Preventing armed conflict in Guinea


Thanks to timely diplomatic action by the African Union, Economic Community of West African States, and the UN, a violent political crisis in Guinea was prevented from escalating into armed conflict in 2009.

Following the death of the long-serving President of Guinea in December 2008, officers in the army launched a coup d’état and formed a military junta to govern the country. Protests against the coup were increasingly met with force and in September 2009, 156 civilians were killed and thousands more injured when security forces launched a violent crackdown.1 Concerns were raised further when it was discovered that the military junta was hiring South African mercenaries and raising a militia to consolidate its grip on power.2 Fearing the crisis could escalate into armed conflict, the UN dispatched a commission to investigate the massacre, the Economic Community of West African States instated an arms embargo on Guinea and sent an envoy to mediate between the junta and the opposition, and the African Union froze the assets of junta members.3 On 21 December, the UN commission concluded that the military junta was responsible for the attacks and recommended that the International Criminal Court pursue an investigation.4 The publication of the UN report also led a wide range of national governments (such as France and the US) to cut aid to Guinea and place their own sanctions on members of the junta.5

Faced with growing international attention and condemnation, the military junta agreed to an elections timetable proposed by a broad range of Guinean political parties in March 2009, inspiring donors from across the world to support the process and help Guinea conduct its first credible elections.6 Growing international pressure also led to negotiations between the belligerents in Burkina Faso. The talks culminated with the signing of the Ouagadougou Joint Declaration on 15 January 2010, which called for the restoration of constitutional rule and the formation of a transitional government.7 In addition, the perpetrators of the coup agreed to remain outside of Guinea. The transitional government successfully calmed the crisis and organised elections for June 2010. Although irregularities forced a second round in December, the disputes were settled in court and the fresh elections went ahead peacefully with the help of a significant contingent of international observers.8 Two years after the coup, Guinea’s first democratically elected leader came to power. Aside from some relatively minor outbreaks of violence in 2013 and 2015, Guinea has remained at peace.

1 BBC. “Guinea massacre toll put at 157.” BBC News. (2009) Available at: (Accessed 05/11/2020)

2 International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect. Crisis in Guinea. (ICRtoP, 2010) Available at: (Accessed 05/11/2020)

3 Sascha Pichler Fong & Adam Day. “UN Preventive Diplomacy in the 2008-10 Crisis in Guinea.” in Laurie Nathan, Adam Day, João Honwana, & Rebecca Brubaker. Capturing UN Preventive Diplomacy Success: How and Why Does It Work? (Tokyo: United Nations University, 2018) Available at: (Accessed 05/11/2020)

4 International Commission of Inquiry. Report of the International Commission of Inquiry mandated to establish the facts and circumstances of the events of 28 September 2009 in Guinea, S/2009/693. (UN Security Council, 2010)

5 Alexis Arieff & Nicolas Cook. “Guinea’s 2008 Military Coup and Relations with the United States.” Congressional Research Service (R40703). (2009) p.1

6 Ibid. p.19

7 Ouagadougou Joint Declaration, 2010. Available at: (Accessed 05/11/2020)

8 Fong & Day. “UN Preventive Diplomacy in the 2008-10 Crisis in Guinea.” p.29

Start Year


End Year




UN Regional Group


Type of Conflict

Risk of a vertical (state-based) intrastate conflict

Type of Initiative

Diplomacy, Mediation of a peace agreement

Main Implementing Organisation(s)

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




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