30 April 2003
Secretary-General Appeals to Security Council for Financial Support to Sustain West African States' Côte d'Ivoire Peacekeeping Force
Additional Resources Needed for Expanded Mandate; Foreign Ministers of Guinea, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Nigeria Also Speak
NEW YORK, 29 April (UN Headquarters) -- Secretary-General Kofi Annan appealed to the Security Council and the international community this afternoon to provide the necessary financial support to sustain the West African peacekeeping force in Côte d'Ivoire for six months, and recommended establishment of a small United Nations operation there.
The Secretary-General said the force, which was established by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), needed additional resources for an expanded mandate. The force was originally dispatched earlier this year to monitor implementation of a peace agreement signed in Linas-Marcoussis, France, which provided for establishment of a Government of National Reconciliation.
In a meeting during which the Council also heard from the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of ECOWAS members Guinea, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire and Nigeria, as well as the organization's Executive Secretary, the Secretary-General said that the presence of such a high-level ECOWAS delegation today showed how seriously West Africa took the problem immediately confronting the international community
-- namely, how to replenish the depleted financial resources of the peacekeeping force so that it could continue playing its essential role in Côte d'Ivoire. At such a crucial time, when various Ivorian parties had at last begun taking important steps to implement the Linas-Marcoussis Accord, ECOWAS had found it necessary to decide on a substantial increase in the size of the force, in order to make it more effective.
He also recalled that in order to complement the peacekeeping efforts launched by ECOWAS and France, he had recommended the establishment of a small United Nations operation comprising military liaison, as well as human rights, civil affairs and media components. He hoped the Council would shortly authorize that mission, so that the United Nations could strengthen its role in the Ivorian peace process.
The Executive Secretary of ECOWAS, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, said a common theme in many recent Council discussions had been the link between instability and deepening poverty. The easy availability of small arms and the link of prolonged crises and readiness of unemployed youth and mercenaries to take part in the conflicts were other important issues. It was necessary to break the cycle of violence and create conditions for peace and stability, and the role of regional organizations was important in that respect. The ECOWAS had taken up that challenge, but was facing a lack of financial resources. The Council should play a lead role in creating the right synergy with ECOWAS in dealing with peace and security. In that regard, it might be prudent for the Council to provide requisite resources.
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ghana and current Chairman of ECOWAS, said since the crisis had broken out in Côte d'Ivoire, ECOWAS had tried to stabilize the situation there by negotiating a ceasefire and by contributing to negotiating a Government of National Reconciliation. That Government was now in place and the country was now returning to the path of normalcy and peace. It was essential for the international community to give that Government and the process the maximum measure of support.
The fact that ECOWAS' mandate and force had been expanded from monitoring to include protection of the Government, patrolling the borders, demobilization and disarmament of militias and creating conditions for the new Government to have full control of the territory had financial implications. Despite the willingness of ECOWAS to find a homegrown solution, the means available were insufficient. Therefore, ECOWAS sought support from the Council in financing the force.
The meeting, which began at 3:45 p.m., was adjourned at 4:25 p.m., after which the Council took up the matter in private consultations.
The Security Council met this afternoon to consider the situation in Côte d'Ivoire in order to hear briefings from the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea and Nigeria, and the Executive Secretary of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). After the briefings, the Council will take up the matter in closed consultations.
The Council took up the situation in Côte d'Ivoire following targeted attacks by rebels on 18 and 19 September in Abidjan, Bouaka and Korhogo. The Government of Côte d'Ivoire sought to end the crisis through negotiations under the auspices of ECOWAS and with the active participation of the United Nations. On 17 October, a ceasefire was signed by the Government and three rebel groups supervised by the troops from France. In December, however, fighting intensified.
On 20 December 2002, in a presidential statement, the Council firmly condemned attempts to use force to influence the political situation in the country and to overthrow the elected Government. The Council expressed its full support for the deployment of an Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) force, under the command of Senegal, before 31 December, as called for in the final communiqué adopted on 18 December at the extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS in Dakar.
