to undertake a comprehensive study of the role of the mission and other relevant factors in stabilising the situation in Côte d’Ivoire leading to the successful completion of UNOCI’s mandate. It notes that the study should contain lessons learned and recommendations for the purpose of enhancing effectiveness of the UN peacekeeping. This seems to be the first time the Council has made such a request to the Secretariat following the closure of a mission. It is taking place in the context of a renewed push to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of UN peace operations.

The negotiations on the draft were generally smooth and there seem to have not been any controversial issues. Several members proposed some minor changes to the initial draft. Sweden suggested adding a paragraph commending regional and subregional organizations (such as the AU, ECOWAS and the Mano River Union) for their efforts in consolidating peace in Côte d’Ivoire. The draft statement includes language welcoming the commitment of the government to countering terrorism and violent extremism and fighting organised crime; it appears that the language on organised crime was added as a result of the desire of Italy and Russia to address illicit arms trafficking and illegal migration.

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