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The Role Of ECOWAS And United Nations Diplomatic Mission To Cote D'ivoire Elections Crisis

By GhNational_News | self meida writer
Published 17 days ago - 0 views

The Role Of ECOWAS And United Nations Diplomatic Mission To Cote D'ivoire Elections Crisis

The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945 after the second World War by 51 countries committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress better living standards and human right. The work of the United Nations reaches every corner of the globe although best known for peacekeeping, peacebuilding, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance, there are many other ways the United Nations and its system affect our lives and make the world a better place. The organization works on a broad range of fundamental issues, from sustainable development, environment and refugee’s protection, disaster relief, gender equality  and advancement of women, governance, economic and social development and international health in order to achieve its goals and coordinate efforts for a safer world for this and future generations.


The main parts of the United Nations structure are the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship and International Court of Justice and United Nations Secretariat. All were established in 1945 when UN was founded.


The General Assembly is the main deliberate, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations. All 193 member states of the United Nations are represented in the General Assembly, making it the only UN body with Universal representation.


The Security council has primary responsibility, under the UN charter for the maintenance of international peace and security .it has 15 members (5 permanent and 10 non- permanent members). Each member has one vote. Under chapter, al member states are obligated to comply with council decisions. 


The Economic and Social Council is principal body for coordination, policy review, policy dialogue and recommendations on economic, social and environment issues as well as implementation of internationally agreed development goals.


The trusteeship council was established in 1945 by the United Nations charter, under chater XIII, to provide international supervision for trust territories that had been placed under the administration of seven member states, and ensure adequate steps were taken to prepare the territories for self- government and independence.


The International court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Its seat is at the Peace Palace in the Hague (Netherlands). it is the only one of the six principal organs of the United Nations not located in New York (United States of America).


The Secretariat comprises the Security -General and tens of thousands of the international United Nations Staff members who carry out the day-to-day work of the United Nations as mandated by the General Assembly and the Organization’s other principal organ.


The Economic Community of West African Sates also known as ECOWAS (CEDEAO IN French) is a regional political and economic union of fifteen countries located in West Africa. Collectively, these countries comprise an area of 5,114,162 km2 and in 2015 had an established population of 349 million.

The Union was established on 28 May 1975 with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos, with its started mission to promote economic integration across the region. A revised version of the treaty was agreed and signed on 24 July 1993 in Cotonou. It was considered wide African Economic Community (AEC), the stated goal of ECOWAS is to achieve “collective self-sufficiency” for its member states by creating a single large trade bloc by building a full economic and trading Union. The ECOWAS serves as a peacekeeping force in the region with a member states occasionally sending joint military forces to intervene in the blocs’ member countries at times of political instability and unrest.


The republic of Cote D’Ivoire over the few decades has enjoyed political stability since they attained their Independence in 1960. There has been a relative socio-economic prosperity under its founding leader, President Felix Houphouet Boigny. Due to the political and socio-economic stability, it attracted a lot of investors and tourists. A lot of foreigners and people from their neighboring countries like Ghana, Togo, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Mali enter the country for the purpose of trade and investment in the country. After the death of the first President of cote d’ivoire on 7 December 1993, the country has been in political instability which resulted in the December 1999 coup d’état led by General Robert Geui, who overthrew President Henri Konan Bedie.

However, the post Houphouet Boigny power struggle, there has been a lot of controversies over nationality laws and eligibility conditions for national elections was as a result of multiple nationalities entering Ivoire Coast and wanted to be citizens of the country which led the disqualification of some prominent political leaders including Alassane Ouattara of the Rally of the Republicans (RDR). These issues came to a head during the presidential elections of October ,2000.

Again, there was an alleged coup d’état in 2001 which was blamed on foreigners and resulted in large number of immigrant workers from Burkina Faso leaving Cote D’Ivoire, scheduled municipal elections were held in March 2001. the Municipal elections marked an important turning point for Cote D’ivoire as all political parties were allowed to field candidates for the elections. Mr. Ouattara’s RDR party won in the largest number of communes, following those elections President Gbagbo pursued a policy of national reconciliation and sought to decentralize state authority by organizing provincial elections. The elections that took place between the partisans of the two main contenders – General Guei and Laurent Gbagbo resulted in a heated argument and dispute, the case was taken to the supreme court and the supreme court declared Laurent Gbagbo the winner of the elections. But before the declaration of the elections by the supreme court, there was a clash that claimed almost 50 people dead and the mass grave was subsequently discovered near the northern Abidjan suburb Yopougon.

