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Abstract: On April 26, 2012, the International Criminal Court convicted Liberia’s former president Charles Taylor for his role in the commission of crimes against humanity during the war in Sierra Leone in the 1990s. For Sierra Leone, this brought a dark chapter to a close — and for Liberia as well.
From 1989 to 1990, Charles Taylor and Prince Johnson fought to overthrow then-president Samuel Doe. After Johnson captured and killed Doe (sipping a Budweiser as he chopped off his ears), he and Taylor fought a bloody war for control of Monrovia. Taylor eventually took power, but the country was plunged into a civil war that lasted until 2003 when peacekeepers were deployed and Taylor was exiled to Nigeria.
Researchers from The Fund for Peace (FFP) and Liberia Democracy Watch (LDW) were present in Gbarnga, Taylor’s erstwhile base of operations, for a conflict assessment workshop on the day of the conviction. Riot police and UNMIL forces were deployed en masse, standing by in the event of protest.
However, time had apparently passed Taylor by. People went about their businesses. “It’s over,” one person said.
Charles Taylor’s chapter may be closed but the echoes of history still remain a decade after the end of the war. Prince Johnson is now Senator of Nimba County. The same ethnic tensions that contributed to the outbreak of war still exist today. For much of the country beyond Monrovia, the government is a faint and distant idea. Basic infrastructure and public services are few.
According to the October 2012 report of the International Monetary Fund, Liberia is the fifth poorest country in the world. Unemployment, especially among the youth, is very high. In the absence of the rule of law, mobs and communities take justice into their own hands. At the border with Côte d’Ivoire (from whence Taylor originally launched his rebellion against Doe) armed groups and mercenaries are reportedly active at the local level. Sustainable human security has not yet taken hold in Liberia. As the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) continues to draw down, the continued weakness of the police and army has raised real concerns over whether the government is ready to take ownership of the country’s security when the mission finally departs.
This report is not a comprehensive political risk assessment of the likelihood of conflict onset in Liberia. Rather, it is a snapshot of the priorities and concerns of a local civil society network living in communities across Liberia’s 15 counties. Over the last five years, this network has been regularly taking the pulse of the country, gathering and coding incidents that indicate the risk of human insecurity from their point of view. This report reflects the social, economic, political, and security factors that must be managed for a peaceful and prosperous future.
Abstract: A recent CIGI paper described peacekeeping as the United Nations’ most visible raison d’être — soldiers in blue helmets are a frequent and now very identifiable symbol in global security. Less attention has been given to the important, yet challenging, work done by non-state actors, member states and the UN Secretariat in the area of peacebuilding. To learn more about this essential and evolving element of national, regional and international security and human development, we speak to Timothy Donais. He holds faculty positions at Wilfrid Laurier University and the Balsillie School of International Affairs, and is currently leading a CIGI Collaborative Research Project entitled Vertical Integration and the United Nations Peacebuilding Architecture.
Abstract: In the run-up to the Presidential, Parliamentary and local elections in Sierra Leone on 17 November 2012, Amnesty International calls upon election monitors and observers to give human rights monitoring a central place in their mandates.
It is essential that election monitoring, in addition to observing the election process itself, takes full account of contextual human rights factors, before, during and after the elections. Assessing election conditions without reference to any associated human rights violations and abuses undermines the credibility of the monitoring process, just as human rights violations and abuses undermine the credibility of the electoral process itself.
Monitoring bodies should call on the authorities immediately to stop any human rights violations observed by or reported to monitors, and a human rights assessment should form an integral part of the overall public report on the elections.
In this briefing, Amnesty International makes a number of recommendations for integrating human rights into election monitoring.
Abstract: On October 10, 2012 IPI held the inaugural event of IPI’s Women, Peace & Security event series, which featured the Principals for the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the new Special Representative to the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura of Sierra Leone.
This new event series, entitled Women, Peace & Security, focuses on the role of women in moving forward peace processes and contributing to sustainable outcomes, and the relationship between conflict, peace, and gender. It will highlight women’s roles as peacemakers and peacebuilders.
The event was moderated by IPI Senior Adviser, Ambassador Maureen Quinn.
