Update Report

Posted 2 April 2007
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Update Report No. 1: Côte d’Ivoire

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Expected Council Action
Following the agreement signed on 26 March between Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and Forces nouvelles leader Guillaume Soro providing for Soro’s appointment as interim prime minister, the Council is expected to adopt a new resolution amending its previous resolutions on the peace process in Côte d’Ivoire (and especially resolution 1721) to bring them into conformity with the Ouagadougou agreement signed between the parties on 4 March. In particular, it would:

  • postpone elections and extend President Gbagbo’s mandate until early January 2008; and
  • accept Soro as new interim prime minister and transfer to him the mandate previously given to Charles Konan Banny.

Key Recent Developments
After a month of “direct dialogue” in Ouagadougou between representatives of the two sides, face-to-face talks between President Gbagbo and Guillaume Soro produced the Ouagadougou agreement. It established a new framework for the peace process in Côte d’Ivoire, in which the international community would have a smaller role to play. The parties committed themselves to:

  • re-launch national hearings to identify the population with security guarantees from both sides and, after the completion of the electoral list, distribute electoral cards to electors under the supervision of the Ivorian Electoral Commission;
  • merge armed forces from both sides and create an Integrated Command Center, jointly headed and responsible for defence and security, including disarmament, securing the national hearings sites and the actual electoral process, and establishment of military and paramilitary mixed units;
  • accelerate disarmament;
  • ask the Security Council to lift the arms embargo three months after the holding of elections, and grant an immediate special authorisation to import light weapons for police operations under the supervision of the Integrated Command Center;
  • ask the Security Council to lift targeted sanctions immediately;
  • replace “the zone of confidence” between the two rebels’ forces with a “green line” punctuated by impartial forces (French forces and the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire, UNOCI);
  • request a reduction by half of the impartial forces every two months;
  • create a Permanent Framework for Dialogue to be composed of President Gbagbo, Soro, the other opposition leaders, and President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso as mediator;
  • create an Evaluation and Monitoring Committee composed of the parties to evaluate and assess the implementation of the agreement;
  • form a new transitional government within five weeks;
  • hold elections by 7 January 2008; and
  • seek additional African troops to participate in the peacekeeping mission.

The agreement cuts across the approach previously approved by the Council in resolution 1721 which had set the term of President Gbagbo to expire in October and diminished his powers in favour of Prime Minister Banny.

In his 9 March report, the Secretary-General welcomed the Ouagadougou agreement as an important achievement, and urged the parties to begin implementation immediately. He said that he would initiate discussions with the mediator and the parties to determine the role of UNOCI and of the High Representative for Elections in accordance with the agreement. He also recommended a timely Security Council visit to Côte d’Ivoire.

The Council adopted a press statement on 14 March welcoming the Ouagadougou agreement, encouraging its implementation and supporting the Secretary-General’s intention to initiate discussions on the role that the UN should play.

On 19 March the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), followed by the African Union recommended that the Council endorse the agreement.

On 26 March, the parties signed an additional agreement under which Guillaume Soro would replace Charles Konan Banny as interim prime minister. In response, the Council on 28 March adopted a presidential statement:

  • endorsing the Ouagadougou agreement;
  • taking note of the ECOWAS and AU recommendations;
  • commending the outgoing prime minister and supporting the appointment of Guillaume Soro as prime minister; and
  • requesting the Secretary-General to submit recommendations on the UN role to support the peace process, by 15 May.

Although the media reported a French early decision to withdraw 500 troops from Côte d’Ivoire following the Ouagadougou agreement, it seems that this was part of a technical adjustment. Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin of France stated that any withdrawal of the French Licorne forces would occur in coordination with the international community after assessment of progress in the peace process.


  • The most likely option is a resolution amending resolution 1721, postponing the elections date, extending President Gbagbo’s mandate until early January 2008 and endorsing the nomination of Soro as new interim prime minister.
  • The Council can also adopt a resolution that would, in addition, remove the targeted sanctions and provide special authorisation to import light weapons for police operations while keeping the arms embargo in place.
  • The third option is not to adopt any resolution before receiving a first assessment on implementation of the Ouagadougou agreement.

Key Issues
The first issue for the Council is to reconcile the inconsistency which now exists between the relevant Security Council resolutions (and in particular resolution 1721) and the new agreement which deviates from the peace process as previously elaborated by the international community.

The second and related issue is that difference still exists between President Gbagbo and Soro. These are reflected in the ambiguity of the Ouagadougou agreement. President Gbagbo seems to be trying to push the international community aside, whereas Soro, to the contrary, seems to want the international community to continue to play a leading role in supporting the peace process. The additional agreement also reveals this contradiction as Soro’s nomination occurs within the framework of the Ivorian constitution, but has to be confirmed by the Security Council. The Council is therefore facing the difficult task of reflecting both views in this resolution.