More so, the President of Cote D’Ivoire, Laurent Gbagbo in October 2001 organized a forum for national reconciliation to address the issues that had polarized the Ivorian people because there has been a lot of questions of nationality, land ownership, the disputed legitimacy of his government and conditions of service of the security forces. The summit meeting which was to help in resolving the differences and consider, the recommendation of the forum was attended by President Gbagbo, Mr. Bedie and Mr. Ouattara on 22 and 23 January 2002. After the summit meeting the four political released a communique which it was agreed by them to oppose undemocratic avenues to power and to professionalize the security forces and improve their conditions of services. They further agreed to create a broad based national electoral commission and a national body to address the question of land ownership, the leaders also addressed the issue of the legitimacy of the current government and agreed to form a new government of national unity. President Gbagbo held a further meeting with Ouattara and Mr. Bedie in Yamoussoukro in2002, which led to the formation of a broad – based government on 5 August 2002.

Again, the main opposition political parties were included in the new cabinet 20 portfolios being allocated to the ruling Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) and 4 to Mr. Ouattara’s RDR, while 7 went to Mr. Bedie former ruling Democratic Party of Cote D’ivoire (PDCI), 2 to the Ivorian Workers Party (PTI) of Francis Wadie and 1 to General Guei’s Union for Democracy and Peace in Cote D’ivoire (UDPCI). The long-standing controversy over Mr. Ouattara’s nationality which had become a major source of political tension and instability, was also finally resolved when a court delivered a nationality certificate to him on 26 July ,2002. Unfortunately, not all of the recommendations of the forum for national reconciliation were implemented. There were a lot of rumors advocating that the leader of RDR, Mr. Ouattara is not Ivorian and cannot involve himself in the country’s political activities. Other nationalities says that the RDR leader, Mr. Ouattara is a Burkinabe therefore he cannot contest as a Presidential Candidate in the country.


According to the Merriam Webster, Crisis can be said to be an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending or an emotionally significant event or radical change of status in a person’s life. The Ivorian crisis is one of the most dangerous crisis that has happened in the sub-Saharan or West African territories. There have been a lot of coup d’état in the state or neighboring state including Ghana but the crisis in Cote D’ivoire took thousands of citizens into their early grave.

Unfortunately, all the encouraging steps towards the national reconciliation and reducing tensions in Cote D’Ivoire were disrupted by the crisis which emerged on 19 September 2002. The crisis started with simultaneous attacks on military installations in the country’s capital, Abidjan and the second largest city Bouake and some northern town of Korhogo by some 800 soldiers, protesting against their planned demobilization early in2003, this was because most of the soldiers were recruited during the military regime of General Guei. Some of the security loyalist forces regained control of Bouake and Korhogo and subsequently seized other towns in the northern and western regions of the country as other soldiers and civilians swelled their ranks. During the crisis, General Guei and several family members together with the minister of Interior Emile Boga Doudou were among the people killed. There was allegation that the rebellion was plotting a coup d’état which were supported by foreign elements, which led to some harassment of foreigners who were residing in the country.

Also, the migrant workers from the neighboring countries and the refugees from Liberia and Sierra Leone who were residing in Abidjan and san Pedro has their houses burnt by the security forces that also led to settlement displaced of 20,000 people.

Besides there were other military forces who wanted to calm the situation launched several military operations to dislodge the rebel soldiers from the seized towns, these rebel forces captured some part of the country’s capital Abidjan. At the end of September, there was a political movement calling itself the Patriotic Movement of Cote D’Ivoire (MPCI) which was operating at the northern part of the country by the rebel forces. The spokesperson of the country by the rebel movement was Guillaume Soro, a former student leader, who led the movement in demanding for the resignation of President Gbagbo, the holding of inclusive national elections, a review of the constitution and an end to the domination of Southerners in the affairs of the country. The conflict was further compounded by the emergence of two new armed groups, the Ivorian Popular Movement for Justice and Peace (MJP), who seized the towns of Danane and Man in November 2002, both groups declared that their main objective was to avenge the death of General Guei and also demanded the resignation of President Gbagbo.


