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Liberia - UNMIL

SSR Country Snapshot: Liberia

Liberia is a classified as a fragile state that only recently emerged from a bloody and brutal civil war.


SSR Snapshot: Table of Contents

1. SSR Summary

2. Key Dates

3. Central SSR Programs/Activities

4. Key Funding Commitments

5. Major International Donors

6. Major Civil Society Stakeholders

7. Key Domestic Government Actors

8. Central Challenges

9. For More Information


1. SSR Summary

Liberia’s civil war has become one of the defining features of its modern history. Following decades of misrule, Liberia spent 15 years engaged in two bloody civil wars that killed more than 200,000 people and displaced another million (Human Rights Watch, 2013). Fighting came to an end in 2003 with the signing of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which called for an immediate ceasefire, the disarmament of all combatants, the formation of a transitional government, and creation of a truth and reconciliation commission (International Crisis Group, 2011). The CPA also called for the complete restructuring of the country’s two main security institutions, the Liberian National Police (LNP) and the Armed Forces of Liberia. By the end of the war, both institutions were widely viewed as sources of insecurity and misery for Liberians across the country, owing to 14 years of predatory behavior and a general blurring of the distinction between security and politics (Search for Common Ground and SIPRI, 2011).

Initial security sector reform (SSR) efforts began in 2004. At that time, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) moved to reform the Liberian National Police, even as early planning was made to disband, demobilize, and reconstitute the army. Overall SSR programs have had mixed results. The complete disbanding and rebuilding of the former Liberian army has been generally successful, while efforts to reform the police and other major security actors have faced greater challenges. The bold approach adopted to reform the army was made possible largely due to a strong national consensus and the presence of a large international UN presence. However, the same factors have not enabled such bold action with regard to restructuring Liberia’s other security institutions (International Crisis Group, 2009).

Currently led by Africa’s first elected female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia benefits from significant investments from bilateral donors and international organizations, making the country largely stable. However, as the UN mission begins to draw down its presence, Liberia’s security institutions are faced with the task of ensuring the country’s political stability and reviving their deeply degraded image. Though significant SSR gains have been made in the last several years, these have all been accomplished while UNMIL exercised its role as the country’s main guarantor of peace. Liberia’s national security institutions are increasingly able to cope with some of this work. But the country’s security sector is still not currently able to function without considerable external support (International Crisis Group, 2011). Moreover, Liberian democracy remains fragile, with a polarized politics tinged by corruption, nepotism, and impunity and an economy still not open to all Liberians.

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2. Key Dates:

