Global Policy Forum

Ivory Coast


Picture Credit: AFP/File/Georges Gobet

Ivory Coast was long one of Africa's most stable and prosperous countries. For decades after its independence from France in 1960, the country enjoyed religious and ethnic harmony. All that changed in 1999 when Army General Robert Guei led a military coup that overthrew the government of Henri Konan Bedié and led to deep national divisions. In September 2002, northern Muslims expressed discontent in a mutiny that escalated into a full-scale rebellion. The conflict appeared to have ended with the French-brokered Linas-Marcoussis peace accords of January 2003, creating a new government of national reconciliation with power shared between northern-based rebels and the southern government leadership.

Both sides, however, threatened to return to violence. The supporters of the government accused the French of helping the rebels to overthrow President Laurent Gbagbo. In September 2003, the rebel group New Forces pulled out of the reconciliation government, accusing President Gbagbo of lacking good faith in implementing the peace agreement. A UN peacekeeping mission failed to achieve disarmament and clashes intensified. The Security Council imposed sanctions under Resolution 1572 (November 15, 2004). Gbago accused the French of supporting the rebels to secure their economic interests.

In April 2005, South African President Thabo Mbeki brokered a peace agreement. But the rebels delayed disarmament, because President Gbagbo had not yet complied with a deal to change restrictive nationality laws to allow rebel leaders to run in the planned elections. In December 2005, Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny took office under a UN-backed plan. In spite of ongoing conflict, Banny was able to ease tensions, and in February 2006, Gbagbo and leaders of the opposition sat down for direct negotiations. But Banny still must disarm rebels in the north, disarm militias loyal to the president in the south and steer Ivory Coast towards national elections with broad participation.



UN Documents | Reports | Articles

UN Documents

Progress Report of the Secretary General on the United Nations Operation in Cote d'Ivoire (July 10, 2008)

In this report to the Security Council, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon states that Cote d'Ivoire continues to successfully implement the Ouagadougou Peace Agreement signed in 2007. The agreement, which halted clashes between government and rebel forces, demands that combatants disarm and that the government pave the way for elections in 2009. The report urges the UN peacekeeping mission in Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI) and the Ivorian government to adopt social programs that will reintegrate demobilized militias into civil society to avoid their return into armed conflict.

Report of the Secretary General on Cote d'Ivoire (April 15, 2008)

Ban Ki-moon reports on the progress that UN peacekeepers (UNOIC) and the government of Cote d'Ivoire have made in securing long-term peace in the country. However, Ban notes that the security environment remains fragile, with militias in the West of the country yet to disarm. Ban suggests that UNOIC retains its current troop level of 8,034 until after the July 2008 elections, and urges the government and opposition groups to abide by the election results.

Report of the Panel of Experts on Cote d'Ivoire (November 7, 2005)

The Panel of Experts assesses the role of natural resources, such as cotton, diamonds, and cocoa in fuelling the conflict in Ivory Coast and the effectiveness of the arms embargo. The panel is especially concerned that the illicit trade of diamonds provides an important income to the rebel group New Forces. The report calls on the UN peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast and the Kimberley Process Secretariat to evaluate the volume of illicit diamond exports. The group also recommends that the Security Council ask the rebel group to provide an inventory of the weapons in its possession and the Ivorian government to submit a breakdown of its defense expenditures.

Security Council Resolution 1842 (October 29, 2008)

In resolution 1842, the Security Council renewed the arms, travel and diamonds embargo for Cote d'Ivoire until October 31, 2009. The Council also stressed that any threat to the electoral process and serious obstacles to the UN troops in Cote d'Ivoire forms a threat to the peace and national reconciliation process.

Security Council Resolution 1721 (November 1, 2006)

This French backed resolution renews for a transitional period of 12 months the mandates of Ivory Coast's President Laurent Gbagbo and Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny. The UN document empowers the Prime Minister to govern by ordinances or decree-laws in order to implement the provisions of the resolutions, including the disarmament of militias and the preparations for the long-delayed elections.


