ICC makes no move on the Côte d'Ivoire case

11 September 2006 by Emmanuel Chicon and Benjamin Bibas

Four years ago, on September 19, 2002, an aborted coup d'état attempt plunged Côte d'Ivoire into civil war and political violence. In October 2003, Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo sent a document to The Hague acknowledging the International Criminal Court's (ICC) jurisdiction over the crimes committed in Côte d'Ivoire since September 2002. The Court finally confirmed the existence of this document in February 2005. However, one and a half years later, and despite several detailed investigations by the UN and NGOs, the ICC prosecutor is "still questioning whether crimes were committed, analyzing the issues of jurisdiction and admissibility, and trying to determine whether the interests of justice would be served by opening an investigation," according to the ICC's report to the UN Assembly General in August. 

In September 2002, insurgent soldiers within the Patriotic Movement of Côte d'Ivoire led by Guillaume Soro organized a coup d'état against President Gbagbo, who was elected in 2000. The coup was to take place in the country's main cities: the economic capital Abidjan (South), Bouaké (Central), Korhogo (North) and Man (West). Hostilities between the rebel forces and the Ivorian Defense and Security Forces (FDS) led to atrocities on both sides (targeted killings and summary executions by death squads or militias, massacres of disarmed soldiers and civilian bombings). These atrocities intensified at the end of November when two other movements surfaced in the West of the country supported by former Liberian president Charles Taylor and ex-soldiers from Sierra Leone. The rebel forces failed to overthrow Gbagbo but managed to take control of the northern half of the country. French-mediated peace talks resulted in the Linas-Marcoussis accords in January 2003. These accords establish a national reconciliation government tasked with disarming and organizing free elections.

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