  • 1980: Sergeant Samuel Doe seizes power in a military coup, executing the sitting president.
  • 1985: Following pressure from international donors, Doe is elected president in voting marred by systemic irregularities.
  • 1989: The National Patriotic Front of Liberia, led by Charles Taylor, invades Nimba County (North Central Liberia) from the Ivory Coast and begins fighting with government forces.
  • 1990: The Economic Community of Western Africa States (ECOWAS) establishes an observer force, the Military Observer Group (ECOMOG). Headed by Nigeria, ECOMOG enters Monrovia to separate the warring parties.
  • 1991: An interim Government of National Unity is sponsored and established by ECOWAS, but is rejected by Taylor who forms his own rival government.
  • 1992: National Patriotic Front of Liberia rebels attack ECOMOG peacekeepers in Monrovia.
  • 1992: The UN Secretary-general appoints a Special Representative to assist in talks between ECOWAS and the warring parties, while the Security Council imposes an arms embargo on Liberia.
  • 1993: ECOWAS reaches an initial ceasefire in Cotonou, Benin and the Security Council establishes the United Nations Observer Mission in Liberia to monitor compliance.
  • 1994-1996: Low-grade fighting resumes as the UN and ECOWAS struggle to implement the conditions necessary to hold viable elections. By late 1996 violence spreads to Monrovia and 3,000 people are killed in the fighting that follows.
  • 1997: The UN successfully holds elections that bring Charles Taylor to power with 75 percent of the vote. Following his election, Taylor announces a policy of reconciliation and national unity.
  • 1999: The Liberians Untied for Reconciliation and Democracy emerges as a new armed group operating out of Guinea.
  • 2003: Heavy fighting breaks out in Monrovia as rebels come close to taking the city.
  • 2003 (July): Charles Taylor is indicted by Sierra Leone for war crimes committed in that country’s civil war. Taylor resigns his office and flees to exile in Nigeria. US troops arrive in Liberia to help enforce the peace.
  • 2003 (August): By the end of August the government and warring groups signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Accra, Ghana, which called for restructuring Liberia’s security sector. Part of that agreement requested the presence of a UN peacekeeping force under Section VII of the UN charter to support the National Transitional Government.
  • 2003 (October): US troops withdraw and are replaced with UNMIL.
  • 2003: On September 19, the Security Council unanimously adopts Resolution 1509 (United Nations, 2003) authorizing UNMIL, consisting of 15,000 United Nations military personnel, including 250 military observers, 160 staff officers, and up to 1,115 UN police officers.
  • 2004: UNMIL announces it has successfully demobilized over 103,000 ex-combatants.
  • 2005: Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is elected president, becoming Africa’s first democratically elected female head of state.
  • 2006 (February): The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is established to investigate rights abuses from 1979-2003.
  • 2006 (April): Charles Taylor is arrested in Nigeria and delivered to the United Nations in Sierra Leone. The ICC agrees to host Taylor’s trial to minimize any potential instability in Sierra Leone.
  • 2006 (August): The first class of 110 recruits for the new Liberian army began their basic training and graduate three months later.

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3. Central SSR Programs/Activities:

2003 Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement: The CPA is one of the key SSR documents in Liberia. It was signed just two and a half months after peace negotiations began in Ghana in June of 2003 and just one week after Charles Taylor stepped down and fled into exile in Nigeria. The CPA spelled out the plan for disarming warring parties and deploying an international stabilization force to create an atmosphere suitable for peacebuilding. It also delineated a clear breakdown of power-sharing between the numerous armed groups that had been vying for power in the country (International Crisis Group, 2009). Specifically the CPA called for the restructuring of the Armed Forces of Liberia, the Liberian National Police, the immigration and customs services, and the Special Security Service. It also outlined the need to disarm and restructure the special security units, including the Special Operations Division, the LNP’s Anti-Terrorist Unit, and Special Operations Division, as well as putting an end to a number of commercial interests controlled by the security services (Griffiths, 2011).

UN Security Council Resolution 1509: Adopted by the Security Council in September 2003, Resolution 1509 formally established UNMIL role in reforming the security sector. Specifically, the resolution stated that UNMIL would assist the transitional government of Liberia in restructuring the police force in accordance with democratic norms and civilian oversight (Malan, 2008).

National Security Strategy: Approved officially in 2008, the National Security Strategy outlines the government’s long-term goals for its security sector, specifically describing the process of reforming Liberia’s army and police. It created a high-level framework wherein the various security services could develop their own specific policies in a more coordinated and coherent manner (Search for Common Ground and SIPRI, 2011). The Strategy promoted the dissolution of the Ministry of National Security, National Bureau of Investigation, and the Drug Enforcement Agency, the latter two being merged into the Liberian National Police - though the subsequent National Security Reform and Intelligence Act exempted the Drug Enforcement Agency from being abolished. It also calls for creating security councils with civilian oversight mechanisms at the district and county level (Griffiths, 2011). By 2014, the Strategy was being reviewed by the Liberian government with international assistance.

National Security Reform and Intelligence Act: The 2011 National Security Reform and Intelligence Act calls for the merger of the Ministry of National Security and the National Bureau of Investigation with the LNP, which would change or eliminate some of the Key Domestic Government Actors outlined in Section 7. Some personnel would also be merged with the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization and the National Security Agency. This process would help to further operationalize Liberia’s National Security Strategy and by 2014 was almost complete.

