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Liberia 1994:
Response to a Complex Emergency

By John Mackinlay and Abiodun Alao





- Ethnicity and Violence
- Foreign Intervention
- The Cotonou Agreement
- Factions
- Civil Disruption
- War Damaged Economy

- Fundamental Flaws in the Agreement
- Disarmament
- UN Coordination



- Map 1: Area Controlled by Factions, June 1994
- Map 2: ECOMOG Deployment
- Map 3: UNOMIL Deployment




This study was undertaken within the framework of the United Nations University's Programme on the United Nations System, Global Governance and Security specifically under the research activities concerned with the United Nations and Peace-Keeping functions. We wish to thank the United Nations University Office in North America and, in particular, Jacques Fomerand and his forbearing staff for their continued support and encouragement. Without the assistance and advice of the North America Office, this project would have been impossible to complete.

This study was researched in the United Nations' Headquarters in New York, Kings College in London, Brussels, Lagos and most important of all in Liberia. From the start of our project in May 1994 to its conclusion in January 1995 we have met overwhelming cooperation and willingness to allow us to investigate, what has been for many an unhappy and personally traumatic experience. We wish to acknowledge and warmly thank many individuals who in their important ways have helped us to complete this project.

We thank the officials of the United Nations Headquarters who helped arrange our journey to West Africa, in particular Ms Margaret Carey, Brigadier Ian Douglas and Colonel Richard Manlove whose invaluable comments are reflected in this draft.

In Hampshire, England we must thank Sarah Rogerson at the Peace Support Operations office who has successfully edited and reproduced our copy, and spent many hours responding to the needs of an international research project.

In Nigeria we wish to thank Professor Margret Voigt, Dr. Jimi Peters, Ms. Funmi Olonisakin, Mr. Adebayo Olowoake and Dr. Amadu Sesay for giving their valuable time and excellent advice on shaping the West African aspects of the report.

In Liberia we wish to thank the UN staff at Mamba Point who helped us in the organisation of our local research, advised us on many Liberian issues, firmly guided us in some awkward situations in the field and above all made us feel welcome - which required most of their patience and hospitality in view of their more pressing day to day agenda. In particular we wish to thank Major General John Inienger (Field Commander, ECOMOG) for the assistance and cooperation of his staff, Major General Daniel Opande for the assistance of UNOMIL, Charles Taylor for his hospitality and advice at Gbarnga, Professor Amos Sawyer in Monrovia and Hugh Cholmondley whose advice and wisdom are reflected in many aspects of this study.


After five years of civil war that had uprooted Liberia's population, destroyed its infrastructure and caused untold human misery, a peace agreement was signed in October 1993 at Cotonou in Benin. In the chronology of agreements that characterised the Liberian emergency the Cotonou agreement was the most authoritative and brought a real prospect for a better future. It provided for a cease-fire, demobilisation and for an election that could introduce a government to reflect the political revolutions of the civil war. News from Cotonou encouraged optimism. International aid increased, infantry battalions from East African states were promised to reinforce the sub-regional peacekeeping forces already deployed, and the UN established an observer force. It seemed possible that Liberia could at last begin a new chapter in which the damage of war could be restored.

But in less than a year the process collapsed. In his statement dated 26th August the UN Secretary General reported increasing cease-fire violations, atrocities against civilians and further massive population displacement. As the violence intensified the need for relief increased, but donor confidence had been eroding and assets were diminished. Underfunded and now subjected to gratuitous attacks by factions, the regional peacekeeping units had reduced their strength by 3000 troops in anticipation of a complete withdrawal. Areas they formerly secured had been abandoned leaving relief workers to arrange their own protection with the factions. In an atmosphere of growing anarchy UNOMIL observers were set upon, stripped and beaten, and UN aid depots seized and looted. By September 1994 the conditions of the Cotonou agreement had become irrelevant to the chaos and violence in Liberia. Its successful elements were far outweighed by the extensive breakdown of trust between faction leaders, by their loss of control over the sub-units of their factions, their failure to demobilise, the postponement of elections and above all, by the ineffectiveness of the interim Liberian government. On 6th September 1994 at Akosombo in Ghana a new agreement, that had even less chance of success set the guidelines for another peace process. The Cotonou chapter was closed.