A further issue is how far to go at this point in endorsing the new approach or whether to wait for the Secretary-General’s assessment of progress in implementation of the Ouagadougou agreement.

Another issue is how to respond to the parties’ request to authorise an immediate exemption of the arms embargo for light weapons and the lifting of targeted sanctions against individuals.

A further issue is the possibility of a Council visit to Côte d’Ivoire, as recommended by the ECOWAS leaders and the Secretary-General. Timing is an important aspect. Sending the mission after receiving a first assessment of progress on implementation of the Ouagadougou agreement and the Secretary-General’s recommendations on the UN role in Côte d’Ivoire, but before the UNOCI mandate review process occurs at the end of June, is an option currently being contemplated.

The future of the International Working Group (IWG) may also be discussed, whether it should be dissolved or whether international community oversight should occur in some other way.

Finally, an issue that will be addressed by the Secretary-General is the proposal for additional African troops requested by the parties. It seems that this request stemmed from a desire by Guillaume Soro to obtain troops from Burkina Faso to ensure his security.

Council Dynamics
Council members, and especially France, seem to believe that the Ouagadougou agreement offers a window of opportunity to resolve the conflict in Côte d’Ivoire. Although there is scepticism about the genuine commitment to implement the agreement and also because all previous peace initiatives have failed, many still believe that the Ouagadougou agreement may actually be implemented-Guillaume Soro is now prime minister and President Gbagbo initiated the process and seems confident about his chances to be re-elected. Therefore many Council members believe that adopting a resolution adjusting previous Council decisions to the Ouagadougou agreement sooner rather than later would send the right sign of support. On the other hand, there is hesitation about approving withdrawal of the impartial forces at this stage. It seems there is a preference to wait before taking any decisions until after receiving the assessment of progress and until the time of the mandate review in June.

Most seem to believe that it is important to keep an international framework for oversight of the peace process. A Council resolution adjusting resolution 1721 seems to have wide support. However, full incorporation of the Ouagadougou agreement seems unlikely at this stage, leaving room for further evolution of the oversight process in light of developments.

France seems to support the Ouagadougou agreement (its implementation would provide France with an exit strategy for its military force). The relationship between France and President Gbagbo seems to have improved.

Finally, many Council members seem to believe that it is too early to lift individual sanctions and authorise an exemption of the arms embargo for light weapons-although in principle, some may be willing to support an exemption depending on the type of equipment requested by the Integrated Command Center.

Underlying Problems
There appears to be scepticism among the Ivorian population about the deal between President Gbagbo and Soro. Other rebel parties are feeling excluded and have already stated that they would not disarm unless they are invited to participate in the new government.

The removal of the buffer zone and its replacement by mixed military units from both sides has also led to fears of renewed conflict, if the process proceeds too fast. There are also concerns about any withdrawal of UNOCI before the electoral period.

There is also growing distress about ongoing impunity for those who have committed violence against civilians and particularly sexual violence against women and girls. Reports from human rights groups have documented hundreds of cases of rape, sexual slavery, forced incest, sexual torture and even cannibalism which occurred mostly at the beginning of the conflict in 2002 and 2003, but are still ongoing. Rebel forces, government forces, as well as mercenaries from Liberia, are blamed for these violations. Also, the international commission investigation report, mandated by the Security Council and submitted in October 2004, established that rape had been used as a weapon of war since the conflict started in September 2002. The report was never made public nor addressed by the Council.

Selected Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1739 (10 January 2007) extended the UNOCI mandate until 30 June 2007with increased troop levels.
  • S/RES/1727 (15 December 2006) renewed the sanctions regime in Côte d’Ivoire until 31 October 2007.
  • S/RES/1726 (15 December 2006) renewed the mandate of UNOCI until 10 January 2007.
  • S/RES/1721 (1 November 2006) prolonged by one year the transitional period in Côte d’Ivoire and reinforced the powers of the prime minister.
  • S/RES/1682 (2 June 2006) authorised until 15 December 2006 an increase in the strength of UNOCI of up to 1,500 additional troops.
  • S/RES/1657 (6 February 2006) authorised the deployment of an infantry company from UNMIL to UNOCI until 31 March.·
  • S/RES/1652 (24 January 2006) extended the mandate of UNOCI until 15 December and expressed the intention to review troop levels in March 2006.
  • S/RES 1643 (15 December 2005) renewed until 15 December 2006 the sanctions regime of resolution 1572 and established a diamonds embargo.
  • S/RES/1633 (21 October 2005) extended President Gbagbo’s term by 12 months, supported the creation of the IWG, called for the designation of a prime minister and reaffirmed its readiness to impose sanctions.
  • S/RES/1609< (24 June 2005) extended the mandate of UNOCI for seven months, further detailed the mandate, increased the contingents, and authorised the temporary redeployment of military and civilian police personnel among the UN Mission in Liberia, the UN Mission in Sierra Leone and UNOCI.
  • S/RES/1603 (3 June 2005) endorsed the Pretoria Agreements, established a High Representative for the Elections in Côte d’Ivoire and renewed UNOCI’s mandate until 24 June.
  • S/RES/1584 (1 February 2005) authorised UNOCI to monitor the arms embargo and created a Group of Experts to provide information to the Sanctions Committee.
  • S/RES/1572 (15 November 2004) established an arms embargo and called for sanctions against individuals found to be obstructing the peace process, violating human rights, publicly inciting hatred and violence and violating the embargo.
  • S/RES/1528 (27 February 2004) established UNOCI.

