Cablegate: Scenesetter for Harkin Codel January 7-9 Visit To

DE RUEHAB #1227/01 3481749
P 141749Z DEC 07





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) Embassy Abidjan warmly welcomes your visit to Cote
d'Ivoire. Yours will be the second recent visit of
high-level U.S. government officials, following the November
visit of Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte. We
believe your visit will be viewed as a sign of increased USG
interest in seeing Cote d'Ivoire return to its former
prosperity and political stability. Senator Harkin's and
Representative Engle's role in developing and implementing an
international public/provate accord (The "Harkin-Engle
Protocol") is well-known here, and your visit will be an
excellent opportunity to underscore the interest of the
American people in seeing sustained progress in eliminating
the worst forms of child labor in Cote d'Ivoire.

Political Situation
2. (SBU) The overall security situation has improved since
the signing of the Ouagadougou Political Agreement (OPA) but
there is still widespread uncertainty about the future.
Reportedly the result of direct negotiations between the
government and rebel forces, the OPA was facilitated by
President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso and signed by Cote
d'Ivoire's two primary protagonists (President Gbagbo and now
Prime Minister Soro) in March 2007. It is a viable roadmap
for the country's emergence from the political crisis but the
pace of implementation has been slow and uneven. The USG
is very positively viewed in Cote d'Ivoire great influence;
in a poll taken within the last 12 months,
the U.S. was favorably viewed by 88 percent of Ivorians.

3. (SBU) The question of nationality or "Ivoirite", is at
the heart of the political stalemate. A substantial number
of individuals (estimates range from 300,000 to 3 million)
are currently undocumented as Ivorians and are thus unable to
participate fully in Ivorian society where the possession of
a national ID card governs a broad swath of activities,
including eligibility to vote and to own land for
agricultural cultivation. A majority of those who are
undocumented have family ties to Burkina Faso and were
initially welcomed into the northern region of Cote d'Ivoire
as much-needed laborers in the cocoa sector. While Cote
d'Ivoire's founding father and first president
Houphouet-Boigny took a very liberal approach to integrating
this group into Ivorian society; his successors (Bedie and
Guei) actively promoted a more restrictive approach,
including changes to the constitution that emphasized the
national divisions between north and south and between
Christian and Muslim. The 2002 coup attempt, which quickly
evolved into an armed rebellion that split the country in
two, underscored the depth of emotion attached to this
question. Definitive reunification of the country and the
restoration of government authority throughout the national
territory will be difficult to achieve unless the issue of
nationality is dealt with in a manner acceptable to both

4. (SBU) The "audiences foraines" or public tribunals
called for in the Ouagadougou Political Agreement (and several
previous peace agreements) are intended to facilitate voter
registration and the eventual issuance of ID-cards to those
who qualify by providing numerous fora at which persons whose
births were never registered are issued birth documentation
(jugements suppletifs). In recent weeks, the pace of the
work done by the audiences foraines has picked up, but
numbers processed remain below 100,000. In both 2005 and
2006, then-Prime Minister Banny attempted to get the process
underway, but radical and sometimes violent supporters of the
President succeeded each time in derailing the audiences
foraines and stalling the overall peace process. The
political stakes are high for PM Soro to deliver a credible
identity program for his constituency in the North.

Child Labor Situation
5. (SBU) Prompted in large measure by the Harkin-Engle
Protocol, the government of Cote d'Ivoire, working with
international industry and a number of bilateral development
agencies and international Non-Governmental Organizations,
has implemented a variety of programs and conducted a number

ABIDJAN 00001227 002 OF 004

of surveys addressing the worst forms of child labor.
Several diagnostic studies have been completed, the most
recent a preliminary study conducted by the Prime Minister's
interministerial taskforce (supported by the international
industry) published November 30. It found that 22 percent of
children in the sample region are involved in cocoa
production, and a majority of them are involved in one of the
worst forms of child labor, carrying heavy loads. The rest
of the report demonstrates that the cocoa-growing sector is
composed of hundreds of thousands of relatively small
family-owned and operated farms, many, if not most, operated
by non-indigenous peoples from the northern part of Cote
d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Mali and other countries in the
region who have settled and formed communities in the
southern cocoa-growing belt. The survey shows the great
majority of children involved in farm labor are members
(either immediate or extended) of the farm owner's family.
This pilot survey will be scaled up and conducted throughout
at least 50 percent of the country's cocoa-growing regions in
the coming months.

