Ivory Coast 2010-2011

PREMISE OF THE CRISIS

In December 2010, following a disputed election result between incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, and opposition candidate Alassane Ouattara, the political dispute threatened to plunge the Ivory Coast into civil conflict as militias mobilized along politicized ethnic lines throughout the country.  While international observers and the nation's election commission declared Ouattara the rightful victor, Gbagbo and his supporters protested the outcome and refused to relinquish power. Rising tensions threatened to reignite ethnic rivalries from the 2002 civil war, as armed militias aligned themselves along ethnic-political lines with each claimed President. As negotiations stalled, forces loyal to both Gbagbo and Ouattara were accused of targeting civilians and committing crimes against humanity. In response, the UN, regional organizations like the African Union and the Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS), NGOs like Human Rights Watch, and other states called for negotiated resolution and accountability for violence against civilians. 

CRISIS CHARACTERISTICS

Basis of Conflict: 

Political dispute between rival Presidential candidates following a close election. Support for the candidates was also divided along ethno-geographical lines which had previously plunged the nation into civil war in 2002. 

Regime Type:

The Ivory Coast is a Presidential Republic. At the time of the crisis, the UN peacekeeping UNOCI was present to facilitate the transition to democracy following the 2002 Ivorian Civil War. 

Severity of Crisis:

As many as 1,500 total deaths and 500,000 internally displaced

INTERVENTION CHARACTERISTICS

During the early stages of the crisis, international observers present during the election called for diplomatic resolution to preempt the widespread violent conflict of the 2002 civil war from recurring. As the crisis developed, NGOs like Human Rights Watch and the International Federation for Human Rights highlighted the crimes committed by both sides of the conflict against civilians. In response, the UN, AU, and ECOWAS issued individual statements calling for resolution, and the AU and ECOWAS made attempts at mediated negotiation and mediated power-sharing agreements. However, these attempts were rejected and ECOWAS implemented more stringent measures. Declaring Ouattara the rightful winner, ECOWAS adopted targeted sanctions against Gbagbo and his supporters, and threatened the use of force if Gbagbo failed to reach peaceful settlement. Simultaneously, ECOWAS appointed former Nigeria president Olusegun Obasanjo as envoy to the Ivory Coast, and offered Gbagbo exile abroad and a monthly stipend should he step down. The US and EU joined in these sanctions and also backed ECOWAS' offer for foreign exile for Gbagbo. Finally, after these avenues failed to abate violence against civilians, UN and French troops fired on pro-Gbagbo forces in a military operation to prevent the use of heavy weapons against civilians and peacekeepers. This operation culminated in the arrest of Gbagbo on April 11th. 

OUTCOME

Following the arrest of Gbagbo, Ouattara called for the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission, and urged for the end of violence against supporters of Gbagbo. Although tensions remained, and militia violence continued in some parts of the country, large scale civil war like in 2002 was largely averted. 

ANALYSIS

Although this case was ultimately resolved through military means, it still serves as a valuable demonstration of the ways in which international organizations can create pressure to end a developing humanitarian crisis before it becomes too difficult to manage. Key to the relatively hasty resolution of this conflict was the presence of UN observers from the outset of the election. Along with other NGOs, these election observers provided valuable, near instantaneous, and trustworthy information as the crisis developed. As a result, international attention was quickly directed towards the crisis. Furthermore, regional actors provided many avenues for peaceful resolution, and employed 'carrot-and-stick' strategies to coerce the parties to the negotiating table. For instance, ECOWAS' use of both targeted sanctions and the (credible) threat of military intervention placed pressure on Gbagbo to reach a peaceful settlement, which they also made possible by offering him exile and stipend. While these strategies were not fully effective at creating peaceful resolution, they are nonetheless useful tools in the toolbox for a nuanced response to crisis.   

