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Policy memo writing sample

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Mock Policy Memo on Cote d'Ivoire

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Policy memo writing sample

  1. 1. MEMORANDUMSUBJECT: 2013 Prospective on Cote d’IvoireBackground:Cote d’Ivoire, a former French colony, had one of the most developed and promising economiesin West Africa up until 1999, when a coup overthrew the democratically elected government.Later subsequent failed elections led to the outbreak of a civil war that divided the nation in twoin 2002. This culminated into a disputed transfer of power in 2011 when former PresidentLaurent Gbagbo refused to cede power after his election loss causing violent clashes betweensupporters of both sides. Thiscrisis has left the country vulnerable as it attempts to reconcile thedivided nation, reform the security sector and repair the economy. U.S. - Ivoirian relations havetraditionally beenfriendly. The United States currently provides more than a quarter of thefunding for UNCOI (United Nations Operation in Cote d’Ivoire).Key issues in 2013:National Divisions:Nationality and identity are the core cause of the internal crisis that has plagued Cote d’Ivoiresince 2001. The country has long benefited from the steady inflow of immigrants from otherWest African states who have added to the agricultural sector, which dominates the economy.The north of the country has a majority Muslim and immigrant population and remains largelyunderdeveloped. The south is prominently Christian and is far more developed. Out of thetwenty-two million people living in Cote d’Ivoire an estimated eight million are immigrants,generally from other West African states.i These immigrants, and the descendants of immigrants,do not receive recognition as citizens and remain without a path to citizenship, leading to aconflict over national identity. Political tensions have risen in the country as nearly twentypercent of the population goes without representation and limited rights.Tensions still remain from the violent and delayed transfer of power. President Ouattara, whiledemocratically elected, had to take his seat by force through rebels who supported him. There isalso tension stemming from the intervention of U.N. and French troops who monitored theceasefire. This has complicated Ouattara’s legitimacy as opponents perceive his accession to thepresidency as a tribute of force and support by the former colonizer, France. The trial of formerPresident Gbagbo for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in March 2013could reignite these tensions and divide the nation once again. Several hundred supporters havealready taken to the streets in protest in February 2012.iiWhile there has been a significantamount of progresson charging individualsfrom Gbagbo’s camp, Ivorian authorities have notarrested or charged any members of the pro-Ouattara rebel forces who also committed gravecrimes during the crisis.iiiBorder Security:There have been several attacks along the borders since the 2010 elections. In June 2012 anattack on the Liberian border resulted in the death of seven UN peacekeepers and twenty-sevencivilians. In September 2012 there was an attack on the Ghanaian border which resulted in eightdeaths and caused a closure of the border with Ghana. In January 2013 Guinean troops seized the
  2. 2. Ivorian village of Kpeaba as part of a long standing dispute about the delimitation of the westernborder. President Ouattara has promised to diplomatically solve this issue.ivSeveral conflicts withmercenaries on the Liberian border have added to the chaos.This cross-border violence poses athreat, furthering political tensions and insecurity throughout the country. There have beenseveral attacks on tankers offof the coast of Cote d’Ivoire, the most recent of which occurredearly February 2013 when a French tanker, M/V Gascogne was hijacked.vSecurity Sector Reform:The security situation remains unstable with several recent attacks on army and police basesandon border posts during August and September 2012. An increasing number of reports accusingthe military of mistreatment and illegal detentions have occurred.vi The root of this issue ispolitical as the current administration does not trust the current police force, which was trainedlargely under the previous regime. This has led to a disarming of the police force and a relianceon armed soldiers for security.vii The army has been poorly integrated with thousands of formerOuattara’s rebelspushed into the regular army increasing the army by nearly 50,000 troops. Thisintegration has caused tensions with army officers.viiiCote d’Ivoire must depoliticize the armywhile training them to fight the remaining paramilitary groups and rebels.ix Reform inincreasingly needed as UNCOI’s mandate expires in July 2013.Economic Recovery:The economy is still recovering from the conflict which interrupted its steady growth. Mostinfrastructure has been repaired which has allowed the farmers and businesses to continueexporting without needing to go through neighboring countries. This is promising for thenormalization of trade relations. However, the instability in the country has led to a severeincrease in