The departure of ONUCI is a turning point for the Côte d’Ivoire [fr]
UNOCI-Côte d’Ivoire- Statement by Mr François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 2 June 2017
Today’s meeting is exceptional and historic. Indeed, it is rare for the Security Council to meet on the occasion of closing a peacekeeping mission. Yet, we are here doing just that for the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), which will be phased out by 30 June, under resolution 2284 (2016).
I would like to thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for her briefing and especially for her work at the head of UNOCI over the past four years which, together with the work of her predecessor, has enabled us to reach this point today. France is very grateful. This meeting is rendered even more historic as it follows the brilliant election in the General Assembly, this morning, of Côte d’Ivoire as a Security Council member for the biennium 2018-2019. Through its Minister for Foreign Affairs, I would like to warmly congratulate Côte d’Ivoire on its election. Its experience in peacekeeping will provide the Council a unique perspective to help us more effectively tackle the challenges of the world. We welcome the opportunity to work alongside Côte d’Ivoire over the next two years in our pursuit of international peace and security. The upcoming departure of UNOCI is a turning point for Côte d’Ivoire, as it is for peacekeeping. We must take this opportunity to review the past, evaluate the present and prepare for the future.
First, we must assess our accomplishments in Côte d’Ivoire and draw lessons from them. In 28 days, UNOCI will close after more than 13 years of existence. At the height of the 2010-2011 crisis it consisted of approximately 11,000 uniformed personnel. I pay a special tribute to all UNOCI personnel — soldiers, policemen and civilians — who, over the years, have devoted themselves to the pursuit of peace and security in Côte d’Ivoire. I honour the memory of the 150 men and women who lost their lives in the course of that mission. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten. UNOCI stood by the country through a complex trajectory, marked by the acute crisis from 2004 to 2011, but also accompanied by the hope of renewal and the successful recovery starting in 2011. We must draw useful peacekeeping lessons from such a resounding success. Several factors have helped over the years.
First of all, the Council gave UNOCI a clear and flexible mandate which was adapted to on developments on the ground. Difficulties were met with a strengthened mandate and personnel increases. When the crisis abated, the Council transitioned UNOCI to best enable long-term stability. The Council also developed new tools adapted to the needs on the ground, such as the rapid reaction force.
Secondly, since its inception, UNOCI also participated in the political process which, pitfalls notwithstanding, provided it a clear road map, including an electoral timetable. The unity of the Council also provided UNOCI with the necessary support in order for it to carry out its mandate.
Thirdly, UNOCI has always enjoyed the united
support of the international community. The United Nations, the Economic Community of West African States, the African Union and the bilateral and multilateral partners of Côte d’Ivoire came together in tense times. France also did its part, primarily through its ongoing support for UNOCI, under a Council mandate, through the French forces it deployed to Côte d’Ivoire throughout that period.
Finally, and importantly, UNOCI has enjoyed an excellent relationship with the host country based on trust and the pursuit of peace. It is an example to follow. That relationship has been an essential prerequisite to ensuring an effective transition.As a result, Côte d’Ivoire has now fully taken its destiny into its own hands.
Today’s Côte d’Ivoire has made great progress; it is no longer the deeply divided — politically and territorially — country of 2004 or 2011. Democratic life in the country has become normalized and strengthened; economic growth is contributing to its development; the security situation continues to improve, including at the border; and the country is a major player in its subregion in all areas. The people and the Government of Côte d’Ivoire have demonstrated their determination to continue that positive trend. They are now fully responsible for that transition. Côte d’Ivoire is now in a position to continue moving forward. As the Council recalled in resolution 2284 (2016), this means we need to continue to address the important challenges that remain, and as the Special Representative has pointed out, the last few months have highlighted in particular the need to finalize the security sector reform and reintegrate the ex-combatants. This is an imperative for ensuring lasting stability in the country. The Government of Côte d’Ivoire has clearly expressed its determination to tackle these issues and to complete professionalizing its security forces.
We welcome and support this commitment just as we support the announcement of the strengthening of the country’s participation in peacekeeping. This decision represents a way of organizing what is to come. We welcome its first illustration with the deployment under way of an Ivorian contingent within the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali.
We also welcome the actions taken by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire to strengthen social cohesion, which need to continue. The fight against impunity is also a constant imperative, particularly with regard to the crimes committed during the post-election crisis. Only fair and equitable justice, which judges violations regardless of who are their perpetrators, will be able to consolidate and sustain the stabilization of the country. Progress in this area, nationally as well as in cooperation with the International Criminal Court, will be decisive for the purpose of lasting reconciliation.
The closure of UNOCI does not mean, however, that the country will be left alone to face the challenges that persist. As many other States do, Côte d’Ivoire will continue to benefit from the support of the United Nations through several channels. The agencies, funds and programmes operating on its territory assembled within the country team will continue to help with the country’s recovery. Identifying the priority areas within the action plan signed with the Government in 2016 is particularly useful in this regard. We call on international donors to support the country team in this undertaking. The United Nations will also continue to support Côte d’Ivoire as will its neighbours through the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel, whose mandate covers the entire subregion. Côte d’Ivoire should also be able to count on the constant commitment of its bilateral and multilateral partners in all fields. Thanks to the strong links between our two countries in all areas, France is committed to Côte d’Ivoire. We will continue to support the country in its economic and social development, as well as in capacity-building, particularly in security and defence, through bilateral cooperation. We will also continue to support the deep and constant engagement of the European Union with Côte d’Ivoire. When the conditions are right, the best legacy a peacekeeping operation can leave behind is to pass the torch to the host country in order to anchor longterm stability. This is the meaning of our meeting today on Côte d’Ivoire. We are very happy about this for Côte d’Ivoire, for the Security Council and for the United Nations.