|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6212th & 6213th Meetings (AM & PM)
Security Council Welcomes Commitment of New Guinea-Bissau President
to Work for Reconciliation, Socio-Economic Development
Presidential Statement Urges Armed Forces to Accept Civil Authority,
Notes Plans for National Conference on Causes, Prevention of Conflicts
Welcoming the peaceful presidential elections in Guinea-Bissau held on 28 June and 26 July, the Security Council today took note of the commitment of the new President of the country to combat impunity, foster national reconciliation and achieve socio-economic development.
In a statement read by Council President Thomas Mayr-Harting (Austria), the Council urged the Armed Forces of the country to ensure that their commitment to abide by the civilian authorities and respect constitutional order was fully honoured, and took note of the national Assembly’s plan to convene a national conference on “Conflicts in Guinea-Bissau: causes, prevention, resolution and consequences”.
Reiterating the importance of consolidating democracy, security, the rule of law, national reconciliation and the fight against impunity, the Council took note of ongoing consultations between the Organization, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CPLP) to assist the Government in carrying out a credible, thorough and expeditious investigation into the political assassinations of March and June 2009.
The Council further emphasized in its presidential statement the necessity of pursuing and implementing an effective and comprehensive national strategy for security sector reform, requesting the Secretary-General for an effective coordination of support provided by the international community in that regard. It urged the Government to take the necessary actions against drug trafficking and organized crime, noting that the situation in the country continued to be extremely fragile, in particular as a result of increased drug trafficking and organized crime that could pose a threat to regional stability.
By the statement (document S/PRST/2009/29), the Council further called on the international community to provide timely and adequate support for the implementation of the Strategic Framework of Peacebuilding in Guinea-Bissau, adopted on 1 October 2008 by the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission, including that of the quick-impact projects. Welcoming the ongoing planning for the transition of United Nations Peace-building Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS) to the United Nations Integrated Peace-building Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) on 1 January 2010, the Council looked forward to the timely development of an Integrated Strategic Framework.
The meeting began at 1:10 p.m. and was adjourned at 1:17 p.m.
In an earlier meeting this morning, the Council considered the situation in Guinea-Bissau, as well as the activities of the United Nations Peace-building Support Office in Guinea-Bissau and the transition of that Office into the Integrated Peacebuilding Office.
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative to Guinea-Bissau and Head of UNOGBIS introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the issue, noting that the conditions were in place for institutional harmony and stable government in the country. He said, “There is a window of opportunity for change that requires commitment and results on the part of the Government and adequate international support to address the country’s short-term challenges and the long-term goals of building capacity and strengthening State institutions,” and announced a donor round-table conference to be held early next year.
Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), briefed the Council on the problem of illicit drug trafficking in Guinea-Bissau and the subregion, which served for the transfer of drugs, in particular cocaine, from Latin American countries to Europe. Although he noted a significant drop in drug seizures in the region and in consuming countries in the past 18 months, he warned that the trend must be interpreted cautiously because Europe’s craving for cocaine persisted. He stressed that the Government needed greater assistance in interception activities.
The representative of Brazil, in her capacity as Chair of the Guinea-Bissau specific configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, briefed the Council on the Commission’s efforts to assist the country. The Permanent Observer for the African Union explained that organization’s efforts, in cooperation with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), to assist the people and Government of Guinea-Bissau, in particular in security sector reform. She noted that a joint African Union-ECOWAS mission had just begun working in the country.
The representative of Guinea-Bissau said that, regardless of the determination of the people and Government of the country to solve their own problems, they would not be able to resolve them alone. International assistance must be maintained. He thanked the Peacebuilding Commission and other partners for helping assure that Guinea-Bissau was kept on the international agenda.
That meeting started at 10:12 a.m. and was adjourned at 11:05 a.m.
The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2009/29 reads as follows:
“The Security Council recalls its previous statements and resolutions on Guinea-Bissau, and notes the latest report of the Secretary-General on developments in Guinea-Bissau, and on the activities of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS) (S/2009/552). The Council reaffirms its support for the continuing efforts to consolidate peace in that country.
