[JURIST] UN Independent Expert Mohammed Ayat on Friday described [press release] some of the challenges that Cote d’Ivoire, or the Ivory Coast, must face as the UN Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI) [official website] withdraws from the country. Ayat made mention of recent incidents of strikes, school violence and mutinies, stressing that the demands of these groups must be “expressed and heard in an atmosphere conducive to dialogue and respect for human rights.” He further urged the country to focus on security reform, institutions of peace, and the strength of its governance in order to improve its current state. Ayat also stated that, though the national economy has significantly improved, further growth will require a better distribution of wealth. The UNOCI supported the National Commission for Human Rights in Cote d’Ivoire (CNDHCI) and the Ivory Coast armed forces in developing methods for monitoring violations of human rights. Ayat encouraged the country to use these methods in order to ensure the army properly protect its civilians. A final report on the country will be presented to the Human Rights Council [official website] in June.
The Ivory Coast has faced turmoil since 2010 when former president Laurent Gbagbo [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] lost his second presidential race to former prime minister Alassane Ouattara [BBC profile]. The EU recognized that Ouattara defeated Gbagbo, but Gbagbo refused to concede victory [JURIST report]. Gbagbo has been accused [JURIST report] of starting a civil war after losing the presidency, which resulted in 3,000 deaths and the displacement of one million people. Voters in the Ivory Coast successfully approved [JURIST report] a new constitution last year. In November, Oattara signed [JURIST report] the constitution into law. Amid political tensions, the Ivory Coast continues to host human rights violations. In July, the UN released a report [JURIST report] claiming that the Ivory Coast needed to make greater efforts to prevent and punish rape. In May, the Human Rights Watch called [JURIST report] for the trial of the former Ivory Coast first lady to be credible, fair, and followed by the trials of other high-level rights abusers.