Update Report

Update Report No. 3: Côte d’Ivoire


Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to adopt a resolution in the coming days to approve troop reinforcement for the peacekeeping mission in Côte d’Ivoire to enable the mission to effectively carry out its mandate, in response to a request on 7 January from the Secretary-General. At press time Council members were considering a draft resolution circulated by France to authorise additional troop levels for UNOCI and also to extend its authorisation for the temporary troops to augment the capacity of UNOCI. The issue under discussion is whether the resolution should be technical (which seems uncontroversial) or should also seek to include contextual political elements. The mandate of UNOCI expires on 30 June.

The security situation in Côte d’Ivoire has continued to deteriorate with persisting political tensions and violence resulting from the disputed elections outcome of the 28 November presidential elections. Alassane Ouatarra, certified by the head of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) as the winner of the poll, has continued to receive widespread international recognition. However, former President Laurent Gbagbo has refused to cede office, questioned the neutrality of the UN in the country and demanded that the peacekeeping mission leave the country. Hostile acts by supporters of Gbagbo against UNOCI (whose troops provide protection for Ouattara) has included a blockade of the Golf Hotel where Ouattara has set up his interim government. The number of civilians killed in related incidents was at press time estimated to be in the hundreds. Some 25,000 civilians have fled to neighboring Liberia.

The AU and the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) which had indicated that if Gbagbo refused to step down “legitimate force” would be used to remove him, have undertaken a number of mediatory missions as part of efforts to resolve the dispute with the endorsement of the Security Council but have not yet succeeded.

On 7 January Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a letter to the Council highlighted the key challenges facing UNOCI. He indicated that UNOCI was operating in an openly hostile environment with direct threats from regular and irregular forces loyal to Gbagbo. He stated that “the precarious security situation could quickly degenerate into widespread conflict”. Difficulties mentioned included specific threats to UNOCI’s logistical capacity, state media incitement of hostility and violence against particular Ivorian ethnic, religious and political groups and UNOCI and access restrictions hampering the mission’s ability to investigate reports of serious human rights violations, particularly in western Côte d’Ivoire. He indicated that the UNOCI’ Quick Reaction Force needed to be restored since the previous reserve capacity had been redeployed from Yamoussoukro (northwest of Abidjan) to Abidjan (in the south) to provide full-time protection to the Golf Hotel.

The Secretary-General recommended that the Council authorise:

In total, the Secretary-General’s request envisaged an increase by 2,000 military personnel, in addition to the temporary military and police capabilities of UNOCI.

On 12 January France circulated a draft resolution to Council members. The draft text, essentially, authorises all the recommendations of the Secretary-General. It specified the period of authorisation as follows:

The draft text also demands: an immediate stop to hate speech by in the media; that Gbagbo lift the blockade around the Golf Hotel; that all parties respect the safety of UNOCI and UN personnel; and ensuring unhindered movement of peacekeepers throughout Ivorian territory. The draft resolution also conveyed the readiness of the Council to impose sanctions on those obstructing the work of UNOCI and those who commit serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

Key Related UN Developments
Following the certification of the election by Special Representative of the Secretary-General Choi Young-jin on 3 December, 2010, on 8 December the Council issued a press statement reiterating its support for the role of Choi and UNOCI. It called on all Ivorian stakeholders to respect the outcome of the election “in view of ECOWAS’ recognition of Alassane Dramane Ouattara as president-elect of Côte d’Ivoire and representative of the freely expressed voice of the Ivorian people as proclaimed by the Independent Electoral Commission.”

On 15 December the UN Secretary-General reiterated his call on Ivorian stakeholders to refrain from any actions that could provoke violence, stressing that in the charged political environment such actions could have unpredictable consequences, including reigniting civil war. Ban reminded those who incited or perpetrated violence that they would be held accountable for their actions.

On 16 December supporters of Ouattara unsuccessfully attempted to gain control of key state institutions, in a bid to enforce what they deemed to be the legitimate outcome of the presidential election run-off, resulting in the deaths of about thirty people.

Also on 16 December the Council issued a press statement expressing concern about violence, especially against civilians. It urged all Ivorian stakeholders to exercise restraint and reiterated its support for the role of UNOCI. Also, on that day, the International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo cautioned that the Court would pursue the perpetrators of any deadly violence in Côte d’Ivoire.

On 18 December Gbagbo demanded that all foreign peacekeepers leave Côte d’Ivoire immediately, accusing UN and French peacekeepers of colluding with former rebels. Ban Ki-moon subsequently rejected Gbagbo’s demand.

On 20 December the Council renewed the mandate of UNOCI until 30 June 2011. It authorised the Secretary-General to extend until 31 March the temporary deployment of up to 500 additional personnel, as well as the temporary redeployment to UNOCI for up to four weeks of troops and an aviation unit from UNMIL. The Council subsequently issued a press statement expressing concern about continued reports of acts of violence in Côte d’Ivoire. It condemned acts of violence against UNOCI and warned all stakeholders that attacks against civilians and peacekeepers will be brought to justice in accordance with international law and international humanitarian law.

