Document Type



International Relations

First Advisor's Name

John F. Clark

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Roderick Neumann

Third Advisor's Name

Mohiaddin Mesbahi

Fourth Advisor's Name

Jean M. Rahier


Causes of Civil War, Cote d'Ivoire, 19 September 2002, Houphouet-Boigny, Laurent Gbagbo, Konan Bedie, MPCI, FN, FANCI, Ivoirite

Date of Defense



This dissertation was an analysis of the root and proximate causes of the September 2002 civil war in Côte d’Ivoire. The central question of this study was: Why did Côte d’Ivoire, which was relatively stable under President Houphouët-Boigny, suddenly begin to experience political violence in the 1990s and an explosion in 2002? Côte d’Ivoire was an interesting case because it was stable for a long period of time, apparently making it an infertile ground for conflict. It was also interesting for comparative purposes because of the fact that several states in West Africa (for instance, Benin, Togo, and Ghana) have experienced military coups but not have civil wars. Finally, this case was an opportunity to revisit the debate on the causes of civil wars in the African context. Chapter one has outlined the entire dissertation project and contextualized the analysis that follows in the subsequent chapters. Chapter two has reviewed the literature on civil wars in general, identified the different types of civil wars, and the type the Ivoiran war is. Chapter three has examined the domestic and international political economy as a source of the civil violence in Côte d’Ivoire. Chapter four has examined the role of ethnicity and region as identities of the war, while chapter five has analyzed the role of the foreign relations in the civil war, as well as the regional political context. Chapter six has distinguished between the root and proximate causes of the Ivoirian civil war, made judgments about the relative weight of the various causes, and the extent to which the weight of the causes can be measured. The study found that the “Ivoirité” was the most important trigger of the civil war in Côte d’Ivoire. The overall conclusion of my dissertation was that the September 2002 crisis in that country was a political crisis which occured in the context of a political reform. It first started with succession problems in 1993 followed by the controversial elections in 1995 and 2000. Later, this electoral politics spread beyond electoral issues, namely citizenship matters.





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