UK MINISTER COMMENTS ON IVORY COAST SANCTIONS

On 25 June 2014, the UK Minister for Europe, David Lidington MP, reported to the UK Parliament’s European Scrutiny Committee on the situation regarding sanctions in the Côte d’Ivoire (CDI).

The UN first imposed sanctions against the CDI in 2004. Further EU measures were imposed in 2010 (following disputed election results) which targeted those identified as supporters of the incumbent President, Laurent Gbagbo, and those obstructing the process of peace and national reconciliation. Since Gbabgo’s arrest in 2011 and President Ouattara taking office, UN and EU restrictive measures have gradually been eased in order to acknowledge the progress that has been made towards stable democratic governance in the country (our previous blog on the decrease in sanctions can be found here).

David Lidington said that the CDI is continuing to make encouraging progress, noting that “the underlying security situation has continued to improve over the last 12 months”. Lidington highlighted, however that “there are still pockets of insecurity, particularly in the west of the country, and the continuing security influence of the Zone Commanders of the former Forces Nouvelles remains a concern”.

Regarding the UN’s renewal of sanctions, the Minister commented that: “Some Member States pushed for a fairly substantive lifting of the arms embargo, suggesting that enough progress has been made by the Ivorian authorities on SSR and DDR reform. Other Member States felt that this was premature and suggested that there needed to be more evidence of the military being under the control of a democratically elected civilian government over a more substantial amount of time”.

Despite the suggest that the embargo remain unchanged for another year until the 2015 elections, Lidington said that “it was felt [by the UK] that some easing to the embargo was warranted to allow the Ivorians to better equip their army, police and gendarmerie, so as to marginalise the Zone Commanders in the future and mark the progress that has been made in SSR reform thus far. This compromise was reached by agreeing the lifting of ‘non-lethal’ items from the embargo and by removing the requirement for the Ivorian authorities to obtain advanced approval from the UN Sanctions Committee for exports of ‘small arms’”.

The Minister said that the UK Government’s policy towards the CDI would be determined by the UN CDI Sanction’s Committee experts’ report, which would be used by the UK to direct its policy on the CDI as a whole. Lidington said that “Should SSR and DDR reform continue to progress positively and democratic elections [be] successfully held in 2015, the UN and EU may be in a position to consider easing measures further”.

A full version of the European Scrutiny Committee’s debate on the issue can be found here. An up-to-date list of sanctions currently in force against the Ivory Coast can be found on the ‘sanctions in force’ section of this blog.

This entry was posted in Ivory Coast, United Nations by Michael O'Kane. Bookmark the permalink.

About Michael O'Kane

Michael O’Kane is a partner and Head of the Business Crime team at leading UK firm Peters & Peters. Described as ‘first-rate’ (Legal 500 2012), he “draws glowing praise from commentators” (Chambers 2013) for handling the international aspects of business crime, including sanctions, extradition and mutual legal assistance. Called to the Bar in 1992 and prior to joining Peters & Peters he was a senior specialist prosecutor at the Crown Prosecution Service Headquarters(CPS). At CPS HQ he was a key member of a small specialist unit responsible for the prosecution of serious and high profile fraud, terrorist and special interest criminal matters including the Stansted Airport Afghan hijacking and the prosecution of Paul Burrell (Princess Diana’s butler). Michael joined Peters & Peters in 2002. He became a partner in May 2004, and Head of the Business Crime team in May 2009. Since joining Peters & Peters, Michael has dealt with a wide range of business crime matters. He has particular expertise in international sanctions, criminal cartels, extradition, corruption, mutual legal assistance, and FSA investigations. Described as“ an influential practitioner in fraud and regulatory work, so much so that he is top of the referral lists of many City firms for independent advice for directors” (The Lawyer’s Hot 100 2009), he was recognised as one of the UK’s most innovative lawyers in the 2011 FT Innovative Lawyer Awards and included in the list of the UK's leading lawyers in 'The International Who's Who of Asset Recovery 2012. In 2012 he was the winner of the Global Competition Review Article of the Year. Michael regularly appears on television and radio to discuss his specialist areas and he is the author of the leading textbook on the UK Criminal Cartel Offence “The Law of Criminal Cartels-Practice and Procedure” (Oxford University Press 2009). Recent/Current Sanctions Work • Representing 109 individuals and 12 companies subject to designation by the European Council under targeted measures imposed against Zimbabwe. This is the largest and most complex collective challenge to a sanctions listing ever brought before the European Court. • Acting for a former Egyptian Minister and his UK resident wife, challenging their designation by the European Council of Ministers under targeted measures brought against former members of the Egyptian Government. • Advising a company accused in a UN investigation report to have breached UN sanctions imposed in relation to Somalia. • Advising a UK company in relation to ongoing commercial relationships with an Iranian company listed under both EU and UN sanctions. • Advising an individual in relation to a UK investigation for alleging breaching nuclear export controls.

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