Documents considered by the Committee on 27 October 2010 - European Scrutiny Committee Contents

12 EU restrictive measures against Côte d'Ivoire


Draft Council Decision extending and amending Common Position 2004/852/CFSP on restrictive measures against Côte d'Ivoire

Legal baseArticle 29 TEU; unanimity
DepartmentForeign and Commonwealth Office
Basis of considerationEM and Minister's letter of 22 October 2010
Previous Committee ReportNone; but see (27131) 16033/05: HC 34-xv (18 January 2006), chapter 15 (18 January 2006) and HC 38-i (2004-05) chapter 24 (1 December 2004)
To be discussed in Council25 October 2010 Foreign Affairs Council
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared, but further information requested


12.1 As the previous Committee's earlier Report notes, the Kimberley Process is a joint government, international diamond industry and civil society initiative to stem the flow of "conflict diamonds" — rough diamonds that are used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments and which are generally regarded as having contributed to devastating conflicts in countries such as Angola, Côte d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone. According to the KP website, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) imposes extensive requirements on its members to enable them to certify shipments of rough diamonds as "conflict-free", and as of December 2009, the KP had 49 members, representing 75 countries, with the European Community and its Member States counting as an individual participant.[76]

12.2 That same earlier Report also noted that a serious political and military crisis had beset the Côte d'Ivoire since September 2002, with the EU having repeatedly expressed concern at subsequent human rights violations by both sides, chiefly prior to the signing of the Linas Marcoussis peace agreement (LMA) in January 2003 but also subsequently. The LMA agreement identified reforms that needed to take place to ensure an end to violence. However, the agreement was not signed by either the President or Government of Côte d'Ivoire (GCI). In July 2003, all sides signed a new Agreement — Accra III — but in November 2003 the GCI breached the ceasefire and crossed a UN-held line to attack the northern rebels in contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 1528. In April 2004 a UN mission (UNOCI) was established, with the French 'Licorne' force taking the role of rapid deployment support. In November 2004 government forces attempted to attack the Forces Nouvelles (FN) across the cease-fire line. On 6 November, government planes bombed French positions, killing nine French peacekeepers; the French retaliated by destroying the Ivorian air force. Riots ensued across Abidjan, targeting French nationals and the French army; around 8,000 French nationals were evacuated or subsequently left.

EU Common Position 2004/852/CFSP

12.3 In November 2004 the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously adopted resolution 1572 (2004) imposing an arms embargo against Côte d'Ivoire with immediate effect. The resolution also imposed a travel ban and an assets freeze against individuals who constitute a threat to the peace and reconciliation process, to come into force on 15 December 2004. The African Union, in a statement on 14 November 2004, gave its full support to the resolution. The first EU Common Position implemented the terms of resolution 1572 across the European Union. In addition, it prohibited the supply of equipment which might be used for internal repression. It was cleared by the then Committee on 1 December 2004 and agreed at the 13 December 2004 General Affairs and External Relations Council.[77]

12.4 The criteria for lifting the arms embargo and restrictive measures was full implementation of the LMA and Accra agreements, i.e. demobilisation, disarmament and resettlement (DDR) of combatants as well as free, fair and credible elections. These criteria had not been met. Therefore, on 15 December 2005 the UNSC agreed resolution 1643 to renew all the above measures (save the assets freeze, which was not time-specific and does not require renewal).

12.5 UNSCR 1643 included the addition of a ban on the import of all rough diamonds from Côte d'Ivoire. From the outset, in November 2002, the GCI suspended itself from the KPCS, and any diamond exports from Côte d'Ivoire were treated as illicit by all other KPCS participants. However, there was evidence that Côte d'Ivoire diamonds were being smuggled to neighbouring states who were not KPCS participants — e.g., Mali — where they were able to enter the legitimate trade, despite the fact that Kimberley Process participants are supposed to encompass 99.8% of the international diamond trade and none is supposed to buy from or sell to non-KPCS participants. The purchase of Ivoirean diamonds also contributed to regional instability by providing an important income for the FN, who controlled some of the largest mines and also extracted revenues from road-blocks near the border areas, where natural resources, including diamonds, left the country. The November 2005 Kimberley Process Meeting concluded that the ongoing production of rough diamonds in Côte d'Ivoire, and the possible introduction of such illicit diamonds into the legitimate diamond trade, threatened the integrity and credibility of the whole KPCS. By making diamonds from Côte d'Ivoire illicit in international law, it was hoped that the UN ban would reinforce the Kimberley Process and assist its planned investigation into the production capacity of the Ivoirean diamond trade.

12.6 At that time, the then Minister for Europe (Douglas Alexander) noted that, under Article 11 of the Treaty on European Union, one of the objectives of the Common Foreign and Security Policy was "to preserve peace and strengthen international security, in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter" and that the EU's implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1643 was crucial to the furthering of this aim. The then Government supported the renewal of the sanctions and the addition of a diamond ban as part of a broader strategy to establish lasting peace and security in Côte d'Ivoire, judged that the diamond ban would only affect those associated with the illegal diamond trade, and would not result in the negative humanitarian effects that a ban on legal commodity exports, such as cocoa, might have.[78]

The previous Committee's assessment

12.7 As the then Minister for Europe made clear, the political situation in Côte d'Ivoire was little improved, and illicit diamond smuggling there appeared not only to be stoking the fires of instability but also to be threatening the integrity and credibility of the whole Kimberley Process. With the overcoming of such threats to the peace and security being crucial to the successful implementation of the recently agreed EU Strategy on Africa, the previous Committee judged it appropriate to draw the extension, in scope as well as duration, of the Common Position to the attention of the House.

