United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau
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|Type||UN Special Political Mission|
|Special Representative of the UN Secretary General (SRSG), Modibo I. Toure|
|United Nations Security Council|
It was established by Resolution 1876 of the United Nations Security Council in 2009 and succeeded the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS). It is tasked with promoting stability in the country.
The United Nations Office for Peacebuilding in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) is an integrated field mission. The UN Integration policy first emerged in 2006. By decision of the Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon of 26 June 2008, UNOGBIS together with another 10 political missions became an integrated mission. The SG explained that the decision had the purpose to: “to maximize the individual and collective impact of the UN’s response, concentrating on those activities required to consolidate peace”. He added that “to achieve this main purpose at the country level, there should be an effective strategic partnership between the UN mission/office and the Country Team operate in a coherent and mutually supportive manner, and in close collaboration with other partners.”
UNIOGBIS has four subdivisions working under the direction of the Deputy Special Representative for Political Affairs : (1) Political Affairs Section; (2) Rule of Law and Security Institutions Section; (3) Human Rights and Gender Section and, which also represents the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); (4) Public Unit Information Unit
The United Nations Country Team (UNCT) in Guinea Bissau, is coordinated by the Deputy Special Representative/UN Resident Coordinator, includes the following agencies, funds and programmes resident in Guinea Bissau: FAO, UNWOMEN, OHCHR, UNDP, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP and WHO – non-resident agencies: ILO, OCHA, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNODC, UNOPS, UNHABITAT. UNAIDS, UNODC and UNHABITAT also have project offices in Bissau. The IMF also has a full representation in Guinea-Bissau and the World Banks is currently reestablishing its presence.
Guinea-Bissau has plunged into another cycle of instability since August 2015, when President Vaz dismissed the PAIGC government resulting from the elections which took place the year before. Since then, the country is going through a protracted political crisis which has resulted in the formation of five governments and delayed the disbursement of pledges made by donors in Brussels conference in March 2015 for Terra Ranka. The inclusive national development plan aims to relaunch economy and provide a brighter future to the country and notably to its hugely undereducated and unemployed youth.
The crisis has spilled over to all organs of sovereignty, including the courts and the National Assembly unable to function properly and consequently unable to discuss and vote the programme and the state budget of the former and current governments.
Unanimously taking on 23 February 2017 Resolution 2343 extending UNIOGBIS mandate until 28 February 2018, the United Nations Security Council urged all political actors to put the interest of the people of Guinea-Bissau above all other consideration and in this regard, called upon Bissau-Guinean leaders, including the President, the Speaker of Parliament and heads of political parties to abide by their commitment to bring political stability to Guinea-Bissau in engaging in genuine dialogue and finding common ground for a swift resolution of the political crisis.
Endorsing the Conakry Agreement of October 2016, the SC called upon the Bissau-Guinean stakeholders to strictly respect and comply with it and the ECOWAS road map in addressing their differences and the challenges facing their country.
Thus the challenge for UNIOGBIS for the next months will be to bring the authorities of Guinea-Bissau and all stakeholders, including the military, political parties, and civil society to work together to consolidate progress made so far, and to address the root causes of instability with particular attention to political-military dynamics, ineffective state institutions and rule of law, impunity and human rights violations and abuses, poverty and lack of access to basic services.
Specifically, the Security Council requests UNIOGBIS, including through the use of the good offices and political supports of the Special Representative, to focus, in particular, on the following priorities:
- Support an inclusive political dialogue and national reconciliation process to strengthen democratic governance and work towards consensus on key political issues particularly with regards to the implementation of necessary urgent reforms;
- Supports, including by technical assistance, the national authorities in expediting and completing the review of Guinea-Bissau’s Constitution;
- Provide strategic and technical advice and support to national authorities and relevant stakeholders, including in coordination with ECOWAS/ECOMIB and other international partners, in implementing the national security sector reform and rule of law strategies, as well as developing civilian and military justice systems that are compliant with international standards;
- Support the Government of Guinea-Bissau, in cooperation with the Peacebuilding Commission towards the mobilization, harmonization and coordination of international assistance, including for the implementation of the national security sector reform and rule of law strategies, and enhancing cooperation with the AU, ECOWAS, CPLP, EU and other partners in support of the maintenance of constitutional order and the stabilization of Guinea-Bissau.
The SC also tasks UNIOGBIS and the Special Representative to continue to lead international efforts in the following priority areas:
- Providing support to the Government of Guinea-Bissau in strengthening democratic institutions and enhancing the capacity of state organs to function effectively and constitutionally;
- Providing strategic and technical advice and support for the establishment of effective and efficient law enforcement and criminal justice and penitentiary systems, capable of maintaining public security and combating impunity, while respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms;
- Assisting national authorities in the promotion and protection of human rights as well as undertake human rights monitoring and reporting activities;
- Providing strategic and technical advice and support to the Government of Guinea-Bissau to combat drug trafficking and transnational organized crime, in close cooperation with UNODC;
- Providing support to the Government of Guinea-Bissau to incorporate a gender perspective into peacebuilding, in line with Security Council resolutions 1325 (2000), 1820 (2008) and 2242 (2015); as well as implementation of the National Action Plan on Gender in order to ensure the involvement, representation and participation of women at all levels through inter alia the provision of gender advisers;
Furthermore in the new resolution, the Council also reminds us that UNIOGBIS and the United Nations Country Team - UNDP, UNICEF, WFP, FAO, IOM, UNHCR, WHO - must work together to create a favorable environment for holding legislative elections And presidential elections in 2018 and 2019, the reform of the electoral code and the promulgation of a new law on political parties and calls on "UNIOGBIS to work closely with national authorities as well as with the United Nations Country Team ) To support the timely implementation of these elections and to strengthen democracy and good governance; "
The Security Council further decided that in seven months' time it will examine the sanctions measures established under resolution 2048 (2012).