The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) took swift steps to search for a solution to the crisis. On 29 September, the subregional organization convened an emergency summit meeting in Accra which set up a contact group comprising Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Mali, the Niger, Nigeria and Togo together with the African Union to promote dialogue between the rebels and the Government of Cote D’ivoire, and discuss a general framework to resolve the crisis. The summit that was held in Accra followed by a meeting of the ECOWAS Defense and Security Commission which immediately deployed ECOWAS troops to Cote D’ivoire to help ceasefire of the ongoing crisis, it was a good more from the ECOWAS will helped in resolving the dangers that the government and its citizens were going through. The purpose of the ECOWAS troops in the country was mandated to monitor a proposed ceasefire, ensuring the disengagement of the insurgents from the areas that had fallen under their group and disarming the rebel groups.

Furthermore, on the arrival of the ECOWAS forces on the 30 September 2002, they had a meeting with President Gbagbo in Abidjan and on 3 October, members of the ECOWAS group that went to Cote D’ivoire led by the Executive Secretary of ECOWAS, Mohammed Ibn Chambas and the interim Chairman of the Commission of the African Union, Amara Essy met with the leaders of MPCI in Bouake. On 6 October the government of Cote D’Ivoire under the leadership of President Laurent Gbagbo postponed signing the ceasefire agreement on the grounds that the agreement would result in legitimizing the rebel movement and partitioning the country and that led the ECOWAS Group left the country. On 11 October, Cheikh Tidiane Gadio, the minister for Foreign Affairs of Senegal, which was then holding the chairmanship of ECOWAS, renewed the efforts to broker a ceasefire. The Executive Secretary of ECOWAS, together with the special Representative for West Africa, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, participated in Foreign Minister Gadio’s talks with President Gbagbo in Abidjan with the MPCI in Bouake. These efforts culminated in the signing by MPCI on 17 October 2002 of a ceasefire agreement, which was subsequently accepted by President Gbagbo in an address to the nation.


Cote D’ivoire is a West African country of roughly 23 million people. Economic recession, horizontal inequalities and growing anti- immigrant sentiments among other factors outbreak the civil war in 2002(Langer, 2005; pp 29-42), several peace agreements were signed and after a series of delays, elections were held in 2010(Bekoe, 2018). Yet, then President Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept the internationally recognized election victory of his long time rival Alassana Ouattara. Post-election violence ensued causing the deaths of over 3000 people (Basselt,2011). The United Nations engages in various election – education efforts to counter disinformation during electoral crisis, the UN also disseminates civic education through its radio, the UN radio advocacy reduced violence that helped in the violent protest and riots in other cases where violent acts are executed by both civilian and non-civilian actors.

Furthermore, the UN encourages Dabrouza inhabitants to promote peaceful presidential elections. The UN delegation to the event was led by Said Bacar Husseine of the civil Affairs in Daloa who encouraged the population to continue their efforts to bring Cote D’Ivoire to a lasting peace. Peace will not be effective unless you forget your grudges and exercise forgiveness, he said. Other UN staff took turns to educate the population about the mandate of their different sections and stressed the need for peaceful co-existence as the sole guarantee for the development of their village. (UNOCI, News, 2014).


There is a lot of lesson to be learnt from the ECOWAS diplomatic mission to the Cote D’Ivoire’s election crisis. Two lessons were captured from the diplomatic missions U- turn on the use of force to intervene the election crisis. Firstly, the failure to match rhetoric with force projection capability and secondly, there was a lot of problems that ECOWAS encountered or affected their effort in bring resolutions to the crisis. Lack of enough personnel like military forces who can help calm situations down were limited and again, inadequate logistical capabilities; member states own relative instability and fear to attack against member states citizens and the conflict zone. The ECOWAS forces were in fear that the conflict or the crisis will escalate to other member states having territorial boundaries with Cote D’Ivoire if the situation is not handled carefully or professionally.

Moreover, the ECOWAS was unable to have clear grounds for the election realities that led to the distortion of the electoral process and impose some sanctions, the regional Organization (ECOWAS) was unable to provide a better threat intervention but rather making the situation worst because the approached used was more harm than good. And this pattern is likely to be repeated across regional organizations. Again, the regional organization faced a lot of challenges against external organizations like the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN), apart from these international organization, the ECOWAS also again had difficult to unite the internal organization like the major stakeholder in the Election like the political parties and lack of clearly established conventions on the role of regional, continental and global institutions as explain earlier.