Speakers: Ms. Shireen Avis Fisher, Justice and President of the Special Court for Sierra Leone Ms. Brenda Hollis, Prosecutor, Special Court for Sierra Leone Ms. Claire Carlton-Hanciles, Principal Defender, Special Court for Sierra Leone Ms. Binta Mansaray, Registrar, Special Court for Sierra Leone H.E. Ms. Zainab Hawa Bangura,Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict
Abstract: This report looks at the role of women in local peacebuilding initiatives, finding that women are more likely than men to adopt a broad definition of peace which includes the household level and focuses on the attainment of individual rights and freedoms such as education, healthcare and freedom from violence. In contrast, men have a greater tendency to associate peace with the absence of formal conflict and the stability of formal structures such as governance and infrastructure. The research has revealed that women face multiple barriers as they attempt to build peace in their communities including the following:
Restrictive social norms and attitudes that reinforce traditional gender roles, making it difficult for women to participate safely and meaningfully in peacebuilding
Violence against women and girls, fuelled by the long-term impact of conflict and militarisation, impacts on women’s freedom to participate in peacebuilding activities. Women face intimidation and threats to their safety when they try to take active roles in their communities. Access to justice also remains a significant challenge for survivors of violence against women and girls.
Poverty and economic inequality also inhibits women’s involvement in peacebuilding activities. Women report that they are unable to engage in peacebuilding activities because of the double burden of their domestic roles and income-generation activities as well as a lack of control over household income.
Inequality in access to education for women and resulting low levels of literacy were identified in many communities as barriers to women’s active participation in peacebuilding. However, it was also noted that women have many skills in conflict resolution and peacebuilding that do not necessarily require high levels of education.
Women often de-value their role as peacebuilders, and despite their achievements, women do not necessarily recognise the important role they play in building peace. They tend to focus much more on the importance of state institutions and local leaders as the key actors in peacebuilding.
Sustainability of support: organisations working to support women in peacebuilding activities also face barriers which impact on the sustainability of their work, including limited and short-term funding and the challenges posed by a lack of national infrastructure and lack of access to remote communities.
The report makes a number of recommendations around development and implementing cohrent and concrete policy commitments, ensuring women's participation in peaces processes, providing long-term support, funding and an enalbling environment for women's peacebuilding, and tackling violence against women and girls.
Abstract: Afghan non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are struggling to survive as donor contributions continue to wane, according to Reuters. While the international community pledged to provide USD 4 billion per year for Afghanistan through 2015 at the July 2012 Tokyo Conference, it remains unclear how much aid will ultimately be disbursed and how any change in aid levels could affect Afghan civil society, which is a broad category that includes NGOs as well as other voluntary bodies involved in governance or development.
In order to gain a deeper understanding of how Afghan civil society may be affected by the on-going period of transition, this report examines three other countries that previously experienced periods of transition and declining financial donor support: Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Timor-Leste. Those case studies, which are outlined in the full report, point to a number of key lessons learnt, such as those noted below, related to civil society in transitional contexts. The following points emerge from reports such as the “Mozambican Civil Society”, “The Civil Society Landscape in Sierra Leone” and the “Situation Analysis of Civil Society Organisations in East Timor”.
Diversify Funding Sources. There is a need to gradually reduce dependence on international stakeholders for funds and capacity building. By diversifying sources of funding, civil society organisations (CSOs) may gain greater flexibility and be more independent of fluctuations in aid levels, as noted in the case study of Sierra Leone.
Coordinate or Collaborate. When funds are scarce, collaboration and coordination among CSOs becomes particularly important to maintain cohesion within civil society and to enable coherent or complementary activities. The alternative is a rise in inter-CSO competition, as was identified in the case of Mozambique.
Integrate Women. While there are many CSOs focused on women as beneficiaries, in Mozambique and elsewhere, women remained underrepresented in a significant portion of CSOs. Moreover, women tend to make up a smaller portion of the paid staff of CSOs when compared to men.
Enhance Understanding of Traditional CSOs. Research suggests that traditional institutions should be more closely studied in order to determine how they can more fully engage with registered CSOs, donors and government agencies. In Sierra Leone it was noted that rural residents preferred indigenous forms of civil society.