Sierra Leone 1991-2002

PREMISE OF THE CRISIS

Between 1991 and 2002, the Revolutionary United Front fought the government of Sierra Leone in a bloody civil war. Military coups occurred in 1992 and 1997, and a peace accord signed in 1999 was unsuccessful in establishing a stable ceasefire. In 2002, with the help of military intervention by the United Kingdom, the civil war was declared over.

CRISIS CHARACTERISTICS

Basis of Conflict

This crisis arose from a state of instability due to corruption, conflict over resources including diamonds, and the influx of Liberian refugees.

Regime Type

The regime at the time was a constitutional republic.

Severity of Crisis

By the end of the crisis, nearly 70,000 people had been killed, 20,000 mutilated through amputation, and half the population had been displaced.

INTERVENTION CHARACTERISTICS

The UN initially placed an arms embargo on Sierra Leone in 1997, alongside targeted travel bans and petroleum sanctions; and the European Union placed an arms embargo as well in 1998. The UN peacekeeping operation in Sierra Leone began in 1999 after the signing of the Lome Peace Accord, as troops entered the country to oversee the tentative ceasefire and democratic transition. But in May 2000, hundreds of peacekeepers were kidnapped by the RUF, who announced an end to the ceasefire. In response, the UN imposed new sanctions on both Sierra Leone and Liberia targeting Sierra Leone's illicit diamond trade, the main revenue source for the RUF. A small force sent by the United Kingdom helped to turn around the situation, working with the UN and local allies to disarm both sides of the conflict, train Sierra Leone's troops, and establish peace.

OUTCOME

A new treaty called for a truth and reconciliation commission to address human rights violations. The United Kingdom also signed 10-year agreements with Sierra Leone's government to provide embedded support and aid in order to rebuild the country's institutions. The country has not since fallen back into conflict, but maintained relative peace and stability, with successful transitions of power.

ANALYSIS

The humanitarian intervention in Sierra Leone is considered one of the most successful in recent history, largely because of the urgency and timeliness of the response, the use of narrow sanctions, the broad and flexible UN mandate, and the focus on strengthening institutions and creating a foundation for economic development. The long-term nature of state and United Nations commitments to peace and rebuilding efforts also contributed to the stability of the peace process.

 

Sri Lanka 1983-2009

PREMISE OF THE CRISIS

Between 1983 and 2009, a civil war between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) ravaged the country. Ethnic conflict had existed between the Sinhalese majority and Tamil minority since Sri Lanka achieved independence in 1948, with years of discrimination against and disenfranchisement of the Tamil population. Militant groups arose in opposition to the government, and the LTTE fought for an independent state until 2009, when the Sri Lankan government announced its victory and ostensible peace was established in the country—interrupted by bursts of violence.

CRISIS CHARACTERISTICS

Basis of Conflict

This crisis was based on ethnic and religious tensions between the Sinhalese Buddhist majority and the Tamil Hindu minority, rooted in the British colonial period.

Regime Type

The regime at the time was a democratic republic governed by a presidential-parliamentary system.

Severity of Crisis

By the end of the crisis, casualties had amounted to 80,000-100,000 people, and the conflict had lasted 26 years.

INTERVENTION CHARACTERISTICS

A unilateral military intervention in the Sri Lankan Civil War was undertaken in 1987, when India sent peacekeeping troops into the country as part of a pact with the Sri Lankan government. India had previously trained and armed the LTTE in the 70s, but subsequently withdrawn their support. India eventually left the conflict in 1990, at the direction of Sri Lanka's prime minister.

Meanwhile, negotiations stalled at the United Nations; 3 member states on the UN Security Council argued that Sri Lanka should be on the formal agenda, but nothing beyond informal dialogue was achieved. The Human Rights Council eventually released a Sri Lanka-proposed resolution congratulating the Sri Lankan government on the conclusion of the civil war, despite the proposal of a European-backed resolution calling for an investigation of war crimes. In 2009, the European Union called for an independent inquiry into human rights violations. The Human Rights Council finally launched an international inquiry into war crimes in 2014, five years after the war’s conclusion. 

