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.