The international community has largely ignored the Liberian tragedy. The powerful international forces that deployed to Kuwait, Cambodia, Somalia and former Yugoslavia during the same period exhausted the rich nations, capacity and willingness to assist. Events in Liberia could not threaten their prosperity or security, and media interest was not sufficiently tenacious to prick their public conscience. But however marginal the failure of Cotonou must seem, the lessons have a universal significance for future interventions in complex emergencies. Although the international community, by disregarding the moral issues can turn its back on Liberia as a commitment, it cannot afford to ignore the lessons of its tragedy. What are these lessons and why are they so important?

The purpose of this report is to answer these questions. Cotonou is a defined chapter in Liberia's recent history that begins with the signing of the agreement in October 1993 and ends at Akosombo on 6th September 1994. This study sets out to explain why it failed. There are several conditions and developments that predate the agreement that were nevertheless highly relevant to the possibility of its success or failure; for example Liberia's recent history, political development and tribal demography. These issues are evaluated in the first part of the report. The main purpose of the study is to decide whether Cotonou was an inherently flawed process and therefore had no chance of success, or whether it was allowed to founder through mismanagement and ill-judgment. In the final section the report draws lessons and makes recommendations on the conduct of demobilisation, the need to deploy a stronger UN executive capability in the field, the recurring mistakes made by negotiators of peace agreements and the advantages and disadvantages of regional peace forces; it also questions whether the internationally community can hope to succeed in future complex emergencies without developing a more coherent strategy.

Part I: Recipe for Conflict

Ethnicity and Violence

Before the civil war that was to tear it apart, Liberia had developed from unique circumstances. Established as a refuge for freed American slaves, it escaped the vicissitudes of European colonialism, only to be subjected to a harsh regime of "democratic feudalism" imposed by a group of freed slaves that perpetuated themselves as a ruling class for more than a century. The activities of this oligarchy, its termination and the military regime that followed, all shaped the future of Liberia. Socio-politically its people are divided into two broad groups - the Americo-Liberians and the indigenous African population. The former subjugated the indigenous Liberians after a series of wars from 1822 until the early part of the twentieth century. The ethnic composition of Liberia and the political tensions that developed as a result are central to understanding the country's civil war.

The Americo-Liberian element constituted only 5% of Liberia's estimated population of 1.8 million. Of this, about 300 closely knit families formed the ruling elite. Three factors had long-term implications for the country: the strong link the elite developed with the United States; the self perpetuating nature of the institutions and social structures which influenced the administration and their treatment of the indigenous population. The close relationship of the ruling elite with the United States manifested itself in a number of ways. Eleven of the nineteen Presidents that ruled Liberia were born in the United States, Monrovia the capital was named after President Monroe, the flag derived from the stars and stripes and the Liberian legal and education systems were modeled on American prototypes. Liberian-American historical bonds were not strong enough to launch an effective US rescue operation when civil war broke out and Liberia's fortunes reached their lowest ebb.

Indigenous Liberians were divided into 16 major groups: Bassa, Dei, Gbandi, Gio(Dahn), Glebo, Gola, Kissi, Kpelle, Krahn (Wee), Kru, Kuwaa (Belle), Loma, Mano(Ma), Madingo (Manding), Mende and Via. Although the common hatred of these groups for the Americo-Liberian united them, when this unifying factor was removed powerful and long-standing ethnic divisions reemerged. The colonial division of Africa had left elements of some groups in adjacent states, notably the Mende in Sierra-Leone, and Krahn in the Ivory Coast and the Madingos in Guinea. This was to prove important to the sub-regional politics of the civil war.

Prior to the current civil war power and influence focused around three institutions: the True Whig Party, the church, and the Masonic Temple. According to Amadu Sesay, these provided social and political cohesion for the Americo-Liberians and proved vital to their domination of politics, religion and commerce. To the indigenous people, however, they were symbols of oppression that consequently became targets for reprisal during the civil war. From their initial establishment the Americo-Liberian elite had failed to integrate socially, maintaining themselves separately in politics, religion and education. Their treatment of the indigenous population became an international concern and in 1920 Liberian trading in what can loosely be termed as "slave labour" was investigated by the League of Nations. In effect the regime had developed into a form of apartheid with separate laws for the indigenous people, who remained politically unrepresented. In 1944, when William Tubman became President, the process to bring the indigenous population into the mainstream of Liberian politics was finally begun. But in many respects the social damage was irretrievable; the seeds of rivalry and hatred had already been sown.