“The Security Council welcomes the peaceful presidential elections that were held on 28 June and 26 July 2009, and the inauguration of President Malam Bacai Sanhá on 8 September. It also takes note of the President’s commitment to combat impunity, foster national reconciliation and achieve socio-economic development. The Council reiterates that human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Guinea-Bissau must be fully protected. It urges again the Armed Forces of Guinea-Bissau to ensure that their commitment to abide by the civilian authorities and respect constitutional order is fully honoured.
“The Security Council also takes note of the National Assembly’s plans to convene a national conference on “Conflicts in Guinea-Bissau: causes, prevention, resolution and consequences”, and underscores the need to conduct an inclusive political dialogue process aimed at ensuring national reconciliation in the country.
“The Security Council reiterates the importance of consolidating democracy, security, the rule of law, national reconciliation and the fight against impunity to ensure sustainable peace in Guinea-Bissau. In this regard, it takes note of the ongoing consultations between the United Nations, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CPLP), to assist the Government of Guinea-Bissau, at its request, in carrying out a credible, thorough, and expeditious investigation, in accordance with international standards, into the political assassinations of March and June 2009. The Security Council calls upon the Government of Guinea-Bissau to expedite this process, and calls on the abovementioned organizations and the international community as a whole, to bring their support to this end.
“The Security Council underlines the challenges faced by the Government of Guinea-Bissau, in particular to ensure that the Security sector is effective, professional and accountable. In this regard, the Council emphasizes the necessity of pursuing and implementing an effective and comprehensive national strategy for security sector reform, to be supported by the international partners. The Council reiterates its request for the Secretary-General, through his Special Representative for Guinea-Bissau and the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS), for an effective coordination of the support provided by the international community to security sector reform in Guinea-Bissau, taking into account the work already undertaken by the European Union and other international actors in this area.
“The Security Council urges the Government of Guinea-Bissau to take the necessary actions in the framework of the Guinea-Bissau anti-narcotics operational Plan and the ECOWAS Plan of action against drug trafficking and organized crime in West Africa. The Council further notes that the situation in Guinea-Bissau continues to be extremely fragile, in particular as a result of increased drug trafficking and organized crime that could pose a threat to regional stability, and should be addressed by an approach of shared responsibility. In this context, the Council welcomes the progress in implementing the West Africa Coast Initiative involving ECOWAS, commends the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Department for Peacekeeping Operations, Department for Political Affairs and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) in support of the fight against organized crime and drug trafficking in West Africa, and calls on the international partners to continue supporting this partnership and the efforts of the national authorities to strengthen activities on policing and internal security, including law enforcement and border control, as part of the security sector reform process.
“The Security Council calls on the international community to provide timely and adequate support for the implementation of the Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in Guinea-Bissau, adopted on 1 October 2008 by the Peacebuilding Commission, including that of the quick-impacts projects. The Council takes note of the importance of building synergies among the donors. It further takes note of the preparations for the first review of the Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in Guinea-Bissau, and looks forward to its finalization. The Security Council reiterates its support for the work of the Peacebuilding Commission country-specific configuration on Guinea-Bissau.
“The Security Council welcomes the ongoing planning for the transition of UNOGBIS to an Integrated Peacebuilding Office (UNIOGBIS) on 1 January 2010, and looks forward to the timely development of an Integrated Strategic Framework, including a strategic workplan with appropriate benchmarks to measure and track progress on the implementation of the new office’s mandate.
“The Security Council reiterates the importance of the regional dimension in the resolution of the problems faced by Guinea-Bissau and, in this regard, welcomes the role of the ECOWAS, the African Union, the CPLP, and the European Union in the peacebuilding process in that country.”
The Security Council met today to consider the report of the Secretary-General on developments in Guinea-Bissau and on the activities of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in that country (document S/2009/552), which covers developments since the latest report of 10 June (document S/2009/302) and describes progress in establishing the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS).
According to the report, the period under review was dominated by the tension following the assassinations of presidential candidate and former Minister of Territorial Administration, Baciro Dabó, and former Minister of Defence, Helder Proença, on 5 June. The presidential elections on 28 June, with a run-off held on 26 July, passed peacefully, however. In his inaugural speech, the winner, former President Mohamed Yalá, pledged that peace and stability, based on reconciliation, would be the cornerstone of his presidency and that efforts would be made to shed more light on the March assassinations.
