news analysis advocacy
AfricaFocus Bookshop
New Gift CDs
China & Africa
tips on searching
   the web allafrica.com

 

 

Visit the AfricaFocus
Country Pages

Algeria
Angola
Benin
Botswana
Burkina Faso
Burundi
Cameroon
Cape Verde
Central Afr. Rep.
Chad
Comoros
Congo (Brazzaville)
Congo (Kinshasa)
Côte d'Ivoire
Djibouti
Egypt
Equatorial Guinea
Eritrea
Ethiopia
Gabon
Gambia
Ghana
Guinea
Guinea-Bissau
Kenya
Lesotho
Liberia
Libya
Madagascar
Malawi
Mali
Mauritania
Mauritius
Morocco
Mozambique
Namibia
Niger
Nigeria
Rwanda
São Tomé
Senegal
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Somalia
South Africa
South Sudan
Sudan
Swaziland
Tanzania
Togo
Tunisia
Uganda
Western Sahara
Zambia
Zimbabwe

Exchange links

www.africafiles.org
News with an African perspective
allafrica.com
Premier Portal for Africa News
www.concernedafricascholars.org
Political activism and research
www.africaworldpressbooks.com
Books on Africa and the Diaspora
www.columbia.edu
Virtual library for Africa
www.kabissa.org
Space for change in Africa
www.opendemocracy.net
Debate on democracy
www.pambazuka.org
Weekly Forum for Social Justice
www-sul.stanford.edu
Internet resources on Africa
Africa.com:
News, Finance, Travel. Culture

Get AfricaFocus Bulletin by e-mail!         More on politics & human rights | economy & development | peace & security | health

Print this page


Visit AfricaFocus Bookshop US | UK

Liberia-Sierra Leone: Consolidating Peace?

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Dec 12, 2004 (041212)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

"The [multilateral] interventions in Liberia and Sierra Leone are failing to produce states that will be stable and capable of exercising the full range of sovereign responsibilities on behalf of their long-suffering populations. This is essentially because they treat peacebuilding as implementing an operational checklist, involving [quick] fixes to various institutions and processes" - International Crisis Group

In its new report released last week, the International Crisis Group criticized donors for delaying promised funds for reconstruction. It also argued that long-term commitments from the international community, as well as from politicians and citizens in the countries, were needed for strategies to address structural factors likely to lead to new conflict.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains a summary article on the report from the UN's Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), and the press release and executive summary of the report from the International Crisis Group (ICG). The full report is available on the website of the ICG (http://www.crisisweb.org).

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++

Liberia-Sierra Leone: International community needs to commit for long haul to stop return to war

Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
http://www.irinnews.org

[This material from IRIN may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.]

Dakar, 9 Dec 2004 (IRIN) - Liberia and Sierra Leone risk tipping back into conflict if the international community does not commit for the next 15 to 25 years with a fresh approach to restore security and civil freedoms, according to leading think tank, the International Crisis Group.

"The interventions in Liberia and Sierra Leone are failing to produce states that will be stable," the ICG said in a report published on Wednesday. "A fresh strategy is needed if both are not to remain shadow states, vulnerable to new fighting and state failure."

The ICG criticised donors for not handing over promised and much needed-funds and said that post-war efforts were veering off course, as UN peacekeepers simply ticked off the standard elements in a one-size-fits-all recipe for peace.

"There is no simple and quick nation-building conveyor belt. If the cycle of 'collapse, partial recovery, new collapse' is to be avoided, the international community needs to stay patiently involved with both countries for a generation, not for a brief post-conflict transition capped off by a first election," the Brussels-based group warned.

Both Sierra Leone and Liberia witnessed brutal civil wars that spanned the 1990s and the images of young and often drugged-up combatants toting machetes and guns and mutilating innocent victims touched a nerve around the world.

The new ICG report, entitled "Rebuilding Failed States" (http://www.crisisweb.org), called for action to be taken by the United Nations, the British and American governments, international donors, and politicians and citizens in both West African countries to consolidate a real and meaningful peace.

It said judicial institutions needed not only to be repaired but reformed, new armies needed to be trained properly to win back the trust of civilians who often saw them as tainted.

Ordinary civilians should be pushing through to the frontlines of politics, and economic resources, be they diamonds and timber or government funds, should be put beyond the reach of criminals.