In 1980 the Tolbert administration was removed in a bloody coup organised by indigenous elements within the national army. Opposition to the Americo-Liberians had begun in 1973 with the formation of the Liberian chapter of the Pan African Congress Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA). The coup itself however may have been precipitated by Liberia's economic deterioration. The oil crisis in the early 1970's coincided with the world slump in the sale of rubber and iron ore. International aid dropped significantly from $80 million in 1975 to $44million in 1976, external debt rose, reaching a record $168 million in 1976, with inflation reaching 11.4 % the same year. One of the adverse results of the oil crisis was an increase in the price of local rice. Riots followed, leading to a clampdown by government forces and key members of the Peoples Alliance Party of Liberia being arrested. Pressure continued to mount, and on 12 April 1980,17 indigenous non- commissioned officers overthrew the Tolbert government; Master Sergeant Samuel Kanyon Doe became the new head of state.

To the Liberians it must have seemed as though the indigenous coup had ended the long period of Americo-Liberian hedgemony and all the abuses it had brought upon them. Initially Doe enjoyed the goodwill of the oppressed clans; but not long after assuming office he began to deviate from his stated rationale for assuming power. One by one his supporters were eliminated. First MOJA, the academic supporters of his coup, then the military; by the end of 1983 all sixteen non-commissioned officers who joined his coup had been removed in varying circumstances. Corruption became rife, the economy collapsed, and all forms of opposition were suppressed. Without legitimate or moral basis of support, Doe exploited his ethnic affiliations to sustain his administration. In a similarly divisive manner as the previous regime, Doe now suppressed other clans in favour of his own Krahn. Non Krahn members of the national army and civil service were debarred from key positions and emerging rivals were executed or dismissed for alleged coup plots. When civil war erupted, animosity and the backlash resulting from Krahn hegemony played a significant role.

In 1984, Doe offered to return the country to civilian rule. In the election that followed, his newly-formed political party - the National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL) - won amidst allegations of rigging, harassment and intimidation of opponents. Although by 1985 Doe metamorphosed himself from military to civilian leader of Liberia, the incipient opposition that finally overthrew him had already formed shortly after his own assumption of power in 1980. In 1983,the Commander of the Armed Forces, and one of the original coup plotters, Thomas Quiwonkpa, fled from Liberia, reemerging in Nimba during November 1985 to make a failed attempt to seize power. His supporters from Nimba county became targets for a brutal military reprisal and 3,000 people, including women and children were killed by Doe's forces. The failure of the coup and the savagery of the reprisals created a strong anti-Doe exile group.

Two who escaped from Liberia in the aftermath of the Nimba uprising were Charles Taylor and Prince Yuden Johnson. In December 1989, Charles Taylor, a former Director of the General Service Agency (GSA), led a group of exiles back to Liberia in the name of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL). The invasion was launched from the same Nimba county that had been brutally repressed in 1985; it was not difficult to get recruits. The invading forces quietly expanded, military control became a problem and Prince Yeduo Johnson's group broke away to form the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL). Doe meanwhile reorganised the remnants of the national defences into a newly constituted Armed Forces of Liberia, now dominated by his own Krahns. His counter-attack increased the intensity of the conflict and the scale of the civil atrocities; by July 1990 the fighting closed around Monrovia unleashing terrible violence, destroying the unprotected civil communities in its path.

Foreign Intervention

The regional powers were split over the events in Liberia after Doe's assumption of office. All were disturbed by the scale of killing that followed the coup and concerned over the contagious effects of the conflict on Liberia's neighbours especially where its ethnic groups lay astride the borders. Cote d'Ivoire, was particularly opposed to Doe; President Hophouet Boigny, whose Tolbert son in-law had been killed alongside his father in the 1980 coup by Doe was actively hostile. He encouraged another son-in-law, Blaise Compraore, the President of Boukina Fasso to support the (NPFL) rebel cause. Doe's main ally was Nigeria's military dictator Ibrahim Babangida. Initially Nigeria opposed Doe's coup, even prevented him from attending an OAU summit in Lagos in 1980, but the assumption of office by General Babangida in 1985 reversed Nigeria's policy of opposition and improved the adversarial relationship between the two countries. Nigeria became the main source of sub-regional support for Doe. When the civil war intensified with Taylor's incursion Doe paid a visit to Nigeria, allegedly to obtain military assistance.

Developments in the Gulf in 1990 diverted international attention from the Liberian Conflict. For this reason, the first external body effectively involved in conflict resolution was the Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS). By early 1990, the war in Liberia had touched all the countries in the region. Besides its scale and brutality, the influx of refugees brought violence to most of the neighbouring countries. Their concern resulted in the creation of the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG). The ECOMOG initiative was largely Nigerian, although Ghana and Sierra-Leone were also early supporters. Franco phone countries opposed intervention, which was seen as a part of Nigeria's agenda for regional hegemony, an attempt to prop-up Doe's dying government. Nevertheless the motion to intervene was tabled before ECOWAS, and after initial disagreements a force, ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG), comprising Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra-Leone, Gambia and Guinea, was sent to Liberia in August1990 under General Arnold Quainoo of Ghana.