OUTCOME

The conflict did not end with any official treaty or power-sharing agreement, but with the LTTE's admission of defeat. While conflict has not formally re-opened, bursts of violence have occurred among calls for accountability to war crimes (including torture, rape, disappearances, and continued detainment), and Sri Lanka appears far from true peace.

ANALYSIS

The Sri Lanka Crisis from 1983 to 2009 represents a failure to act on the part of the international community and humanitarian organizations.

Despite over 25 years of conflict, and accusations of war crimes throughout this conflict, the Human Rights Council did not act until five years after the war ended, after having tacitly endorsed the actions of the Sri Lankan government. The slow response and reluctance to act until after the war allowed the conflict to escalate, and has complicated efforts towards peace, justice, and reconciliation.

 

East Timor 1999-2002

PREMISE OF THE CRISIS

In 1975 to 1977, Indonesia invaded East Timor, annexing them as a part of the Republic of Indonesia. Throughout Indonesian occupation, there was ongoing political and sometimes violent oppression of the East Timorese, eventually culminating in the Dili Massacre in 1991. This incident triggered mass protests in East Timor, and caused the US, Portugal, and some other Western nations to cut off military and economic ties with Indonesia. However, these efforts were for the most part futile, as many countries, including neighboring Australia, had extensive economic ties with Indonesia and were unwilling to jeopardize diplomatic relations. However, after the Asian Economic Crisis in 1997, the Suharto regime fell and was replaced by Habibie as Prime Minister in 1998. This prompted a change in Australian foreign policy, and led Australia to call for a referendum for East Timorese independence. The Habibie government was pressured to hold a referendum in 1999, and with the presence of the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET), the election resulted in a landslide vote for independence. However, the Indonesian government did not accept the results of the referendum, and violence ensued on part the Indonesian military and the pro-integration militias in East Timor. 

CRISIS CHARACTERISTICS

Basis of Conflict: The East Timorese Crisis started as an Indonesian attack on independence activists after the referendum, but spread throughout the country as the Indonesian army started supporting pro-integration militias in East Timor. 

Regime Type: East Timor, at the time of the referendum and the consequent crisis, was annexed by the Republic of Indonesia, which was a military-led, authoritarian regime under Suharto in 1999. 

Severity of Crisis: The Indonesia-led mass killings prior to 1999 resulted in casualties estimated to be around 100,000 to 300,000 deaths, and are now commonly referred to as an example of genocide in academic circles. After the widespread violence caused by the 1999 referendum, much of the country was destroyed, and more than 200,000 people were displaced

INTERVENTION CHARACTERISTICS

Since the Dili Massacre of 1991, multiple intervention methods were used on part of the UN and Western nations, especially neighboring Australia. First, there was diplomatic pressure on Indonesia by Australia, Portugal, and other stakeholder nations to call for an independence referendum. UNAMET was deployed in 1998 to monitor the referendum for independence, but this mission was largely limited to policing and observation and did not have any capacity to stop and ensuing violence. After violence started growing, the UN Security Council decided to create INTERFET (International Force East Timor), and peacekeeping forces were deployed under the leadership of Australia.

OUTCOME

Shortly after allowing INTERFET’s intervention, Indonesia pulled their troops from East Timor, and from late 1999 to 2002, East Timor was governed by the United Nations Transitional Authority in East Timor (UNTAET). UNTAET functioned as an interim government, assisting the rebuilding of infrastructure and government institutions, while maintaining political stability in the region. East Timor declared itself a nation in May 2002, and held elections to vote Mari Alkatiri as Prime Minister and José Alezandre Gusmão as President. However, the lead up to the next election in April 2007 prompted another series of violent outbreaks, with assassination attempt on the newly elected José Ramos-Horta. This was followed by another set of interventions on part of the Australian army and the United Nations.

