posted on Mon 29 Jul 2013 4:50 PM
UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire Mandate Renewal

Tomorrow (30 July), the Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution extending the mandate of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) for eleven months, until 30 June 2014. The draft resolution was circulated by France among P5 members on 22 July and to all Council members on 23 July. It was placed under silence procedure on 26 July and put in blue today (29 July). It seems that the negotiations went relatively smoothly and were not contentious.

It appears that the draft resolution will adjust the military component to 7,137 personnel, therefore reducing UNOCI’s troops by two battalions by 30 June 2014, and expresses the Council’s intention to consider a further reduction of up to two additional battalions by 30 June 2015, based on the conditions on the ground. The draft resolution goes beyond the Secretary-General’s recommendation to progressively reduce UNOCI’s military by two battalions by mid-2015, as expressed in his special report on Côte d’Ivoire submitted to the Council on 28 March (S/2013/197) and reiterated in his latest report on UNOCI dated 26 June (S/2013/377).

While Council members agreed on the proposal to reduce not one but two battalions by June 2014, it seems one member at first raised concern on the extent of the drawdown, arguing that the Secretary-General’s recommendations were based on an evaluation and assessment made in the field. It appears that those objections were subsequently withdrawn.

The Council met most recently on Côte d’Ivoire on 18 July, when it heard a briefing (S/PV.7004) by the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, followed by consultations, on the most recent UNOCI report of the Secretary-General. The briefing focused on the key issues raised in the report, in particular in the areas of security sector reform, disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration, justice, reconciliation, and remaining security threats. As the report mentioned that the Secretariat had begun to explore options for establishing a quick-reaction force within UNOCI, some Council members wanted Ladsous to clarify what such a force would entail in the consultations.

Another issue raised in the consultations was the potential deployment of unarmed, unmanned aerial systems to UNOCI following an assessment of their effectiveness in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (Some members appear more supportive of their potential use in Côte d’Ivoire than others.)

Ambassador Youssoufou Bamba (Côte d’Ivoire) also addressed the Council during the meeting and expressed reservations at the possible reduction of two battalions by mid-2015. (He also reiterated that his government formally requested the deployment of surveillance drones in the border area between Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia.) While the government of Côte d’Ivoire later sent a letter to the Council expressing its agreement with the Secretary-General’s recommendations with regards to the drawdown of the mission, it is likely to have concerns with the accelerated pace and scope of reduction that the Council will apparently authorise.

As with resolution 2062 (2012), which had last renewed UNOCI, the current draft emphasises the protection of civilians as the key priority of the mission and reiterates the authorisation to use all necessary means to carry out its mandate, within its capabilities and its areas of deployment. It seems the draft resolution mandates UNOCI to reconfigure its military presence in order to implement effectively its mandate to assist the government in protecting civilians and stabilising the security situation in the country by increasing its resources in sensitive areas.

It also seems that the draft will end the mission’s support in providing security for government officials and other key political stakeholders on 31 December 2013. It appears that some Council members believed that this measure could be taken to demonstrate that the country is no longer in “crisis” mode. Additionally, UNOCI’s mandate no longer includes the task of supporting the government in justice sector reform, as it seems that some members believe that there is sufficient support for such reform through bilateral programmes and a special partnership with the European Union.

The draft resolution apparently also requests the Secretary-General to conduct a review of UNOCI’s mandate and to include in his midterm report a detailed analysis and accompanying matrix reflecting the current division of labour between UNOCI and the UN country team. It may also request recommendations regarding the transfer of tasks from UNOCI to the UN country team or to the government where appropriate. Additionally, it appears that the Council may request the Secretary-General to refine the broad benchmarks presented in his latest report and to also include in his midterm report detailed and actionable objectives to measure progress and to prepare for transition planning.

The language referring to the International Criminal Court (ICC) reportedly drew opposition from Rwanda. It seems that in the first draft the Council “further urges” the government to continue its cooperation with the ICC, as opposed to simply “encourages” such cooperation as in last year’s resolution (S/RES/2062). Rwanda argued that such language would indicate that the government is not cooperating at all with the ICC. (Although the ICC unsealed an arrest warrant in November 2012 against Simone Gbagbo, the wife of former President Laurent Gbagbo, she has not yet been transferred to The Hague.) Additionally, Rwanda suggested including reciprocal language for the ICC to cooperate with the government of Côte d’Ivoire. When Council members met on 26 July to discuss the language, the amendments did not get support from the large majority of Council members. Council members decided nonetheless to remove “further” from “further urges” as a compromise which Rwanda accepted and which appears to be included in the draft in blue. It seems that the Council will take note in the preamble of the draft Côte d’Ivoire’s ratification of the Rome Statute on 15 February 2013.

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