Ivory Coast Election Crisis Now Brings Allegations of Human Rights Violations

While the political stalemate in Ivory Coast continues between incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo and internationally recognized victor, Alassane Ouattara, Mr. Outtara’s newly appointed Ambassador to the United Nations (UN), Youssoufou Bamba, has spoken out against “massive violation of human rights.” The UN has reported that close to 200 people have died as a result of the disputed elections and prompted speculation of a impending renewal of  civil war. The UN Office of High Commissioner for Refugees has also reported that 15,120 Ivorian refugees have fled into eastern Liberia. While there are close to ten thousand UN peacekeepers in the country, their movements have been severely restricted by Mr. Gbagbo making it impossible to investigate the human rights abuses. However there have also been reports of houses are being marked by ethnicity giving credibility to Mr. Bamba’s allegations that the country is on the “brink of genocide.” The regional bloc Ecowas has tried negotiating a solution between the two opponents without luck. In midst of this continued uncertainty, the international community needs to react before the tense situation explores into widespread violence, regardless of whether its ethnically or politically motivated.


  1. This is certainly an unfolding civil war. Olusegun Obasanjo, former Nigerian President whose term in office ended in 2007, traveled to the Ivory Coast to try to find a solution to this post-election crisis as well. He was not expected until January 17, at which time defense chiefs are scheduled to discuss forcibly ousting Gbagbo. With so many killed already, just as Hannah wrote there are also many seeking asylum in neighboring counties. With this kind of migration, major concerns for providing food and shelter to individuals in these refugee situations. The international community does need to react, and that reaction needs to come soon before more lives are lost within the Ivory Coast andin neighboring communities.

  2. This blog topic highlights the very real problem that currently exists with respect to international responses to humanitarian crises. Legally, under the UN Charter, there aren’t international mechanisms that warrant outside interference in internal state affairs without Security Council consent. The Security Council has the prerogative for dealing with situations of unrest under international law. Only it decides whether or not something is to be done about them.

    Moreover, even if the Security Council acts and elects to send peacekeepers into unstable areas of the world, peacekeepers are generally limited in the actions they can take. Peacekeeping missions on the whole aim to contain peace, not actively compel it. Thus, it is a comparatively easy matter for leaders like Mr. Gbagbo to thwart peacekeeping objectives.

    All in all, while I agree that something has to be done in Ivory Coast, I’m really not sure what this something is given the situation at hand. If peacekeeping isn’t working, then – as far as I’m aware – only greater action from the Security Council can provide a solution.

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