Selected Presidential Statements

  • S/PRST/2007/8 (28 March 2007) was the last statement. It endorsed the Ouagadougou agreement and supported the appointment of Soro as prime minister.
  • S/PRST/2004/17 (25 May 2004) asked the Secretary-General to establish an international commission of inquiry to investigate all human rights violations committed in Côte d’Ivoire since 19 September 2002 and determine responsibility.

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

Other UN Documents

  • S/2007/153 (15 March 2007) was a letter from the Secretary-General enclosing the thirteenth IWG communiqué.
  • S/2007/144 (13 March 2007) was a letter from the Secretary-General enclosing the Ouagadougou Agreement.
  • S/2007/93 (15 February 2007) was a letter from France enclosing the conclusions of the Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict on Côte d’Ivoire.

Most Recent African Union Documents

  • PSC/PR/Comm.2(LXXIV) (29 March 2007) was the communiqué endorsing the additional agreement between President Gbagbo and Soro and inviting the Security Council to do the same and adopt a resolution helping the parties implementing the agreement.
  • PSC/PR/Comm.2 (LXXIII) (19 March 2007) was the communiqué fully endorsing the Ouagadougou Political Agreement of 4 March 2007.

Historical Background

26 March 2007

President Gbagbo and Guillaume Soro signed an additional agreement through which they decided to designate Soro as the new interim prime minister. The African Union endorsed this agreement on 29 March.

4 March 2007

President Gbagbo and Soro signed the Ouagadougou peace agreement under the aegis of Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaoré, which sets a new timetable for organising elections in Côte d’Ivoire and reuniting the country.

5 February 2007

Preliminary talks for the direct dialogue between President Gbagbo and Soro started in Ouagadougou.

January 2007

President Gbagbo’s proposal for direct talks was welcomed by ECOWAS and by the African Union as long as the talks remained within the framework of resolution 1721.

19 December 2006

President Gbagbo announced his own plan to end the political crisis based on direct negotiations with the rebels and the elimination of the zone of confidence.

1 November 2006

The Council endorsed the decision by the African Union to extend by one final year the mandates of the Ivorian president and of the prime minister in resolution 1721. The resolution also reinforced the prime minister’s powers and the role of the international community in the Ivorian peace process.

31 October 2006

Presidential elections were called off.

17 October 2006

The African Union Peace and Security Council extended President Gbagbo’s mandate by one year, during which time the roadmap should be fully implemented, and replaced President Thabo Mbeki of South African with the African Union Chairman as mediator.

20 September 2006

A mini-summit took place in New York between the Secretary-General, regional leaders and Ivorian opposition leaders in order to evaluate ways to implement the roadmap, but without results since President Gbagbo boycotted the summit (as well as the UN General Assembly meeting).

23 August 2006

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Côte d’Ivoire, Pierre Schori, said that for technical reasons relating to non-compliance with the roadmap, it was no longer possible in practice to hold an election on 31 October.

4 August 2006

Because too few weapons were being surrendered, the disarmament process for pro-government militia groups in the west was suspended.

12 July 2006

The presidential party (FPI, Front populaire ivoirien) called for a boycott of the voter identification hearings which sparked bloody demonstrations by the Young Patriots (a militia close to President Gbagbo) who blockaded various cities to prevent the UN from proceeding with the identification process.

5 July 2006

The UN Secretary-General organised a meeting in Yamoussoukro with all Ivorian parties and regional leaders to press ahead with the implementation of the roadmap to the elections. A communique was adopted.

23 May 2006

The pre-cantonment of the government forces and rebel forces (Forces nouvelles) started.

Early April 2006

Disarmament talks among rebels and army chiefs started, under the mediation of the African Union Chairman, Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso. It was decided that both disarmament and identification be conducted in parallel.

7 March 2006

The Independent Electoral Commission became operational after a prolonged conflict over its composition.

