Peacekeeping: When Talking Does More Than Troops

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June 11, 2006: The UN is sending another 1,500 peacekeepers to the Ivory Coast, a 20 percent increase over what is already there. The UN wanted to send 4,000 more, but the United States, which is provides a quarter of the money, refused to pay for that many. The situation in the Ivory Coast is more in need of additional diplomats, rather than peacekeeper troops. The civil war that has split the country is more about the rights of migrants, than anything else. In the last few decades, the growing demand for chocolate (Ivory Coast is a major producer) brought migrant workers in from adjacent countries. Actually, the labor shortages in the north have attracted such migrants for generations. But those in the southern part of the country, seeing themselves outnumbered by the growing "foreign" population of the north, sought to change the naturalization laws, and turn many northerners, who were born in Ivory Coast, into foreigners (and ineligible to vote or hold office). Neither the north, or the south, is strong enough to take over the entire country by force. More peacekeepers makes any resumption of fighting even more unlikely, but the only thing that will settle the dispute is diplomats that can convince both sides to agree to a compromise. That may never happen, because there are also tribal, religious (the north is more Moslem, the south more Christian) and political (some major egos are in play) issues involved.

 


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