On 23 December the General Assembly accepted, by consensus, Ouattara’s choice of diplomats to the UN as the only official representatives of Côte d’Ivoire to the organisation.

On 23 December the UN Human Rights Council, during a special session, condemned rights violations in Côte d’Ivoire, and urged all parties, particularly defence and security forces, to refrain from violence and to respect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

On 27 December UN Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Alain Le Roy arrived in Abidjan and conferred with Ouattara and the UNOCI head, Choi Young-jin, regarding the situation on the ground.

On 29 December the new Ivorian Ambassador to the UN, Youssoufou Bamba, cautioned that his country was on the verge of genocide. Le Roy subsequently expressed concern on Ivorian state television about attempts being made through the local media to incite the local population to turn against UNOCI.

On 5 January, Le Roy, briefed the Council in consultations on the political and security situation in Côte d’Ivoire. On 10 January the Council issued a press statement indicating that its members had expressing support for the AU and ECOWAS efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire. It expressed concern about continued violence and human rights violations and condemned attacks against peacekeepers and civilians.

On 11 December UNHCR indicated that about 25,000 Ivorian refugees had entered Liberia in the wake of the dispute, with an estimated 600 new arrivals every day. There were more than 16,000 internally displaced persons in western Côte d’Ivoire.

Key Related Regional Developments
On 7 December ECOWAS recognised Ouattara as the legitimate winner of the polls, suspended Côte d’Ivoire from the organisation and asked Gbagbo to step down.

On 8 December Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, urged Liberians not to cross into Côte d’Ivoire as mercenaries, following reports of such movements.

The AU Peace and Security Council on 9 December suspended Côte d’Ivoire from all of the organisation’s activities and endorsed the ECOWAS decision of 7 December to recognise the Ivorian electoral commission’s announced results, certified by UNOCI head, Choi, declaring Ouattara the winner of the 28 November 2010 presidential run-off election.

On 26 December Johnson-Sirleaf stated that her government had obtained information that some Liberians were indeed joining the conflict in Côte d’Ivoire “as soldiers of fortune” and called on all those involved in such activities to desist. She said that Liberians involved in acts of violence in Côte d’Ivoire could be prosecuted under Liberian law.

On 23 December the Central Bank of West African States (French: Banque Centrale des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest or BCEAO), which serves eight West African countries including Côte d’Ivoire, cut off access by Gbagbo to Côte d’Ivoire’s funds, recognising Ouattara as the legitimate president. Gbagbo declared that the decision taken by BCEAO was illegal.

Following an emergency summit meeting in Abuja, on 24 December ECOWAS announced that Gbagbo should stand down or face “legitimate force.” ECOWAS indicated that it would convene a meeting of its defence ministers to discuss possible military intervention in Côte d’Ivoire if Gbagbo remained recalcitrant.

On 27 December the AU appointed Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga as its special envoy to pursue a peaceful outcome to the situation in Côte d’Ivoire.

On 28 December three West African Presidents (Benin’s Boni Yayi, Cape Verde’s Pedro Pires and Sierra Leone’s Ernest Bai Koroma) arrived in Abidjan to convey ECOWAS’s demand that Gbagbo cede power or face military intervention. They left with no result.

ECOWAS military chiefs (from Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, Togo, Niger and Nigeria) subsequently met in Abuja, Nigeria from 29 to 30 December to consider options of forcefully removing Gbagbo if political persuasion failed.

On 30 December two French lawyers, Roland Dumas (a former foreign minister) and Jacque Verges, arrived in Abidjan to support Gbagbo. Dumas told the press that they were “going to draw up a report and…going to defend the current authorities”. Verges stated that Gbagbo had become a symbol of a new “Africa, one that does not bow its head…that’s what French leaders cannot tolerate”.

On 3 January ECOWAS mediators in the persons of the presidents of Benin, Cape Verde and Sierra Leone undertook a second visit to Abidjan to try to secure Gbagbo’s exit. Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, representing the AU, also joined in the negotiations. The ECOWAS mediators subsequently indicated that Gbagbo had promised to lift the blockade of the temporary headquarters of Ouattara at the Golf Hotel in Abidjan. Odinga told the BBC that Gbagbo had indicated that he was “ready to negotiate without any conditions. And stepping aside is the main option that we gave him.”

On 4 January, ECOWAS and the AU indicated that Gbagbo had agreed to negotiate a peaceful end to the crisis without any preconditions. Ouattara told the press after meeting with the mediators that Gbagbo had to leave office since the time for negotiations was over. However, Gbagbo’s Youth Minister Charles Blé Goudé stated in an interview with FRANCE 24 that dialogue was the only solution to the Ivorian crisis.

On 5 January Gbagbo’s foreign minister, Alcide Djedje, told the press that the blockade of Ouattara’s temporary headquarters would not be lifted until New Forces soldiers loyal to Ouattara left the hotel.

On 7 January Ghana’s president, John Atta Mills, indicated that Ghana will not contribute troops to an ECOWAS regional force to oust Gbagbo because Ghana’s military was overstretched and engaged in many peacekeeping operations around the world, including Côte d’Ivoire.