Liberia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy: Though not primarily a security document, the Poverty Reduction Strategy contains a peace and security pillar, including mechanisms for coordinating actors in the security sector. It urges the security institutions to adopt codes of conduct addressing discrimination, domestic violence and sexual harassment (Griffiths, 2011). The Strategy also includes a provision for quarterly security pillar meetings that bring together Liberian officials, UNMIL and US officials, and other internal and international stakeholders to discuss SSR. Its peace and security pillar specifically emphasizes human security and places the onus on the government of Liberia to protect its citizens (Search for Common Ground and SIPRI, 2011).

“Liberia Rising 2030” or “Vision 2030”: The “Liberia Rising” platform is the successor to Liberia’s poverty reduction strategy and aims to make Liberia a middle-income country by 2030. Although more weight is placed on economic development than security sector reform, a key plank of the strategy is ensuring the sanctity of the rule of law and accountability of the security sector (Human Rights Watch, 2013).

Reforming the Armed Forces of Liberia: One of the central and most important planks in Liberia’s SSR platform was reforming Liberia’s military, an institution that had preyed upon the country’s civilian population during the war with impunity (Search for Common Ground and SIPRI, 2011). The CPA requested explicitly that the US play a leading role in the process of rebuilding the armed forces. The US-led reform program, which was sub-contracted to DynCorp, included completely demobilizing the existing army, recruiting and vetting recruits for a completely new force, and training, equipping, and sustaining the new force until it became operational. Approximately 13,770 demobilized soldiers were given anywhere from 285 to 4,300 USD in compensation, depending on their seniority and length of service. An additional 400-450 personnel from the Ministry of National Defence were also replaced with newly selected candidates (Malan, 2008).

National Defense Strategy: Pursuant to the 2008 National Security Strategy and National Defense Act, the Liberia’s Ministry of National Defense released its first National Defense Strategy on February 11, 2014. The document is meant to provide strategic guidance, force development requirements, and a framework to identify the roles and missions of the Armed Forces of Liberian. This Strategy follows an extensive consultation process with key internal stakeholders (including civil society groups and other government departments and agencies) as well as key international donors.

Reforming the Liberian National Police: As noted above, UN Security Council Resolution 1509 specifically called for a UNMIL role in reforming the Liberian police. Much like the army, the LNP had systematically preyed upon the population it was sworn to protect, and by the end of the country’s civil war had completely lost the trust of the population (Search for Common Ground and SIPRI, 2011). As part of the post-war transition, UNMIL was tasked with assisting the transitional government of Liberia to develop a civilian police training program, recruit and train police, and participate in efforts to restructure the LNP (Malan, 2008).

United Nations Mission in Liberia: UNMIL was established by Security Council resolution 1509 on September 19, 2003 to support the implementation of the ceasefire agreement; protect United Nations staff, facilities, and civilians; support humanitarian and human rights activities; and assist with national security reform, including national police training and the formation of a new, restructured military (UNMIL, 2003).

United Nations Police: Since 2004, the United Nations Police has assisted the LNP in trying to maintain law and order, at the same time as they were mandated to restructure, retrain, and reequip the police service (Malan, 2008). The process to foster SSR has been far from easy in Liberia, especially in terms of police reform. The scarcity of police officers, especially in rural areas, and general lack of resources committed to police reform has placed a heavy burden on this UN force (Search for Common Ground and SIPR, 2011).

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4. Key Funding Commitments:

Much of the international assistance for security sector reform in Liberia has been funneled through UNMIL. However, there have been some other major bilateral funding commitments including:

The United States pledged 210 million USD towards reforming the armed forces of Liberia, though their work was sub-contracted to a number of private contractors (Malan, 2008). The US also contributed 5 million USD to police training, and 1 million USD for development of the judiciary (International Crisis Group, 2004).

