posted on Tue 21 Apr 2015 2:25 PM
Briefing and Consultations on Côte d’Ivoire Sanctions

Tomorrow (22 April), the Council is scheduled to receive a briefing from Ambassador Cristian Barros (Chile), chair of the 1572 Côte d’Ivoire Sanctions Committee. He is expected to convey the findings of the final report of the Group of Experts, which was submitted to the committee on 6 March and transmitted to the Council on 13 April (S/2015/252). Barros is also likely to cover the committee meeting held on 10 April. The briefing, which will be followed by consultations, will update Council members regarding sanctions implementation in Côte d’Ivoire and other relevant issues prior to the sanctions resolution scheduled for a vote on 28 April.

In its final report, the Group acknowledged the political commitment of the Ivorian authorities to the security sector reform process, while also expressing concern with certain aspects, such as the slow pace of legal and regulatory changes, an absence of cohesion within the military and the lack of adequate equipment and capacity for the police and gendarmerie. The Group’s report suggests that the widespread 18 November 2014 protests by elements within the army over unpaid bonuses and benefits may have been planned. The Group also highlighted the need for the government to further develop a capacity for public security and crowd control, particularly considering the potential security risks posed by the upcoming presidential election in October. Council members may be interested in having a further discussion on whether these problems might become more acute in the period leading to the October elections.

Although significant progress has been made on disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR), the Group expressed concern that the process may not be completed by the June 2015 deadline. The report notes that in February, the government authority on DDR announced that 18,000 ex-combatants could not be traced. The group also noted that of the 45,685 ex-combatants the government had declared reintegrated into society, 16,055 actually remain to be fully integrated. Additionally, there are 3,000 to 5,000 non-registered ex-combatants at cantonments with access to guns and uniforms that have not been integrated into the army nor joined the DDR process. These former combatants are vulnerable to being used by former zone commanders as security for illegal natural resource exploitation or as private security guards. The Group also reported that some of these non-registered former combatants have also set up illegal check-points along the border with Ghana and have been engaged in smuggling.

The Group’s final report also raised numerous other enduring security-related issues: the continued presence of armed elements linked to the pro-ex-President Laurent Gbagbo radical wing with regional and international financing mechanisms, large amounts of unaccounted for weapons and ammunition within the country, a lack of state capacity to effectively control cross-border traffic of people and goods and the continued illegal exploitation and smuggling of natural resources such as gold, diamonds and cocoa.

On 10 April, the 1572 Côte d’Ivoire Sanctions Committee held a meeting to discuss the final report of the Group of Experts. Ambassador Bafetigue Ouattara, charge d’affaires of the permanent mission of Côte d’Ivoire, was invited to address the committee. Ouattara confirmed the commitment of the authorities in Côte d’Ivoire to fully cooperate with the work of the Group of Experts (the final report notes improved cooperation by the authorities since the committee chair’s visit from 2-7 November 2014). Ouattara also expressed his government’s desire for the UN sanctions regime to be terminated soon after the upcoming presidential elections. The ensuing discussion among committee members acknowledged the progress made by Côte d’Ivoire, but also highlighted some of the remaining challenges that were identified in the Group’s final report. The Group’s thirty-seven recommendations related to arms, customs and transport, natural resources and finance remain under consideration by the committee.

On 28 April, the Council is scheduled to vote on a resolution renewing the 1572 Côte d’Ivoire sanctions regime, whose targeted measures—a partial arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban—are due to expire on 30 April. The mandate of the Group of Experts, which is due to expire on 30 May, is also expected to be renewed.