Sixteen months of peace for Liberia

Liberia's 14-year conflict finally drew to a close when the warring parties signed a peace deal in August 2003. Now a transitional government, made up of the three armed factions that fought the war and civilian society groups, is working to lead the country to free and fair elections in October 2005.

But infrastructure in the heavily-forested nation remains shattered, with roads still impassable and no power grid or water and sewerage systems in the capital, Monrovia.

Western diplomats have already blasted obstructional elements within Liberia's interim government who are more bothered about the personal gains they can pocket as "gatekeepers" to various offices, than about moving the country forward. The ICG said next year's polls would be a crunch test.

"Many observers fear that the presidential election in October 2005 will be seen as an all-or-nothing affair, with the losers thoroughly excluded from power and thus left contemplating resumption of war," the report said.

Hoards of idle former fighters and hidden caches of arms which escaped a UN-led disarmament programme would provide a prime recruiting pool, and so the ICG urged foreign donors to stump up immediately the US$ 42 million needed to reintegrate ex-combatants and help them adjust to civilian life.

The money is part of US$ 276 million that was promised by donors but has yet to be paid. The funds for ex-combatants are crucial, especially given the outcome of a flawed disarmament and reintegration programme in 1997 during a pause in Liberia's civil war.

"The result was... continued pillage and abuse of the population and ultimately a resumption of civil war," the ICG noted. "Donors who promised money in February 2004 must disburse it immediately if Liberian ex-combatants are not to be let down again."

The group also urged the United Nations Security Council to maintain timber sanctions on Liberia until after the elections, despite pleas from Liberia's interim leader, Gyude Bryant, to lift the embargo. And the international community should take over the collection of revenues from ports, airports, customs and raw materials exports, to make corruption more difficult, the ICG said.

It called for no time to be wasted. "The clock is ticking for Liberia. After the October elections it will be much more difficult to take innovative approaches, as it already is in Sierra Leone."

Sierra Leone turmoil further in past

Sierra Leone is further along the peace path. Fighting ended almost three years ago and elections have already been held. President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah was overwhelmingly re-elected in May 2002, four months after the war was officially declared over.

Although peacekeepers from the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) have restored security across the country, they have delayed pulling out of the former British colony completely.

"Fears that the peace would not hold have prompted a decision to maintain a residual force of 3,500 soldiers and military observers until at least the end of June 2005," the ICG noted.

With Sierra Leone still mired at the bottom of the UN's Human Development Index and citizens not expected to live much beyond their 34th birthday, the outlook is bleak.

And the ICG says the efforts put into security, now have to be matched in the economic and political spheres where the sparks that caused the decade-long civil war have not been firmly extinguished. To do this, a long-term commitment is essential.

Residents in the capital Freetown bemoan the fact that living conditions there have barely improved, that travelling elsewhere in the country is difficult because roads are so dire and that corruption still plagues the country.

Many normal state functions, particularly the provision of healthcare, are being carried out by non-governmental organisations and not the government.

"Institutions are focused on finding new sources of donor revenue, rather than managing at hand in a way that would develop autonomy and self-sufficiency. Policy is driven by what donors will fund," the ICG report said.

The consequences of either Sierra Leone or Liberia sliding back to war would be disastrous for an-already turbulent West African region.

Cote d'Ivoire, once the regional powerhouse, is currently reeling from the latest cycle of violence in its two year crisis. And analysts say Guinea, which shares borders with both Liberia and Sierra Leone, could ignite any day as the country crumbles under President Lansana Conte.


Liberia & Sierra Leone: Rebuilding Failed States

Dakar/Brussels, 8 December 2004: The international interventions in Liberia and Sierra Leone are failing to produce stable sovereign states. A fresh strategy is needed if both are not to remain vulnerable to new fighting and state collapse.

Liberia & Sierra Leone: Rebuilding Failed States, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, says peacebuilding in both countries is off track because it is treated as a straightforward matter of implementing a checklist of operational processes and does not tackle underlying political dynamics. Deeper -- and much longer -- engagement is required.

"The international community needs to make fifteen- to 25-year commitments to security and civil freedoms in Liberia and Sierra Leone", says Suliman Baldo, Crisis Group's Africa Program Director. "It needs to invest the time to allow new political forces to develop".