Cote D'Ivoire: Gbagbo Supporters Tortured, Killed in Abidjan (June 2, 2011)

This short Human Rights Watch report provides a background on the recent violence in Cote D’Ivoire. It discusses the observations on the ground that both pro-Gbagbo and pro-Outtara forces were participating in extrajudicial killings in the days surrounding the arrest of former President Gbagbo. While the conflict over the contested election has drawn to a close, the country is not united or peaceful. (Human Rights Watch)

Cote D’Ivoire: Both Sides Responsible for War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity (May 25, 2011

This Amnesty International report focuses on the human rights violations perpetrated by both sides of the conflict in Cote D’Ivoire. Both factions were responsible for post-election violence against the other side.  Targets were often only suspected of supporting one side because of their ethnicity or “presumed political affiliation”. (Amnesty International)




Violence and Vengeance in Ivory Coast (July 24, 2011)

With the arrest of Laurent Gbagbo in April, Alassane Ouattara became the sole chief of State in Côte d’Ivoire. As the crisis seemed over, media attention decreased and the Security Council moved on to more pressing issues. However, Ouatarra’s rebel army, the FRCI (Forces Nouvelles), is now launching reprisal attacks on people suspected of being former Gbagbo’s partisans and human rights groups have accused the FRCI of using rape to intimidate perceived opponents. Ouattara has called its partisans to stop the attacks, but to no avail. (Al Jazeera)

The Roots of the Cote D’Ivoire Crisis (April 5, 2011)

The cocoa industry is contributing to the civil war in Cote D’Ivoire. Despite the size of the chocolate industry, the country suffers from persistent poverty despite how large the chocolate industry is because corporations, like Cargill ADM and Barry Callebaut, pay very low prices to the Ivoirian cocoa farmers. Prior to the economic crisis of the 1980’s there was little ethnic tension even though there had been a lot of internal migration for the cocoa industry. During the 1980s, ethnicity was exploited as a way of placing blame and has continued to be exploited. Without reforming the cocoa industry so that Cote D’Ivoire begins seeing profits, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to establish more than a fragile peace. (The Nation)

Ivory Coast Cocoa Export Ban Brings Price Spike (January 25, 2011)

Cote D'Ivoire's president-elect Alassane Ouattara announced a ban on cocoa exportation for the month of February to pressure presidential incumbent Laurent Gbagbo to step down. The ban would prevent Gbagbo from profiting from the cash crop and funding his regime. However, there is concern that the cocoa ban could actually trigger another wave of violence.  (The Wall Street Journal)

Nigeria wants UN backing for force in Ivory Coast (January 24, 2011)

Nigerian Foreign Minister Odein Ajumogobia announced that the bloc of Western African countries is seeking UN support for a military intervention to end the power dispute between Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara. Gbagbo has refused to relinquish power to Ouattara, the winner of the November 2010 elections, despite pressure from regional and international actors. Ajumogobia expressed concern that, if there is no action against Gbagbo, it will set a bad example for the twenty elections to take place over the next eighteen months in Africa. Neighboring states are hoping that the Ivorian conflict can be resolved before it destabilizes the region. (Reuters)

The 'Problem' with Cote d'Ivoire: How the Media Misinterprets the Causes of Conflict (January 13, 2011)

The threat of renewed civil war in the Ivory Coast is at its highest since 2002. Despite recent democratic elections resulting in a new president, the incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo refuses to relinquish control. According to the simplistic analysis of international media sources, ethnic and religious differences lie at the heart of the conflict. This article explains events in the African state through analyzing its economic structure, state-society relations and the nature of political power. Development policymakers should better understand the country's structural economic crisis and the causes of poverty to help promote stability and peace.(Open Democracy)


UN Threatens Ivorian Leaders with Possible War Crimes (December 31, 2010)

The UN has warned incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo of Cote D’Ivoire that, if he does not relinquish power to rival and election winner Alassane Ouattara, he could be charged with war crimes. UN High Commissioner Navi Pillay singled out not only Gbagbo, but also three main military leaders whose forces have been at the center of the post-election violence. The UN has been supporting Ouattara’s claim to victory since shortly after the elections, but has been unsuccessful at convincing Gbagbo to step down. (IPS News)

Cote d'Ivoire: Securing the Electoral Process (May 5, 2010)

