Cote d’Ivoire Overview
On September 19, 2002, in the most unlikely of West African states, an uprising by armed troops protesting their demobilization transformed itself into a rebellion that took control of the north of Côte d'Ivoire. The violence and civil unrest continued and destabilized the country and Western Africa for almost a decade. After the second round of the long awaited elections of November 2010 which were meant to put an end to the crisis, President Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down and accept the victory of Alassane Ouattara. The drawn-out elections dispute between Gbagbo and Ouatta lasted over four months (with the arrest of Gbagbo) and resulted in massive abuses and violations of human rights, including summary executions, killings and arbitrary arrests by all parties to the conflict. Ethnicity and political affiliation are reported to be the causes of the massacres.
In response to the increasing need to help rebuild the country and promote stability, and in pursuance to its goal, OSIWA has engaged and collaborated with civil society organizations and government institutions to expand and deepen its work in Cote d’Ivoire. OSIWA has supported initiatives aimed at raising the public awareness, understanding and debate about women’s rights and has contributed resources and substantial support to equipping and training the National Human Rights Commission in an effort to strengthening the institutional mechanisms for the respect of human rights. We have also aided the work of Publish What You Pay campaign and promoted the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) to create public awareness about the damaging effects of corruption, impropriety and injustice in the economy and to advocate for the reduction of the factors that lead to corruption. We have worked with partners in utilizing innovative models to effect behavior change communication on HIV/AIDS. In cooperation with civil society coalitions, OSIWA played a leading role in electoral/voter education and observation.
There are opportunities for Côte d'Ivoire to adopt a holistic and integrated policy that will deal with the past atrocities, acknowledge and attend to the suffering of victims, and avoid repetition of similar crimes in the future and to achieve justice. An already nascent civil society has been deeply factionalized along various political interests and the need to reconstruct civil society, including the media as neutral advocates for change cannot be overemphasized. OSIWA therefore wishes to seize some of the ‘opportunities’ of the post-war context and play a key role in supporting advocacy initiatives in the drive for genuine democracy- rebuilding/restoration of democratic institutions and processes to ensure transparent and accountable governance by placing strong focus on the re-construction and strengthening of civil society for their meaningful participation/engagement in bringing about governance reforms to address fundamental issues in the reconstruction and development of the country. Given the significance of post conflict justice, OSIWA further intends and seeks to create opportunities for citizens’ active participation in transitional and international justice mechanism by supporting an empowered civil society to engage in reconciliation, reconstruction and legal accountability processes