Following the inauguration ceremony, Raimundo Pereira, Interim President following the assassination in March of President Joáo Vieira, resumed his function as Speaker of the National Assembly and announced the preparations for the convening of a national conference on the theme “Conflicts in Guinea-Bissau: causes, prevention, resolution and consequences”. The participatory dialogue programme led by the National Institute of Studies and Research (INEP) and Voz di Paz resumed its regional validation of the results of its 10-month grass-roots consultations held in 2008.
The Secretary-General’s report states that the tense atmosphere following the 5 June assassinations has slowly given way to the return of normalcy. The level of security alertness on the border with Guinea has been increased, after reported incidents there allegedly related to drug trafficking. A mission from the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the Office of Disarmament Affairs visited Bissau, the capital, from 7 to 11 September to discuss resuming the project on small arms that was suspended in order to tackle the issue of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in conjunction with the small arms programme of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The 22 June ECOWAS summit held in Abuja, Nigeria, emphasized the need to send a joint team of experts of ECOWAS and the West African Economic and Monetary Union to assess the needs for security sector reform and financial stability, according to the report. A mission from the Council of the European Union visited Bissau in September to assess the feasibility of future support from the European Security and Defence Policy to the country.
Although reports suggest that there has been a downward trend in the trafficking of cocaine through West Africa, concerns remain following the identification of laboratories to produce cocaine, heroin and ecstasy in neighbouring Guinea. Judicial Police officers trained by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) have increased their presence and intervention in the country. Nineteen senior magistrates attended a UNODC workshop on international cooperation tools and mechanisms in the fight against drugs and organized crime.
The Guinea-Bissau configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission continued its engagement with the country and some progress has been achieved in the implementation of the projects funded by the Peacebuilding Fund. Although the economic and fiscal situation remains fragile, there have been encouraging signs, with economic growth declining less than initially forecast and the Government being up to date with civil service salaries. The World Bank has approved an $8 million grant to the country for better implementation of its poverty reduction strategy. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a third emergency post-conflict assistance programme of $2.74 million. The African Development Bank (AfDB) has signed a $12 million grant agreement, including a government capacity-building support project.
In accordance with Council resolution 1876 (2009) (see press release SC/9693 of 26 June), the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the Department of Field Support and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations have initiated transition arrangements for the establishment of UNIOGBIS, effective 1 January 2010. Six members from the United Nations Standing Police Capacity were deployed to the country in June to assist UNOGBIS with assessment and strategic planning for the establishment of UNIOGBIS, which will have an expanded role on policing. The Inter-Agency Task Force on Guinea-Bissau, chaired by the Department of Political Affairs, continued to provide guidance for the establishment of the Integrated Office, focusing on the development of an integrated strategic framework for the future of the United Nations system in the country.
In his observations, the Secretary-General says that there is a window of opportunity in Guinea-Bissau that must be seized. The United Nations, in particular through the establishment of the Integrated Peacebuilding Office, will aim to capitalize on that momentum. He encourages international partners to continue support. He recommends that the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund further engage and seek synergies with the Bretton Woods institutions and the AfDB. It is also important, he states, that the national authorities and their international partners coordinate their efforts to mobilize and use available resources for better impact.
JOSEPH MUTABOBA, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS), introducing the report, said that on 28 October, President Malam Bacai Sanhá had issued two decrees changing the structure of the Government and reshuffling the Cabinet. He had opened the 2009-2010 legislative year on 3 November, calling for a national stability pact and revision of the Constitution, as well as for a “holistic reform” of the State. The Speaker of Parliament had called for expediting security sector reform laws.
Ensuring a transparent and fair investigation into the political assassinations of March and June remained a key national priority, Mr. Mutaboba said. As the Government, the African Union, ECOWAS, the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries and the United Nations were still working to provide experts, logistics, funding and security to ongoing international investigations, financial support was necessary to move the process forward.
He said that, although there seemed to be a downward trend in the trafficking of cocaine through West Africa, drug trafficking and organized crime remained a significant challenge for stability in Guinea-Bissau and the subregion. In order to pursue the objectives of the West African Coast Initiative, UNOGBIS had agreed to further strengthen inter-mission cooperation in the subregion and remained committed to help tackle linkages between organized crime and trafficking of small arms.
The Government had established thematic working groups to assess activities in the areas of security sector reform; strengthening of the justice sector, consolidating the rule of law and fighting drug trafficking; measures to jump-start the economy; elections and institution-building; and social questions critical to peacebuilding. The economic and fiscal situation remained very fragile, he continued. It was being addressed by the Bretton Woods institutions and the African Development Bank.