Upcoming presidential elections in Cote d'Ivoire risk being undermined by the country's precarious economic situation, the xenophobic language used in election campaigns and the current President's decision to disband the Independent Electoral Commission. UN presence must be maintained to provide political and electoral assistance to the country if violence is to be prevented and the fragile state of peace is to be preserved.  (International Crisis Group)


International Involvement in Cote d'Ivoire (August 26, 2008)

This Global Politician article describes the role of the UN and France in Cote d'voire. The author argues that the UN's support of president Gbagbo in 2005 caused the conflict to continue since Gbagbo did not want to form a coalition government with the rebels. The article also scrutinizes the role of France, which is the largest exporter of goods to Cote d'voire, and therefore has interests in securing peace in its former colony.

Conflict Diamonds and the Peace Process in Cote d'Ivoire (June 2008)

This Bonn International Center for Conversion report argues that the 2005 Security Council diamond embargo is unable to diminish the illegal diamond trade in Cote d'Ivoire or stop fueling the violent conflict between Ivorian rebels and the army. Belgium, Dubai and Israel still purchase conflict diamonds from Cote d'Ivoire since the monitoring system remains weak and because UN forces are unable to protect the country's diamond mining zones.

UN Security Council Promotes Reconciliation, Presidential Election in Ivory Coast (June 9, 2008)

Security Council members are visiting the Ivory Coast to monitor the peace process and preparations for a long-delayed presidential election. Peace in Ivory Coast depends on reconciliation between the opposition-controlled north and the government-run south. The article suggests that the Council extends the mandate of the 9,200-strong UN peacekeeping force (UNOCI) to ensure that both sides comply with international standards during the election. (Associated Press)


Security Council Renews Diamond and Travel Sanctions on Cote d'Ivoire (October 29, 2007)

The Security Council renewed the mandate of the Group of Experts in Cote d'Ivoire until 2008, to monitor sanctions against the illegal trade of diamonds and arms. The Council demanded that the government, civil society and the UN Mission (UNOCI) cooperate and supply information to the experts. The Security Council will only review the restrictive actions after government and rebel parties have fully instituted the Ouagadougou peace agreement. The Council also announced that it will impose sanctions against individuals that represent a menace to the peace process and violate human rights in the country. (UN News)

No War, No Peace Five Years After Rebellion (September 19, 2007)

In March 2007, the Ouagadougou accord filled Cote d'Ivoire with hope for identification, reunification, disarmament and elections. President Gbagdo remains in power illegitimately since there was no re-election. A former rebel leader stated that the rebels will demobilize when the government schedules elections and provides the people with proper identification papers. According to the author, the identification cards would take the country out of "illegality" (Integrated Regional Information Networks)

Ivory Coast: Flames of Peace (August 14, 2007)

When he burnt a pile of weapons, Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo aimed to symbolize the end of a tumultuous five year showdown between the Ivory Coast government, France and rebel New Forces. But to live up to such gestures, Gbagbo must follow the March 2007 agreement reached in Ouagadogou, Burkina Faso. The agreement engendered a national unity government with New Forces leader Guillaume Soro as Prime Minister. In order to promote disarmament and peaceful elections, and to address feelings of political exclusion which caused conflict in Ivory Coast, the UN Security Council will maintain its Ivory Coast mission until January 2008. (International Relations and Security Network)

Cote d'Ivoire: Impact of Terminating Top UN Election Monitor Post (July 18, 2007)

This article suggests that the UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Ivory Coast (UNOCI) maintains President Laurent Gbagbo's permission to remain in the Ivory Coast by catering to his wishes. Gbagbo perceives outside forces as meddlers in his country's affairs. In what opposition party leaders considered a concession to Gbagbo, the UN Security Council eliminated the post of the most senior UN election official there. The UN will transfer this position’s responsibilities to the Special Representative to UN Secretary General (SRSG) for the Ivory Coast. But no one currently fills this post, allegedly because Gbagbo has vetoed candidates that the UN proposed. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)

Hot Chocolate: How Cocoa Fuelled the Conflict in Cote d'Ivoire (June 2007)

This Global Witness report details how cocoa perpetuates war in the Ivory Coast. Both Laurent Gbagbo's government and the rebel Forces Nouvelles (FN) use cocoa proceeds to purchase weapons. Additionally, the two parties' desire to retain the lucrative status quo of the Ivorian cocoa industry serves as a block to negotiations. The report argues that the chocolate industry, including US companies such as Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill, must guarantee conflict-free cocoa by publishing to whom and in what amount cocoa payments are made, and by auditing cocoa supply chains.