Consider Simplifying Funding Requirements. The difficulty of navigating complex funding requirements was described as another obstacle facing civil society in transitional contexts. The result tends to be the concentration of financial support among only a few CSOs.
Abstract: The transition from international to local ownership provides the perfect barometer to gauge the health and general well-being of a country’s peacebuilding process. It offers the opportunity to assess the past, plan for the future and, in the process, nurture the environment that fosters and cultivates opportunities for broader participation in issues of national interest. Peacebuilding, with its emphasis on decentralised empowerment is, in many ways, an exercise in social engineering. It offers one of the few opportunities for marginalised groups to engage with the power structures in ways that enhance the boundaries of power. Without doubt, a vocal and vibrant grassroots citizenry improves governance at various layers of society and contributes to our understanding of the peace-development continuum. But what exactly is local ownership of a peace process, and what is its relationship to sustainable peacebuilding in the context of Sierra Leone? This paper attempts to address these questions.
Abstract: The Media, Information Flows and Conflict cluster of the Initiative for Peacebuilding – Early Warning project
has aimed to understand how information flows can contribute to or undermine peace in post-conflict countries
and what challenges media face in reporting accurately and responsibly. Drawing on engagement and research
in Liberia, Nepal, Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste and southeastern Europe, this synthesis addresses three broad
questions: how people access information in conflict-affected countries; how this information influences the
peace they experience; what challenges media face in providing reliable information.
Reliable information is often particularly difficult to access in post-conflict contexts, where information, social networks
and trust may have been badly damaged by war or abuse. How people access information is heavily conditioned by
language, literacy, infrastructure and regulation, and is thus is highly variable between contexts, including urban-rural
and male-female. In most low-income countries, radio is the most accessible “traditional” medium. While “new” media
and internet connectivity remain largely unaffordable or inaccessible beyond cities, mobile telephone networks have
transformed modes of communication, even in quite remote areas of very poor countries.
Media may play critical roles in the prevention and management of conflict, as well as deliberately or inadvertently
driving conflict. Positive roles in promoting peace and security may include: linking citizens to state; changing
attitudes and behaviours; providing early warning of divisive issues or instability; mitigating conflict through
balanced reporting; promoting reconciliation. Negative or destabilising roles of media may include: “hate speech”
and incitement to violence; inaccurate reporting and incendiary rumour; deliberate underreporting and misreporting;
over-reporting and sensationalisation of crime, violence and insecurity; the sudden collapse of media coverage.
Challenges to good media practice in conflict-affected countries include: distribution and access costs,
particularly where roads and electricity are lacking; financial sustainability and dependence on foreign aid;
technical sustainability, including hardware costs and maintenance; maintaining professional journalistic
standards; representation of women and their interests; intimidation of journalists and sources through threats,
violence or litigation; political patronage and interference.
Abstract: The trial of the former Liberian President Charles Taylor for war crimes and crimes against humanity during Sierra Leone’s armed conflict was a largely well-run proceeding, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The trial benefitted from a high-quality defense, sound handling of witnesses, and dynamic outreach to communities affected by the crimes. At the same time, Human Rights Watch’s analysis identified areas in which practice should be improved for future trials of the highest-level suspects before domestic, international, and hybrid war crimes tribunals.
The 55-page report, “Even a ‘Big Man’ Must Face Justice: Lessons from the Trial of Charles Taylor,” analyzes the practice and impact of Taylor’s trial by the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone. The report examines the conduct of the trial, including issues related to efficiency, fairness, and witnesses and sources. It also examines the court’s efforts to make its proceedings accessible to communities most affected by the crimes, and perceptions and initial impact of the trial in Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Abstract: The unemployment crisis in Africa is a critical challenge to a majority of youth. This situation demands a clear policy framework, accompanied by clear budgetary allocations. It is sad that even as some of our African countries have celebrated 50 years of independence, little has been done to introduce employment policies to address youth unemployment. For the continent to realise the opportunity that comes with the numbers of youth, this population must have the opportunity to find gainful employment and the promise of a livelihood. Throughout the history of conflict in some African states, youth have been at the frontline in waging wars that have hindered development. A mechanism to engage them is thus important for durable peace, stability and development. At this moment, the youth of the continent should be involved in planning for their future. Due to the increased challenges of the continent's development, new dynamic energy needs to be harnessed from the youth.