On 4 February this year, the Council, unanimously adopting resolution 1464, called for immediate implementation of the peace agreement signed by the Côte d'Ivoire political forces in Linas-Marcoussis, France, from 15 to 23 January, which provided for establishment of a Government of National Reconciliation. The Council authorized, for a period of six months, deployment of ECOWAS forces -- called ECOFORCE -- together with French forces.
In a report (documents S/2003/374 and Add.1) of 26 March, the Secretary-General recommended, among several options, deploying a military liaison group co-located with the field headquarters of the French and ECOWAS forces, as well as those of the government and rebel forces and that a United Nations mission in Côte d'Ivoire be established, to be called MINUCI (Mission des Nations Unies en Côte d'Ivoire), to be headed by his Special Representative, Albert Tévoedjré.
KOFI ANNAN, Secretary-General of the United Nations, welcomed the Foreign Ministers of ECOWAS present and thanked ECOWAS and France for the important role they were playing in the search for peace and stability in Côte d'Ivoire, through their support for the implementation of the Linas-Marcoussis Accord. On the military front, their peacekeeping activities had played a key role in averting an escalation in the fighting. He also thanked the members of the Council for their consistent attention to the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire and the role of the United Nations in the peace process. His Special Representative, Albert Tévoedjré, was currently chairing the follow-up committee established in accordance with the Linas-Marcoussis Accord, and he was pleased at the progress Prime Minister Seydou Diarra had made in establishing the new Government.
The presence of such a high-level ECOWAS delegation today showed how seriously West Africa took the problem immediately confronting the international community -- namely, how to replenish the depleted financial resources of the ECOFORCE so that it could continue playing its essential role in promoting peace in Côte d'Ivoire. In that context, it was necessary to acknowledge the help already given by the donor countries and institutions, which had been assisting ECOWAS from the beginning of its involvement in Côte d'Ivoire, and particularly for the deployment of ECOFORCE.
At this critical time, when the various Ivorian parties had at last begun taking important steps to implement the Linas-Marcoussis Accord, ECOWAS had found it necessary to decide on a substantial increase in the size of ECOFORCE, in order to make it more effective, he said. He appealed to members of the Council and the broader international community to quickly provide ECOWAS with the additional financial resources that would be required to sustain the ECOFORCE for the next six months.
In order to complement the peacekeeping efforts launched by ECOWAS and France, he had recommended the establishment of a small United Nations operation comprising military liaison, as well as human rights, civil affairs and media components. He hoped the Council would shortly authorize that mission, so that the United Nations could strengthen its role in the Ivorian peace process.
In conclusion, he assured the ECOWAS Ministers that the United Nations would continue to cooperate with them to help the Ivorian people recover the stability and prosperity for which their country had been so well known in the past.
NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ghana and current Chairman of ECOWAS, said representatives of the organizations were here as result of a Council mandate given to it to try to advance the peace process in Côte d'Ivoire. Since the crisis broke out in that country, ECOWAS had been active in trying to stabilize the situation there, by negotiating a ceasefire and also by contributing to negotiating a Government of National Reconciliation. That Government was now in place. Côte d'Ivoire was now returning to the path of normalcy and peace. It was essential for the international community to give that Government and the process the maximum measure of support.
He said ECOWAS had decided that it was necessary to expand ECOFORCE from 1,200 to 3,300 soldiers. The mandate of the original force had been a monitoring role. That mandate had been transformed to include protection of the Government, patrolling the borders, in particularly the western border, responsibility for demobilization and disarmament of militias, and creating conditions for the new Government to have full control of the territory. That expansion had financial implications. Despite the willingness of ECOWAS to find a homegrown solution, the means available were insufficient. Therefore, ECOWAS sought support from the Council in financing the force.
