Various Documents considered by the Committee - European Scrutiny Committee Contents

10 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

Draft Council Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No.174/2005 imposing restrictions on the supply of assistance related to military activities to Côte d'Ivoire

Legal baseArticle 29 TEU; unanimity
DepartmentForeign and Commonwealth Office
Basis of consideration(a)  Minister's letter of 5 November 2010

(b)  EM of 8 November 2010

Previous Committee Report(a)  HC 428-v (2010-11), chapter 12 (27 October 2010); also see (27131) 16033/05: HC 34-xv (2005-06), chapter 15 (18 January 2006) and HC 38-i (2004-05), chapter 24 (1 December 2004);

(b)  None

Discussed in Council(a)  25 October 2010 Foreign Affairs Council

(b)  15 November 2010

Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decision(a)  Cleared (decision reported to the House on 27 October 2010); further information provided

(b)  Cleared


10.1 As earlier Reports have noted, a serious political and military crisis has 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

10.2 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 constituted 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.[28]

10.3 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).

10.4 Subsequently, the Common Position was amended to reflect UNSCR 1643, banning the import of all rough diamonds from Côte d'Ivoire. As the then Minister for Europe (Douglas Alexander) made clear at the time, 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.[29] 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.[30]

Subsequent developments

10.5 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.

10.6 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

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

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

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

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

10.8 Recalling the elements of the Common Position thus far, the Minister explained that:

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

—  the arms embargo allowed, 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.

10.9 The Minister went on to explain that France intended to supply non-lethal crowd control equipment to Côte d'Ivoire, but could not do so legally until the EU Council Decision and then subsequently the Council Regulations were brought into line with UNSCR 1946. He and other Member States supported the French action in this case. However, in order for the Ivorian security forces to receive this crowd control equipment for use during the electoral process the Council Decision had to be adopted by 25 October 2010. Once the Council Decision was adopted, the Council Regulation (the legal act giving effect to the Council Decision in the EU) would need to be amended and then adopted quickly thereafter. Failure to adopt both Decision and Regulation would, he said, mean that non-lethal crowd control equipment would not be available to the Ivorian security forces during the electoral process. Due to the process involved it was likely that any such equipment would not be available to the Ivorians in time for the first round of elections on 31 October; but if the changes were agreed and adopted, then it should be available to them before the planned second round of elections on 28 November.

10.10 The Minister went 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 needed to be adopted as soon as is possible. This meant, he regretted to say, that it had been necessary to override parliamentary scrutiny in order to adopt the Council Decision; and, indeed, it would in due course be necessary to do so again, in respect of the Council Regulation; otherwise, 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.

Our assessment

10.11 We reported this development to the House because we thought that it should be aware of this change of policy.

10.12 We accepted 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 did 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 had no wish to intervene in the process, and accordingly cleared the document.

10.13 Our concerns stemmed from the Minister's failure properly to explain important aspects of the proposal. The exception to the arms embargo was for "non-lethal equipment intended solely to enable the Ivorian security forces to use only appropriate and proportionate force while maintaining public order". The Minister had pointed out that the Ivorian security forces currently had little or no capacity to deal with protests using non-lethal equipment — which presumably also meant that those forces had little or no experience of using such equipment, let alone appropriately or proportionally. Yet the Minister had provided no information about what equipment was to be supplied, and how its non-lethality was to be guaranteed; nor any indication of how the Ivorian security services were 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 was to happen to the equipment once the elections were over. It seemed that this decision, no doubt at the UN as well as within the EU, had been driven by France. Given recent history in the Côte d'Ivoire, this was unsurprising. But the EU as a whole was involved, and would be criticised should matters not turn out as planned. All in all, the impression given by the Minister's Explanatory Memorandum was, we felt, that it was as last minute and hurried as the whole exercise appeared to have been.

10.14 We accordingly asked the Minister to provide this information, and also to ensure that further such changes to sanctions regimes were fully explained in the way that this one had not been.[31]

The draft Council Regulation

10.15 The Council Regulation follows the recently adopted EU Council Decision and allows for the changes to the restrictive measure to be acted upon.