Ignoring the youth is putting oneself and the continent in danger. This is the population that will change the face of Africa. This is the generation that will be held accountable for all the challenges that face the continent. The youth are our greatest asset, it is critical that we engage this youthful energy to create meaningful productivity for the development of the African continent.
Includes: "Political youth: Finding alternatives to violence in Sierra Leone" by Christine Cubitt "The danger of marginalisation: An analysis of Kenyan youth and their integration into political, socio-economic life" by Daniel Forti and Grace Maina "Interrogating traditional youth theory: Youth peacebuilding and engagement in post-conflict Liberia" by Martha Mutisi "‘When the choice is either to kill or be killed’: Rethinking youth and violent conflict in post-conflict South Sudan" by William Tsuma
Abstract: While the history of wars and conflicts is replete with systematic incidents of sexual violence against vulnerable women, modern-day wars have witnessed large-scale indiscriminate deployment of rape as a “weapon” of war by combatants. In recent armed conflicts — such as in the former Yugoslavia, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, the Central African Republic, Sierra Leone and Rwanda — the widespread use of rape as a tool of warfare has become a conspicuous phenomenon.
Abstract: Sierra Leone’s past is marked by political violence, an overly centralised government, and a ten-year civil war which devastated the country. The country lacks a truly independent media sector; the national media is dominated by elites in the country’s capital, Freetown. Marginalised groups such as women, youth and those living in rural areas have had limited access to accurate, independent information and to participation in the country’s national decision-making processes. In a country of extreme poverty, limited electricity and only 41 percent literacy, radio is the preferred channel for information and communication for up to 90 percent of the population, although the Sierra Leonean media market is diverse and growing.
The use of media in Sierra Leone presents many examples of how it can be used to promote violence as well as help prevent the outbreak of violence. Likewise, youth is also seen as vulnerable to manipulation (associated with high youth unemployment and social exclusion) and is often in the frontline of violence in conflict-affected areas. However, youth can also be a force for peace and stability.
In this report we examine the role of media and the challenges they face in the context of a charged political landscape and ongoing tensions between competing political parties in Sierra Leone. We also consider the role that youth has played in acts of violence and in violence prevention.
Abstract: This is a transcript of a speech made by Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, Sierra Leone People's Party, on 10 May 2012 at Chatham House. The speaker, who will be running for the Presidency on behalf of the Sierra Leone People’s Party in November, discussed what policies he would like to see implemented in Sierra Leone.
Abstract: Like many African nations, the relationship between Sierra Leone’s state and its citizens is often mediated through rural governance systems that pre-date colonialism. While the state virtually collapsed after 11 years of civil war, these systems headed by local chiefs continued to operate to some degree. This paper discusses why many chiefs hung on to their legitimacy or were quickly restored to power. Based on extensive interviews with communities in Sierra Leone, it analyses how national government and the international community reacted to these local spheres of influence, and makes suggestions for easing the tensions between the different levels of governance.
Abstract: In Sierra Leone, as in most of Africa, states have not only a direct relationship with
their citizens as individuals but also a mediated one through rural governance
systems that usually pre-date colonialism and may have greater legitimacy than the
central state itself. And these local governance structures generally persisted
through the country’s collapse and civil war more successfully than the central state
did. This report therefore offers a ‘bottom-up’ review of the post-war reconstruction
of the Sierra Leone state.
Abstract: What lessons does the experience of transforming the security system in Sierra Leone have for security sector reform? This report from the Global Facilitation Network for Security Sector Reform and International Alert documents Sierra Leone’s security system transformation from 1997 to 2007. It chronicles the UK Government’s intervention, including its transition from direct implementer to adviser, and analyses key security issues that arose during the period. Sierra Leone’s experience shows how dedicated, capable people, given the space to reform their security institutions, can achieve a great deal under challenging circumstances.