Turning to border security, he said a rebel offensive had been reported against the Senegalese military, close to the border between the two countries, including alleged incursions of Senegalese troops into Guinea-Bissau, as well as movement of “border markers” in an area of tourist and offshore petroleum potential. A meeting between the representatives of the two countries had taken place in Bissau on 23 October, where it was agreed to revive a joint cooperation commission.
He said the future United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau had been given a robust mandate to support the Government in areas of political dialogue and national reconciliation, security sector reform, promotion of human rights and the rule of law, combating drug trafficking and organized crime, and assistance in the work of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund. He hoped the requested resources would be provided to help to enable the much-needed and coordinated support to national authorities and the people of Guinea-Bissau.
In principle, he said, the conditions were in place for institutional harmony and stable government. There were, however, two threats: hegemonic politics with the rule of one party; and intra-party divisions related to personal rather than ideological differences. Much would depend on the governing party’s ability to evolve away from exclusionary politics and develop inclusiveness and accountability. Although much of the Government’s attention had been focused on managing the consequences of the March and June events, limited progress had been made in other critical areas. The Government must get back on track with its programme, but could not pursue its agenda alone.
“There is a window of opportunity for change that requires commitment and results on the part of the Government and adequate international support to address the country’s short-term challenges and the long-term goals of building capacity and strengthening State institutions,” he said. International partners and the Government were planning a donor round-table conference early next year to address the country’s development and fiscal, public administration and security sector reform needs. That agenda needed to be supported.
He said the weakness of justice had eroded the confidence of the people in public authorities. It was important to fight impunity, re-establish the confidence of the people in the justice system and, in establishing truth, contribute to forward-looking reconciliation. The investigation process into the March and June events and their aftermath should not lead to further destabilization, but rather be part of the overall reconciliation process. The international community should spare no efforts to accompany the country in its pursuit of justice and reconciliation.
ANTONIO MARIA COSTA, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said that five years after his office had sounded the alarm over the destabilizing impact of cocaine trafficking from Latin America to Europe via West Africa ‑‑ particularly Guinea Bissau ‑‑ the international community had finally started to act on the issue, after much wasted time and after prodding by the Security Council.
He said actions taken by the Council, those promoted by ECOWAS and generous bilateral support was paying off, with a significant drop in drug seizures in the region and in consuming countries in the past 18 months.
He warned, however, that the trend must be interpreted cautiously because Europe’s craving for cocaine persisted, and trafficking routes might have been pushed further south or farther inland or onto some of the privately owned islands of the Bissau archipelago. To intercept those shipments the Government needed greater assistance.
He said that among disturbing developments were a growing consumption of drugs in West Africa because of a distraught, young population and low cocaine prices. Some drug use, as well as trafficking, was affecting the military. There was only one national drug treatment centre.
The most serious negative development, he said, had been the discovery of sites containing large amounts of chemicals used to refine cocaine and manufacture ecstasy, meaning that West Africa was now on the verge of becoming a source of drugs, not only a transit area, and that organized crime was growing indigenous roots.
Guinea-Bissau was particularly vulnerable to such developments because of its poor judicial system, uncontrolled sea and airspace and open land borders, he said. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime was doing its utmost to help, along with its partners, in establishing a Transnational Crime Unit in the country, supporting criminal justice capacity-building and security sector reform and helping establish a national police academy.
He was pleased, he said, to report that a new prison was being built in the capital, and two others in the country were being refurbished, with money from the Peacebuilding Fund, which would help end impunity of drug traffickers.
In sum, he said that the Council’s efforts were bearing fruit, but new threats could grow, and should be addressed through following up on the international support pledged to the country for the fight against drug trafficking. He also urged participation in the new funding round table on 3 December in Vienna.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI (Brazil), Chair of the Guinea-Bissau Configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, said that since her last briefing on 23 June, the country seemed to have restored constitutional normality and the two rounds of elections occurred in a peaceful manner. Describing her 7‑12 September visit to the country, she said she sensed optimism there because the President and the Prime Minister were from the same party, the National Assembly had decided to hold dialogue for national reconciliation and reform of the security sector remained a top priority, with a pension fund being launched for demobilized soldiers.