10.16 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 8 November 2010, the Minister for Europe (David Lidington) outlines the background and rationale in much the same way as in his previous Explanatory Memorandum, and says that, although the Ivorian security forces did not have the crowd control equipment for use by the time of the first round of elections, the benefit to making sure the Regulation is adopted quickly is that such equipment will be available to them in time for the second round.

The Government view

10.17 The Minister reiterates his support for the renewal of restrictive measures against Côte d'Ivoire and also the exemption on the arms embargo to allow the supply of non-lethal equipment for the purpose of crowd control.

10.18 He continues as follows:

"Côte d'Ivoire is at a critical stage; successful elections now could mean UNOCI — the UN peacekeeping force — drawdown within the next year. This would be a substantial success from the UK's perspective; our assessed contribution to the force through the UN is about $35 million a year."

The Minister's letter of 5 November 2010

10.19 The Minister has also responded to our earlier points as follows:

"no information about what equipment is to be supplied, and how its non-lethality is to be guaranteed;

"This is fast moving dossier and, in our original Explanatory Memorandum, we were pleased to provide as much information as we had at the time to the Committees. We have since, following continued dialogue with our French colleagues in Paris and New York, been given more information which I believe will address your specific concerns in this case. France intends to supply the following non-lethal law enforcement equipment:

"> 10,000 bulletproof vests,
"> 190 x 56mm tear-gas grenade launchers
"> 19,400 tear-gas grenades
"> 5,000 propulsive cartridges — allowing the above grenades to be rifle launched.

"no indication of how the Ivorian security services are to be trained in its proper use;

"The goods will be shipped to the Integrated Command Centre who are in charge of election security. This force is made up of equal numbers of the Forces Nouvelles (who maintain law and order in the north of Côte D'Ivoire) and the Ivorian defence and security forces (who maintain law and order in the south of Côte D'Ivoire). On 4 November France told us that they are considering specialised training the Ivorians. Consideration of this aspect will be finalised once they have final, internal approval to send the equipment. France's provisional plans are to send a team of either Gendarmes or Police to Côte D'Ivoire for approximately ten days to conduct training, as they did with the Guineans before their elections.

"no information about the general political situation in Côte d'Ivoire and the likelihood of the equipment having to be used during the elections;

"I have attached some general background on the situation in Côte D'Ivoire to this letter. I hope that this gives you more of an understanding of the political situation that has lead up to the current set of elections. The first round of the elections was peaceful and well managed. The second round is currently scheduled for 28 November. We hope that these elections will also be peaceful, but the risk of violence remains a real possibility.

"no information about would happen to the equipment once the elections are over.

"We have not received any indication from France about this. But my officials consider it most likely that the equipment will remain in the control of the Integrated Command Centre, especially given that France now appear to intend to provide training on its use."

10.20 Most of what the Minister has to say by way of political background is what was already in our previous Report (c.f. paragraph 0.1 and 0.6 above). However, he also says:

"While the current situation in Côte D'Ivoire is stable throughout most of the country there is a possibility of deterioration of law and order around the second round of elections on 28 November. Even those intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. We consider some violence to be possible. The UK remains concerned that if the Ivorian security forces are confronted by a violent situation, and have no alternative to using live ammunition, they may do so. By giving them an alternative we hope that France's action will save lives."

10.21 The Minister concludes his letter by expressing the hope that this information provides the Committee with a better indication of the current situation, and reiterating the seriousness with which he takes the responsibility to keep the Committee informed on issues concerning sanctions is something I take seriously and his regret at the need for the override of scrutiny on this occasion due to the timing of the UN resolution renewal and the ongoing elections.


10.22 As with the Council Decision, given the timelines that the Minister has explained, we accept that it was not possible for him to have submitted the consequential Council Regulation prior to adoption, and therefore do not object to his having over-ridden scrutiny on this occasion and in these circumstances.

10.23 We have now received the sort of information that would have enabled us to have dealt with this matter, had it been provided in the first instance. We ask the Minister to ensure that further such changes to sanctions regimes are fully explained at the outset.

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

29   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 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. For further information on the Kimberley Process, see Back

30   See headnote: see (27131) 16033/05: HC 34-xv (2005-06), chapter 15 (18 January 2006). Back

31   See headnote: HC 428-v (2010-11), chapter 12 (27 October 2010). Back

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