6. (SBU) The government of Cote d'Ivoire has also adopted a
National Plan of Action Against Child Trafficking and Labor
(drafted by the Ministry of Labor) that will run from
September 2007 through December 2009. The plan's overall
objectives are: to adopt laws specifically prohibiting these
practices, to determine the scope of the problem, and to take
measures to prevent these practices and to reintegrate
victims into society. The plan relies substantially on the
continued engagement of international actors. The following
is a list of some (but not all) of the more imporant groups
and international agencies involved in the campaign against
the worst forms of child labor and some of their activities:

International Labor Organization - Supports a variety of
NGOs, activities, including LUTRENA (see below)
International Organization of Migration - This group
occasionally offers return/reintegration assistance to
victims of trafficking, particularly women and children.
UNICEF - Engaged in repatriation of trafficked youth to their
home countries.
The International Cocoa Foundation - This group, an
industry/NGO initiative, implements locally-based
sensitization campaigns teaching cocoa families and youth
about the negative effects of the worst forms of child labor.
The Sustainable Tree Crops Program - This group, funded by
industry and USAID, promotes the farmer field school model,
which teaches farmers ways to improve their income through
higher yield, while also educating them about the worst forms
of child labor.
GTZ - This group, the German equivalent to USAID, implements
campaigns to train judges and prosecutors about child
trafficking; creates and supports regional and village
anti-trafficking committees in coordination with local
prefects (these have seen some notable recent success in
detecting cross-border child trafficking); creating an
anti-trafficking and anti-worst forms of child labor radio
campaign conducted on the country's rural radio network in
local languages.
LUTRENA - This is an ILO-USAID funded regional project
designed to remove 9,000 children from trafficking situations
and prevent other cases from occurring. LUTRENA in Cote
d'Ivoire implements programs in the field to detect
trafficking of children in coordination with government
CARE - This group engages in reinsertion and reintegration of
trafficked youth.
Winrock International - This group runs a modest program
encouraging cocoa farm families to send their children to
school, and incorporates agronomy studies in the curriculum.
International Foundation for Education and Self Help - This
group runs a modest literacy program for cocoa farmers, with
a strong component directed towards educating against the
worst forms of child labor
Enfance Meturie Sans Frontieres (Injured Childhood Without
Borders) - This group works to remove children from
trafficking networks.
Bureau International Catholique de l'Enfance (Catholic
Children's Organization) - This group works to recover
children from trafficking networks.

ABIDJAN 00001227 003 OF 004

7. (SBU) A preliminary study of efforts to monitor and
eliminate WFCL, done by Tulane University's Payson Center
(under a grant from the DOL) provided an initial review of
the multiple efforts to assess and end WFCL.

Economic Overview
8. (C) The lack of a clear resolution to Cote d' Ivoire's
political crisis has had a predictably negative effect on
many parts of the economy. The key issue for the donor
community, however, has been the lack of transparency in
government revenues (cocoa, oil and gas) as well as the use
of those revenues. The government's fiscal performance has
deteriorated over the past five years due to pressure to
increase crisis-related expenditures (such as defense) an
eroding tax base, and a worsening lack of transparency in the
budget. Spending on health and education
fell as a share of GDP while discretionary presidential
spending rose. The government revenues from oil remain
undetermined, and are not reported in the national budget.
Since 2002, domestic and external debt arrears have
increased, prompting the World Bank, the IMF and the AfDB to
suspend engagement until July 2007 when an arrears clearance
package was negotiated. This package works in conjunction
with a post-conflict assistance package from the World Bank,
IMF and African Development Bank to support DDR
(disarmament, demobilization, and
reintegration) assistance, aid to the national identification
program, and redeployment of the national administration
throughout the country.