ECOMOG was an altruistic initiative, but it's underlying politics later became extremely complicated. Nigeria, the major regional power with a large army and considerable experience of UN peacekeeping provided the majority of assets. Butto disarm allegations of leverage they surrendered the leadership of the force to Ghana. Although ECOMOG's arrival achieved an intermission in the violence around Monrovia, they were unable to sustain their initiative with much conviction. Poor follow-on logistics and problems of interpreting the mandate diminished their effectiveness. During this uncertain and badly coordinated phase of the operation, Doe was kidnapped from ECOMOG headquarters and killed. The embarrassing circumstances of his death forced ECOMOG to reappraise its role and capabilities. Quainoo was replaced by Major General Joshua Dongoyaro of Nigeria, a member of the country's ruling military council. Despite their initial misfortunes ECOMOG's credibility remained intact. The vacillation and bungling that led to Doe's death far outweighed the achievement of ending the carnage that had so far characterised the Liberian civil war. After a semblance of security and order was re-established in Monrovia, an Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU), was set up to administer the country under Amos Sawyer, a professor at the University of Liberia. Although organized and sustained by ECOMOG to govern the entire country, in reality the writ and presence of IGNU was never established beyond Monrovia.

Dongoyaro has been succeeded by five Field Commanders, all Nigerian: Rufus Kupolati, Ishaya Bakut, Olatunji Olurin, John Shagaya, and the incumbent at the time of writing this report, John Inienger. Their various degrees of success have been determined by the operational situation in Liberia, but more significantly by politics and power struggles in their home capital Lagos. In ECOMOG the success of the Commander was influenced by Nigerian politics, his political connections and their ability to help him survive. Dongoyaro was vested with the necessary authority through his direct access to the Nigerian President, whose coup plot he (Dongoyaro) had supported and announced. Kupolati did not enjoy such free Presidential access which, along with his preference for compromise and peace-making with the factions, shortened his tenure as the ECOMOG Commander. Bakut, had enjoyed more direct access to power in Lagos which possibly accounted for his long stay as Field Commander, despite the fact that his tenure was not significantly effective. Olurin also had direct access to the authorities in Lagos; in view of the prevailing crisis in Liberia at the time he assumed command (during Operation Octopus) he held a strong position and was able to act with conviction. Shagaya was made the Field Commander at the time that Nigeria was undergoing considerable instability, he became politically isolated and was retired from the military. But John Inlenger who held office during Nigerian unrest arising from the nullification of June 1993 election has been left relatively free from interference from Lagos.

Once ECOMOG's honeymoon was over and its novelty evaporated, Liberian perceptions varied, Sawyer's Interim National Government appreciated its efforts, but the NPFL saw it as an attempt to rescue the discredited Doe regime. Having struggled so hard to overthrow Doe, Taylor was particularly opposed to Nigerian domination in ECOMOG and its support for Doe's forces in the early stages of the conflict. However NPFL's opposition to ECOMOG varied according to its relationship with respective Field Commanders. NPFL had a relatively better relationship with Rufus Kupolati, Ishaya Bakut and John Shagaya than with Joshua Dongoyaro and Olatunji Olurin. While the latter had individual styles that did not endear them to the NPFL, there were also military reasons for hatred. Dongoyaro by re-establishing law and order in Monrovia had frustrated the NPFL's attempt to seize control in late 1989, and later Olurin repulsed the NPFL bid (Operation Octopus) to takeover Monrovia in October 1992.

Soon after ECOMOG established its presence in Monrovia, tension between Charles Taylor and the intervening forces led to outbreaks of violence. After the change of command from Ghana to Nigeria, ECOMOG's position hardened. ECOMOG "peacekeepers" confronted and fought Taylor's NPFL; the sub-regional force, by deed and attitude was becoming one of the warring parties in Liberia. Meanwhile a new armed faction emerged, the United Liberation Movement for Democracy in Liberia(ULIMO), comprising supporters of the late President Samuel Doe. It controlled the two counties on the border with Sierra-Leone, and was led by Alhaji Kromah, a former minister in the Doe government. This development reduced the prospects of establishing a Liberia-wide interim government and complicated the already tangled web of opposing interests. In due course it would also resuscitate clan rivalries that had been dormant during the Americo-Liberian regime.

