On Reprisals In Cote d’Ivoire, Juppe & UN Speak Of Past But Not Protection
Amid reports of attacks on supporters of Laurent Gbagbo by the forces of Alassane Ouattara in Cote d’Ivoire, there appears to have been a hiatus in the “protection of civilians” trumpeted earlier this year by the UN and the French “Force Licorne” or Unicorn.
Last week Inner City Press asked the UN what its mission in Ivory Coast, ONUCI, is doing to protect civilians, and how it responds to reports of the killings of those perceived to support Gbagbo. Transcript below. So far there has been no answer.
On June 7 outside the UN Security Council, where previously France’s Ambassador to the UN Gerard Araud spoke at length about the need for a resolution to empower UN and French attack helicopters to “protect civilians,” Inner City Press asked Araud’s boss French foreign minister Alain Juppe what France is doing to protect civilians:
Inner City Press: I want to ask on Côte d’Ivoire, whe[ther] the Force Licorne has a responsibility to protect civilians, even now. There has been a report of Ouattara’s forces engaged in reprisal killings, is Licorne still on the streets to defend people or is it to return to its [base] ?
Alain Juppe: Please don’t mix everything. In Libya we think that we are acting in the framework of resolution 1973 of the Security Council. We are targeting military objectives and we are avoiding the civilian casualties. On Côte d’Ivoire, everybody recognized that our intervention has been successful. We are now supporting the process of national reconciliation engaged by President Ouattara and President Ouattara said that there will not be impunity for any kind of massacres or of casualties made either by one side or the other one.
But the allegations are not only of impunity for killings before Gbagbo was seized, but after. Human rights groups report on killings since then, presumably with ONUCI and Licorne standing by.
Like Juppe, the UN has not answered. From the UN’s June 2 noon briefing transcript:
Inner City Press: there have been at least a number of major NGO [non-governmental organization] reports out about the killing of pro-Gbagbo supporters by Ouattara forces since Gbagbo was put under arrest. There is also an ICG report saying that the Government formed by Ouattara has virtually no members of Gbagbo’s party. So, on both of these two fronts, both the protection of civilians and on the sort of, quote, reconciliation, what does UNOCI [United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire] say? It seems that both of these respected NGOs have said that things are not going well, that the retaliation killings taking place, which presumably UNOCI should be trying to stop — So, what’s the UN’s response to that?
Associate Spokesperson: On human rights violation and abuses, there is the international commission of inquiry. It’s about to report — it was in Côte d’Ivoire, maybe it still is — and it’s about to report to the Human Rights Council in June, that session. So, I can check for the exact date if that’s helpful, but I think it would be that first and then I think the High Commissioner also will have a report during that session, also in June, in Geneva on Côte d’Ivoire. So, that’s the first thing. On the formation of the Government, I don’t really have a comment.
Inner City Press: Just to be clear, and I am talking about what UNOCI does day to day to quote, protect civilians, which is part of its mandate.
Associate Spokesperson: Yeah, yeah.
Inner City Press: Human Rights Watch is saying that since 11 April.. Gbagbo supporters have been killed in the Yopougon neighbourhood. So, I wanted to know… it’s not happening? Is UNOCI trying to stop it? it seems like a very different picture than what UNOCI is saying.
Associate Spokesperson: Well, UNOCI’s mandate includes the protection of civilians, as you know. So, if there are allegations they’ll certainly go and investigate them. They have a human rights division, and it documents human rights abuses and violations. I can check specifically if you want the Yopougon thing, okay. Anyone else?
But in the five days since, the UN has provided no answer. And on June 7, the Spokesman for Ban Ki-moon, Martin Nesirky, rushed in a nine minute noon briefing at exactly the time Alain Juppe was speaking at the Security Council, such that no questions could be asked of the UN. Watch this site.
By Mathew Lee