28 February 2006

For the first time since the 2002 rebellion, talks were held in Côte d’Ivoire between President Gbagbo, Guillaume Soro and the two main opposition leaders, Henri Konan Bédié (Parti démocratique de Côte d’Ivoire) and Alassane Ouattara (Rassemblement des républicains), under the aegis of Prime Minister Banny. While the parties did not reach a formal agreement or a timeline for the disarmament process, their final communiqué stated that Council resolution 1633 did not contradict the Ivorian constitution. The parties agreed to meet frequently.

January 2006

A wave of violent protest against the UN was led by the Young Patriots. In response to the violence, the Council implemented individual sanctions against two followers of President Gbagbo and one commander of the Forces nouvelles.

4 December 2005

Charles Konan Banny, the governor of the Central Bank of West Africa States, was appointed interim prime minister by the mediators.

8 November 2005

The first meeting of the newly established International Working Group was held.

31 October 2005

Presidential elections were cancelled.

21 October 2005

The Council, in resolution 1633, endorsed the previous African Union decision, extended President Gbagbo’s term by one year, decided that a new prime minister acceptable to all parties and with executive powers should be designated, established a roadmap for disarmament, identification and organisation of elections supervised by an International Working Group responsible for the evaluation and monitoring of the peace process, and strengthened the threat of individual sanctions for spoilers.

6 October 2005

The African Union decided to extend Gbagbo’s mandate by twelve months.

1 August 2005

The Forces nouvelles announced that they were not ready to move to the next stage in the disarmament process.

29 June 2005

The Declaration on the Implementation of the Pretoria Agreement on the peace-process in Côte d’Ivoire was signed in Pretoria under the auspices of the African Union.

11 April 2005

Pretoria Peace Agreement was signed by all Ivorian parties. The Agreement reinforced the terms of the previous two agreements and stipulated that elections would be held in October 2005.

15 November 2004

The Council adopted resolution 1572, which imposed an arms embargo as well as sanctions restricting travel and freezing assets of all persons designated by the Sanctions Committee who posed a threat to the peace process.

9 November 2004

African Union mediation initiative led by President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa began.

6 November 2004

The national armed forces of Côte d’Ivoire attacked the French Licorne forces. The Council condemned the attacks and confirmed that French forces and UNOCI were authorised to use all necessary means to fully carry out their mandate.

30 July 2004

The Accra III Agreement, which consolidated the implementation of the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement, was signed.

27 February 2004

The Council adopted resolution 1528 establishing UNOCI. ECOWAS forces and MINUCI’s authority was transferred to the new mission.

13 May 2003

The Council adopted resolution 1479 establishing the UN Mission in Côte d’Ivoire (MINUCI) with a mandate to facilitate the implementation of the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement and of the ceasefire.

March 2003

A government of national reconciliation was formed with members from the rebel ranks and a consensus prime minister, Seydou Diarra.

24 January 2003

The Linas-Marcoussis Agreement was signed between the Ivorian government and all political forces, under French initiative.

19 September 2002

A mutiny in Abidjan by army officers protesting their demobilisation grew into full-scale rebellion. The rebels seized control of the north.

March 2001

Alassane Ouattara’s party won local elections, which led to a call for fresh presidential and legislative elections.

October 2000

Presidential elections were held. Ouattara was banned from running on the basis that he was of foreign descent. Robert Gueï proclaimed himself president after announcing that he had won the elections but was forced to flee in the wake of a popular uprising. Laurent Gbagbo, believed to be the real winner, was declared president. Fighting erupted between Gbagbo’s mainly southern Christian supporters and Ouattara’s mainly northern Muslim followers.

December 1999

President Bédié was overthrown in a military coup led by General Robert Gueï.


The concept of “Ivority” was used for the first time by President Bédié. Although it originally referred to the common cultural identity of all those living in Côte d’Ivoire – especially foreigners who represent one third of the population-he changed it to mean population of Ivorian descent. For political purposes, before the 2000 presidential elections, a law drafted by the government required both parents of a presidential candidate to be born within Côte d’Ivoire. This led to the disqualification of the candidate Alassane Ouattara, representing the predominantly Muslim north, where poor immigrant workers from Mali and Burkina Faso often reside.


Henri Konan Bédié became president.


France granted independence to Côte d’Ivoire under President Felix Houphouët-Boigny, who held power until he died in 1993.

Previous Agreements

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General
To be appointed
Principal Deputy Special Representative
Abou Moussa (Chad)
High Representative for Elections
Gérard Stoudmann (Switzerland)
Size and Composition of UNOCI
  • Authorised strength as of 2 June 2006: Up to 8,115 military personnel and up to 1,200 police
  • Strength as of 28 February 2007: 9,191 total uniformed personnel, including 7,853 troops, 200 military observers; 1,138 police; supported by 371 international civilian personnel, 524 local staff and 228 United Nations Volunteers
  • Key troop-contributing countries: Bangladesh, Morocco, Ghana and Pakistan
  • 1 July 2006 – 30 June 2007 $472.89 million

Useful Additional Sources