Ireland contributed 1.4 million USD in partnership with the US for police training (International Crisis Group, 2009).

The United Kingdom provided £2 million for demobilizing police and special security service personnel (International Crisis Group, 2009). The UK provided an addition 250,000 USD for refurbishing courts and training judges (International Crisis Group, 2006).

Australia contributed 1 million USD to the Justice and Security Trust Fund (United Nations Peacebuilding Commission, 2011).

In 2010 the World Bank decided to relieve Liberia of 4.6 billion USD in debt obligations in response to Liberia reaching its Heavily Indebted Poor Countries completion point. Though not a direct contribution to SSR, this debt relief carried significant implications for security sector funding (Search for Common Ground and SIPRI, 2011).

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5. Major International Donors:

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6. Major Civil Society Stakeholders:

National Civil Society Council of Liberia: The National Civil Society Council of Liberia comprises 1,450 civil society organizations that collaborate and meet together to discuss issues of mutual importance and advocate on behalf of civil society. Among other work, the Council is involved in the peace, security, national reconciliation, human rights, and justice sectors (All Africa, 2013b).

Liberia National Law Enforcement Association: The Association is very active in Liberia’s security sector and serves primarily as a watchdog for the Liberian National Police. In the past, the Liberia National Law Enforcement Association has acted as a facilitator bringing together a range of civil society organizations to discuss relevant security sector reform issues (Search for Common Group and SIPRI, 2011).

Women’s NGO Secretariat of Liberia: The Women’s NGO Secretariat is an organization dedicated to coordinating women’s organizations in Liberia with a view to ensuring that women are able to participate equally in Liberian society, and benefit from decision-making processes at all levels. With over 50 members, it has been active in SSR initiatives and is a member of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders.

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7. Key Domestic Government Actors:

Presidency of Liberia: According to Article 54(e) of the constitution, the President of Liberia serves as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, and therefore appoints all military officers above the rank of lieutenant and oversees the broad direction of the armed forces (Malan, 2008).

National Security Council: The National Security Council was created in 1999 by an act of parliament and assigned a number of responsibilities, including: defining the national security goals of the Republic; initiating discussions and debates about national security policies, including proposing alternative courses of action; and supervising the security agencies of the government, under the direction of the president (Malan, 2008).

Ministry of National Security: The Ministry of National Security bears dual responsibility for providing intelligence along with coordinating the country’s other security services. The Minister is specifically tasked with providing intelligence briefs for the president, and keeping her/him updated regarding the activities of Liberia’s numerous security services (Jaye, 2008). As of 2014, the Ministry was in the process of being abolished, with its responsibilities and personnel being merged with the LNP, in accordance to the 2011 National Security Reform and Intelligence Act.

Legislature: Liberia’s constitution provides a broad range of authority and responsibility to the legislature regarding security issues. For instance, according to the constitution, Liberia bears responsibility for “providing security of the Republic” as well as the responsibility to declare war, authorize the executive to conclude peace, and appropriate money for the armed forces. Revisions to the constitution have provided a role for the legislature in SSR activities; however, its involvement has been largely passive and marginal. The legislature is plagued by a lack of sufficient funding, sporadic corruption, executive domination, and a lack of capacity to perform its functions. As a result, it has been unable to fulfill its oversight functions (Malan, 2008).

Armed Forces of Liberia: Created by the Defence Act of 1956, Liberia’s armed forces were created for the purpose of protecting the territorial integrity of the country. More recently, the military is being structured in accordance to the 2008 National Defense Act and 2014 National Defense Strategy. It remains one of the few security sector actors that, in theory, does not possess overlapping duties with another agency (Malan, 2008).

Liberia National Police: The LNP was established by an Act of Legislature on June 6, 1975. The organization is charged with preventing and detecting crimes, apprehending offenders, enforcing laws and regulations, and preserving order and protecting “life, liberty, and property” (Jaye, 2008). As of 2014, personnel from the Ministry of National Security and National Bureau of Investigation were being transferred to the LNP.