food prices. Cote d’Ivoire remains the world’s largest exporter of cocoa asinternational prices have risen to the highest prices in over three decades. In March 2013 cocoaprices fell 1.2% for a total decrease of 8.1% since January 2012.xThe increase in cocoa pricesalong with a tripling in local food prices has severely hindered Ivoirians ability to feedthemselves and families.In May of 2012 prices for the staple crop, Cassava, had risen 70%. Andrice had risen to nearly 50%, its highest process in five years.xiThis has hurt exports and hascaused some Ivorian farmers to turn to rubber production instead as the growing demand andhigh prices are more lucrative for them, as the production is projected to increase by more than110%.xii The abandoning of stable cropscause concerns of potential famine and food riots. InJuly 2012 a commercial court was set up in Abidjan to encourage investments and economicdevelopment. The court is meant to protect investments and enforce contracts, overall improvingthe business climate.xiiiU.S. Strategic Interests:A stable and democratic Cote d’Ivoire is essential to the U.S. goal of promoting goodgovernance and democracy throughout Africa. The U.S. holds several strategic interests, all ofwhich are rooted in the goal of stability. Its transition after its crisis will set a precedent forsimilar countries. The internal stability will be crucial for maintain stability in an increasingly
  3. 3. important region. And while Cote d’Ivoire is not a comparatively large economic market for theU.S., there is potential and some significance.Good Governance:A stable and democratic Cote d’Ivoire is imperative as the U.S. promotes good governance anddemocracy. The instability and disputed transition of power sets a negative precedent for otherAfrican countries, who are having elections and are attempting to transition and/or solidify intodemocracies. Similar refusals to give up power were seen in violent disputes over electoralprocesses in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Senegal subsequent to the Ivorian crisis.xivGood governance and democracy is also crucial as the Cote d’Ivoire currently holds thechairmanship of ECOWAS, which has been taking a more proactive role in the region andincreasingly more powerful in numerous sectors in the region, such as monetary policies, trade,energy and telecommunications, among others.Stability in the Region:Cote d’Ivoire is in the heart of West Africa and borders five countries: Ghana, Burkina Faso,Guinea, Liberia and Mali. The recent crisis in Mali adds to the U.S. strategic importance on thissub-region with the heightened prospect of terrorism and extremism, particularlythe AQIMlinked groups in Mali and Boko Haram in Nigeria. Further instability in Cote d’Ivoire couldpotentially trigger similar problems throughout other West African states. Some of which havealready experienced serve crises in recent years making them more susceptible. PresidentOuattara currently holds the chairmanship of ECOWAS, which has taken a much more proactiverole in the region. This was seen in withthe intervention in the civil war in Cote d’Ivoire in 2012and the current deployment of 3,300 troops to Mali to intervene in the crisis against Islamicrebels.xvEconomic Relations:Economic recovery will help stabilize and further develop the country. Cote d’Ivoire is againeligible for preferential trade with the African Growth and Opportunity Act. The U.S. exportssteel, machinery, plastics and agricultural products among others.However, exports fell morethan 20% to $130 million. U.S. imports rose 8% to $1.3 billion. Imports include cocoa,the largestimport at $871 million, rubber, wood, cashews and mineral fuel (oil).xviThe current U.S. tradedeficit is $1.1 billion dollars. U.S. firms have made significant investments in oil and gasprojects, banking, cocoa and international courier services.
  4. 4. i “Africa Security Brief,”Africa Center for Strategic Studies. March 2012.ii http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130216/pro-gbagbo-protest-dispersed-days-ahead-key-hearingiii http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/ivory-coast-troubled-sided-justice-18630422iv http://www.nation.co.ke/News/africa/Ivory-Coast-Guinea-vow-peaceful-resolution-to-border-dispute-/-/1066/1700168/-/ftcwu7/-/index.htmlv http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-21350451vi Monthly Forecast, UNSC Report, January 2013.vii http://www.economist.com/node/21555959viii http://www.economist.com/node/21555959ix “Africa Security Brief,” Africa Center for Strategic Studies. March 2012.x http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-04/cocoa-falls-to-10-month-low-on-ivory-coast-rainfall-sugar-rises.htmlxi http://www.irinnews.org/Report/95497/COTE-D-IVOIRE-Traders-resist-rice-price-rulesxii http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2013/feb/28/ivory-coast-farmers-cassava-rubberxiii http://www.globaltimes.cn/NEWS/tabid/99/ID/723228/Cote-dIvoire-sets-up-Commercial-Court-to-improve-business-environment.aspxxiv “Africa Security Brief,” Africa Center for Strategic Studies. March 2012.xv http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-20292797xvi http://www.ustr.gov/countries-regions/africa/west-africa/cote-divoire