Guinea-Bissau became declared its independence on 24 September 1973 after a 13 year long war against the former colonial power - Portugal -, which was by then under the Salazar dictatorship.
The UN General Assembly admitted the new country as a member one year later, on 17 September 1974. Luis Cabral was the first president in a single party regime led by the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cabo-Verde. Luis Cabral was deposed by Bernardo “Nino” Vieira through a coup in November 1980. Vieira accused Cabral of ordering mass executions.
During Vieira’s rule, and as a consequence of a debt crisis, the country went through a structural adjustment programme overseen by the IMF and World Bank.
In 1994, the PAIGC changed the constitution to allow for democratic elections to be held for the first time that same year. Nino Vieira was elected president. In 1998 General Ansumane Mané leads an attempted coup against Nino Vieira triggering a civil war. Mutual accusations of involvement in arms deals with the Casamance rebels fuelled the conflict.
The United Nation's involvement in peace-building in Guinea-Bissau dates back to this period – 1999 - following the eleven-month civil war between the government of President Joao Bernardo Vieira and a Military Junta led by General Ansumane Mane.
The two leaders signed a peace agreement on 1 November 1998 in Abuja, Nigeria, that paved the way for the establishment of a government of national unity on 20 February 1999. Consequently, the UN Security Council approved the establishment of the UN Peace-building Support Office in Guinea Bissau, UNOGBIS, on 3 March 1999. The mission was actually deployed on 25 June 1999. On 1 January 2010, it was replaced by the UN Integrated Peace-building Office in Guinea-Bissau, UNIOGBIS.
The small coastal West African nation of just over 1.6 million inhabitants located between Senegal to the north and Guinea to the east and south, has been since then plagued by instability.
Since 1998, Guinea Bissau has had 10 prime ministers and three elected presidents, none of whom were allowed to complete their mandates. The country has had three interim presidents as a result of military interventions. Four chiefs of general staff have been removed from their posts by the military, including two who were assassinated by fellow members of the armed forces.
The latest crisis in Guinea-Bissau was also sparked by military intervention in the country's political affairs. It began when, on 12 April 2012, military officials overthrew the government between two rounds of a presidential election in which ousted Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior was the main candidate. Both Gomes and interim President Raimundo Pereira were detained. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) intervened, obtained the release of the two politicians - both of whom later went into exile along with some other members and supporters of the government - and negotiated a transition period of one year.
Under the transition agreement, presidential and legislative elections were planned to be held by April 2013. Serifo Nhamadjo became transitional president in May 2012, appointing a former finance minister, Rui Duarte Barros, as his prime minister.
The transitional government was recognized by ECOWAS, which has provided it with financial assistance and has deployed a military force, the ECOWAS Mission in
Guinea-Bissau (ECOMIB), in the country. It was not recognized by the Community of Portuguese-Language countries (CPLP), to which Guinea-Bissau belongs, or by the
European Union (EU), which imposed targeted sanctions on some members of the military following the coup.
For their part, the African Union and La Francophonie reacted to the coup by suspending Guinea-Bissau, while the African Development Bank and the World Bank froze development operations in the country until the full restoration of constitutional order. The UN Peacebuilding Fund also suspended activities it considered to be in direct support of the Government.
In the meantime, a number of other UN agencies, funds and programmes continue to provide humanitarian and development assistance aimed at supporting the most vulnerable populations.
In its resolution 2048 (2012) of 18 May 2012, the UN Security Council reiterated earlier demands for the restoration of constitutional order and called for a democratic electoral process in the country. It requested the UN Secretary-General "to be actively engaged in this process, in order to harmonize the respective positions of international bilateral and multilateral partners, particularly the AU, ECOWAS, the CPLP and the EU, and ensure maximum coordination and complementarity of international efforts, with a view to developing a comprehensive integrated strategy with concrete measures aimed at implementing security sector reform, political and economic reforms, combating drug-trafficking and fighting impunity."
The Security Council also instituted travel bans against 11 high-ranking military officers involved in the coup, including the Armed Forces Chief of General Staff.
The last quarter of 2012 saw a deterioration of the human rights situation in the country after an attack, announced by the military, by a group of armed men against a barracks in the Bissau area on 21 October. The United Nations and Guinea-Bissau's other partners expressed concern at the incident as well as the human rights violations, including killings, beatings, and illegal detentions, that have followed it.
On the other hand, the country's People's National Assembly, which had been paralyzed since 29 June as a result of disagreements over its leadership, reconvened on 15 November for the 1st session of the 2012-2013 legislature, paving the way for the discussion of electoral bills required for the holding of presidential and legislative polls.
Guinea-Bissau trying to turn the page
The 2014 general elections marked the return to constitutional order. PAIGC won both presidential and parliamentary elections. José Mário Vaz was elected president and PAIGC leader Domingos Simões Pereira was appointed prime-minister in a government supported by a majority in parliament. The second largest party PRS was invited to join the Government.
The newly elected government managed to engage and mobilize the country around national priorities presented at a Partners round table which took place in late March 2015 in Brussels. Guinea-Bissau received pledges of 1.2 million dollars in projects. The same priorities were outlined in the document “Terra ranka” which also served the base for the new UN partnership framework (UNPAF) document to be signed with the Government in April 2016.
The signature of the UNPAF as well as the disbursement of the round table pledged funds have been successively delayed due to relapse into political instability triggered by the dismissal of Domingos Simões Pereira’s Government by the president in August 2015.