In 2007, Sierra Leone conducted a generally peaceful national election, which, given the levels of violence previously experienced in the country, reflected a remarkable change. From 1997 to 2007, Sierra Leone underwent a comprehensive transformation of the objectives of security provision and the mission, management and coordination of security. This transformation reached deep into and spread across a breadth of institutions, altering command structures, providing top-to-bottom training and establishing staff policies, procedures and behaviour. It created agencies to coordinate security information and reached out to the people of Sierra Leone to involve citizens in their own security. The perceptions of the people of Sierra Leone indicate that there has been a significant positive change in levels of security on the ground.
Abstract: Investment in both security and justice in fragile states is focused overwhelmingly on reforming state systems. Donors increasingly acknowledge that people in fragile states often rely on security and justice provided by non-state actors, such as chiefs, religious leaders, militia or trade associations, but actual efforts to engage with these actors have been modest to date.
This Briefing Paper presents evidence from fieldwork in Sierra Leone that shows how this state bias in donor programming limits their ability to influence how most people really access security and justice services. It makes the case that donors need to not only engage with non-state providers more frequently, but also recognise that supporting these actors requires different operating procedures. The Briefing Papers sets out four rules of engagement to guide donors:
- Accept that non-state actors are risky ... but no more than many state partners.
- Be fit for purpose ... non-state support needs different skills and procedures.
- Understand context … and not just at country level.
- Only engage when it adds value ... functioning local solutions should be left alone.
Abstract: There is little doubt in my mind that international intervention during the difficult times of the 1990s in Sierra Leone represents a success story in ending a brutal war that engulfed this small West African country for over a decade. Sierra Leone bestowed upon itself notoriety for a horrendous fratricidal war, the trademarks of which were amputations, the employment of child soldiers, the use of sex slaves, and looting and burning of both public and private properties.
Abstract: Security is more than just the stability of a state and its government. It includes the security of life of individuals and their property i.e. freedom from fear. In all its forms, security is an important aspect of sustainable development and plays a critical role in reducing poverty and addressing human rights in developing countries. The security and development nexus has become much intertwined; short term security operations will not bring about sustainable benefits if they are not coordinated with long-term development efforts [e.g. job creation] and the reverse is also true. As the 2011 World Development Report [WDR] points out, none of the fragile and conflict affected countries [FCCs], have met any of the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs] and the poverty rate is 20 percent higher than in countries that have not experienced cycles of violence.1 Moreover, evidence has shown that over the last eight decades, countries having once suffered from conflict have a tendency to relapse2 with the “peacetime” becoming gradually smaller between conflicts.
Therefore, in post-conflict situations more than in any other, non-state actors such as militias and armed opposition groups with an overabundance of arms and ammunition, pose great risk to internal stability. It is necessary in such situations of reconstruction that security sector reform programs address the initial monopoly, and that legitimate use of force is returned to the state very early in the peace process. Legitimate use of force by the state in this case will imply the existence of a recognized government and even fledgling institutions such as the courts to provide checks and balances. SSR in post-conflict situations is different from other situations because it has to deal with the legacy of past conflict and the re-establishment of the state-citizen social contract. Thus in post-conflict periods, it is inevitable to call for Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration [DDR] of former combatants, an important component of Peace-building that helps prevent the reoccurrence of conflict.
In line with the Fragile States Unit’s commitment to support better engagement in key priority areas of State Building, the present paper lays out some lessons to be drawn during programming and design stages of DDR. This study seeks to briefly look at DDR as part of a larger SSR process and what role the African Development Bank [AfDB] has played in this regard, within the overall framework of post conflict reconstruction and peace building.
Abstract: Almost ten years on from the official end of wars in Sierra Leone (2002) and Liberia (2003), attention is shifting from post-war peacebuilding to longer-term development. What headway has been made? What challenges lie ahead? And what lessons that can be learnt?
This Issue of Accord draws on experiences and perspectives from across societies in both countries to explore comparative lessons and examine progress. It builds on analysis and recommendations from previous Accord publications on Liberia (Issue 1: 1996) and Sierra Leone (Issue 9: 2000).
