10 EU restrictive measures against
Côte d'Ivoire |
|Draft Council Decision amending Council Decision 2010/656/CFSP on restrictive measures against Côte d'Ivoire
|Legal base||Article 29 TEU; unanimity
|Department||Foreign and Commonwealth Office
|Basis of consideration||EM of 4 April 2011
|Previous Committee Report||None; but see (32391) , (32412) and (32413) HC 428-xii (2010-11), chapter 18 (12 January 2011);
(32081) and (32155) : HC 428-viii (2010-11), chapter 10 (17 November 2010) and 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)
|To be discussed in Council||12 April 2011 Foreign Affairs Council
|Committee's assessment||Politically important
10.1 As earlier Reports have noted, Côte d'Ivoire has
had a bad time over the past eight years. UN sanctions were first
imposed in 2004. These are implemented in EU by a policy-setting
Council Decision and an implementing Council Regulation. EU restrictive
measures imposed on Côte d'Ivoire prior to last autumn were
thus an arms embargo, a travel ban and asset freeze on three people
and a ban on direct or indirect import of all rough diamonds.
10.2 Last autumn, after five years and six postponements,
Côte d'Ivoire was set to hold Presidential elections on
31 October 2010. But the outcome remained uncertain and the EU
perceived a high risk of demonstrations turning violent. Against
this background, UNSCR 1946, adopted on 15 October 2010, renewed
sanctions for six months but also permitted 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. As our previous Report recalls, on 27 October and
18 November 2010 the Committee considered and cleared a Council
Decision and implementing Council Regulation to enable France
to provide such equipment in time for the second round of elections
on 28 November 2010.
10.3 This turned out to be a run-off between
incumbent President Gbagbo and his main challenger, Alassane Ouattara.
It reversed their first-round positions, with Ouattara gaining
a 54:46 majority, announced by the Independent Electoral Commission
(CEI) on 2 December and certified on 4 December by the UN Secretary-General's
Special Representative. The Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington)
noted that all the main observer groups EU, AU, ECOWAS,
Carter Centre pronounced the elections "not perfect
but fair enough." He went on to say that President Gbagbo
had tried to prevent the CEI announcing the result and the Gbagbo
dominated Constitutional Council then declared the announced results
null and void and on 3 December gave Gbagbo a 51:49 majority.
He also referred to the Government's public backing of the UN's
endorsement of the 28 November election results and ministerial
statements making it clear that Gbagbo should cede power.
10.4 That Ouattara was the properly-elected President
and that Gbagbo should cede power was the position also taken
by the rest of the EU, the AU, the US and ECOWAS (the relevant
regional body). ECOWAS then mounted an unsuccessful diplomatic
mission in the first week of January, seeking to persuade Gbagbo
to leave. Control of the national treasury had been passed by
ECOWAS to President-elect Ouattara. But he remained holed up in
Abidjan's main hotel, protected by the UN force, UNOCI. And Gbagbo
remained in control of significant military and other forces,
and some revenue streams from cocoa and oil exports. Though, at
that stage, widespread and sustained violence had been avoided,
UNOCI was still being denied access by forces loyal to Gbagbo
to areas in the north of the country in which there were said
to be mass graves of Ouattara supporters.
10.5 The three Council Decisions that we cleared
on 12 January 2011 embodied the EU response, which was part of
a wider strategy embraced by all the above international actors,
to isolate Gbagbo and his supporters and starve them of their
remaining funds, so that they eventually did the right thing.
- on 22 December 2010 a Council
Decision was adopted (amending the Council Decision adopted in
November 2010) which subjected 19 individuals identified as blocking
the democratic process in Côte d'Ivoire to a travel ban;
- then, on 31 December 2010 another amendment was
adopted, subjecting a further 59 individuals blocking the democratic
process to a travel ban; and
- in addition, on 18 January 2011, a further amendment
was adopted that targeted those already subject to a travel ban
with an assets freeze and also commercial entities two
autonomous ports, of Abidjan and San Pedro, and three banks, due
to their role in helping to fund the illegitimate government of
Gbagbo with a view to restricting the Gbagbo regime's
access to revenue.
The draft Council Decision
10.6 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 4 April
2011, the Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) explains that
listing of the ports and other entities has severely restricted
income flows, thus complementing the decision by the Central Bank
of West African States to remove signatory powers from Gbagbo's
regime. He cites reports suggesting that Gbagbo was only able
to pay about 60% of civil servant salaries last month, and says
that this figure will be even lower this month. However, the Minister
says, in addition to the political pressure that this places on
Gbagbo's ability to govern, it has also had repercussions both
in Cote d'Ivoire, through exacerbating an already serious humanitarian
situation, and beyond, by restricting the flow of trade.
10.7 Against this background, the Minister says
that it is therefore proposed to make amendments to the restrictive
measures that include "a humanitarian carve out,
a prohibition on the purchase of Ivorian bonds issued by the illegitimate
government of Gbagbo, a review clause to assess the impact of
the listing of the two ports and additions to the list of individuals
targeted by a travel ban and asset freeze."
The Government's view
10.8 The Minister reiterates UK support for
the UN endorsement of President Ouattara as the winner of last
year's Presidential election, and continues his comments as follows:
"The situation in the country is fast changing
and we are deeply concerned at the serious escalation of violence.
Until Gbagbo steps aside, we support continued robust restrictive
measures against him and those that support his illegitimate regime.
Those who are responsible for threatening the peace process in
the country, and for inciting acts of violence against innocent
civilians will be held responsible for their actions.
"The EU measures are having an effect in weakening
Gbagbo's position and his ability to govern. However it also has
repercussions both in Cote d'Ivoire, through exacerbating an already
serious humanitarian situation, and beyond, by effectively stopping
EU trade with the country, particularly affecting the EU shipping
and cocoa industry. We are therefore ensuring that we keep EU
measures under regular review and seek to mitigate these effects
where possible and appropriate."
10.9 At this juncture, the situation on the
ground appears to be highly uncertain: BBC reports say that Ouattara's
prime minister has said the time is right for a "rapid offensive"
against Abidjan; that many residents are trapped indoors without
food, water and electricity; that the UN has urged Ouattara to
investigate hundreds of deaths blamed partly on his supporters
in the town of Duekoue; and that Gbagbo's army chief of staff,
having defected to the other side, has now changed his mind.
10.10 This illustrates the very difficult
situation with which the EU and other international actors are
grappling. Though it may have resolved itself by the time the
Foreign Affairs Council meets on 11 April, this cannot by any
means be taken for granted, and the measures proposed would thus
appear to be sensible.
10.11 We now clear the document.
38 See headnote: (32391) -, (32412) - and (32413) -
HC 428-xii (2010-11), chapter 18 (12 January 2011). Back
An exemption on humanitarian grounds to allow, for example, the
importation of lime for use in potable water supply. Back