Acting on the recommendations of the Secretary-General, the Security Council adopted resolution 1528 (2004) of 27 February 2004, establishing the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) for an initial period of 12 months, from 4 April 2004. The mandate of the small political mission, the United Nations Mission in Côte d’Ivoire (MINUCI), ended on that same date. In accordance with the Council’s request, the Secretary-General transferred authority from MINUCI and ECOWAS forces to UNOCI on that date.
UNOCI's primary objective was to facilitate the implementation by the Ivorian parties of the peace agreement signed by them in January 2003 which aimed at ending the Ivorian civil war. Its mandate was subsequently extended and adjusted on several occasions to meet new requirements and reflect the evolving situation in the country.
2010-2011 elections and post-election crisis in Côte d'Ivoire
Alassane Ouattara was declared winner of the November 2010 UN-certified presidential election, which, it was hoped, would advance the peace process in Côte d’Ivoire. Instead, the country lurched back into civil war when incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down, using troops, paramilitaries and mercenaries to entrench his position and crush dissent. The five-month impasse ended with the arrest of Mr. Gbagbo and the inauguration of the legitimate President on 21 May 2011.
Following the 2010 Presidential election and the ensuing political crisis in Côte d'Ivoire, UNOCI has remained on the ground to support the new Ivorian Government.
Downsizing of UNOCI
Reporting to the Security Council on 28 March 2013, the United Nation Secretary-General welcomed the significant progress that had been made in Côte d’Ivoire since the end of the violent post-elections crisis, particularly in the overall security situation. He commended the people of Côte d’Ivoire for their efforts to overcome the legacy of the past, as well as the leadership and personal engagement of President Ouattara, which had been crucial to effectively address security challenges and accelerate economic recovery, while taking forward sensitive processes that were critical to achieving peace and long-term stability in Côte d’Ivoire.
The Secretary-General noted, however, that notwithstanding the considerable progress made, Côte d’Ivoire still faced significant threats and critical issues that needed to be addressed. Among them, he referred to the need for national dialogue, peacebuilding and political reconciliation; disarming and reintegrating former combatants on both sides of the political divide; increasing sub-regional security threats, including transnational crime, terrorism and piracy; reform of the security sector; preserving stability along the border with Liberia; and bringing to justice alleged perpetrators of serious crimes irrespective of their political affiliation in order to break the vicious cycle of impunity.
The Secretary-General concluded that in light of the persisting challenges and threats, the UNOCI presence remains necessary, particularly with respect to its core priorities, as outlined in resolution 2062 (2012) . Adjustments to its structure, strength and priorities were, however, needed to meet the evolving situation on the ground. He therefore recommended reducing the authorized military strength of UNOCI through the repatriation of at least one battalion by 31 July 2013, as previously decided by Council’s resolution 2062. At the same time, the Secretary-General recommended a further progressive reduction of two additional battalions by mid-2015. No reductions were recommended for the UNOCI police component, though adjustments would be made within the present authorized ceiling.
On 30 July 2013, the Security Council endorsed Secretary-General’s recommendations by its resolution 2112 (2013) and decided to further reduce and reconfigure mission’s military presence in Côte d’Ivoire. On 25 June 2014, by resolution 2162 , the Council, in line with the progress made on the ground, including the improved security situation, decided to lower authorized military and police levels even further and amend the mandate of UNOCI accordingly.
By resolution 2226 of 25 June 2015, the Security Council extended the mandate of UNOCI, along with the authorization of French Forces that support it, until 30 June 2016, and decided that the priority of the operation would remain protection of civilians and that it would maintain a focus on demobilization, disarmament and reintegration of ex-combatants and security-sector reform, with the objective of transitioning security responsibilities to the Government. The Council also reaffirmed its intention to consider further downsizing UNOCI and possibly terminating its mandate after the October 2015 presidential election in Côte d’Ivoire, based on security conditions on the ground and the capacity of the Government to take over the Operation’s responsibilities. For the present, however, it decided that the authorized ceiling of UNOCI’s military component would remain at 5,245 troops and 192 observers, along with 1,500 police personnel and eight customs officers.