Cote d'Ivoire Peace Makes Progress (May 20, 2007)

Following the signing in March of a peace agreement between Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and rebel leader Guillaume Soro, Gbagbo has named Soro as his Prime Minister. Denis Maho Glofiei, head of the Great West Liberation Front (FLGO), one of the four militia groups, says that they are disarming in support of the peace deal. Militias are now starting to give up their weapons. (Reuters)

Ivory Coast Grants War Amnesty (April 13, 2007)

Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo has granted amnesty to soldiers and civilians living in the country and abroad who committed crimes against the state during the civil war of 2002-2003. The decree excludes war crimes and economic crimes. The amnesty would allow thousands of people wanted for crimes committed in that period to return to the country. Compensation will be paid to all victims of the crimes it covers. (Aljazeera)

Ivory Coast Leaders Commended by UN (March 28, 2007)

Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and rebel leader Guillaume Soro have reached a political agreement which may put an end to the Ivorian conflict. Under the agreement signed in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Soro has been designated to replace Charles Konan Banny as Prime Minister and both parties committed to organizing a new government within five weeks, reducing the buffer zone between the two sides and starting disarmament. The UN Security Council and Secretary General have backed the development. Further the March 4 agreement calls for elections by the end of the year and for identification cards which are necessary for Ivorians to register to vote. (Associated Press)

UN Security Council Studies Ivory Coast Pact Amid Concerns (March 12, 2007)

The new peace deal signed by President Laurent Gbagbo and rebel leader Guillaume Soro stipulates that French and UN forces should leave a buffer zone between the government-run south and rebel-held north. The agreement also seeks authorization to import light weapons into the Ivory Coast and calls for a new government by mid-April. It sets no precise date for an election, and rebels maintain that they want to ensure that millions of undocumented northerners are able to vote in a free and fair election. A rebel official adds that Soro might be considering the post of Prime Minister for himself. (Voice of America)

Peace Plan for Ivory Coast Agreed (March 4, 2007)

BBC reports that Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and rebel leader Guillaume Soro have signed a peace deal aiming to create a power-sharing government and to remove a buffer zone between the two sides. The two sides agree to set up a joint army command, involving both Gbagbo supporters and rebels. Although previous deals have failed, this agreement seems more hopeful, as the two protagonists in the conflict negotiated with each other directly.

Cote d'Ivoire: Address Root Causes of Conflict to Prevent and Reduce Statelessness (February 15, 2007)

The problem of citizenship in Cote d'Ivoire continues, where millions of inhabitants in the region are discriminated against for lack of so-called "Ivoirite" or "Ivorian ethnicity." The Ivorian government's plan to issue new identity documents to the entire population has so far failed due to President Gbagbo's opposition. Refugees International recommends, amongst other things, that UNHCR seek support from the international community to assist in the statelessness identification and remedy process.


Source: Associated Press Photo/Ben Curtis


Security Council Reiterates "Full Support" for Ivory Coast's Prime Minister and Elections by Next October (December 21, 2006)

The Security Council has reaffirmed its support for Ivory Coast Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny. The Council's statement comes just days after President Laurent Gbagbo, who has repeatedly expressed his opposition to UN intervention, announced his own plan for Ivory Coast's future, which ignores the UN peace efforts for the country. (Associated Press)

Ivorian Diamond Trade Goes on Despite Ban (December 18, 2006)

By a unanimous resolution, the UN Security Council extended the UN peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast, as well as the arms and diamond embargoes. A recent report revealed that diamond smuggling via Mali and Ghana continued despite the rebels denial of violating the embargo. While Ghana may face suspension from the Kimberley certification scheme, Mali does not risk sanctions as it is not a member of the Kimberley Process. (Reuters)

Ivorian Leader Hails UN 'Victory' (November 3, 2006)

The UN Security Council extended the mandate of both Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny for another year in addition to transferring some of the president's power into the hands of the prime minister. Yet this BBC article warns of potential conflict between the resolution's distribution of power and the Ivorian constitution. While France, which sponsored the resolution, insists that the resolution should prevail, President Gbagbo refuses to apply the UN provisions that do not conform to the Constitution.