ANALYSIS

As can be seen from the conflicts in 2006, East Timor is far from being a politically stable country, despite several successful attempts at bringing temporary peace. Before consideration of events post-1991, East Timor is first a lesson on the necessities of humanitarian intervention. In 1975, when Indonesia annexed East Timor with much violence, very few nations were willing to sacrifice their diplomatic relations with Indonesia by condemning their actions. This eventually led to a more complicated and violent political turmoil, and the death of thousands in what is now labelled as one of the worst genocides in history. Concerning UNAMET, East Timor is an example of both the benefits and the shortcomings of election monitoring. UNAMET was able to secure a referendum in East Timor in 1998, in which a huge majority of East Timorese voted for independence. This was an important step in promoting democratic procedure and confirmed the East Timorese desire for independence. However, UNAMET was only a partial success in that its lack of ability to secure the aftermath of the election led to the outbreak of violence despite UN presence. This was also partially fueled by the Indonesian perception that UNAMET was biased towards the anti-integration East Timorese forces.  As such, election monitoring is an effective method in state-building, but it has to be coupled with protective measures that will ensure security in the aftermath of an election or a referendum. Lastly, INTERFET is largely viewed as a rare success in military intervention, but this is in large part because military force was used with corresponding diplomatic measures; the Australian government was apt at using political pressure to coerce the Indonesian government to pull out of East Timor in 1999; this in turn led to a decreased necessity for INTERFET to use extensive violence. However, this case study once again shows the shortcomings of military intervention as well, as many critics point out that dependency on Australian security has led conflicts to resume in the 2007 elections. 

Bosnian Civil War 1992-1995

PREMISE OF THE CRISIS

The Bosnian Civil War was part of the breakup of Yugoslavia, and followed earlier secessionist wars in Slovenia and Croatia. Before 1992, tensions between the ethnic factions in Bosnia and Herzegovina led negotiators to propose multiple versions of a Bosnian division, which all three ethnic parties refused. The conflict began in 1992, when the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence from Yugoslavia, and it quickly evolved into a deadly war involving the three ethnic factions of Bosnia –Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats – as well as the Yugoslavian army. 

CRISIS CHARACTERISTICS

Basis of Conflict: The crisis was both an independence movement against the Yugoslavian army and an ethnic conflict between Muslim Bosniaks, Orthodox Serbs, and Catholic Croats.

Regime Type: Yugoslavia, as well as the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of its constituent republics, was a socialist republic.

Severity of Crisis: Over 100,000 people, mostly Muslim Bosniaks, were killed in the conflict, in what is now known as one of the worst genocides in history.

INTERVENTION CHARACTERISTICS

Along with multiple military interventions led by NATO from the initiation of the war in 1992, there were many unsuccessful attempts at peace brokering on part of international entities who had an interest in maintaining peace in the Balkans. This was coupled with the UN’s rather limited involvement in the region, which consisted of monitoring weapons exclusion zones and the provision of humanitarian aid. However, the end of the Bosnian Civil War came with the Dayton Agreement in 1995, which was agreed upon by the three Yugoslav countries after an intense and prolonged effort at diplomatic pressure by several Western nations - the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia. The result was a power-sharing agreement where the country was divided into the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Republika Srpska, and power was shared between the three rival ethnic groups in the conflict, the Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs.

OUTCOME

The Dayton Accord ended the 3 ½ year long war in Bosnia, and led to the formation of a functioning government. Peace has been observed in the country since, passing its 10-year mark in December of 2005. However, more recently, the Dayton Accord has been criticized for due to the complicated government structure it has created in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has resulted in frequent deadlocks in governance.

