Lessons for UN Electoral Certification from the 2010 Disputed Presidential Poll in Côte d’Ivoire

Publication d'un membre-expert du ROP

26 juin 2012



Lori-Anne Théroux-Bénoni, docteure en anthropologie et chercheure au ROP, signe une note d’analyse sur les enseignements à tirer de la certification des élections en Côte d’Ivoire par les Nations Unies. Conçue à l’origine comme un moyen de ramener la confiance dans le processus électoral de sortie de crise, la certification a aussi servi de mécanisme d’alerte précoce et de médiation, tout en garantissant la mise en œuvre de certaines dispositions des accords de paix. Mme Théroux-Bénoni souligne toutefois les limites inhérentes à ce type de mécanisme et formule des recommandations sur la base du cas ivoirien. Le projet de recherche qui sous-tend cette analyse a été financé par le Centre pour l’innovation dans la gouvernance internationale (CIGI).


The certification of elections is an emerging tool for the United Nations to draw upon in its involvement in post-conflict elections. While UN electoral certification in Côte d’Ivoire did not prevent parties from contesting the election results, the Ivorian case shows the utility and limits of certification as a tool in the UN electoral toolbox. This CIGI-Africa Initiative Policy Brief, the first in a new series, makes specific recommendations for improving UN electoral certification and ensuring it remains a viable strategy.


Written by Lori-Anne Théroux-Bénoni , a recipient of the 2011 Africa Initiative Research Grant and a researcher at the Network on Peace Operations at the University of Montreal, the paper sets the context for the emergence of certification in Côte d’Ivoire and identifies lessons to be learned from the Ivorian case. It shows that maintaining flexibility in the definition and implementation of election certification mandates – rather than a rigid approach – may be the key to the successful use of this tool in post-conflict situations.


The brief highlights the fact that while members of the Security Council were not yet fully aware of the implications of electoral certification when they approved the certification mandate for Côte d’Ivoire, they now have a better understanding of what the concept entails in terms of opportunities, risks and consequences. Although this brief’s recommendations clearly show that certification still needs to be refined, it remains a potentially useful tool that can help post-conflict countries overcome electoral challenges.


Dr. Théroux-Bénoni is available to discuss the policy implications of this important research. If you wish to reach her, please write airesearch@cigionline.org.


The CIGI-Africa Initiative Policy Brief series presents analysis and commentary emerging from field based research on issues critical to the continent. Findings and recommendations in this peer-reviewed series aim to inform policy making and to contribute to the overall African research enterprise. Policy briefs in this series are available for free, full-text download at www.africaportal.org and www.cigionline.org/publications.



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