Côte d’Ivoire had made progress in security-related areas though concerns remained over ex-combatants, impunity and other challenges, the Chair of the sanctions committee regarding the country told the Security Council this afternoon, adding that he looked forward to continued dialogue with authorities on the issues.
“I hope that [recent discussions with the Government] signal the beginning of new, active and significant dialogue, which can only bear fruit if the interested parties continue to demonstrate a commitment to the peaceful transition of the country and its national reconciliation,” said Cristián Barros Melet (Chile), who heads the group that is known as the “1572 Committee”, after the 2004 resolution that established the arms embargo and targeted measures against those who threaten the country’s stability.
In this afternoon’s meeting, which also heard from the representative of the Côte d’Ivoire, Bafétigué Ouattara, Mr. Barros summarized the final report of the Committee’s Group of Experts (document S/2015/252), ahead of a Council decision later this month on extending the sanctions regime.
Mr. Barros also reported on a 10 April 2015 Committee meeting with Mr. Ouattara in which the latter confirmed the commitment of his Government to fully cooperate with the work of the Group and relayed the Government’s desire for the sanctions regime to be terminated in the near future, possibly after presidential elections planned for October 2015.
He said that the Group had indeed reported improved cooperation with the authorities of Côte d’Ivoire, in good part attributable to the visit he had carried out in November 2014. The Group also reported progress in obligations under the arms embargo in providing notification of permitted transactions and other information.
Of concern, however, were the continued existence of armed elements linked to followers of former President Laurent Gbagbo, as well as non-registered military elements and large quantities of weapons and material that remained unaccounted for. The Group highlighted the danger connected to weapons not sufficiently under control in the country, especially in light of the upcoming elections.
He said that the Group welcomed efforts made by Ivorian authorities for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants, in terms of planning a more comprehensive approach, including in the area of marking of weapons. However, the non-registered elements were having a negative impact in that area as well.
There had been progress in security-sector reform, he said the Group reported, but it also noted the need for stepped-up capacity-building and the resolution of antagonisms that were holdovers from prior conflict. Similarly, the Group welcomed efforts to improve border monitoring but expressed concern over continuing, significant gaps. It also expressed concern over gaps in control of natural resources and extra-judicial executions in mining areas, among other problems.
In his statement this afternoon, Mr. Ouattara reaffirmed his Government’s commitment to cooperate with the 1572 Committee and the Group of Experts, which he agreed had been brought to a new level by Mr. Barros’ visit to his country in November 2014. He welcomed the fact that the Group of Experts’ report had noted progress in security-sector reform, weapons control, border control and other areas.
He also noted that the Group reported not having detected prohibited import equipment; not being able to confirm that any individuals in the country were determined to sabotage the peace process; not having knowledge of cross-border incidents involving neighbouring countries, while confirming that the army was deployed at all borders; and most importantly, not having received any information to suggest that natural resources were being used for the purchase of arms or related material.
Outlining a number of measures planned to further increase control of arms transfers, he said that “the country is committed to controlling the flow of arms to prevent cases of diversion, and especially to effectively fight against illicit flows.”
Also expressing the Government’s commitment to work for credible, transparent, open and inclusive elections in 2015, he described cooperation with organizations, including the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) for that purpose.
Given such progress, he expressed hope that current consultations on his country would open the prospect of a total lifting of the embargo measures. The upcoming resolution on the sanctions, he said, should be a transitional text towards that end, leading to “a final exit of Côte d’Ivoire from the Security Council’s agenda and towards the classic United Nations relationship of accompaniment for economic and social development,” he concluded.
The meeting opened at 3:06 p.m. and closed at 3:28 p.m.