ANALYSIS

Although the Dayton Accord ended the war, and peace has been observed in the country since, there has been much criticism on the consequences of the power-sharing agreement and the hindrances it has caused in developing a sustainable democracy. Most Bosniaks and Croats believe that the Dayton Accord was necessary to end the long conflict but argue that Bosnia and Herzegovina now require a new constitution to prepare for the future, particularly in preparing for membership in the EU. Many are becoming less ethnoterritorial, which runs counter to the ethnically divided government that the Accord sets up. In this sense, the multilateral, NATO-backed negotiations in Bosnia provide important lessons for conflict mediation going forth; power-sharing agreements can be powerful tools in putting an end to severe ethnic conflicts, and diplomatic pressure is effective in bringing historical enemies to the negotiating table, but power-sharing agreements require more flexibility in order to lend way to future democracy building. The Bosnian Genocide is also a reminder that intervention cannot be delayed in the face of severe humanitarian crises; earlier and more consolidated multilateral diplomatic pressure could have been deployed to mediate an effective power-sharing agreement prior to mass ethnic cleansing.

Somalia 1992

PREMISE OF THE CRISIS

During an ongoing civil war between various rebel groups within the country, customary law temporarily collapsed, instigating a multilateral intervention under the leadership of the United Nations, known as UNOSOM, the alliance was tasked with assuring security until humanitarian efforts could be carried out. During 1992, an estimated 350,000 Somalis died of disease, starvation, or civil war. Images of famine and war were shown on American news networks, feeding public pressure, motivating U.S. President George H.W. Bush to order emergency airlifts of food and supplies to Somalia.

CRISIS CHARACTERISTICS

Basis of Conflict: An ongoing civil war between multiple ethnic groups, clans and military groups.

Regime Type: Somalia became known as a failed state due to the collapse of customary law and order.

Severity of Crisis: The civil war and violence caused the death of, at least, 350,000 Somalis, from hunger or conflict. Despite the establishment of relative peace in 2009, around 500,000 people are estimated to have been killed in Somalia since the start of the civil war in 1991.

INTERVENTION CHARACTERISTICS

The severity of the crisis motivated much foreign intervention both by organizations such as the Red Cross and the United Nations, and sovereign states, such as the United States. UNOSOM I & II were characteristic peacekeeping missions, which attempted to restore basic law and order. In 1993, the United States intervened, attempted to strategically target group leaders to remove their capability to regroup and act against the United Nations' efforts.  

OUTCOME

Somalia, even today, finds itself in turmoil. After incurring heavy casualties between 1992 and 1995, the United Nations forces withdrew, thus allowing military clashes to continue. In 2010, a technocratic government was elected to power and successfully implemented numerous reforms and successfully ousted militant Islamists from the majority of the country. Since 2007, African Union troops have assisted with cleaning up remaining insurgents. In 2014, the United States carried out multiple drone missions as part of the broader mission killed Al-Shabaab leader Moktar Ali Zubeyr.

ANALYSIS

The Somali civil war acts as a classic case of failed foreign and multilateral intervention. Both the United Nations and the United States suffered severe casualties, while barely improving the humanitarian situation in the country. 

Rwandan Genocide 1994

PREMISE OF THE CRISIS

During the summer of 1994 ethnic conflict between Hutus and Tutsis broke out, triggered by the assassination of the moderate Hutu president, Habyarimana, when their plane was shot down, killing all on board. On the following day, April 7th, genocidal killings began, lasting approximately 100 days resulting in the death of nearly 1,000,000 Rwandans, constituting of as many as 70% of the Tutsi population. The genocide and widespread slaughter of Rwandans ended when the Tutsi-backed and heavily armed Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) led by Paul Kagame took control of the country.

CRISIS CHARACTERISTICS

Basis of Conflict: The genocide was triggered by ethnic conflict during an even escalating civil war, which however had its roots in a Hutu revolt against colonial rule in 1959.  

Regime Type: The regime type at the time was considered a democracy, yet the country was embroiled in a civil war, between the government in place and rebel groups for 4 years prior to the conflict.

Severity of Crisis: Although the genocide lasted for only 100 days, it resulted in the biggest lost of life through conflict since the end of the Second World War. More than 800,000 people lost their lives, and more than 2,000,000 were displaced. Furthermore, the pervasive use of rape as a weapon of war caused a spike in HIV infection, having a long lasting impact in the region after the crisis. 