The tempo of violence between NPFL and ECOMOG troops increased in October 1992when NPFL launched an attack on ECOMOG positions in Monrovia. A well planned pincer movement was to meet up in the urban fringe with the intention of dislodging the interventionist forces and taking over the capital. The "peacekeepers" were surprised and the advance reached the edge of the city generating in its wake a string of atrocities and summary executions. After urgent calls for reinforcements the attack was successfully contained and then thrown back. The most significant lesson that emerged from the failure of "Octopus" was that ECOMOG had the capability to take on and defeat the Liberian factions, in particular the NPFL in a conventional operation. To achieve this ECOMOG abandoned the restraint and conciliatory approach associated with conflict resolution. In their tough fight to reestablish a hold on Monrovia they had used powerful and indiscriminate weapon systems against the NPFL and any civil installations where Taylor's fighters sheltered. ECOMOG's impartiality was lost, despite their efforts in the post Cotonou phases of the peace process, an open hearted relationship was never established between the Nigerian elements and NPFL. This was to diminish the chances of a successful peace.

The Cotonou Agreement

During the war mediation continued on several levels: first of all among the neighbours including Cote d'Ivoire and the francophone states with French involvement; internationally through the good offices of the UN; and regionally by the Standing Mediation Committee of ECOWAS who organised several peace talks and encouraged the warring sides to meet independently. The desire to mediate and the developments that resulted from this process led to the Cotonou Agreement. Signed in July 1993 by Amos Sawyer for the Interim Government (IGNU), Charles Taylor for NPFL and Alhaji Kromah for ULIMO, it was the most significant step in the efforts to stabilize the situation in Liberia. The 19 articles covered ceasefire, disarmament, demobilization, elections, repatriation of refugees, a general amnesty and the issues considered at the Geneva talks. Prior to Cotonou, the Yamoussoukro IV Accord signed by the parties in 1991 had also been an important stage in the process towards a settlement. At that time progress had been blocked by NPFL's refusal to implement the terms, fearing Alamo's hidden agenda and continuing to mistrust ECOMOG's Nigerian dominated motives in Liberia. The NPFL occupied about two-thirds of Liberia, while ECOMOG controlled Monrovia the capital and its outskirts. Since 1991 however, a proliferation of guerrilla armies in Liberia had complicated the peace process and by now the United Liberation Movement were established in the two counties on the border with Sierra Leone. Politically IGNU was only effective in Monrovia under the protection of ECOMOG. Charles Taylor, ruled a third area which was beginning to take on the characteristics of an alternative state with its own capital (Gbarnga), police organisation, embryo administration and currency.

With these advantages and with some residual bitterness that the Nigerians had twice thwarted their bids to seize Monrovia, it was to be expected that the NPFL arrived at the peace talks with the aim of reducing the Nigerian domination of ECOMOG. For their part the Nigerians, with their experience of previous UN interpositional operations could see that ECOMOG faced a 'no-win situation'. They were not militarily strong enough to subjugate more than a fraction of greater Liberia but their future as a credible instrument of a peace process was now seriously compromised after months of hard fighting against the NPFL. ECOMOG needed to change their role and status from adversary to mediator. This was achieved by the intervention of OAU who widened political dimension of ECOMOG by arranging troops from Uganda and Tanzania to be included. As a result Taylor appeared to have won a major concession and IGNU, in a weaker bargaining position with their fortunes tied to ECOMOG, was forced to make a number of concessions to placate the NPFL. Although they had proposed that the executive branch of Government be made up of the Presidency to be held by nominees of the Interim Government and two Vice-Presidents representing NPFL and ULIMO, the NPFL insisted on a five-Member council of State, three of the Members of this Council to be nominated by the three parties and two others to be selected from a list of nine nominees through a process of consultation. IGNU's proposals to secure its authority during the interim process were not accepted. Perhaps ECOMOG seeking an exit from the impasse pressured Amos Sawyer to accommodate the NPFL proposals.

In the substance of the Cotonou Agreement the ceasefire article appears to be the most important on which all subsequent articles relied for success. Under the agreement, the expanded ECOMOG and an UN Observer team UN Observer Mission in Liberia (UNOMIL) were to "supervise and monitor" its implementation. ECOWAS and the United Nations were also mandated to impose military embargos on the warring factions creating a buffer zone, in effect sealing Liberia's borders to prevent cross-border attacks and importation of arms. All sea and air ports of entry were also to be monitored. Violations of the cease-fire agreement included importation of arms and ammunition; attack against the positions of warring faction by another; and recruitment and training of combatants.

