Peacekeepers, Politicians, and Warlords:
The Liberian Peace Process
1999, 216 pages
Abiodun Alao, John Mackinlay and 'Funmi Olonisakin
[UNU Series on Foundations of Peace]
When the international community responds to a massive humanitarian emergency, such as the one in Liberia, the operation that results is both complicated and ephemeral. The multifaceted nature of the problems in the crisis area attracts many different responses ranging from the deployment of thousands of international troops and observers to the brave and well-motivated groups of civilians who act locally. Whether these individual organisations are international, national or local, at each level they play an important part in the overall recovery process. Acting simultaneously but not always in concert with the response operations are the regional and international political leaders. In the best case scenario they bring the level of conflict down, step by step, to a relative calm in which the civil and military actors can begin to restore the essential needs of a civil society.
Recording or assessing such a wide canvas of concurrently running events is extremely difficult. In the context of Liberia, the crisis and the international response to it developed in stages, each with its own idiosyncratic nature, characteristic form of violence, cast of dominant personalities, and fresh bouts of extreme violence.
In “Peacekeepers, Politicians, and Warlords”, the authors set out to record the environment of the Cotonou Agreement by interviewing officials in situ while the recent past and ongoing events were still fresh in their minds. They also visited Nigeria and Cote d'Ivoire to capture the Liberian politics of the first Abuja Accord. The result is an original account of the entire peace process in Liberia that penetrates the roles of the peacekeepers, the warlords and the politicians who were the key actors in this narrative.
If the international community is to improve its understanding of post cold-war complex emergencies and of effective responses to them, the lessons of this experience have a wider global significance.
Abiodun Alao is at the African Security Unit at the Centre for Defence Studies, King’s College London. John Mackinlay is a Senior Research Associate of the Centre for Defence Studies, and a principle lecturer at the new UK Joint Services Command and Staff College. 'Funmi Olonisakin is a MacArthur Foundation Research Associate with the Department of War Studies and a Research Associate at the Centre for Defence Studies.