National Security Agency: The National Security Agency was created in May of 1974 to replace the Executive Action Bureau and the National Bureau of Investigation. Primary functions of the Agency are to collect, analyze, and disseminate intelligence for the Liberian government, with a view to protecting the people of Liberia against subversion, espionage, sedition, sabotage, and adverse propaganda. It is also the only institution in Liberia with the legal responsibility for coordinating the country’s intelligence collecting services (Malan, 2008).

National Bureau of Investigation: Reestablished in 1998, after being abolished in 1974, the Bureau is responsible for investigating major crimes, such as homicide, illegal immigration, robbery, arson, rape, grand larceny, kidnapping, burglary, embezzlement, forgery, smuggling, narcotics violations, counterfeiting, and theft of government property (Jaye, 2008). The Bureau is in the process of being abolished, with its responsibilities and personnel being merged with the LNP, in accordance to the 2011 National Security Reform and Intelligence Act.

Executive Protection Services (formerly Special Security Services): The Special Security Services were established in 1966 with two primary functions, including: guarding the president and his family as well as other VIPs designated for protection by the president; and protecting the president’s residence (the executive residence) and surrounding area (Malan, 2008). The Services were renamed the Executive Protection Services in 2011.

Drug Enforcement Agency: Created in 1999, the Agency’s mandate is to create anti-drug policies and coordinate the enforcement of anti-drug laws (Jaye, 2008). It was created as a replacement to the Inter-Ministerial Drug Committee, and incorporated functions previously housed in the narcotics divisions of the Liberia National Police Force and the National Security Agency (Malan, 2008).

Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization: The Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization was created in 1955 to prevent illegal migrants from entering Liberia. It is also responsible for finding and apprehending foreigners found in the country without legal status, and investigating foreigners who may have violated Liberia’s Alien and Naturalization Laws (Malan, 2008).

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8. Central Challenges:

Ex-combatants: Unlike disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) processes in other post-conflict states, the new Liberian army did not absorb fighters from non-state groups involved in the country’s fighting. As a result, following the conflict, the country was awash in former fighters struggling to reinvent themselves (International Crisis Group, 2009). Training provided by the government, as part of the DDR process, did not target the right individuals or provide the rights skills for jobs currently available in the economy. Many ex-combatants have spent over eight years looking for work after completing their DDR training (International Crisis Group, 2011). The groups of former fighters are very closely linked to the prevalence of crime and fear of future violence in the country; concerns that crystallized in 2010 when former fighters crossed the border to Cote D’Ivoire in droves to join the fighting between former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo and incumbent Alassance Ouattara. Some estimates suggest as many as several hundred Liberian mercenaries fought for one side or the other (International Crisis Group, 2011).

Political polarization: There is no imminent threat of Liberia returning to violent internal conflict, but concerns continue over the possible formation or re-formation of armed groups from the country’s civil war history (International Crisis Group, 2009). This worry is exacerbated by the polarization of Liberian politics, demonstrated in the 2011 election that the president and her party won with a weak mandate and low overall participation. Older tensions also continue to simmer, such as those between Liberians born in the east and those born in the north (International Crisis Group, 2012).

Land disputes: Land disputes are another persistent challenge for Liberians. At the end of the civil war nearly one in four adults were involved in a disagreement over land (Vinck et al., 2011). These disputes have taken shape in various ways, but generally occur among subsistence farmers, between subsistence farmers and larger-scale producers, and around those who have the right to build on a specific piece of land abandoned during the conflict (International Crisis Group, 2009). In the post-war period, land disputes are the most common form of conflict among Liberians (Vinck et al., 2011).

Violent crime: Violent crime has increasingly become an everyday worry for ordinary Liberians. Although not unique in a post-conflict environment, the prevalence of crime nevertheless remains a concern for the country going forward. Armed robberies are a significant concern, as there is a small pattern (and larger fear) of them escalating into homicides (International Crisis Group, 2009). The pervasiveness of rape and other forms of gender-based violence are also particularly worrisome, due to their prevalence as weapons during the civil war (International Crisis Group, 2009).