Disarmament, covered in Article 6 required each warring faction to list all weapons and ECOMOG was given the authority to disarm combatants or "non-combatants" and conduct searches to recover lost or hidden weapons. The success of this plan relied on receiving full disclosures of fighters and weapons. The ultimate sanction was that ECOMOG could forcibly disarm the factions raising NPFL fears that ECOMOG might forcibly implement the Accord and one day attack with a view to eliminating them from the Liberian equation. Cotonou also provided for general and presidential elections approximately seven months from the signing of the Accord. The Transitional Government would then disband and a democratically elected president and national assembly be sworn in to run Liberia. The Accord also provided for the repatriation of all Liberians who fled the country during the conflict to take part in the electoral process. Cotonou marked a substantial departure from the Yamoussoukro process. ECOMOG's role was reduced to the implementation of the Peace Accord in close association with the UN's observer teams which conferred a more convincing impartiality on their supervisory role (whereas the Yamoussoukro IV Accord had made ECOWAS solely responsible). The ECOMOG peace-keeping force was expanded and theoretically became less Nigerian in its constituency with the addition of units from other ECOWAS Member States and troops from outside the West African sub-region. In order to monitor the cease-fire prior to the arrival of ECOMOG and the United Nations observers (UNOMIL), a Joint Cease-fire Monitoring Committee was to be established comprising representatives from the three parties, ECOMOG and an advance team of the UN Observer Mission. The absolute nature of ECOMOG's supervisory role was diminished by constant emphasis in the Agreement that all procedures of the peace process would be jointly observed and organised by UNOMIL. This should have encouraged the NPFL to submit themselves more readily to the conditions relating to disarmament and encampment. Although the parties were to hand over weapons to ECOMOG (in its expanded form) this process was now to be monitored and verified by the UN Observer Mission in a way that went far beyond the Yamoussoukro IV Accord.

The Cotonou Peace Agreement was welcomed by all sides in the Liberian conflict. The warring parties saw it as a major step forward in the resolution of the conflict. The NPFL was particularly content to see that it incorporated the United Nations and reduced the authority of ECOMOG. IGNU, although losing some ground still felt satisfied concessions had been made to bring peace to the country. Alhaji Kromah, on his part, must have considered his inclusion as a recognition of the role his new movement could play in the future of the country. In Monrovia there was for a while an air of optimism generated by the successful conclusion of the agreement. It was however a dangerous optimism which concealed unrequited political interests and among key officials fostered a myopia that encouraged some to ignore the possibility of the factions rekindling the terrible passions that long-standing rivalries would in due course unleash.

Part II: The Liberian Factors


Although the prospects for a peaceful settlement were improving in Liberia, the majority of territory and real power still lay in the hands of the factions. At the signing of the Cotonou Agreement in July 1993 the country was divided into three factional areas respectively controlled by the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) in close cooperation with ECOMOG, the United Liberation Movement for Democracy in Liberia (ULIMO), and the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL). In 1994 a fourth area was already beginning to develop within the NPFL territory under the emerging Liberian Peace Council(LPC) who considered themselves beyond the authority and scope of the peace agreement. But as the peace process took shape, factional structures began to erode and proliferate, in particular within ULIMO subdivisions arose between Mending, Krahn and Lofa elements. Although an accurate assessment of their strength and location was required by UNOMIL directly after the Cotonou signing to organize the demobilization process, in Liberia no one, not even the factions themselves, possessed accurate information about their organization. The declared strengths (discussed later) were almost certainly misleading and errors were exacerbated by the ephemeral nature of factional sub units. In UNOMIL monthly fluctuations were expressed territorially on a small scale map (see Map 1). This was probably as reliable as any method of relative strength assessment. Although the territory held by each faction altered every month, in principle the mean average of these fluctuations confirmed and emphasized that beyond the urban fringes of Monrovia the Liberian countryside was not controlled by ECOMOG. For this reason the good conduct and continued support of the factions were crucial to the success of the peace process.

