When do Horizontal Inequalities Lead to Conflict? Lessons from a Comparative Study of Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire

Date: Feb, 2015
CRISE Working Paper No. 82
Author(s): Arnim Langer

This paper reviews the experience of two West African countries in terms of horizontal inequalities and conflict. It shows that in many respects Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire are similar - in economic structure, ethnic composition and horizontal inequalities. Both countries have severe socio-economic horizontal inequalities, between the North and the South. Yet Côte d'Ivoire experienced a major North-South civil war from 2002 -2007 while Ghana avoided any major national conflict. This paper reviews the reasons for this difference. It provides evidence showing that while the two countries had similar socio-economic inequalities, Ghana was consistently politically inclusive, and consciously respected different cultures and religions. Côte d’Ivoire also followed an inclusive policy until the death of Houphouët-Boigny but subsequently Northerners were excluded politically, and culturally. These political and cultural Horizontal Inequalities are argued to be the main factors behind the outbreak of violent conflict.

ODID Author(s)