The Security Council today decided to extend the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) for a further 12 months to 28 February 2020 and endorsed the Secretary-General’s recommendations for its reconfiguration with a view to its closure by the end of that year.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2458 (2019), the Council decided that UNIOGBIS will remain as currently configured and give priority to supporting the holding of legislative elections on 10 March and a presidential election within a legally-mandated timeframe this year.
In the post-electoral phase, the Council decided, the mission will establish conducive conditions for implementing Guinea-Bissau’s reform agenda, while enacting closure of its regional offices no later than 31 December.
Then, in the transition phase, UNIOGBIS will implement plans for its gradual drawdown and transfer of tasks to the country team, the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) and international partners, with a view towards its prospective completion by 31 December 2020.
Reaffirming that the electoral process remains a priority, the Council decided that from June 2019, UNIOGBIS should operate as a streamlined good offices special political mission, led by a Special Representative at the Assistant Secretary-General level.
In that role, it would focus on supporting full implementation of the Conakry Agreement of 14 October 2016 and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) six-point road map on which it is based, facilitating an inclusive political dialogue and national reconciliation process, and strengthening democratic governance. It would also support, through good offices, the electoral process to ensure that the upcoming polls will be inclusive, free and credible, and support national authorities in completing a review of Guinea-Bissau’s Constitution.
Through the text, the Council, supporting the Economic Community’s efforts to advance timely legislative and presidential elections, urged the country’s stakeholders to strictly respect and comply with the Conakry Agreement and the ECOWAS road map and to refrain from actions and statements that could escalate tensions and incite violence.
It called on the authorities of Guinea-Bissau and all stakeholders, including the military, political parties and civil society, to engage in dialogue, work together to consolidate progress made and address the root causes of instability. Deploring the reported lack of respect for the right of peaceful assembly, it urged all the country’s authorities to ensure strict respect for their obligations under international human rights law.
The resolution also reiterates the Council’s call for the authorities of Guinea-Bissau to take steps to more effectively combat transnational organized crime, including drug trafficking, trafficking in persons and money laundering, and calls on donors to ensure adequate funding for United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) anti-drug programmes in the country.
Speaking after adoption, the representative of Côte d’Ivoire, the Council penholder on Guinea-Bissau, said the resolution reflected both consensus and concern among members of the 15-nation organ. He emphasized that the text refrains from setting a strict timeline for reconfiguring UNIOGBIS, thus allowing for flexibility in response to developments on the ground. It also makes clear that reconfiguration should take place after the end of the electoral cycle. He noted that the text reaffirms the central role of the United Nations, the African Union, ECOWAS and other countries in achieving a peaceful solution to the crisis by encouraging them to strengthen cooperation with the Government and working together towards stabilization. Regarding national stakeholders, he said the resolution calls on them again to preserve the fragile gains that have been achieved and to put the interests of Guinea-Bissau’s people ahead of all other considerations.
João Ribeiro Butiam Có, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Communities of Guinea-Bissau, said reconfiguration of the mission reflects a desire for rationalization with the aim of delivering a real impact on the country’s people and its socioeconomic development. Since UNIOGBIS opened in 1999, Guinea-Bissau has undergone recurrent political instability, he said, but the mission’s presence has proven useful alongside partnerships that have contributed to reforms in the areas of defense and security, justice, rule of law, gender equality and the promotion of national reconciliation.
“We are in a process,” he said, calling for deeper thinking that will enable Guinea-Bissau to take ownership of a new approach towards cooperation with the entire United Nations system and to benefit from the accumulated experience of the Organization’s agencies, funds and programmes, while at the same time consolidating progress and creating conditions for harmonious and sustainable development in a climate of peace and political stability.
Today’s adoption followed a Council mission to Guinea-Bissau and Côte d’Ivoire on 14-16 February and a press statement on 27 December 2018 in which members of the 15-nation organ expressed deep concern regarding the status of preparations for legislative elections and regret that the Government did not hold them on 18 November 2018 (see Press Releases SC/13717 and SC/13650).
The meeting began at 10:08 a.m. and ended at 10:27 a.m.