Justice system incapacity: One of the key factors contributing to Liberia’s crime problem is a lack of capacity in the justice system. The Liberian police, often cited for poor performance, face a number of challenges and constraints in fulfilling their mandate. The number of police officers is insufficient to effectively cover the whole territory, while those officers dispatched frequently lack basic resources, including vehicles, fuel, and in some cases pens and paper. Salaries for line officers are not proportional to the hours they work and are often insufficient to meet the basic costs of living, tempting many to seek bribes and other kick-backs (Human Rights Watch, 2013). There have been instances in the past few years when classes of new recruits have completed training but not been deployed due to insufficient funding. While senior level personnel praise their officers, they too admit that the LNP lack the capacity to reach crime scenes quickly or communicate with other officers throughout the country (Search for Common Ground and SIPRI, 2011).

Similarly judicial reform has moved at a very slow pace. The judiciary, also riddled with corruption, suffers from a lack of capacity and is unable to handle anything but the most basic cases (International Crisis Group, 2012). Amidst a low prosecution to conviction ratio, judges typically come late work, leave early, and often lack sufficient knowledge of legal procedure or even a full understanding of the country’s laws. The inertia in the justice system has led to high-levels of pre-trial detention (upwards of 80-90 per cent of detainees), stretching the capacity of an already inadequate prison system (International Crisis Group, 2011). Compounding the lack of capacity within the justice sector is the poor coordination between the main justice institutions, especially the police and ministry of justice. According to a Special Independent Commission of Inquiry, the chain of command is not “professionally or respectfully” followed by the leadership of either the LNP or the Ministry (International Crisis Group, 2012).

Security sector corruption: Although the government of Liberia and its international partners have made bold steps to reform Liberia’s security sector, corruption remains endemic in the police force. Despite instance of exemplary behaviour, a number of surveys (including those by Transparency International) have repeatedly reported that Liberians view the police to be the most corrupt institution in the country. Extortion is routine during all stages of police work—from investigation to detention. The police commonly act as predators who use their power and position to enrich themselves rather than uphold the law or protect the population at large. The problem exists at all levels of rank and authority, and often flows down the chain of command. Numerous reports indicate that commanding officers place pressure on their subordinates to pass money from bribes and other kick-backs up the chain of command. Similarly, promotions can be bought, as can desirable duty-stations or other assignments (Human Rights Watch, 2013). Amidst the bribery and other rent-seeking, there are also reports of police officers renting their uniforms to armed robberies and brutalizing members of civil society and the media (International Crisis Group, 2011). The problem is also present in the courts. Several Liberians interviewed by Human Rights Watch stated that in Liberia “justice is not for the poor” (Human Rights Watch, 2013). While some progress has been made by increasing the pay scales within the judiciary, judges, magistrates and juries are all still easily bribed (International Crisis Group, 2011).

Poverty and lack of opportunity: Central to many of Liberia’s other key challenges is chronic poverty, high prevalence of informal or vulnerable forms of work, low human capital, poor physical infrastructure, a small domestic market, and limited access to financial services. The economy is in need of increased diversification, transparency, accountability and a more efficient use of resource revenues. Young people in Liberia, especially, are not receiving the types of education or vocational training needed to find meaningful work. This surplus of unemployed youth throughout the country remains a major security concern (International Crisis Group, 2012).