Accord 23 argues that peacebuilding policy and practice needs to concentrate more on people: on repairing and building relationships among communities, and between communities and the state; and on developing more participatory politics and society that includes marginalised groups. It suggests that customary practices and mechanisms can help deliver essential services across a range sectors, and that local civil society can facilitate national and international policy engagement with them.
Abstract: In West Africa, conflicts have often had a sub-regional impact or spilled over to neighbouring countries through ethnic relations, allegiances and economic interests across borders, movements of fighters between conflicts, or the mass influx of refugees fleeing violence.
Findings and recommendations in this brief aim to inform the EU's analysis and programming by presenting the reflections of local people and their state and non-state representatives on some of the key challenges facing countries in the region.
Abstract: Young people are major participants in contemporary intra-state armed conflicts. Since the end of the Cold War there has been a trend to portray these as
criminal violence for private (economic) ends, rather than politically or ideologically motivated. Hence, the perception of young people’s role has moved from
“freedom fighters” to “violent criminals.” Our discursive and conceptual reconsideration based on a case study of Sierra Leone finds that the associated dichotomies
(“new war/old war,” “greed/grievance,” “criminal/political violence”) are grounded in traditional modernization assumptions and/or constructed
for policy purposes, rather than reflecting reality on the ground. Urban and rural youth violence in developing countries cannot be separated from its political
roots. Moreover, the violent dynamics in which urban youth violence is embedded challenge our conceptions of what an armed conflict is. Including this form
of violence in mainstream conflict theory would open the way for a new interpretation and more effective policy interventions. Extrapolating the experience of
Latin American cities plagued by drug violence, the recent and significant increase in drug trafficking on the West African seaboard could mark the beginning
of another armed conflict with high youth involvement, this time playing out in urban settings.
Abstract: The report covers the period from December 2010 to November 2011 and includes: information on parties to conflict credibly suspected of committing or being responsible for acts of rape or other forms of sexual violence; highlights major outcomes of missions and political engagements undertaken by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict; and describes key initiatives taken by the UN to address conflict-related sexual violence.
Abstract: Conservation is an intensely political exercise and can be heavily contested. It inherently involves limiting or controlling the access to natural resources that communities and outsiders may depend on for their livelihoods. If managed effectively, conservation can play a role in peacebuilding and development in Sierra Leone by strengthening natural resource governance; developing sustainable livelihoods; creating employment opportunities; generating tourist revenue; and promoting dialogue, trust-building and cooperation. However, if poorly managed, conservation can inadvertently cause and exacerbate disputes over natural resources and introduce new or additional economic burdens or risks on local communities.
The aim of this paper is to assess the status of conservation in Sierra Leone, to outline some of the key threats to protected area management in the country and try to understand how conservation can be done in a way that is "conflict-sensitive" -- that is, how to manage protected areas in a way that does not create or exacerbate tensions and conflicts.
If managed effectively, conservation can contribute to Sierra Leone's continued development and can help to cement the country’s impressive progress in peacebuilding. To succeed, the government, civil society and the international community will need to address the challenges outlined in this paper, minimize conflict risks and enhance peacebuilding opportunities. In particular, these stakeholders will have to:
1. Strengthen the legislative framework for conservation;
2. Facilitate coordination among stakeholders;
3. Improve management of protected areas;
4. Involve local communities; and
5. Secure long-term funding for conservation.
Abstract: This research sought to understand the role of education in peacebuilding in postconflict
states. The research was commissioned by UNICEF as part of the Education and
Emergencies and Post-Crisis Transition [EEPCT] programme – a partnership between
UNICEF, the Government of the Netherlands and the European Commission.
consisted of two phases: Firstly, a literature review of education’s role in peacebuilding.
Secondly, the completion of three country case studies [Lebanon, Nepal and Sierra Leone],
with a particular emphasis on the work of UNICEF. Rather than selecting cases for
similarities, we sought to select for variety, drawing out the wide disparities between cases to
enable a sense of the types of education programming taking place in very different conflict
environments. During the fieldwork, interviews and consultation meetings were held with a
wide range of national and international stakeholders in each country, including UN
representatives, government officials, INGO and NGO representatives, UNICEF staff
members and teachers. This report is a synthesis derived from both phases.