[JURIST] The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] will send an independent, international commission to investigate allegations of serious human rights abuses during post-election violence in the Ivory Coast [JURIST news archive], the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] announced [press release] Friday. The resolution, which was passed without a vote, was introduced by Nigeria on behalf of the African Group [UN profile] which stated “immediate action” was necessary to put an end to the violence. The commission will be appointed by the Council President and will investigate all allegations of abuse throughout the country. The commission will present its findings at the Council’s 17th Session in late May. Speaking on behalf of the Ivory Coast, Kouadio Adjoumani thanked the UN [statement] for its interest in his country’s situation:
It [the commission] would renew their hope that the international community had not abandoned them and that it was seriously concerned about the worsening situation in this country. Also, the resolution would establish the international panel of inquiry which reassured the country that the perpetrators would not go unpunished. The unacceptable attacks on civilians that were currently going on around Abidjan might constitute crimes against humanity and should be investigated by the International Criminal Court. The delegation realised that some of the issues discussed during the negotiation of the resolution were of a sensitive nature, but the final point of the resolution was the protection of civilians who were paying the heavy price. There was a need to move beyond the rhetoric towards concrete steps to ensure that human rights were protected throughout the world.
According to a report [press release] released Friday by the UN [official website], at least 1 million people in the Ivory Coast have been displaced from their homes due to “mounting violence” and fear of an “all-out war”. The UN expressed concern over the “rapidly deteriorating” human rights situation in the country, citing increased heavy artillery attacks and widespread panic of residents. OCHA Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos [official profile] requested those involved to respect the rights [press release] of civilians and humanitarian organizations throughout the country.
Earlier this month, the OHCHR called for an independent investigation [JURIST report] into post-election violence as part of a report to the UNHRC. In January, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon [official website] rejected the proposed recount [JURIST report] of November’s Ivory Coast presidential runoff election results as a “grave injustice and unfortunate precedent.” Also in January, UN officials expressed “grave concerns” [JURIST report] on continued post-election violence in the Ivory Coast, cautioning that genocide could be imminent. In December, UN officials urged all parties to the disputed presidential election in the Ivory Coast to honor the country’s commitment to prevent genocide [JURIST report], crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing under the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document [text, PDF]. Also in December, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) [official website] urged Gbagbo to step down, threatening the use of force [JURIST report] if he attempts to maintain power. Gbagbo has refused to cede power to president-elect Ouattara, who won the November 28 runoff election according to international observers.