Subsequent developments

12.8 A series of negotiations followed, involving, at different points, the mediation efforts of France, Ghana, South Africa and the African Union. An international contact group met monthly to discuss the problem from November 2005 to February 2007. Various formulations of unity governments were tried, offering ministerial posts to former rebels from the FN and political opposition. No progress was made during this time on the two key issues — disarmament of the former rebels and other militia, and the identification of the population and establishment of credible and accepted electoral lists.

12.9 In March 2007 a new agreement was signed between the President and the leader of the New Forces, Guillaume Soro, under the mediation of Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore — the Ouagadougou Accords — under which Soro became Prime Minister. The formal division between the rebel-held north and the government south ended and the country was officially re-united in April 2007. But significant progress has yet to be made on re-integrating the rebel forces into the army, or on the national identification process, and the Ouagadougou accord has had to be supplemented by a further agreement in November 2007.

The proposed extension and amendment of Common Position 2004/852/CFSP

12.10 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 22 October 2010, the Minister for Europe (David Lidington) says that:

—  Côte d'Ivoire is, after five years and six postponements, still on track to hold Presidential elections on 31 October 2010;

—  the outcome remains uncertain and there is a high risk of demonstrations turning violent during and after this period; and

—  the Ivorian security forces currently have little or no capacity to deal with protests using non-lethal equipment.

12.11 Recalling the elements of the Common Position thus far, the Minister explains that:

—  UNSCR 1946 was adopted on 15 October 2010 renewing sanctions for a period of six months;

—  the arms embargo allows, where agreed by the UN Sanctions Committee, the supply of non-lethal equipment intended solely to enable the Ivorian security forces to use only appropriate and proportionate force while maintaining public order.

12.12 The Minister continues as follows:

"France intends to supply non-lethal crowd control equipment to Cote d'Ivoire, but cannot do so legally until the EU Council Decision and then subsequently the Council Regulations are brought into line with UNSCR 1946. We and other Member States support the French action in this case.

"In order for the Ivorian security forces to receive this crowd control equipment for use during the electoral process the Council Decision must be adopted by 25 October 2010. Once the Council Decision is adopted, the Council Regulation (the legal act giving effect to the Council Decision in the EU) will need to be amended and then adopted quickly thereafter. Failure to adopt both Decision and Regulation will mean that non-lethal crowd control equipment will not be available to the Ivorian security forces during the electoral process. Due to the process involved it is likely that any such equipment will not be available to the Ivorians in time for the first round of elections on 31 October, but if the changes are agreed and adopted then it should be available to them before the planned second round of elections on 28 November."

The Government's view

12.13 The Minister reiterates his support for the renewal of the restrictive measures and the exemption on the arms embargo to allow the supply of non-lethal equipment for the purpose of crowd control.

12.14 He goes on to say that, due to the pressing need for the Ivorian security forces to have this equipment during the imminent electoral process, the Council Decision needs to be adopted as soon as is possible, and continues as follows:

"I regret that it has been necessary to override parliamentary scrutiny in order to adopt the Council Decision and I further regret that this will, in due course, be necessary again, in respect of the Council Regulation. If we did not override parliamentary scrutiny in regard to this matter then the Council Decision and Regulation would not be adopted in time for the Ivorian security forces to be equipped with non-lethal crowd control equipment."

The Minister's letter of 22 October 2010

12.15 The Minister's separate letter to the Committee chairman adds nothing of substance to his Explanatory Memorandum other than to say that:

"the responsibility to keep your Committee informed on issues concerning sanctions is something I take seriously and the need for the override of scrutiny on this occasion is regrettably unavoidable due to the timing of the UN resolution renewal and the imminent election date in Cote d'Ivoire."


12.16 We are reporting this development to the House because we think that it should be aware of this change of policy. We accept that, the change to the UN resolution not having been made until 15 October, it was not possible for the Minister to have submitted the proposal in time for our meeting on 20 October, and therefore do not object to his having over-ridden scrutiny on this occasion and in these circumstances. Though unhappy with the quality of the Minister's Explanatory Memorandum, we have no wish to intervene in the process, and accordingly clear the document.

12.17 Our unhappiness stems from the Minister's failure properly to explain important aspects of the proposal. We note that the exception to the arms embargo is for "non-lethal equipment intended solely to enable the Ivorian security forces to use only appropriate and proportionate force while maintaining public order". We also note that the Ivorian security forces currently have little or no capacity to deal with protests using non-lethal equipment. This presumably also means that those forces have little or no experience of using such equipment, let alone appropriately or proportionally. Yet the Minister provides no information about what equipment is to be supplied, and how its non-lethality is to be guaranteed; nor any indication of how the Ivorian security services are to be trained in its proper use; nor about the general political situation in Côte d'Ivoire and the likelihood of the equipment having to be used during the elections; nor what is to happen to the equipment once the elections are over. It seems that this decision, no doubt at the UN as well as within the EU, has been driven by France. Given recent history in the Côte d'Ivoire, this is unsurprising. But the EU as a whole is involved, and would be criticised should matters not turn out as planned. All in all, the impression given by the Minister's Explanatory Memorandum is that it was as last minute and hurried as this whole exercise appears to have been.

12.18 We would accordingly be grateful if the Minister would write to us with this information, and also ensure that further such changes to sanctions regimes are fully explained in the way that this one has not been.

76   For further information on the Kimberley Process, see  Back

77   See headnote: HC 38-i (2004-05) chapter 24 (1 December 2004). Back

78   Côte d'Ivoire's economy is based on the export of cash crops. It is the largest producer of cocoa in the world, producing 40% of global supply, and the fifth largest producer of robusta coffee. It is estimated that 650,000 farmers work solely in the cocoa sector, which represents 40% of GDP and 60% of export revenues. The economy has expanded into agro-industry and the manufacture of consumer goods for domestic and regional markets. The conflict had a negative effect on the economy. Back

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