In November 2010, after the civil war in Côte d’Ivoire had subsided for several years, the country witnessed an eruption of conflict following a contested presidential election. By April 2011, over 150,000 refugees had crossed over the border into Liberia, which itself was recovering from the terrible conflict that had ended there less than a decade before.1 This placed great strain on local Liberian communities, particularly regarding food security. With both states weakened by war, displaced populations sheltering in the borderlands, and the proliferation of small arms across the region, it was not long until armed groups (many of which formed from demobilised soldiers from the wars on both sides of the border) began emerging to take advantage of the situation. Beginning in July 2011, towns on either side of the border were looted and the armed groups fought amongst themselves over control of gold and diamond mines in the area.2 In one such outbreak of violence in June 2012, seven Nigerian peacekeepers and a dozen civilians were killed.3 These clashes not only significantly worsened the plight of both the local and refugee populations, but also presented a major risk of breeding another powerful armed opposition group from displaced individuals (as had happened in so many unstable borderlands in West Africa) or even sparking clashes between Liberian and Ivorian security personnel as they sought to establish authority in the area.
The UN peacekeeping missions in Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia (the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire and the United Nations Mission in Liberia, respectively) played a vital role in offering security to the local population after 2011, although they could not prevent the raids entirely. With the withdrawal of both missions scheduled for June 2016, the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia held bilateral talks alongside a joint council of traditional elders from both countries in January of that year to address the issues on the border. Supported by various UN agencies, representatives from each state developed a joint approach to bringing stability to the area. This ranged from establishing more official crossing points and building infrastructure to manage the border to creating a shared technical committee and beginning joint security patrols.4 This sustained effort demonstrably reduced armed conflict on the Côte d’Ivoire-Liberia border and strengthened ties between the two neighbouring states.5 When a group of armed Liberians attacked a military base in Côte d’Ivoire in April 2021, both governments pledged to investigate the incident together and cooperate to maintain stability in the region in the face of such attacks.6