Cross-border Violence as an External Stress: Policy Responses to Cross-border Dynamics on the Border between Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia
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One of the key issues identified in the new policy literature on external stress is the incidence of cross-border violence and the current lack of efficient and permanent mechanisms supported by international organisations, governments and civil society to deal with the violence. The focus of this research is the border region between Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia. The protracted violence which has affected the region for many years stems from the internal conflicts which afflicted both countries at different times, and which had regional dynamics and implications. Western Côte d’Ivoire acted as a proxy battleground in the first Liberian civil war (1989–96), and the region is the birthplace of the military and political crisis that affected Côte d’Ivoire from 2002 onwards. An inaccessible and neglected region, it has acted as a training ground and base for rebel groups and security forces, and it is local people who have borne the brunt of the insecurity. In 2012–13 the region experienced a resurgence of cross-border violence linked to the 2011 electoral and political crisis in Côte d’Ivoire. Some accuse the political elite loyal to former Côte d’Ivoire president, Laurent Gbagbo, who are based in Ghana, of funding military incursions by militants and Liberian partners in the west of Côte d’Ivoire to destabilise the region. Animosity between different communities and the limited capacity of security forces to provide safety to the people perpetuates the precarious situation.