At 20 December 2010 the United Nations Security Council (SC/10132) extended the mission in Cote d’Ivoire until 30 June 2011, strongly condemned attempts to usurp the will of the people and urged respect for the election outcome : Alassane Ouattara, a former prime minister, banker and leader of the opposition, has been recognized as the winner of November’s election by the United Nations, the African Union, the United States and the European Union. The incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo has resisted repeated calls for him to cede the office.
According to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (SG/SM/13325) the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) will continue to fulfil its mandate and to monitor and document any human rights violations, incitement to hatred and violence, or attacks on UN peacekeepers.
In Geneva, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, expressed deep concern over the growing evidence of massive violations of human rights taking place in Côte d'Ivoire since 16 December, and reiterated her determination to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable for their actions. On December 23, the United Nations deputy high commissioner for human rights, Kyung-Wha Kang, said that UN human rights monitors had reported 173 killings, 90 cases of torture or abusive treatment, 24 forced disappearances, and hundreds of arrests between December 16 and December 21. At least 20 people were killed and scores seriously injured when Gbagbo's security forces opened fire on demonstrators during a December 16 march by Ouattara supporters.
President Gbagbo ordered United Nations and French peacekeepers to leave the country immediately. The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva unanimously adopted a resolution on December 23 condemning abductions, executions, and enforced disappearances in Côte d'Ivoire, and pledged to take further action if the situation deteriorates.
Whether the (new) government is able to come up to the responsibility to protect the civilian population against human rights violations and international crimes remains to be seen. Even now the 10,000 United Nations peacekeepers are trying to protect the election outcome and defend the electionwinner Ouattara in his hotel in Abidjan there's still a serious risk of an escalation, turning the country into civil war. Ivorian leaders who order and encourage grave human rights abuses could be held accountable by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC statute prohibits attacks against international peacekeeping missions as long as they are operating as peacekeepers.
Fortunately there are other scenario's:
- The incumbent Laurent Gbagbo and rival Alassane Ouattara continue to be locked in a standoff since last month's presidential election which both men claimed to have won. Gbagbo still has the support of the army and Ouattara refuses to share powers;
- President Gbagbo proposes a compromise in which he allows Ouattara to be vice-president. There are precedents of power sharing in Kenya and Zimbabwe;
- President Gbagbo is willing to respect the election outcome and resigns, handing over power to Ouattara.
A selection of relevant publications from the Peace Palace Library collection
- Ayangafac, C. , The Politics of Post-Conflict Elections in Côte d'Ivoire in : From civil strife to peace building : examining private sector involvement in West African reconstruction, Waterloo, ON : Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2009, pp. 33-51
- Ero, C. , UN Peacekeeping in West Africa : Liberia, Sierra Leone and Côte d'Ivoire in : From global apartheid to global village : Africa and the United Nations, Scottsville : University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2009, pp. 283-304
- Gberrie, L. & Addo, P. , Challenges of peace implementation in Côte d'Ivoire : report on an expert workshop by KAIPTC and ZIF, Pretoria : ISS, 2004, 89p
- McGovern, M. , Proleptic Justice : the Threat of Investigation as a Deterrent to Human Rights Abuses in Côte d'Ivoire in : Mirrors of justice : law and power in the post-Cold War era, New York, NY [etc.] : Cambridge University Press, 2010, pp. 67-87