|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
7004th Meeting (AM)
Violence, Political Divisions Still Plague Côte d’Ivoire’s Progress
Towards Recovery, Peacekeeping Chief Tells Security Council
Permanent Representative Highlights Gains Made, Government Reform Efforts
While Côte d’Ivoire was on the right path to recovery, it was still plagued by violence and deep political divisions, requiring continued international support as it geared up for a new electoral cycle in 2015, the head of United Nations peacekeeping said today in a briefing to the Security Council.
With the thirty-second report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) before the Council (document S/2013/377), members heard a briefing by Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, who said that, since the end of the country’s violent post-election crisis in April 2011, President Alassane Ouattara and his Government had taken significant steps to stabilize the security situation, accelerate economic recovery and initiate key reforms.
An elected legislative assembly was in place and working well, he said, adding that the successful holding of regional and municipal elections in April had demonstrated the ability of national authorities, including the security forces, to largely assume responsibility for organizing and safeguarding the voting process. The establishment of the National Security Council and the adoption and endorsement of the national security strategy was another important step to pave the way for security sector reform.
Meanwhile, the start of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of 65,000 former combatants in 2012 was another milestone, he said, stressing that it remained a key priority for the President. He had asked his Government to expedite the processing of 30,000 ex-fighters by the end of 2013, and to accelerate and complete the process by the end of 2014. The assistance of the international community would be needed to achieve that “ambitious goal”, he stressed.
Mr. Ladsous said the Government had made efforts to engage with the political opposition despite their boycott of the local elections, but dialogue with the former ruling party had remained stalled since February. It was important to resume the dialogue in order to pave the way for political reconciliation ahead of the new electoral cycle, he stressed. “Reconciliation must go hand in hand with equitable justice.” It was essential to ensure accountability for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, he said, adding that the human rights situation remained a matter of concern. At the same time, the Governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia continued their efforts at all levels to address common border challenges with the support of UNOCI and the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
That important progress notwithstanding, threats to Côte d’Ivoire’s peace and security persisted and should not be underestimated, he said, cautioning that political divisions ran deep amid the continuing existence of networks affiliated with the former regime, intent on destabilizing the Government. Also of concern were the presence of mercenaries, former combatants and other armed elements; the uncontrolled circulation of weapons; criminal activities; violence between communities; and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. UNOCI’s presence, therefore, remained essential, particularly with respect to its core priorities of protecting civilians, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and security sector reform, he said. The Mission continued to enhance the protection of civilians with a focus on western Côte d’Ivoire.
Further to the decision of the Security Council, he continued, 850 troops had been repatriated in May following the conclusion of local elections, while preparations were under way to transfer the military hospital in Abidjan to the new United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). UNOCI was also refining plans for a further reduction of its military strength by 2015. While noting that the Secretary-General’s report proposed broad benchmarks to measure progress towards long-term stability and prepare for transition planning, he emphasized that it was still too early to predict when the Mission would begin the transition, taking into account the 2015 presidential and legislative elections, after which the situation would be reassessed.
Youssoufou Bamba ( Côte d’Ivoire) highlighted specific measures taken to eradicate the smuggling of natural resources for the benefit of neighbouring countries. In other gains, the militia leader Amade Oueremi had been apprehended, charged — including with genocide, murder and rape — and placed in custody. Additionally, about 8,044 former combatants had been demobilized and reintegrated, and some 7,680 weapons had been collected.
In terms of justice and human rights, he reported that members of the National Commission on Human Rights had been appointed and progress could be seen in implementation of the national strategy for justice reform. A technical training unit established under the Commission’s authority was underpinned by “commandments” to punish gross human rights violations, and the Military Court’s investigations into crimes committed during the post-election period had yielded convictions and even military indictments.
There were “reasons to celebrate significant progress” in the area of national reconciliation, he continued. The Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission could be credited with having achieved remarkable results since all the causes of the national crisis were exhaustively listed by each of its seven subcommittees. Proposals for appropriate solutions had been recommended in such areas as land, citizenship, justice and security, education, training and youth, and poverty.
He cautioned that the proposed reduction of UNOCI military personnel, police and civilians by 2015 should be treated with great care so as to avoid creating a security vacuum. The Government was well aware that sustainable national recovery was Côte d’Ivoire’s primary concern, and it would spare no effort, stop at nothing, to meet that goal. He expressed reservations, however, regarding the proposed withdrawal of two battalions by 2015, saying the progress being made deserved to be maintained and protected, at least until the 2015 elections, following which an orderly transition to a regime of peace could be considered with confidence.
The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 10:40 a.m.
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