Guinea-Bissau Presidential Statement and 2048 Sanctions Committee Meeting
The Security Council is ready to adopt a presidential statement tomorrow (13 September) that calls on the leadership of Guinea-Bissau to implement the 14 October 2016 Conakry Agreement. Senegal circulated an initial draft on 27 August, after the Council’s 24 August briefing and consultations on Guinea-Bissau (S/PV.8031). Following feedback from Council members, a meeting was held to discuss a revised draft text on 7 September. An initial silence procedure was broken by one member on 8 September, but agreement on the statement was finally reached on 11 September.
Though the negotiation on the presidential statement took time, there do not seem to have been very significant substantive differences. Much of the draft statement reflects the messages from the Council’s 11 May press statement on Guinea-Bissau. It expresses the Council’s deep concern about the unresolved political impasse, which it says is due to political leaders’ inability to reach a lasting and consensual solution, while describing the Conakry Agreement as offering a “historic opportunity” to create stability and build sustainable peace in Guinea-Bissau. In calling for the Agreement’s implementation, the draft statement highlights the importance of a consensus prime minister being appointed.
During the 24 August consultations on Guinea-Bissau, Special Representative and head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) Modibo Touré apparently suggested that the Council take a more robust posture on the possibility of sanctions to increase pressure, in particular on President José Mário Vaz and those around him, in order to advance the political process. ECOWAS has also threatened to impose sanctions on those that obstruct the implementation of the Conakry Agreement. The draft presidential statement retains previous language used by the Council in reference to sanctions by reiterating the Council’s “commitment to continue to monitor the current political crisis and expressing its readiness to take necessary measures to respond to further worsening of the situation in Guinea-Bissau”.
After the 7 September meeting on the draft text, Senegal placed the statement under silence procedure, which was broken by Russia. Russia objected to a new reference to “sustainable” peace, which had been added based on discussions during the meeting to a paragraph that outlines a number of concrete steps regarding reforms that the authorities should take. Russia proposed replacing “sustainable” with “lasting”. Its objections would seem to stem from its broader concerns regarding the implications of the “sustaining peace” agenda, in particular related to issues of state sovereignty. Sweden, the UK and the US apparently stated their preference to retain “sustainable”. Senegal circulated a revised draft text yesterday (11 September) that referred to “lasting and sustainable peace” in Guinea-Bissau, which passed a silence procedure early yesterday afternoon.
Among other messages, the draft presidential statement calls for the Economic Community of West African States Mission in Guinea-Bissau (ECOMIB) to continue operating beyond the expiration of its current mandate at the end of this month and invites international partners to support ECOMIB in this regard. The statement underlines the importance of holding legislative and presidential elections, currently scheduled for 2018 and 2019 respectively, including updating the voter registration list. As it has done throughout the two-year long crisis, in the draft statement the Council commends the defense and security forces for their non-interference in the political situation.
Regarding sanctions related to Guinea-Bissau, the 2048 Committee meets today (12 September) to discuss the Secretary-General’s 23 August report on progress made with regard to stabilisation and restoration order in Guinea-Bissau (S/2017/715). The report’s recommendations echo those of the Secretary-General’s previous reports in 2015 and 2016, that the Council, inter- alia, maintain the designation criteria and signal that sanctions measures are applicable to all spoilers, regardless of their political or institutional affiliation; adjust the measures and designations as needed; and establish a panel of experts. The meeting will likely further follow up on recent discussions in the Council and in the Committee on Ambassador Elbio Rosselli’s (Uruguay) 13 – 15 June mission to Guinea-Bissau as chair of the 2048 Committee.
Rosselli has raised the need to review the current designations, and the prospect of delisting these individuals who were sanctioned for their involvement in the April 2012 coup, since the military has stayed out of the political crisis and is widely recognised as not responsible for the current situation. Rosselli briefed the Council at the 24 August meeting, stating that the Council should have “a frank, critical and constructive review on this matter, including the definition of criteria for an eventual removal of names from the list”. Of the 11 designated individuals, one person (Sanha Clussé) died last year. At present, several Council members appear against delisting current individuals, with the exception of the deceased individual. They believe that maintaining the designations creates a deterrent to possible interference by the military amidst what is still a very fragile situation.