On 7 January the Secretary-General recommended that the Council authorise reinforcements to UNOCI (S/2011/5).

On 10 January former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo met with both Gbagbo and Ouattara in what he described as a “process of exploration,” as part of ECOWAS’s mediation efforts. He maintained that while a negotiated solution to the crisis was possible, military intervention remained an option.

On 11 and 12 January violent clashes occurred between rival political factions, resulting in the death of four supporters of Ouattara on 11 January and the death of five policemen linked to Gbagbo’s camp on 12 January.

On 13 January forces loyal to Gbagbo attacked and burned UN vehicles in six different incidents, in Abidjan. A doctor and the driver targeted in one of the attacks were injured. The Secretary-General subsequently condemned the attacks.

Key Issues
The immediate issue for the Council is whether to support the Secretary-General’s recommendations, and to what extent (i.e. whether and for what duration to increase the overall strength of UNOCI and/or further extend the temporary transfer of troops from UNMIL to UNOCI, as well as the additional troops authorised by resolution 1942).

A related issue is whether to adopt a strictly technical text authorising an increase in troop capacity or to include political references to the current areas of concern about the situation in Côte d’Ivoire. A closely connected issue is defining the ongoing role of the Council in the context of the role being played by the AU and ECOWAS.

An underlying key issue for many Council members is the risk that incitement, particularly in the media, will generate conditions ripe for mass atrocities with destabilising effects on peace and security in West Africa.

A related issue is the fact that the role of the UN mission has a Chapter VII mandate and has assumed a role of protecting the new civilian government, in light of the UNOCI certification of the disputed election results and the position of the AU, ECOWAS and the UN Secretary-General.

Key options for the Council include:

Council Dynamics
At press time there appeared to be a consensus among Council members about authorising the additional troops and logistical support for UNOCI, mainly because the request by the Secretary-General is of a technical nature and does not involve any additional enforcement role.

However, it seems that some Council members prefer to adopt a simple technical resolution authorising an increase in the size of UNOCI whereas others believe it is important to address more substantive content regarding the current risk areas, including language paragraphs referencing the continued violence and human rights violations, obstructions to UNOCI’s mandate fulfillment, the use of media to incite hatred and violence against the UN and condemning Gbagbo’s blockade of the Golf Hotel.
Russia and China in particular seem to prefer a simple technical resolution, arguing that the political content was not necessary, especially in light of the fact that the Council had recently issued a press statement making those political points.

Others like Gabon, Germany, the UK and the US seem to strongly support the French draft resolution and argue that such language should be included to provide the context for the Council’s authorisation of the mission. They also note that the language in dispute was previously agreed among Council members and that the ongoing deterioration in the security situation required such mention.

African members have been firm about the need for the Council to give unequivocal support for AU and ECOWAS initiatives aiming at resolving the current challenges in the country, including a recognition of Ouatarra as the winner of the presidential run-off election and, hence, the legitimate president of Côte d’Ivoire.

It seems that some Council members are not comfortable with authorising formerly the use of force to oust Gbagbo as threatened by ECOWAS. Some question the risks involved and the merit of that option in resolving the larger issue of peace consolidation in the country.

The US, France and UK have been quite vocal about their opposition to Gbagbo’s refusal to cede power. The US has imposed a travel ban and an assets freeze on Gbagbo and some members of his inner circle and the EU imposed travel bans on Gbagbo and 18 of his associates. France and the UK stated in December that they no longer recognised ambassadors appointed by Gbagbo and that they would only accredit new envoys named by Ouattara. On 26 December 2010 French and Swiss authorities grounded Gbagbo’s official airplane at an airport jointly operated by the two countries in Switzerland. On 31 December British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the UK will support ECOWAS military intervention in principle, but such action would need prior endorsement by the Security Council. Germany and Portugal seem to subscribe to similar positions.

The outcome of an AU summit on the issue scheduled for 25 to 31January in Addis Ababa is also expected to influence the Council’s next steps.

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

UN Documents

Selected Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1962 (20 December 2010) renewed the mandate of UNOCI until 30 June 2011, authorised the temporary redeployment of up to four weeks of troops from the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to UNOCI, as well as the extension until 31 March 2011 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 2011.
  • 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/1933 (30 June 2010) extended the mandate of UNOCI until 30 December 2010.
  • S/RES/1765 (16 July 2007) renewed UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire’s mandate until 15 January 2008 to support elections and the full implementation of the Ouagadougou agreement.
  • S/RES/1528 (27 February 2004) established the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire.

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/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.
  • S/PV.6415 (3 November 2010) was the briefing by Special Representative Choi to 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

Major.-General Abdul Hafiz (Bangladesh)

Chair of the Sanctions Committee

Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti (Brazil)

Police Commissioner

Major-General Jean Marie Bourry (France)

Size and Composition of UNOCI

Strength as of 30 November 2010: 7,576 troops, 193 military observers, 1,336 police personnel, 383 international civilian personnel, 738 local staff and 267 UN volunteers.

Approved Budget

1 July 2010-30 June 2011: $485.1 million