A year after the inauguration of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), the situation is improved, but peace is fragile. Monrovia has no power grid, no sewage or water systems, and no land line telephones. Crime is a major problem, and outside major towns and principal roads, UNMIL exercises little control. Civilians are still subject to abuses by ex-combatants, who continue illegal extraction of gold, rubber and timber.

Sierra Leone, culturally, historically and geographically linked, has already had its elections, but the UN mission (UNAMSIL) that was scheduled to withdraw all peacekeepers by December 2004 will remain until at least the end of June 2005 for fear peace would not otherwise hold.

In both cases the operational checklist includes deployment of peacekeepers; disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of fighters; repatriation of refugees; judicial and security sector reform; and elections, as virtually the final step. Those are all necessary measures but more is needed, and the time frame of two to five years is unrealistically short.

A more radical strategy is required in both countries. After restoring security, the international community should more quickly give greater political responsibility, while simultaneously targeting its interventions to help build non-political and professional law enforcement and judicial institutions to establish the rule of law, protect civil rights and foster a public space within which citizens can hammer out their own solutions. In Liberia, where it is still possible, the international community should adopt a long-term revenue-collection trusteeship or management system that would simultaneously finance much of its engagement, take incentives away from spoilers and give the state significantly more money.

"These approaches can only succeed within a much longer time frame", says Mike McGovern, Crisis Group's West Africa Project Director. "Liberia and Sierra Leone took decades to decay, and it will take decades to restore sustainable security and political and economic structures".

The new Peacebuilding Commission proposed by the UN High-level Panel on 2 December 2004 could be the institutional vehicle to implement such long-term commitments.

Contacts: Andrew Stroehlein (Brussels) +32 (0) 485 555 946 Jennifer Leonard (Washington) +1-202-785 1601


Liberia and Sierra Leone: Rebuilding Failed States

Africa Report N 87 8 December 2004

Executive Summary and Recommendations

The interventions in Liberia and Sierra Leone are failing to produce states that will be stable and capable of exercising the full range of sovereign responsibilities on behalf of their long-suffering populations. This is essentially because they treat peacebuilding as implementing an operational checklist, involving fixes to various institutions and processes, without tackling underlying political dynamics. At best, Liberia is on the path Sierra Leone entered upon several years earlier. A fresh strategy is needed if both are not to remain shadow states, vulnerable to new fighting and state failure. The international community needs to make genuinely long-term commitments -- not two to five years, as at present, but on the order of fifteen to 25 years -- to enable new political forces to develop.

In both countries the operational checklist includes deployment of peacekeepers; disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) of fighters; repatriation of refugees; and judicial and security sector reform; with elections as virtually the final step. The time frame -- two to five years -- is too short. Individuals with criminal pasts are treated as viable political interlocutors. The judicial and law enforcement institutions never functioned effectively, and thus their repair without reform is no solution. New national militaries are untested, and their adherence to constitutional order uncertain. Voices from civil society who could catalyse real change tend to be marginalised, while the economy is left vulnerable to criminal capture.

A more radical strategy is needed. After restoring security, the international community should more quickly give greater political responsibility, while simultaneously targeting its interventions to help build non-political and professional law enforcement and judicial institutions to establish the rule of law, protect civil rights and foster a public space within which citizens can hammer out their own solutions. In Liberia it should also assume responsibility for revenue collection from ports, airports, customs, the maritime registry and export of timber and diamonds: because the collection of revenues is presently obscured from the beginning, it is easy to engineer corruption. But once funds begin entering the treasury transparently, it should be up to Liberians to decide how to use them, though international monitors, as part of independent and public oversight of procurement, should still be available to help civil society prevent gross abuse.

The same problem exists in Sierra Leone, but this prescription probably cannot be applied because its elected government is already in place and unlikely to give up so much control. Stop-gap measures there focus on trying to insert accounting mechanisms at the final stages of the revenue process, by which time much has already disappeared. However, the long-term security sector commitment has already been promised by the UK. Other steps needed are to protect freedom of press and expression better, to give the Anti-Corruption Commission prosecutorial powers, and to establish a public complaint mechanism applicable to newly-elected district governments.

The proposed approaches can only have a chance of succeeding within a much longer time frame than the international community has hitherto been willing to envisage. Liberia and Sierra Leone took decades to decay, and it will take decades to restore sustainable security and political and economic structures. The new Peacebuilding Commission proposed by the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, which reported to the UN Secretary-General on 2 December 2004, could be the institutional vehicle needed to implement the long-term commitments required in these countries, and many others around the world.

