As UNOCI’s periodic reports on the human rights situation in Côte d’Ivoire show, serious violations continue to be committed in most parts of the country,mainly by elements of the defence and security forces, members of armed and unarmed militia, and armed criminals operating in the west and in the zone of confidence. As the country emerges from conflict, the Human Rights Division of ONUCI is expected to help strengthen human rights by integrating a human rights perspective into the various planning processes of the UN system, including the Common Country Assessment and the UN Development Assistance Framework. The Human Rights Division thus intends to continue empowering duty-bearers and rights-holders to respond to human rights concerns and, with the availability of new funds, to focus on encouraging the Government to meet its regional and international obligations.
The political agreement signed in Ouagadougou between President Laurent Gbagbo and the rebel Forces Nouvelles Secretary-General Guillaume Kigbafori Soro on 4 March 2007 does not explicitly address the question of human rights. Nevertheless, the parties to the agreement explicitly affirm the relevance of previous agreements and resolutions of the Security Council, some of which establish the framework for UN support in promoting and protecting human rights in the country. The UN Peacebuilding Commission will support the implementation of the Ouagadougou Agreement. Following the signing of the Agreement, the Head of State issued an amnesty that led to the release of detainees. The amnesty fails to explicitly exclude war crimes and crimes against humanity, however, and therefore does not comply with the country’s obligations under applicable norms of international law, and UNOCI remains deeply concerned about the prevailing culture of impunity. Relevant authorities have been regularly called upon to undertake concrete measures to address these concerns, including investigation of grave violations and prosecution of perpetrators.
The Human Rights Division established a good partnership with State authorities, particularly the Ministries of Justice and Human Rights, Interior, Defence and Communication, and with civil society in general. Seminars for civil and military authorities on various human rights issues were jointly implemented in both Government- and rebel-controlled areas. In coordination with the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, and in cooperation with national NGOs, more than 70 human rights clubs were established in primary and secondary schools to compensate for the lack of human rights education in the national curriculum and while awaiting the development and implementation of a human rights programme for primary schools, as agreed in the World Programme for Human Rights Education.
The Human Rights Division also assisted the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights in launching the National Human Rights Commission.
UNOCI’s strategy for the biennium will focus on monitoring and helping to investigate human rights violations, particularly violence against children and women, with the aim of ending impunity; supporting the implementation of the Government’s human rights priority action plans and the functioning of the newly established national human rights commission; raising human rights awareness among certain target groups, including the defence and security forces, civil servants, women and youth; and strengthening the human rights capacities of the UN Country Team with the aim of transferring the responsibility for supporting national systems for the promotion and protection of human rights to the UN Country Team.
The Division will continue to support Special Rapporteurs who visit the country, and will strengthen the capacity of the newly established National Human Rights Commission. The Human Rights Division will also be seeking the support of OHCHR to organize workshops with government institutions to increase their capacity to meet their international human rights obligations.