9. (SBU) Economic activity in general remains sluggish and
per capita income has slumped. Overall GDP grew by 1.8
percent in 2006, a slight recovery over 2005; growth in 2007
is projected to be 2 percent. This growth can be attributed
primarily to higher export earning from oil and refined
products (now $1.3 billion annually, reasonably steady cocoa
revenues ($1 billion) and proceeds form an expanding
telecommunications sector. However, the majority of the
population is not better off. Per capita income declined by
0.6 percent in 2005 and 0.7 percent in 2006; a 0.2 percent
drop is predicted for 2007. Economic activity in the north
of the country remains well below pre-crisis levels.
Inflation has not been an issue until recently; the average
consumer price rise was about on-half a percent from
2004-2006. Rising oil prices have increased transportation
costs and the exchange rate has accelerated in recent months
in line with the Euro's appreciation vis-a-vis the dollar.

10. (U) The hardships brought on by the division of the
country, including food insecurity in the north, triggered a
substantial movement of people from north to south; several
hundred thousand have been internally displaced since 2002.
The result has been a significant increase in poverty.
According to World Bank estimates, the poverty level has
increased 5 percent, from 38.2 percent in 2002 at the onset
of the crisis to 43.2 percent in 2006. The absence of a
central government public administration severely compromised
the delivery of health, education, and other services.

11. (SBU) The cotton and cocoa sectors support some 9
million people, nearly half the population; cotton output
dropped by more than 50 percent since 2000. Cocoa output has
remained essentially stable, hovering at the 1 million ton
mark since 2000, with a slight dip to 950,000 in the 2002-03
harvest. International industry and Ivorian shipping
companies estimate that up to 200,000 tons of cocoa per year
have been transshipped through Ghana and Togo to evade
artificially low prices since 2000, but those numbers appear
to have come down since 2006. Modest improvements in
economic activity have been noted since the signature of the
OPA, and civil servants are beginning to return but huge
challenges loom ahead. Foremost among those will be the
government's ability to demonstrate to foreign investors that
both political stability and an investor-friendly environment
have been restored. It would be helpful for you to highlight
in your meetings with President Gbagbo and PM Soro that
getting the economic climate right is as critical to
restoring investor confidence as political stability.

Bilateral Assistance and Sanctions

ABIDJAN 00001227 004 OF 004

12. (SBU) Cote d' Ivoire has been under Section 508
sanctions since the December 1999 coup that removed Henri
Bedie from power. Sanctions were not lifted following the
2000 election due to government interference in the election
with the intent of manipulating the results. Cote d'Ivoire
was suspended from AGOA benefits on January 1, 2005, due to
an Ivorian government decision to violate the UN-monitored
cease-fire in November 2004 and lack of progress on key
economic reforms. A credible election and substantial
progress in meeting IMF/World Bank transparency goals would
pave the way for a resumption of aid. In the interim, a very
small bilateral assistance program focused on electoral
preparation (involving NDI and IFES) is directed from USAID's
West African Regional Program based in Accra.

13. (SBU) One of the few very bright spots in the US-Cote
d'Ivoire relationship has been our PEPFAR program.
Cote d'Ivoire is one of 15 focus countries that receives
funds for HIV/AIDs prevention, education, and treatment; the
USG is by far the largest supporter of HIV/AIDs activities in
Cote d Ivoire and of the health sector in general. In 2007,
the PEPFAR program here received $85 million; we expect an
increase to about $120 million in FY 08. Ensuring the proper
use of these funds is a central focus of our PEPFAR team. We
have made remarkable strides in terms of expanding treatment
and ware working to improve joint efforts with the government
of Cote d' Ivoire to tackle ongoing issues with stigma and
HIV/AIDs education/prevention activities.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


UN: As COVID Deaths Pass Two Million Worldwide, Guterres Warns Against Self-Defeating ‘Vaccinationalism'

With more than two million lives now lost worldwide to COVID-19, the UN Secretary-General appealed on Friday for countries to work together and help each other to end the pandemic and save lives. In a video statement , Secretary-General António Guterres ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Washington Riot And The Georgia Results

Hong Kong and Washington DC. On the same morning, the tyrants in power in Beijing and their counterpart in the White House have shown how they refuse to accept the legitimacy of any different points of view, and the prospect of losing power… More>>

UN: Guterres To Seek Second Five-year Term
António Guterres will be seeking a second five-year term as UN Secretary-General, which would begin in January 2022.... More>>

UN Rights Office: Iran Execution Of Child Offender Breaks International Law

The execution of an Iranian man for a crime allegedly committed when he was 16 years old has been condemned by the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) and raised concerns over violations of his right to a fair trial. In a statement released on Thursday, ... More>>