Recommendations

With Respect to Liberia:

To International Donors:

1. Pay quickly outstanding pledges for reconstruction ($276 million), especially the $42 million UNMIL needs to jump-start reintegration of ex-combatants who have been disarmed and demobilised.

2. Shift the focus of reintegration programs toward education and agriculture, including infrastructure (roads, processing equipment) that will support agricultural production.

3. Give greater political and operational support to civil society.

4. Fund independent oversight of government procurement as domestic professional auditing capacity is built.

5. Provide long-term funds based on implementation of a national strategy for law enforcement and justice sector reform.

To the International Contact Group on the Mano River Basin:

6. Convene a working group to prepare the political, technical and administrative modalities of a mechanism to assume responsibility for revenue collection for a projected fifteen to 25-year period, including an oversight board with mixed international and Liberian composition but controlled by the former and supported by a team of experts (forensic accountants) and international customs officers.

7. Work with Liberian civil society leaders to organise a national roundtable conference to develop consensus on a national strategy to be pursued after the October 2005 elections.

To Liberian Civil Society:

8. Promote discussion between Gios and Mandingos to reduce the threat of ethnic violence.

To the National Transitional Government of Liberia:

9. Enact legislation to guarantee all citizens (including youths and women) equal access to land use and to prevent rights to such use acquired by working and improving land from being revoked by traditional authorities.

To the United Nations Security Council:

10. Maintain timber and diamond sanctions until after the 2005 elections, then subordinate these sectors to the new revenue collection mechanism.

To the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO):

11. Extend military observers' tours to one year, the entire period to be spent at a single site, so as to increase their ability to gather useful information.

To UNMIL:

12. Take more coercive measures to collect weapons now that the official DDR deadline for turning them in has passed.

13. Develop a program of targeted disarmament/ development projects for ex-combatants and the communities into which they are reintegrated based on the "StopGaps" program in Sierra Leone.

To the Government of the United States:

14. Give a long-term (fifteen to 25-year) "over the horizon" security guarantee to Liberia similar to that given by the UK to Sierra Leone.

15. Provide incentives for Liberians resident in the U.S. to participate in rebuilding their home country, for example by not interrupting green card or citizenship application processes if they leave the U.S. to participate in rebuilding, investment, and governance initiatives.

16. Target financial crimes committed by members of the U.S.-based Liberian diaspora, and block U.S. bank accounts in such cases.

With Respect to Sierra Leone

To International Donors:

17. Shift the focus of development funding to programs directed toward education and agriculture, including infrastructure (roads, agricultural processing equipment) and increase funding to security sector reform, especially in order to build barracks for army and police.

18. Give greater political and operational support to civil society and train district councillors in basic accounting and administrative skills to facilitate their ability to work transparently.

19. Provide long-term funds based on implementation of a national strategy for law enforcement and justice sector reform.

To the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO):

20. Extend military observers' tours to one year, the entire period to be spent at a single site, so as to increase their ability to gather useful information.

To the Government of Sierra Leone:

21. Give prosecutorial powers to the Anti-Corruption Commission on a temporary basis (five to ten years), provide it adequate financial and human resources, and move quickly to implement a comprehensive reform of the judicial system.

22. Publish all budgets from ministry level downward, using the model of the Local Government Act of March 2004, require candidates for public office to declare their assets both before and after assuming office, and assure freedom of the press, speech and association.

23. Work with donors to promote agriculture, first assuring self-sufficiency in rice production, and then shifting toward greater diversification, higher productivity, and local value-added processing.

24. Enact legislation to guarantee all citizens (including youths and women) equal access to land use and to prevent rights to such use acquired by working and improving land from being revoked by traditional authorities.

25. Establish effective control over diamond resources, applying Kimberly process procedures.

To the Government of the UK:

26. Confirm the long-term "over the horizon" security guarantee to Sierra Leone for a 25-year period.

Dakar/Brussels, 8 December 2004


AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at africafocus@igc.org. Please write to this address to subscribe or unsubscribe to the bulletin, or to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about reposted material, please contact directly the original source mentioned. For a full archive and other resources, see http://www.africafocus.org


Read more on |Africa Peace & Security||Africa Politics & Human Rights|

URL for this file: http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/wa0412.php