March 2011 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 February 2011
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Côte d’Ivoire

Expected Council Action
In March the situation in Côte d’Ivoire will continue to be a focus for Council members. The proposals from the AU’s high-level panel for the resolution of the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire are due by 28 March, and a report from the Secretary-General on the work of UNOCI is due by 31 March. Recent reports of military clashes between the Ivorian government forces and Forces Nouvelles was engaging the Council’s attention at press time and it seemed that Council meetings might take place if the situation continued to escalate. The mandate of UNOCI expires on 30 June.

Key Recent Developments
On 28 January the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) decided to set up a high- level panel for the resolution of the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire “in conditions that preserve democracy and peace” and requested the panel to submit its findings within a month. The PSC decided that the panel should:

  • be supported by a team of experts and work, when necessary, in close cooperation with partners of the AU, particularly the UN;
  • “evaluate the situation and formulate, on the basis of the relevant decisions of the AU and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), an overall political solution”; and
  • conclude its work within a period not exceeding one month, with its conclusions, to be endorsed by the PSC, and then be binding on all the Ivorian parties.

On 31 January the PSC announced that the panel would be composed of the heads of state of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, South Africa and Tanzania, as well as the chairperson of the AU Commission and the president of the ECOWAS Commission.

On 29 January, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the decision by the PSC to set up the panel. He said that solutions being sought needed to be based in principle and promote shared values and not foil the democratically expressed will of the Ivorian people. Ban highlighted five principles that should guide the UN and the AU’s efforts, including that of the AU high-level panel:

  • the imperative to focus on the future, not on the past, without reopening the results of the election, which Ban said would be a grave injustice and set an unfortunate precedent;
  • the peaceful and honourable exit of Laurent Gbago (who is refusing to cede the presidency) and the formation of a national unity government by Alassane Ouatarra (the UN-certified winner of the 28 November Ivorian presidential polls);
  • concrete action to lift the siege on the Golf Hotel (where Ouatarra is being blockaded by the forces loyal to Gbagbo) and other obstructions to the work of the UN on the ground;
  • full support for the legitimate government to effectively address social and economic challenges, promote reconciliation and uphold human rights and justice; and
  • in view of the UN’s unique role in Côte d’Ivoire, the AU high-level panel should work in close coordination with the UN, which was prepared to provide a senior official to work with the team of experts that will support the panel.

Ban expressed concern about the deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation, as well as misrepresentations about the work of the UN in the country. (In addition to the loss of many lives, more than 30,000 Ivorians had fled to neighbouring countries, and more than 17,000 had been displaced internally. There were reports of mass graves in some places, and UN human rights staff had been blocked from obtaining access to those areas. The state broadcasting service was being used to disseminate hate messages and incite violence.)

On 4 February the Council was briefed in consultations by Choi Young-jin, the head of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI). He updated the Council on developments relating to the obstruction of the work of UNOCI, human rights violations and the blockade of the Golf Hotel. Speaking to the press after the meeting, Choi said several countries were prepared to provide additional troops for UNOCI following the Council’s 19 January authorisation of 2,000 additional troops for UNOCI, but he declined to name them.

In a subsequent statement to the press, the president of the Council indicated that in the meeting with Choi, members:

  • underscored their strong desire that the crisis be resolved speedily and rapidly, and in conditions that represent the will of the Ivorian people;
  • “welcomed the ongoing efforts by ECOWAS, the African Union and the United Nations” and in this context “acknowledged the relevant decisions of the AU Peace and Security Council of 28 January on Côte d’Ivoire and encouraged all parties to extend their full cooperation to the African Union High-Level Panel;” and
  • remained deeply concerned about the continued violence and human rights violations in Côte d’Ivoire and urged all parties to exert maximum restraint and to refrain from violence.

On 8 February the president of the ECOWAS Commission, James Victor Gbeho, criticised South Africa for sending a warship to the subregion, stating that the presence of the vessel could “only complicate the matter further.” However, a South African defence ministry spokesperson said the warship was not providing military support for Gbagbo or Ouatarra but was in international waters off the coast of West Africa for routine training.

On 10 February the Gbagbo government announced on state television that frequencies assigned to UN Radio broadcasts had been withdrawn. However, it was subsequently reported in the international media that UN Radio, whose frequency had been jammed since the crisis began, could still be heard on an unofficial FM frequency. (Gbagbo’s camp retains control of the Ivorian state television— Ivorian Radio Television or RTI—while Ouatarra’s camp recently set up a TV station called TV Côte d’Ivoire, which can be viewed in Abidjan.)

Since the week of 13 February, a number of banks in Côte d’Ivoire, including Citibank and Standard Chartered, have suspended their local operations because of a growing financial crisis due to uncertainty brought about by the political stalemate and consequent sanctions. On 17 February the Gbagbo government announced that it had taken control of foreign banks that had suspended operations in the country.

On 16 February the Council extended for up to three months the temporary redeployment from the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to UNOCI of three infantry companies and one aviation unit, composed of two military utility helicopters and three armed helicopters with crews.

On 21 February members of the AU high-level panel, with the exception of Burkinabe leader Blaise Campaore who has been accused by the Gbagbo camp of being supportive of Ouatarra, met with the Gbagbo in Abidjan. It subsequently met with Ouatarra on 22 February. At press time no clear outcome had resulted from the meetings.

