Ending the armed conflict in Côte d’Ivoire


A series of international peacekeeping missions helped to contain the conflict in Côte d’Ivoire until a French/UN 2011 Military intervention definitively ended the conflict.

An armed conflict erupted in Côte d’Ivoire in September 2002 following a mutiny by contingents of the armed forces based in the north of the country. After some initial clashes, the country was soon divided between the government-held south and the north, which was held by an armed group that emerged from the mutinying soldiers and political opposition, the Forces Nouvelles Côte d’Ivoire (FNCI). French troops permanently based in Côte d’Ivoire served as makeshift peacekeepers, separating the belligerents and limiting the fighting as far as their resources allowed.1 Significant diplomatic pressure from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Government of France convinced the belligerents to sign the Linas-Marcoussis Peace Accord in January 2003, which provided for a cease-fire and the formation of a transitional administration.2 In support of the Accord, the ECOWAS Mission in Côte d’Ivoire (ECOMICI) and the United Nations Mission in Côte d’Ivoire (Mission des Nations unies en Côte d’Ivoire, MINUCI) were deployed alongside the French troops already in the country. In April 2004, ECOMICI and MINUI were merged to form the 7,000-strong United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI).3

With UNOCI containing the fighting, much of Côte d’Ivoire was spared from armed conflict during the peace process. Ongoing negotiations hosted by ECOWAS and the African Union (AU) resulted in the signing of several peace agreements between 2003 and 2005 (Accra II, Accra III, Pretoria, and Ouagadougou), however the transitional government and elections stipulated in the accords failed to materialise, leaving Côte d’Ivoire divided and the conflict unresolved.4 When elections finally took place in 2011, the disputed result led to an eruption of violence. The international community, including the AU and UN, recognised the decision of the Ivorian Electoral Commission and supported the opposition candidate, Alassane Ouattara. However, the incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo, claimed victory himself and refused to step down. With the conflict nearing its tenth year, UNOCI supported an offensive by Frenched-backed FNCI forces to oust Gbagbo and install Ouattara.5 The war came to an end with the arrest of Gbagbo on 11 April 2011.6 UNOCI remained in Côte d’Ivoire until 2017, supporting the reconstruction of the Ivorian state, supervising the 2015 elections, providing border security, and assisting Ouattara’s administration with extensive Disarmament, Demobilisation, and Reintegration and Security Sector Reform programmes.7


2 Linas-Marcoussis Agreement, 2003. Available at: https://peacemaker.un.org/cotedivoire-linasmarcousis2003 (Accessed 11/11/2020)

3 Obi. “Economic Community of West African States on the Ground.” p.129

4 Ibid. p.131

5 David Smith. “Ivory Coast: UN's intervention broke the impasse.” The Guardian. (2011) Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/apr/05/ivory-coast-un-intervention (Accessed 11/11/2020)

6 Xan Rice & Nicholas Watt. “Ivory Coast's Laurent Gbagbo arrested – four months on.” The Guardian. (2011) Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/apr/11/ivory-coast-former-leader-arrested (Accessed 11/11/2020)

7 UN Peacekeeping. UNOCI: United Nations Operation in Côte D'Ivoire. (UN, 2020) Available at: https://peacekeeping.un.org/mission/past/unoci.shtml (Accessed 11/11/2020)

Start Year


End Year



Côte d’Ivoire

UN Regional Group


Type of Conflict

Vertical (state-based) intrastate conflict with foreign involvement

Type of Initiative

Military intervention, Peacekeeping mission

Main Implementing Organisation(s)

The African Union, Economic Community of West African States, UN, and the Government of France




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