INTERVENTION CHARACTERISTICS

The genocidal killings ending after intervention by the Tutsi backed Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), under the leadership of current president Paul Kagame. During the crisis the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) was present in the region, yet failed to act to prevent the massive loss of life. Only after direct foreign intervention, by the RPF, with support from Burundi, was the crisis overcome. 

OUTCOME

The Rwandan Genocide is a prime example of the failure of the United Nation's to act in violent circumstances and of the inability or unwillingness of the international community to act in unsure situations. Following the RPF victory, approximately two million Hutu fled to refugee camps in neighbouring countries, particularly Zaire, fearing RPF reprisals for the Rwandan genocide, causing a massive refugee crisis in the area.

ANALYSIS

Despite the horrors of the genocide, modern Rwanda is a prime African nation with consistently increasing economic growth and development levels. Furthermore, as in post-war Germany, the denial of genocide is a punishable offense. Finally, a great deal of historical work has been done on the topic to help further the improvement of Hutu and Tutsi relations.   

Kenya Crisis 2007-2008

Premise of the Crisis

Between December 2007 and February of 2008, Kenya was briefly embroiled in ethnic violence which pushed the nation to the brink of civil conflict following a disputed Presidential election. The election held on the 27th of December of 2007 was characterized by ethnically-rooted political coalitions which divided the more than 70 distinct Kenyan ethnic groups. After the incumbent was declared the narrow victor under suspicious circumstances, widespread violence spread throughout the country, resulting in more than 1,000 deaths and prompting international fears of a disastrous civil war. In response, the French Embassy in Nairobi called for the international community to react, invoking responsibility to protect in the face of an impending humanitarian catastrophe.

Crisis Characteristics

Basis of Conflict:

This crisis was based on historical ethnic tensions which were accentuated by ethnic politics in a contentious, close election.

Regime Type:

The regime at the time could be characterized as a multi-party democracy, with two main political parties participating in the election, with constituencies mainly defined by ethnic groups. 

Severity of Crisis:

By the end of the crisis more than 1,000 people had been killed, most of whom were targeted due to their ethnic-political affiliations. Additionally, more than 500,000 peoples were displaced. The turmoil lasted roughly two months, and calmed once a power-sharing agreement was reached. 

Intervention Characteristics

The intervention in Kenya can best be characterized as an early, multilateral intervention focused on mediating a power-sharing agreement to end violence before it spread out of control. International attention was drawn quickly to the developing violence in part due to the presence of foreign election observers. Leaders of nearby states and representatives for the African Union lead initial efforts to mediate a peace agreement and were eventually supplemented by Kofi Annan representing the UN. This coalition of actors were finally able to broker a successful power-sharing agreement between the belligerents on February 28th, 2008. 

Outcome

The intervention was ultimately considered a success as violence largely calmed and transitioned to political competition. Following the power-sharing agreement, Kenya adopted a new constitution in 2010 aimed at reforming election procedures to avoid future violence. The following election in 2013 was similarly close, but the results were challenged in the Supreme Court and violence was largely avoided. 

Analysis

The Kenya Crisis in 2007 to 2008 represents a rare success in international intervention in response to humanitarian crisis. Several key factors contributed to the resounding success in Kenya. First and foremost was the agility of the intervention. Nearly at the first sign of violence the international community began to respond. Key to this speed was the presence of foreign elections observers, which anticipated the volatility introduced by the election and alerted the international community once violence began. The speed of response allowed regional actors including neighboring states and the institutions of the African Union and the UN to mediate a power-sharing agreement before violence spread uncontrollably, preempting the need for a more costly military deployment. Furthermore, the commitment of these actors to resolve the dispute despite initial failures and barriers was instrumental. Finally, post-crisis truth and justice commissions and inquiries created impetus for reform, lending longer term stability following the violence.