Although in most cases the factions (with the exception of the LPC) were represented in the LNTG and legally might be expected to conform to the articles of the Cotonou Agreement, in reality beyond Monrovia they acted autonomously. Their behaviour was unpredictable and at every level faction leaders reacted more readily to immediate local pressures regardless of whether their actions might jeopardize the success of the peace process. There were several reasons for instability within the factions. Each comprised variously constituted sub-units in which there were wide disparities in age, experience and motivation. For example in the NPFL during the early stages of the civil war, displaced youths, traditional hunters and deserters from the Liberian defense forces all joined Charles Taylor regardless of ethnic background. Some were professional army officers expensively trained in US, others jungle dwellers without education whose main contributions were their innate field craft and survival skills. More than 6000 child fighters joined the factions, many of them in order to survive the consequences of family separation. Some of the children interviewed claimed to have carried automatic weapons from the age of ten. Fighters expected hardship, sleeping in the field and living hand to mouth for extended periods. Most did not receive a cash salary, their food and essential survival needs were "found" from local sources. Looting captured houses was seen therefore as a legitimate reward for months sometimes years of extreme hardship.

In a faction smaller sub units frequently formed, dispersed and reformed in new configurations, consequently command structures were largely ad hoc except for the key appointments. In reality the Liberian factions, in common with many so-called terrorist "armies", were made to seem much larger by the transient presence of local fighters whose status was decidedly part time. At the fighting edge the abundance of "generals" and field ranked officers did not signify their real command status. For example in any faction, a gang of five to ten youths operating a road block might be commanded by a "colonel". At the highest level principal commanders in factions varied in their motivation and education. Some from professional civilian backgrounds prior to the war were ideologically motivated and received military training abroad. On the whole this category disassociated themselves from the routine looting and savagery committed against civilians. But others, less educated and more venally inclined, indulged their reputations for brutality, adopting ghoulish nick-names, piratical dress, even using human remains as warning symbols at road blocks. Success and influence depended more on a commander's power in his own right as a dominating personality in the faction hierarchy than capabilities as a military leader. Consequently in some cases well trained and motivated officers were subordinated to the lawless and bizarre elements in the faction.

As result no faction could be regarded as consistent, or at sub-unit level as a reliable exponent of a coherent policy, in its likely reaction to a given event fighters were more likely to respond to local pressure on a day to day basis. A faction leader's power and ability to control could only be exercised downwards as far as his most reliable field commanders. Beyond that limit at a local level gangs of youths that made up a field commander's "unit" responded unreliably to orders, perhaps because they were out of contact, but more likely because their immediate concern was focused on local issues and survival needs. As the overall threat to a faction decreased, as it did in some areas after Cotonou, cohesion reduced. Locally gangs and individuals began to search for food, gainful employment or opportunities for looting. Even in NPFL-held territory where unit cohesion was better than other factions, unofficial road blocks increased on the road to Gbarnga, despite Taylor's instructions that they should be removed. Youths searched vehicles and demanded payments or favours for onward passage. Loss of control on this small scale had wider implications. As time passed decisions to disarm and participate in a peace process had devolved downwards, out of the grasp of the factions leaders, to the autonomous gangs and individuals in the field that loosely comprised each faction. Although UNOMIL negotiators found in April/ May 1994 widespread exhaustion and an eagerness to turn in their weapons as part of the peace process, locally fears for individual security and the need to stay armed in a weapon carrying environment proved stronger than the dictates of the Cotonou peace plan and in some cases even stronger than orders to disarm from faction leaders themselves.

Civil Disruption

The degree to which civilian communities have disintegrated and moved from their original homes acts strongly against the chances of a successful peace settlement. 700,000 Liberian refugees are now living in neighbouring states of Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea Nigeria and Sierra Leone. These people have not been settled and at the time of writing still plan to return as soon as security permits, thereby introducing a sizable factor of uncertainty into Liberia's demography in terms of the timing of their move and final destinations. As many as150,000 may start to move back before official repatriation begins. Within Liberia itself large numbers have fled from immediate violence around their homes and regrouped in temporary camps, urban areas and newly erected shelters in rural areas which they deem to be safer. More than 500,000 are estimated to have moved from threatened villages in rural areas to the comparative security of Monrovia. The population of Monrovia is shown as having increased from 300,000 before the civil war to 900,000 in May 1994. As the violence between the factions continues the displacement of communities within Liberia increases with dramatic numbers moving from county to county: 150,000 relocated in Upper Lofa, 40,000 in Grand Bassa and 10,000 in Bong. Since these figures became available in 1994 further displacement is anticipated. During the hardest months of the crisis in 1992"nobody was starving" according UN relief officials nevertheless in April 1994 as many as 1.4 million were receiving humanitarian assistance of some kind mostly in food supplements.

