United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI)
Recognizing the efforts of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) in promoting peace, stability and development, the UN Security Council on 30 June 2017 marked the closing of the mission by underscoring the importance of action by the Government to address the remaining challenges in the country for the benefit of all Ivorians. the Council welcomed progress in the West African nation, including the consolidation of peace and stability, improvements in economic prosperity and the successful holding of presidential and legislative elections in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
Having considered that the situation in Cote d’Ivoire continued to pose a threat to peace and the international security of the region and acting by virtue of Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Security Council, according to the terms of its resolution 1528 of 27 February 2004, decided to create the United Nations Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI) as from 4 April 2004. UNOCI replaced the UN Mission in Cote d’Ivoire (MINUCI), a political mission created in May 2003 by the Security Council with a mandate to facilitate the implementation of a peace agreement signed by the Ivorian parties in January 2003.
Following the presidential election of 2010 and the political crisis which ensued, UNOCI has remained on the ground to protect civilians and support the new Ivorian government in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants (DDR) and the reform of the security sector.
The Security Council, through Resolution 2162 extends until 30 June 2015 the mandate of UNOCI as defined in Resolution 2000 (2011) and which among other subjects, bears on UNOCI’s support to the Ivorian authorities for the security and stabilization of Cote d’Ivoire and security sector reform (SSR); support for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of ex-combatants; monitoring of the arms embargo and the media; protection of the civilian population from imminent risk of physical violence without prejudice to the principal responsibility of the Ivorian authorities and in accordance with the means available to it and within its zone of deployment; support for efforts aimed at promoting human rights; humanitarian assistance and support to the repatriation of refugees and displaced persons. The Security Council also gives the mandate to UNOCI to assist the Government in the preparation of presidential election scheduled for 2015, particularly in the facilitation of dialogue between the political actors including representatives of civil society and political parties.
According to Resolution 2162 adopted on 25 June 2014, the Security Council decided that the protection of civilians must remain the priority of UNOCI and also decided that UNOCI should concentrate more in providing Government’s needs for its disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of ex-combatants and security sector reform activities with the objective of gradually transferring UNOCI’s security mission to the Ivorian government.
On 28 April 2016 the United Nations Security Council renewed the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in Côte d’Ivoire for a final period, extending it until the end of June next year, and also decided to terminate all arms, travel and financial sanctions against the country, with immediate effect.
Welcoming Côte d’Ivoire’s progress in relation to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and security sector reform, national reconciliation and the fight against impunity, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2284 (2016) deciding that, until 30 April 2017, the mission would be mandated to support efforts by the Ivorian security forces to protect civilians, and by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire to consolidate peace and stability in the country while addressing border security challenges.
UNOCI’s military force intervenes all over Côte d’Ivoire. UNOCI’s military force as of 2016 was composed of some 5,500 men and women from 48 countries. The personnel ratios representing each component within the UNOCI military force were as follows: Contingents: 80%. Headquarters: 4%. Engineering units: 2%; Military Observers (MILOBS): 4%. Air units: 5%. Transportation and Maintenance units: 2%. Others (Close Protection, Communication, Medical etc): 3%. Contingents were from: Bangladesh, Benin, Egypt, Ghana, Morocco, Niger, Pakistan, Senegal, Togo and Ukraine.
UNOCI military forces were peacekeeping forces. Their mandate was to provide a safe and secure environment necessary for the protection of civilians, and to support the Government of Côte d’Ivoire in taking full responsibility for national security. - UNOCI military forces were allowed intervene in close coordination with the other components of UNOCI such as UNPOL, the French Force in Côte d’Ivoire (FFCI), Ivorian military and security forces, and local administrative and traditional authorities to contributed efficiently to the maintenance of law and order.
In addition to contingents and military staff at headquarters, other blue helmet units carryout support missions to UNOCI military forces as follows:
- Some 200 MILOBS were dispatched throughout cities as self-sufficient team-sites.