In addition, she said, during her trip Government authorities expressed their willingness to put an end to the culture of impunity and remained interested in technical support for inquiries into this year’s political assassinations. She also pointed out that there had been some progress in the fight against drug trafficking and a notable improvement in the management of public finances, with payrolls normalized through the mobilization of domestic resources and a growth in public revenue accompanying record cashew exports.
However, there were still many challenges, including the need to move forward the pension process and other components of security sector reform, for which Guinea-Bissau should be supported. In addition, the country needed assistance to build capacity in State institutions, to build a functioning State capable of addressing basic social needs, ensure security and promote human rights. Important bottlenecks hampering economic security included gaps in the production and distribution of energy.
A review of the strategic framework approved last year, which she encouraged during her trip, had already started, she said, pointing out that it was instrumental for the allocation of a second tranche of Peacebuilding Fund resources to Guinea-Bissau. Next week, she added, she would be meeting in Addis Ababa with African Union officials and matters of mutual concern.
She finally reiterated the importance of a renewed and strengthened presence of the United Nations on the ground in the country. As the new integrated mission would be vitally important to the success of peacebuilding in the country, she voiced hope that the budget proposal for UNIOGBIS would be favourably considered by those involved, and that the new office could start operating at full capacity as soon as possible.
TETE ANTONIO, Permanent Observer for the African Union, said that together with ECOWAS, the United Nations and other partners, the African Union had been involved in Guinea-Bissau, where a positive trend was evolving after a situation characterized by instability, a critical economic situation, an oversized army and drug trafficking. The Union had spared no effort to assist Guinea-Bissau to return to its rightful place in the international community. João Bernardo de Miranda, former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Angola, had been appointed as Special Envoy by the President of the African Union Commission.
He said that, following the June assassinations, Mr. Miranda had visited Guinea-Bissau in order to contribute to creation of conditions for a successful run-off election and had obtained signatures from the two candidates on a memorandum of understanding in which the two of them committed to abide by the results, and to act in a dignified way vis-à-vis the unsuccessful candidate, among other things.
He said a joint African Union-ECOWAS meeting had been held in Addis Ababa in August to consider the contribution that the two organizations could make to Guinea-Bissau, and how those efforts could be financed. It recommended a high-level meeting in Guinea-Bissau ‑‑ before a donor conference ECOWAS intended to organize before the end of the year ‑‑ where the people and Government could express their needs and priorities for security sector reform, and where the kind of assistance to be provided could be discussed.
An African Union Summit meeting in Tripoli on 31 August had also addressed the issue of Guinea-Bissau and had made recommendations on ways to create conditions for a credible investigation into the assassinations, and regarding the organization of a regional conference before the end of the year on post-conflict reconstruction and development, the fight against drug trafficking and security sector reform. A joint African Union-ECOWAS mission had just begun working in Guinea-Bissau.
He said the new Government in Guinea-Bissau was sparing no efforts to improve public finances and meet basic needs, in particular in paying salaries. The international community should become more resolutely involved in the reconstruction of Guinea-Bissau. The current positive momentum in the country was worthy of the support of all.
ALFREDO LOPES CABRAL (Guinea-Bissau) thanked the Council and other international partners for their assistance to his country’s efforts, and assured all partners that the people of Guinea-Bissau were working hard on the rebuilding of their country to show that such assistance was well-deserved.
There was still much to be done in the country, he said, although ‑‑ thanks to international and domestic efforts ‑‑ much progress had been made. He hoped the recent elections would be followed by other progress in the rule of law and a culture of inclusion and dialogue, so that Guineans could maintain their focus on the rebuilding of the nation.
However, he continued, regardless of the determination of Guineans to solve their own problems, they would not be able to resolve them alone. That was why he was requesting that international assistance be maintained. He said he agreed with Mr. Costa that there were still problems in the country when it came to organized crime and drug trafficking, and the problem must resolved in its context. Initiatives in partnership with the international community were indeed bringing results in that area.
For such progress to continue, he added, a strong foundation for justice had to be built, so that justice could be rendered in a transparent and equitable fashion. To that end, he thanked partners for their assistance in building prisons. He also thanked the Peacebuilding Commission and other partners for helping assure that Guinea-Bissau was kept on the international agenda.
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