The delegation had been to Washington, D.C., and would go to Europe tomorrow to press the case for financing. The tour would conclude with a donors conference in Brussels, Belgium, on 12 May. Côte d'Ivoire was an extremely important nation within the West Africa region, both economically and politically. The parties had shown a willingness to come to an accommodation. It was the duty of the international community to support the process the Ivorians themselves had initiated. The most concrete support would be to enable ECOFORCE in bringing Côte d'Ivoire back to normalcy, so that free and fair elections could be held in the future.
BAMBA MAMADOU, Minister of State and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Côte d'Ivoire, said that since the conclusion of the Linas-Marcoussis Accord, the political developments in his country had been relatively satisfactory. The National Reconciliation Government had been formed, and the general atmosphere there was extremely good. The ministers, who came from all political forces, were determined to move the country towards peace and stability. The first actions of the Government involved measures to increase security -- it had banned all demonstrations and actions involving violence. It had also banned militias and so-called "defence committees". There were increasingly fewer violations of the ceasefire.
Continuing, he said that security corridors were being set up to promote contacts with the neighbouring countries. The Minister of Trade had already visited the Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali to promote trade relations with those countries. A government delegation had also visited Burkina Faso. The Ivorians were aware of the country's role in the subregion and the effect the conflict in Côte d'Ivoire was having on other countries. The Government intended to abide by all relevant agreements, including the Linas-Marcoussis Accord. It was determined to make the march towards peace irreversible.
Some problems remained, however, he said. It was not easy to restore confidence among the groups involved in the fighting. Today, there were concerns regarding the situation in the west, where rebels from Liberia and Sierra Leone were present. On the diplomatic level, the Chief of State of Côte d'Ivoire and Head of State of Liberia had just met to consider the border issues between the two countries. A meeting was also to take place today or tomorrow between the chiefs of the military staffs of Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire. Another important concern was the problem of small arms in the region, and it was necessary to monitor and control the dissemination of such arms.
The country was in need of the ongoing assistance of the Council and the international community, he concluded. It was important to restore peace and stability to Côte d'Ivoire and the region. He hoped ECOFORCE would remain in the country until the elections, and he hoped that with support of the international community the country would be able to implement all the provisions of the Linas-Marcoussis Accord.
FRANÇOIS LONSÉNY, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Guinea, said the ECOWAS mission was to create the best possible conditions for peace and stability in West Africa in order to stimulate development, and he appreciated the Council's support for ECOWAS. He welcomed resolution 1464 (2003) which authorized ECOWAS forces taking part in ECOFORCE to take all necessary measures to assure security. However, ECOWAS must be given the means required to continue to bring about peace and stability in Côte d'Ivoire.
He said the organizations already had had experience in peacekeeping, such as in Sierra Leone. Peacekeeping and peace-building required significant logistical and financial resources. That was why the organizations had turned to the international community, and to the Council, to seek the necessary means for establishing peace in Côte d'Ivoire, and stability in the West Africa region.
DUBEM ONYIA, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, said that previous speakers had explained the situation to the Council. He only wanted to add that the Council needed to take seriously the issue of Côte d'Ivoire. That question was particularly important as the international community could not stand by and watch the situation there deteriorate. To ensure peace and stability in the region, it was necessary to come to the aid of Côte d'Ivoire.
The Executive Secretary of ECOWAS, MOHAMED IBN CHAMBAS, said that the common theme in many recent Council discussions was the link between instability and deepening poverty. Other important issues included the easy availability of small arms and the link to prolonged crises, and the readiness of unemployed youth and mercenaries to take part in the conflicts. It was necessary to break the cycle of violence and create conditions for peace and stability, and the role of regional organizations was important in the respect. The ECOWAS had taken up that challenge, having demonstrated its willingness to intervene in conflicts in the subregion. The major limitation it was facing was the lack of financial resources.
Continuing, he challenged the Council to find ways to support regional efforts to maintain peace and security, which, after all, was the primary responsibility of the Council. The Council should play a lead role in creating the right synergy and the right collaborative relations with ECOWAS in dealing with the issues of peace and security. He welcomed the scheduled visit of the Council to the subregion and looked forward to continuing the discussions during that visit.
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