The problem of unclear delimitation roles and responsibilities are compounded in situations where as in Cote D’ivoire, the key organizations are internally divided. The AU was divided along several fault lines, most notably there was conflict between Nigeria and South Africa regarding who should be the continent leading actor in crisis. The situation showed the limitations of ECOWAS, the organization being unable to move ahead with the peace process, instead being forced to wait for a repeatedly delayed report from the AU panel head of state.


ECOWAS was created in 1975 as the regional Peace and Security Organization, it is a sub- regional organization that promote conflict management and to solve or response to challenges in the sub-region. It is a robust institutional mechanism for managing sub regional conflicts, the organization has played a significant role in promoting peacekeeping efforts in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Guinea Bissau for stabilizing conditions in those countries. Its framework for conflict management was greatly tested by the electoral crisis in Cote D’Ivoire.

In addition, the sub- regional organization (ECOWAS) had very difficulties in logistics, financial and other operational challenges. It can also be said that the process of democracy in the region has been weakened ECOWAS in terms of political willingness to take bold decisive steps.


Adebi, A. (2002) “Muddling Through: An Analysis of the ECOWAS Experience in Conflict Management in West Africa”. In Laasko, L. (ed.), Regional Integration for Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding in Africa: Europe, SADC and ECOWAS, Helsinki: Department of Political Science, University of Helsinki.

Adedeji, E. (2004) “Security Sector Reform as an Instrument of Sub-Regional Transformation in West Africa”, in Allan Bryden and Heiner Hanggi (eds.), Reform and Reconstruction of the Security Sector, Munster: Lit Verlag and DCAF.

 Adekeye, A. (2002) Building Peace in West Africa: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau,    London: Lynne Rienner. 

Ayissi, A. (2001) Cooperating for Peace in West Africa: An Agenda for the 21st Century, Accra: Africa Books Publishers.

 BBC News (2011) “Ivory Coast Country Profile”, Available at: https://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/country.profiles/104 3014.stm. Accessed July 11, 2011 Bekoe, 

D. Mengistu, A. (2002) “Operationalizing the ECOWAS Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security” Dakar: International Peace Academy/ECOWAS, August.

 Draman, R., and Carment, D. (2001) “Managing Chaos in West African Sub-Region: Assessing the Role of ECOWAS, (1990) Decision A/DEC., 9/5/90 Relating to the Establishment of the Standing Mediation Committee May 9, 1990 (Official Journal of the Economic Community of West African States) ECOWAS, (1999) Protocol Relating to the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security, ECOWAS Executive Secretariat, Abuja, Nigeria, Dec., 1999 ECOWAS, (2010) Extraordinary Section of the Authority of Heads of State and Government on Cote d’Ivoire held on December 24, 2010 in Abuja, Nigeria. 

Francis, D. (2001) The Politics of Economic Regionalism: Sierra Leone in ECOWAS, Alder shot: Ashgate 12) 

Francis, D. (2009) “Peacekeeping in a Bad Neighborhood: The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Peace and Security in West Africa”. African Journal on Conflict Resolution, Vol. 9, No. 3

 Kabia, J. M. (2011) “Regional Approaches to Peacebuilding: The ECOWAS Peace and Security Architecture”. Paper Presented at the BISA-Africa and International Studies ESRC Seminar Series: Africa Agency in International Politics, African Agency in Peace, Conflict and Intervention at the University of Birmingham, 7th April.

 Laolu, A., and Obinor, F., (2010) “Again, UN, ECOWAS ask Gbagbo to Quit, Insist on Ouattara’s Presidency”. The Guardian, December 22.

 Lar, T.J. (2009) “The ECOWAS SSR Agenda in West Africa: Looking Beyond Normative Frameworks in”, KAIPTC Occasional Paper No. 24, Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, Accra.

 Levitt, J. (2010) “Pro-Democratic Intervention in Africa”, Wisconsin International Law Journal, Vol. 24, No. 3. Accessed at: https://hosted.law.wisc.edu/wilj/issues/24/3/levitt.pdf. July 11, 2011 Monde, M. and M. A. Vogt, (2000) An Assessment of the OAU Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution, 1999-200, New York: International Peace Academy.

 Nibishaka, E. (2011) “Electoral Crisis in Ivory Coast: Implications of South African Response”, International Politics; Rose Luxemburg Stiftung,


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ECOWAS The United Nations
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