There have been many cases where the international community has assisted with issues regarding Côte d’Ivoire and, in some instances, the efforts have actually made a difference. For example, external support from France, the US, and the UN, played a key role during the export ban on cocoa in 2011. Because of their assistance and resources, the people of Côte d’Ivoire remained fairly safe as former President Gbagbo was finally drained of his finances, and therefore security forces, and was removed from office. Nevertheless, many still criticized the international community in 2011 as some nations turned their back on Côte d’Ivoire. The innocent unquestionably endured the most from the constant violence and displacement during this time, which also greatly threatened regional stability as more than 95,000 moved into neighboring Liberia (Dufka 2011).
Englebert and Tull emphasize two trends concerning the idea that external assistance lacks the “capacity and will to maintain the necessary commitment to rebuilding African states,” (129). The first is that reconstruction efforts to African nations are usually temporary. In the case of Côte d’Ivoire’s 2002 conflicts, international aid commitments were granted from the European Union, France, IMF, and the World Bank. Although these efforts successfully reunited the country’s politicians and organizations after the faulty presidential elections in 2000, there is a clear drop after 2002 (129). The decreased involvement into 2006 and presumably subsequent years did not account for the fact that Côte d’Ivoire’s internal disputes were nowhere near the end.
Englebert and Tull argue, “the international community is not well-equipped for creating effective state institutions, regardless of the scale and intensity of its involvement,” (137). They continue by stating that some institutions interfere too much and are not necessarily more successful than less-intrusive ones. Although I agree with the validity of their statements, I still believe external reconstruction can temporarily assist in stabilizing a country. The problem stems from the fact that development aid is often short-lived. For this reason, the international community should focus on “long-term construction of self-sustaining state institutions” provided to failing nations such as Côte d’Ivoire (137).
However, the focus should also be shifted towards the people of Côte d’Ivoire to take action and support those capable of alleviating the country’s many problems. President Ouattara seems to be that very person, as the international community has supported him since the election. In this video, President Obama speaks to Ivoirians as he encourages them to “reclaim [their] country and rebuild a vibrant economy that was once the admiration of Africa.” This idea that external aid can exist but must also construct self-sustaining institutions is validated by President Obama’s closing statement: “You deserve the right to determine your own destiny…and those who choose that path will have a friend and partner in the United States of America.”
As far as Côte d’Ivoire’s most recent endeavors, they are striving to recover political, economic, and social entities with the leadership of President Ouattara. The UN seems to be at the forefront of this plan with the creation of an active profile in their UN Peacekeeping webpage through the Better World Campaign, in addition to a project with the UNEP aiming to “address environmental and natural resource governance on a national scale and as a precondition for sustainable development and conflict prevention.” These are precisely the advocacy and support that weak or failing nations should have more access to and I hope it is only the beginning.