Gbagbo, 67, attended the hearing in The Hague, capital of the Netherlands, Voice of America reported. His lawyer, Dov Jacobs, argued any trial should be held in Ivory Coast and not in the Netherlands, citing the "vagueness of the charges" against him.
A trained historian, Gbagbo served as president from 2000 to 2011, when he was arrested by the forces of his challenger, Alassane Ouattara.
About 3,000 people died in the weeks after the 2010 election. The Ivorian Election Commission declared Ouattara the victor, but Gbagbo refused to concede, and negotiations for a compromise were unsuccessful.
The ICC is considering allegations that Gbagbo ordered troops loyal to him to kill opponents and to commit rape and other crimes to terrorize the population.