Similarly, a multitude of Liberian ex-combatants have been unable to find work and are increasingly frustrated with their lack of economic opportunities. Training provided by the government as part of DDR programs has not been successfully targeting the right individuals, or providing the right skills for jobs currently available in the economy (International Crisis Group, 2012).  Nor are conditions particularly hospitable for Liberians hoping to start their own business. The country’s infrastructure is strained and generally weak, and there are few incentives for small- and medium-sized enterprises. Tax rates are high, payment processes burdensome and banks reluctant to lend.  As a result, 80 percent of the workforce operates in the informal economy (International Crisis Group, 2011). In recent years Liberia’s resource economy has boomed; however, for most Liberians the benefits of newfound mineral wealth have been largely non-existent. Local communities are often marginalized when resource deals are negotiated and implemented. There is some evidence to suggest that resource wealth in the country has nevertheless left living standards unchanged, as a result of compensation rates that are too low, and practice of large multinational companies hiring skilled labour from other West African countries and abroad (International Crisis Group, 2012).

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9. For More Information:

Griffiths, Cecil, Mapping Study on Gender and Security Sector Reform Actors and Activities in Liberia,ed. Anike Doherty and Aiko Holvikivi (Geneva: DCAF, 2011).

This paper is presents a mapping study of the gender and SSR actors operating in Liberia. Following the end of Liberia’s civil war, the number of actors working on gender and SSR has grown exponentially. Yet it has not always been easy for these groups and individuals to communicate, cooperate, and harmonize their activities. Utilizing a mixed-methods approach (secondary documents, survey data, and interviews), this report is primarily descriptive and intended to help facilitate coordination by helping to reinforce information exchange and cooperation among these actors.

Patrick Vinck et al., Talking Peace: A Population-Based Survey on Attitudes about Security, Dispute Resolution and Post-Conflict Reconstruction in Liberia (Berkley: University of California Press, 2011).

This paper presents the results of extensive field work examining perceptions of Liberians in three key areas: (1) priorities for peacebuilding projects and activities; (2) perceptions about the state of post-war security; and, (3) active disputes within the country as well as tools for dispute resolution. Results for the study were based on consultations with local organizations, key informant interviews, and a nation-wide survey of 4,501 respondents. Key findings include: a high degree of socio-economic inequality exists between the country at large and Greater Monrovia; access to information has improved throughout the country, but most Liberians still rely on informal methods and sources of information; the main priorities for survey respondents were education, health, and employment; and a majority of Liberians surveyed are willing to forgive those responsible for violence and are positive about the country’s prospects for peace.

David C Gompert et al., “Oversight of the Liberian National Police,” RAND Corporation Occasional Paper (2009).

This report, which serves as a follow-up to an earlier study performed by the RAND Corporation, focuses specifically on the issue of LNP oversight. Although the report was commissioned by the US and Liberian government, and funded by the United States, the conclusions and recommendations were all reached independently. It begins with an overview of several models of police oversight and best-practices offered by other African states, and finishes by providing an assessment of the conditions in Liberia and a set of recommendations to improve police oversight in the country. The recommendations, as well as the analysis more broadly, is based upon three criteria for police reform: manageability, permanent professionalism, and public confidence.

International Crisis Group, “Liberia: Time for Much-Delayed Reconciliation and Reform”, Africa Briefing No. 88 (June 12, 2012).

The most recent effort from the International Crisis Group’s Liberia team, this report provides an update on the state of reconciliation, peacebuilding, and political and security sector reform following the 2011 elections. Building on their past work, it argues that significant work still needs to be done to ensure the sustainability of the country’s recovery. Specifically, key actors in Liberia must focus on short- and medium-term priorities to deal with the deep divisions across Liberian society.

Ibrahim Al-Bakri Nyei, “Toward Security Sector Decentralization: Liberia’s County Security Council and Regional Hubs,” Centre for Security Governance Security Sector Reform Resource Centre (May 28, 2014).

This article provides an overview of recent efforts to decentralize security sector reform, paying special attention to Liberia’s local council’s and regional hubs. One of the main challenges inherent in decentralizing the national security architecture in Liberia is that many national laws actually enshrine centralization, which leaves the security institutions vulnerable to abuse by the executive.

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Last updated June 23, 2014. 

If you notice any information that needs to be updated in this SSR Country Snapshot, please let us know at [email protected].