On 24 February a spokesperson for UNOCI told the BBC that a position of the former rebel Forces Nouvelles along the buffer zone between the southern and northern parts of the country, close to the border with Liberia, was attacked by government forces in western Côte d’Ivoire, in effect violating the six-year ceasefire between the two forces. On 25 February the Forces Nouvelles responded and attacked and took control of the northern town of Zouan-Hounien, with press reports of the unrest spreading to the capital Yamoussokro.

Key Issues
A major issue for the Council remains that of balancing its own role and the roles of the regional and subregional organisations to best effect so as to prevent a relapse into full-blown violent conflict.

Another key issue is that of sanctions, in light of recent developments, including reported incitement to attack UN personnel, and whether the Council should initiate action to impose targeted sanctions on individuals and entities found to be causing political tensions and inciting violence.
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Underlying Problems
Deep-seated ethnic tensions emanating from the different ethnic and religious affiliations of the opposing parties have proven obstructive to resolving the current situation. These factors could also become catalysts for acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing. This is particularly troubling in light of the fact that former combatants in the rebel Forces Nouvelles (aligned with Ouatarra) and the militias (mainly aligned with the Gbagbo camp) remain well armed.

Options for the Council include:

  • reiterating its position about the unacceptability of the on-going stalemate;
  • awaiting the finalisation of the AU high-level panel’s work to inform subsequent action; and
  • adopting interim deterrents against spoilers by imposing additional sanctions against individuals blocking the peace process.

Council Dynamics
Council members seem to be mainly in a wait-and-see mode, awaiting the outcome of the work of the AU panel, and are conscious that they have no direct role in the work of the panel or the eventual validation of its recommendations. Most Council members, however, remain mindful of their responsibility to act when necessary based on developments on the ground.

Differences of opinion emerged among Council members on how to respond to the AU initiative to set up the panel. Some members (e.g. South Africa, Russia and China) were in favour of explicitly welcoming the AU’s decision to form the panel. Others such as France, Germany, the UK and the US were reluctant to do so, citing their difficulty in giving the Council’s unreserved support for what they viewed as the ambiguity regarding the AU panel’s mandate to work toward “formulating … an overall political solution.” The compromise was to welcome related efforts by ECOWAS and the AU, acknowledge “relevant decisions” by the AU PSC and encourage all parties to fully cooperate with the AU panel.

Many Council members appear open to considering possible additional sanctions but would prefer to base them on properly verified cases of misconduct by actors on the ground.

France is the lead country on this issue in the Council.

UN Documents

Selected Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1968 (16 February 2011) extended the mandate of troops temporarily deployed from UNMIL to UNOCI for another three months.
  • S/RES/1967 (19 January 2011) authorised an increase of 2,000 troops in the overall strength of UNOCI military personnel and extended the mandate of troops temporarily deployed from UNMIL to UNOCI.
  • S/RES/1962 (20 December 2010) renewed the mandate of UNOCI until 30 June, authorised the temporary redeployment for up to four weeks of troops from UNMIL to UNOCI, as well as the extension until 31 March of the temporary deployment of up to 500 additional military personnel to UNOCI, which was approved by resolution 1942.
  • S/RES/1951 (24 November 2010) authorised the temporary deployment of troops from UNMIL to UNOCI.
  • S/RES/1946 (15 October 2010) renewed the sanctions and the mandate of the group of experts until 30 April.
  • S/RES/1942 (29 September 2010) authorised the deployment of 500 additional troops to UNOCI to help with security during the election period.
  • S/RES/1528 (27 February 2004) established UNOCI.

Selected Presidential Statement

  • S/PRST/2007/8 (28 March 2007) endorsed the Ouagadougou Agreement.

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

Selected Letters

  • S/2011/5 (7 January 2011) was the recommendation by the Secretary-General to the Council for additional military capacity to be authorised for UNOCI.
  • S/2011/3 (5 January 2011) was the Secretary-General’s letter informing the Council about his appointment of the group of experts monitoring the Côte d’Ivoire sanctions.
  • S/2010/601 (22 November 2010) was the request by the Secretary-General to the Council for approval of the redeployment of troops and aviation assets from UNMIL to UNOCI.
  • S/2010/493 (23 September 2010) was from the Secretary-General informing the Council about the head of UNOCI’s certification of the Ivorian electoral process.
  • S/2010/486 (17 September 2010) and S/2010/485 (14 September 2010) was the exchange of letters between the Secretary-General and the Council on raising the level of authorised UNOCI military and police personnel leading up to the presidential election.
  • S/2008/834 (30 December 2008) contained the fourth supplementary agreement to the Ouagadougou Agreement.
  • S/2007/144 (13 March 2007) contained the Ouagadougou Agreement.


  • SC/10149 (10 January 2011) was the latest press statement by the Council on the situation in Côte d’Ivoire.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission

Choi Young-jin (Republic of Korea)

UNOCI Force Commander

Maj.Gen. Abdul Hafiz (Bangladesh)

Chair of the Sanctions Committee

Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti (Brazil)

UNOCI Police Commissioner

Maj. Gen. Jean Marie Bourry (France)

Size and Composition of UNOCI

Strength (as of 31 December 2010): 7,569 troops, 186 military observers, 1,316 police personnel, 380 international civilian personnel, 737 local staff and 267 UN volunteers

Approved Budget

1 July 2010-30 June 2011: $485.1 million

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