The International Criminal Court’s (ICC) chief prosecutor was given permission to investigate possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Ivory Coast related to the post election violence last year. Although the election recognized Alassane Ouattara as the winner, Laurent Gbagbo, the incumbent, refused to give up his position. A period of violence followed the political tension in which the ICC prosecutor’s office suggests at least 3,000 people were killed, 72 disappeared, 520 were subject to arbitrary arrest, and 100 cases of rape were reported. Ivory Coast was not a party to the Rome Statute and this would be the first instance in which the ICC opens a case against a country that was not a party to the statute. The Ivory Coast has accepted the ICC’s jurisdiction in this matter, but groups such as Human Rights Watch urge the ICC to delve further and investigate the violence during years of civil war. Human rights violations have been indicated as far back as the 2000 election, allegations ranging from sexual violence to the implementation of child soldiers under the watch of Gbagbo and the current prime minister Guillaume Soro.
The violence over the last decade in Ivory Coast, particularly the most recent events following the election of Ouattara, demonstrate the serious and tragic difficulty the nation has encountered in the implementation of democratic government. Considering the widespread violence resulting from the election outcome along with the refusal to accept the results of the election, is democracy destined to create horrific situations in nations like Ivory Coast? Can a democratic government be successful when the people it is intended to protect endure the impact of such extreme political standoffs? Is Gbagbo’s refusal to withdraw from his position a remote occurrence or is his behavior doomed to be repeated? How can the international community aide in facilitating Ivory Coast’s democratic model in a manner that safeguards the people of the nation? Does the international community have an obligation to become involved given the tragic circumstances? Would Ivory Coast’s political autonomy be threatened by international involvement?
Additionally, should the ICC extend its probe back further in time to include the human rights violations dating back to 2000? Does Ivory Coast’s consent to jurisdiction of the ICC include the potential previous events? Should the consent extend?
The full article can be found here.