Ivorian Leader Faces Curb on Powers (October 18, 2006)

The African Union has recommended that Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo serve in office for another 12 months until the country can hold elections. The African leaders' recommendations include reinforcing Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny's powers, notably over the armed forces. Ivory Coast did not hold elections as scheduled on October 2006 due to the failure of the government and the rebels to reach an agreement on disarmament and the sharing of power. This BBC article notes that the same situation arose last year and that "over the past 12 months little progress has been made"

Smugglers Move Diamonds Despite Ban (October 10, 2006)

Despite a UN embargo, brokers in Ghana and Mali trade millions worth of diamonds originating from mines in the rebel-held north of the Ivory Coast. Banned diamonds reach in this way the international market, a UN report said. Diamond smuggling provides a source of finance to rebels’ activities threatening to breach the fragile peace in the Western African country. This report unveils serious flaws in the Kimberley process established to control the trade of blood diamonds, by means of a certification system for rough diamonds and national import/export standards. (Guardian)

French Troops Should Leave Ivory Coast-Ruling Party (September 22, 2006)

Tension is mounting in the Ivory Coast, after President Laurent Gbagbo called for French peacekeepers to leave the West African country. The 4,000 French peacekeepers and UN troops, which are enforcing a ceasefire in the world's top cocoa grower, encounter growing opposition from President Gbagbo's supporters. "Peace in Ivory Coast will come through France's withdrawal from the process," the head of the Ivorian Popular Front party said. Analysts interpret this discourse as an attempt to discredit international mediators who hold the president responsible for blocking the peace process. (Reuters)

Cabinet Resigns over Toxic Fumes Scandal (September 7, 2006)

Ivory Coast's cabinet resigned, with the exception of the Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny, following an unprecedented health scandal. The presidential elections scheduled in October 2006 are likely to be postponed as a consequence of the dumping of toxic waste in the main city, Abidjan. UN agencies and the WHO decided to investigate the pollution before taking further action. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)

Cote d'Ivoire: Stepping Up the Pressure (September 7, 2006)

Presidential elections in the Ivory Coast will not take place by October 2006, as mandated by the UN Security Council. The International Crisis Group blames the "deliberate strategy of politicians who want no peace they cannot dominate," and warns that a failure to set a new date for elections may reinstate the country's civil war. The report calls for a six month extension of the transition period and urges the UN Security Council to implement the targeted sanctions imposed by Resolution 1572.

Ivorian President Says He'll Rule Until Polls Held (August 7, 2006)

Constant impediments in the peace process make it very unlikely that elections in the Ivory Coast take place in October 2006 as scheduled. Despite accusations from rebels occupying the northern half of the country that he has delayed and disrupted election efforts in a bid to cling to power, Gbagbo has announced that he will stay in office until a vote takes place. The Security Council must decide whether to extend again Gbagbo's mandate to rule - a move rebels state they will not accept. (Reuters)

"Because They Have the Guns . . . I'm Left with Nothing." (May 2006)

This Human Rights Watch report describes human rights abuses against civilians in the Ivory Coast by state security forces, militia forces and by the New Forces during the period of November 2005 to March 2006. The failure to address the impunity and lawlessness in the Ivory Coast has had a high cost in human rights and undermine the chances for peaceful elections later in 2006.

The Ivorian Crisis Is Good for Business (April 27, 2006)

Pambazuka reports that mediation attempts between the Ivorian government in the south and the rebel forces in the north have failed to broker a peace deal because both parties are benefiting from the status quo - a situation the locals describe as "neither war nor peace." Under this state, local war chiefs gain power and recognition they wouldn’t dare dream of in peace times. Stakeholders in the cocoa industry - mainly the government and foreign multinationals - have witnessed their profits triple since the war began in 2002. In sum, the Ivorian crisis is destined to persist for some considerable time to come since those who have the power to make it stop have no incentive to do so.

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