SRSG Karin Landgren Statement at the Quadripartite meeting of the Govts of Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia
Your Excellency Paul Koffi Dibi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire;
Your Excellency Augustine Ngafuan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia;
The Honourable Hamed Bakayoko, Minister of Interior and of Security of Côte d'Ivoire;
The Honourable Morris M Dukuly, Minister of Internal Affairs, Republic of Liberia;
Ministers and senior government officials here present;
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Côte d'Ivoire and Head of UNOCI,
Members of the diplomatic community;
My colleagues, members of the United Nations in Côte d'Ivoire and in Liberia;
Ladies and gentlemen;
Let me at the outset extend my warmest congratulations to the two Governments for convening this meeting and in so doing reviving the Quadripartite process. It is a sign of your determination to reinforce your cooperative, joint efforts pertaining above all to the border areas.
Past Quadripartite meetings have yielded numerous valuable decisions and initiatives. Each one of these Quadripartite meetings has been time well spent. And this Quadripartite also signals the return to critically important matters that were interrupted by Liberia's national tragedy in 2014, the scourge of Ebola.
Liberia is now in its third week without a single case of Ebola. We cannot rest, neither the Government nor the United Nations, as long as Ebola remains in the region. All the more reason to reinvigorate the vital work of strengthening border relationships, border security, and above all, border stability.
As the UN in Liberia, we offer our support to building confidence around border re-opening. In particular, UNMIL would propose to resume the regular cross-border security and civilian contacts, known as Operation Mayo, which have been valuable for confidence-building and information exchange. We would foresee transitioning this operation in due course to be a fully national one. Health protocols have been drawn up to keep border crossings safe from Ebola, and the WHO is supporting their implementation. The UNDP, for its part, remains eager to support human development and livelihoods in the border areas of both countries.
The meeting in Zwedru of the Joint Council of Chiefs and Elders Meeting, in October 2013, was a success, and an example of strengthening civilian relationships across the border. The governments may wish to consider the option of more localized, regular meetings of Chiefs and Elders.
The UN has warmly welcomed the decision of the Ivorian Government to permit resumption of the voluntary repatriation of refugees from Liberia. The forthcoming Tripartite Meeting is testimony to the readiness of Côte d'Ivoire and of Liberia to get to work in support of the many thousands of Ivorians who have declared their wish to return home.
The UN is here to support the work of our respective host governments, namely Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire. In the framework of these Quadripartite meetings, our support is to your governments as bilateral partners. We particularly welcome the intention to revive and strengthen the 1972 Joint Commission for bilateral cooperation. With our two missions, UNOCI and UNMIL, foreseeing their drawdown and departure in the coming few years, the Joint Commission represents an essential platform for enhancing bilateral engagement.
We also encourage continued initiatives through the Mano River Union.
Let me close by expressing once again our sincere appreciation to the Government of Côte d'Ivoire for hosting this meeting, as well as the forthcoming Tripartite meeting, and to the Government of Liberia for its readiness to resume the important work represented by today's agenda. Please count on UNMIL's continued support. We look forward to a fruitful meeting.