posted on Wed 23 Oct 2013 7:30 AM
Côte d’Ivoire Sanctions Committee Briefing

On Thursday (24 October), Ambassador Gert Rosenthal (Guatemala), chair of the 1572 Côte d’Ivoire Sanctions Committee, will brief Council members in consultations on the midterm report (S/2013/605) of the Group of Experts (GoE) that assists the Committee. (The GoE presented its report and recommendations to the Sanctions Committee on 11 October.)

Council members are likely to be interested in a number of issues raised by the report, including developments at the subregional level. While the report notes progress in stabilising the security situation along the borders with Ghana and Liberia, it expresses concern over the flow of weapons and ammunition in Côte d’Ivoire, in particular to areas in the north in the aftermath of the post-electoral crisis in 2011, and the prospect of those weapons being trafficked to Mali and other states in the subregion.

Another point which may interest Council members is the progress in the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) process. The GoE thinks that it is unlikely that the government is in a position to meet the objective set out in resolution 2112 of 30 July of demobilising 30,000 former combatants by the end of 2013. As of 5 September, only some 9,422 soldiers were demobilised and 9,600 weapons collected according to the report.

The GoE also notes that former Forces Nouvelles zone commanders have strong leverage in the DDR process and are capable of maintaining control over military networks for their own financial or political benefit. The GoE report furthermore warns that the “former zone commanders have amassed additional sources of finance that, in the event of a deterioration in the political and security situation, could be used to purchase weapons and related materiel in violation of the sanctions regime.” (Many former zone commanders, some with a record of violations of international humanitarian law, have been integrated into the regular ranks of the armed forces of Côte d’Ivoire.)

On diamonds, the GoE is concerned that the Côte d’Ivoire government is assuming that achieving compliance with the Kimberley Process will automatically result in the lifting of the diamond embargo imposed by the Security Council. While the government is focused on implementing a system of controls and statistics in compliance with the Kimberley Process, it is failing to address the issue of diamond smuggling in violation of the sanctions regime. Some Council members may wish to discuss ways of getting the government to implement measures to combat smuggling diamonds and other natural resources out of the country.

Other developments highlighted in the report include potential violations of the arms embargo; contraband natural resources such as cocoa,cashew nuts, cotton, timber and gold, that are exported illegally from Côte d’Ivoire generating revenues that could be used for the purchase of arms in breach of the sanctions regime; progress in the decrease of the number of illegal checkpoints, especially in Abidjan; and the identification of areas in which the capacities of the customs administrations can be strengthened in order to enhance the implementation of the sanctions regime.

In all, the GoE made 18 recommendations, most of which were apparently well received during the 11 October meeting of the Sanctions Committee. There was some discussion, however, over the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) Integrated Embargo Monitoring Unit, the use of container-scanning for goods imported through the port of San Pédro and the explicit reference in every decree and administrative decision made by the customs authorities of the measures imposed on diamonds. One delegation expressed concern with the recommendation that the Ministries of Defence, Interior and Justice provide full access for interviews to persons of interest for the GoE and it is possible that this recommendation may be amended.

In resolution 2101 of 25 April, the Council decided to further review the measures on the arms embargo by 30 April 2014 in light of progress achieved in stabilising the country with a view of possibly further modifying or lifting all or part of the remaining measures. The final report of the GoE is due in April 2014 at which time the sanctions measures are also due to be renewed.

Finally, regarding the ICC, there have been developments pertaining to two targeted individuals. On 20 September, Côte d’Ivoire filed a motion to dismiss the ICC arrest warrant against Simone Gbagbo, the wife of former President Laurent Ggabgo, and on 30 September, ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I unsealed an arrest warrant against Charles Blé Goudé for four counts of crimes against humanity. They are both currently detained in Côte d’Ivoire for domestic charges.

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