- One engineering company which builds infrastructures for force deployment, and help to construct roads in Côte d’Ivoire,
- A team composed of military personnel specialized in close protection of UNOCI VIPs (SRSG, FC etc), and Ivorian political personalities when required.
- A military transportation and maintenance unit participating in force deployment and contingent’s takeover.
- A medical component, with two military hospitals in Abidjan and Daloa, which regularly provides medical assistance to the local population when the need arises.
MILOBS were tasked to inform UNOCI’s military forces on the local situation, as well as participate in monitoring the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) process, and arms embargo inspections. UNOCI military force deploys UNOCI planes and helicopters for transportation, emergency evacuation, and air support to ground units.
In order to maintain the goodwill, confidence and trust that exist between UNOCI and the people of Côte d’Ivoire, the Mission’s Military Force was actively involved in offering humanitarian assistance to the local populace. During Year 2014-15 a total of 9 Quick Impact Projects (QIP) to benefit local people were successfully completed in Daloa, Bouaké, Korhogo, Man, Zouan Houien and Brofoudomé. Work on 6 more projects were in progress at Zenoula, Sinematiali, Bouaké, Gagnoa, Alépe and Brobo and were due to be completed in the very near future. These projects include mainly the rehabilitation of public primary schools, construction of new classrooms, offices, canteens and other facilities, refurbishing libraries and dispensaries, drilling of borehole for the supply of pure drinking water, etc.
UNOCI’s Military Force also participates in sensitization campaigns to promote peace and social cohesion and in sports activities organized by the Forces Républicaines des Côte d’Ivoire (FRCI) throughout the year. During these sensitization activities organized by the Mission in collaboration with the local population, UNOCI’s high-ranking officials interact with the local communities. With regard to the humanitarian work of UNOCI’s Military Force, some 400 people benefit from these on a daily basis; while it distributes an average of 40,000 litres of potable water to people in areas suffering from water shortage. All the Military Force’s projects and actions were helping to build peace and social cohesion in Côte d’Ivoire.
The UNOCI Military Force was actively taking part in implementing the peace process within Cote d’Ivoire. On the other hand, the missions given to UNOCI forces were mandated by UN Security Council resolutions, the last Resolution 2226 was adopted in 25th June 2015. In general they were related to:
- Protection of civilians : To protect, without prejudice to the primary responsibility of the Ivorian authorities, the civilian population from threat of physical violence, within its capabilities and areas of deployment;
- Address remaining security threats and border-related challenges: To support, within its existing authorities, capabilities, and its areas of deployment, the national authorities in stabilizing the security situation in the country, with a special attention to providing support for the provision of security through the 2015 presidential electoral period;
- Assist disarmament, demobilization and reintegration program (DDR) and collection of weapons;
- Reconstitution and reform of security institutions: To assist the Government in implementing, without delay and in close coordination with other international partners, its comprehensive national security strategy;
- Monitoring of the arms embargo: To monitor the implementation of the measures imposed by paragraph 7 of resolution 1572 (2004), in cooperation with the Group of Experts established under resolution 1584 (2005), including by inspecting, as they deem it necessary and when appropriate without notice, all weapons, ammunition and related materiel regardless of location, consistent with resolution 2219 (2015);
The UN mission was deployed to Côte d’Ivoire in 2004 when the country was divided in half by an armed conflict. During its time in the country, the mission helped protect civilians, enabled inclusive political dialogue and supported the Government in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of nearly 70,000 former combatants. On 29 June 2017 Secretary-General António Guterres welcomed the closure of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), and reiterated the UN family’s commitment to helping the people and Government of the West African nation to sustain their hard-won peace. “The Secretary-General congratulates the people and Government of Côte d’Ivoire for their determination and efforts in turning the page of crisis and conflict,” said Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, in a statement. After 13 years, the UN is completing the peacekeeping phase of its engagement with Côte d'Ivoire, after successfully assisting the country in restoring peace and stability following the post-2010 election crisis.
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