Permanent Representative Requests Full Lifting of Arms Embargo against His Country
With the successful holding of its presidential election on 25 October 2015, Côte d’Ivoire had reached a critical milestone in consolidating long-term peace and stability while advancing national reconciliation and strengthening the security sector remained key challenges on the path to lasting stability, the Security Council heard during a briefing today.
“The peaceful conclusion of the election provides the people of Côte d’Ivoire with the opportunity to turn the page, start a new chapter in the country’s history,” Aïchatou Mindaoudou, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), told the 15-member Council. Despite the withdrawal of candidates and the arrest of several persons for organizing unauthorized political gatherings, national authorities had demonstrated their ability to assume responsibility for organizing and safeguarding the voting process.
She said that, as the second largest economy in West Africa, Côte d’Ivoire had recovered remarkably since the post-election crisis of 2010/2011, she continued, expressing hope that its people would fully enjoy the dividends of economic growth. However, national reconciliation lagged behind reconstruction and economic recovery, and progress in prosecuting alleged perpetrators of crimes committed during the crisis remained slow. Welcoming President Alassane Ouattara’s announced intention to make national reconciliation a priority, she urged the Government to expedite investigations and prosecute those who had committed atrocities, regardless of political affiliation. Regarding women’s empowerment, she said their increased participation in all aspects of society was encouraging. However, despite the considerable efforts that had gone into the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence, as well as support for victims, the prosecution of alleged perpetrators remained slow.
On the security front, the situation in Côte d’Ivoire remained stable, with a downward trend in criminal activities, she said, noting that, despite the existing challenges, no serious incidents had been reported by the population or the candidates during the electoral period. “The Ivorian Government is capable of addressing attendant and latent security threats,” she said, adding that its effectiveness hinged on properly equipping and resourcing law enforcement and security forces.
She went on to state that, in addition to advancing national reconciliation and strengthening the security sector, sustainable reinsertion and reintegration of former combatants, as well as further improvement of the human rights situation and transitional justice, were other challenges facing Côte d’Ivoire. To that end, the combined support of the Security Council, Member States, international and regional partners, as well as the United Nations system in the country remained essential, she emphasized.
Following the briefing, Claude Stanislas Bouah-Kamon (Côte d’Ivoire) said that his country’s political life in 2015 had been marked by the organization of a “free, transparent, just and inclusive” election. Indeed, the nation had decided to “turn its back on the past” and focus on progress and development, a success that should be attributed to the Ivoirian people themselves, as well as to the support of French and United Nations forces.
He recalled that during his inauguration address, President Ouatarra had listed several priority activities, including the adoption of a new national Constitution. During the reporting period, the President had met with traditional and religious leaders, as well as members of the Commission in Charge of Truth and Reconciliation and Compensation for Victims. He had also announced his decision to release about 3,100 prisoners — many of whom had still been detained following the post-election crisis of 2011 — a move that had helped to further defuse national tensions.
Other priority reforms described by the President included the continuation of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration activities, he said, adding that the first stage had been successfully completed in 2014, within the stipulated time frame. Reform of the security and justice sectors was currently under way, with the aim of combating impunity and ensuring human rights for all. Out of 93 reforms requiring implementation, 34 had been completed by the last months of 2015, he noted.
Citing that progress and the generally peaceful conditions in Côte d’Ivoire, he requested that the Council fully lift the arms embargo imposed on the country, thereby ensuring that its defence and security forces could be better equipped to monitor its borders. Furthermore, the remarkable progress seen on the ground meant that Côte d’Ivoire could be taken off the Council’s agenda in the “very near future”. Indeed, the inclusion of the “radical opposition” in forthcoming legislative elections demonstrated that democracy had taken root, he said, adding that the end of December 2017, or the beginning of 2018, would be a realistic time for UNOCI’s withdrawal because Côte d’Ivoire was perfectly capable of continuing its operations.
The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended 10:31 a.m.