Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on the Situation in Côte d'Ivoire at a Security Council Stakeout

Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
December 7, 2010


AMBASSADOR RICE: Good evening. Over the course of the day we’ve had about five and a half hours of discussions and consultations on Côte d’Ivoire, beginning with a very detailed and comprehensive briefing by Special Representative Choi on the process that he and UNOCI undertook in order to be in a position to certify the results of the Independent Electoral Commission. And we’ve had detailed discussions about most every aspect of Special Representative Choi’s briefing. We then, in the afternoon, reconvened with the benefit of the very strong statement put out by ECOWAS, which directly informed our discussions, and about which the Council expressed broad interest and respect.

But we continue to discuss the contours of a possible response. Most delegations are eager to speak with one voice and do so promptly. Others are not yet able to do so in the absence of instructions, and so I hope will find it possible, if instructions are forthcoming, to continue our discussions tomorrow. I’m happy to take a few questions.

REPORTER: When you say others, it’s widely reported that Russia, they have come out with the concerns they have about the Security Council getting into the business about certifying election results. Are there other countries, other than Russia, that have said they have to seek instructions? And what do you have to say to Russia’s idea that this creates a precedent where the UN would be asked to certify other elections?

AMBASSADOR RICE: Well Russia has spoken for itself, and I don’t need to do it for them. And so I’ll refer you to the Russians’ own national statements. The fact is that Côte d’Ivoire is a very unusual and unique circumstance in which the Council, in its prior resolutions acting under Chapter VII, at the request of the Ivorian parties, in their 2005 agreement in South Africa, have a mandate given to the SRSG to certify every stage of the electoral process in Côte d’Ivoire.

And that is what SRSG Choi has done, consistent with his mandate.

So, given that the Council has provided that mandate to UNOCI and to the SRSG, in particular, and that we did so under Chapter VII, and we did so unanimously, I think everybody on the Council, minus one member, had no question about the legitimacy of the SRSG’s findings and his actions. And, certainly, speaking from the U.S. point of view, if I might for just a second here, we have been very clear: that we support, in the strongest terms, and we welcome the actions by the Special Representative, Choi, of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon – today as endorsed and supported by ECOWAS, to certify the results proclaimed by the Independent Electoral Commission, which declared Alassane Ouattara the winner of the elections and the runoff just held in Côte d’Ivoire.

It is our strong view, as the United States, that all parties need to respect that result and to act in a peaceful fashion to ensure, as ECOWAS said today, that President-elect Ouattara is able to take up his post, swiftly and peacefully in accordance with Ivorian practices and procedures.

REPORTER: How much danger is there that the Security Council will be ineffective and, frankly, impotent, given that it can’t come up with a statement to back what was its mandate in a country, and that other countries and organizations feel very strongly, especially countries right in the region?

AMBASSADOR RICE: This is something that was discussed in Council.

And our delegation, in a national capacity, and others underscored that this is an important moment for the Security Council: having, as you said, mandated this mission, mandated this Special Representative of the Secretary-General, under Chapter VII, to do a job. The job has been done. The results are known. The facts are clear. And they need to be acknowledged and respected. That’s the position of the United States.

REPORTER: (Inaudible)

AMBASSADOR RICE: Well, Neil, you’ve heard, I think, Africa and West Africa, in particular today, speak with clarity and force and precision and timeliness. And that’s exactly what we have, in many different occasions, looked to regional and sub-regional groupings to do on issues of crucial importance to their members.

And to a delegation in the Security Council, we heard prior to ECOWAS’s statement today, that we ought to listen to, await, respond to, respect what ECOWAS has said. We also obviously are interested in and mindful of the African Union’s position, which has largely mirrored that of ECOWAS’s perhaps with a little less precision thus far. And yet again we, as a Security Council, have our own unique responsibility. Particularly in this instance having mandated a mission, having committed significant resources, having lives on the line, to speak for ourselves. And it is time, in our judgment, speaking again for the United States, that the Council speak and speak clearly and plainly as part of a unified international effort to support the people of Côte d’Ivoire who have spoken and to support a process that we have all agreed is legitimate, and committed to, and to maximize prospects for lasting and sustainable peace and security in Côte d'Ivoire and the larger region.

REPORTER: Madame Ambassador, just one follow up, there has been a lot of talk about this possibly turning into renewed civil war, and we have seen this standoff now dragging on for several days. How concerned is the United States and how concerned were the rest of the Council members that, by doing nothing, or leaving things in this limbo without even having an envoy like Thabo Mbeki on the ground, that this could spark renewed fighting?

AMBASSADOR RICE: I think the United States is obviously very interested in and invested in peace and stability and democracy in Côte d'Ivoire, and we are worried about any development that could undermine peace and democracy, and we think it is important that there be clear and unified statements and actions by the international community that reinforce respect for the results of the elections and reinforce our already considerable commitment of effort and resources to the maintenance of peace and security in Côte d'Ivoire. That certainly is the interest of the United States, and many, many other delegations expressed the same interest.
Thank you very much.


PRN: 2010/317