In 1994 the fracture lines of the civil upheaval also ran through every echelon of Liberian society. In villages and communities youths left schools and universities to join factions. Families separated by the suddenness of the NPFL advance on Monrovia in October 1992 during Operation Octopus were still attempting to regroup themselves. The remains of old people left behind in the rush to flee were now being found as young survivors return to their homes. Faction fighters who left their villages to seek survival or the opportunities of loot could face hostility when they returned to the communities they abandoned. Many were known to have committed serious crimes; some were regarded as having betrayed their families and communities by leaving them during the most hazardous stages of the civil war. Few were unscarred by the civil war, for the victims and the perpetrators, violence had a price to pay. Relief workers reported a "false normalcy" returning to urban areas, encouraged by shops, cinemas, bars, hotels and public transport having reopened and resumed services. These outward signs encouraged an artificial sense of post-violence euphoria, but the real damage in terms of intercommunal animosity remained largely unaddressed. The psychological impact of the war lived on, people were waiting to take revenge.

The extent to which the civilian elements of the population that are not part of the factions, were armed was hard to assess. A senior NPFL general maintained that in his area of responsibility weapons were retained in every village and these constituted a considerable reserve call out capability in emergency. Weapons were not normally carried openly but professional military staff interviewed in both UNOMIL and ECOMOG agreed that firearms continued to be important for individual survival. They were not kept as symbols; in particular instances when examined they were found to be in good working order, well maintained and handled with a degree of assurance and skill. "It is my life, take this and I am dead" said one young fighter. Unarmed civilians become prey to armed youths in search of food and essential needs unprotected vehicles hijacked and unprotected houses looted. In a lawless society weapons became essential to the individual; a group or community could organize collective protection for themselves, however after four years of civil war weapons had proliferated and become an essential to individual survival.

War Damaged Economy

Although violence continued throughout the period of the Cotonou peace process causing population displacement and civil casualties, a key factor in Liberia's long-term transition towards a peace settlement has been its ability to resuscitate the economy. As the relief systems provided by the UN agencies and Egos become more capable of coping with the needs arising from day-to-day interfactional conflict, the emergencies of the warzone became less of a logistic drama for the relief workers. However if the factions were going to turn away from violence to the peace process a change of emphasis was needed towards rehabilitation and reconstruction. But a real shift away from the hand to mouth survival techniques, that added to the prevailing instability, depended on the state's capacity to employ a population relocated after repatriation or freed from the need to fight for its survival. In these circumstances humanitarian emergency measures had to take account of, and wherever possible be coordinated with, community development and long-term reconstruction.

75% of Liberia's economy is traditionally based. Despite pre-civil war efforts to diversify, the monetised balance of 25 %, Liberia's economy has relied narrowly on its crude export of iron ore, rubber and timber. With almost half of the land cultivated for its long term production, rubber has been the most important cash crop, generating the second largest earnings after iron ore. Both are sensitive to falling prices in the world market. 70% of the rubber estates are sustained by foreign investment; foreign capital, management and technical assistance will be needed to re-start and sustain iron ore production.

Several major obstacles lay in the path of a successful restart. Most of Liberia's main moneymaking installations had either been lying idle or were severely damaged; substantial financial and technical resources were needed to refurbish them. Besides the erosion and decay that is endemic to a tropical climate, the majority of the plant had been looted. Reports from UN observers, foreign technical assessments and our own observations confirmed that systematic looting has reduced or in some cases terminally removed Liberia's production capability, particularly from the iron ore mines and their related infrastructure. Plant, vehicles, generators, tools, copper cables and even building materials have been systematically stripped from all principal installations in Monrovia. Port facilities at Buchanan, Robertsport, Greenville and Harper were reported to have been looted. Liberia's international air terminal Monrovia-Roberts had been severely war damaged; only its main runway remained intact, the airport building and cargo handling facilities were gutted. Apart from random mining and some bridge damage Liberia's rail lines were largely undamaged. The list was incomplete but it served to show that without massive foreign investment Liberia's economy and its infrastructure could not be restored or restarted.

Foreign investors were in no hurry to assist. Key installations, for example the Firestone Rubber plantation and factory at Harbel and the iron ore port handling facilities at Buchanan at the time of writing, were still at the interface between factions. When this research team visited Firestone in June 1994 plantation areas were occupied by military sub-units from ECOMOG, AFL, LPC and NPFL. Areas of the plantation changed hands on a weekly basis, and although the factory was in good condition, the collection of latex would first of all require the re-establishment of a vehicle fleet which has been removed by looters. Firestone managers would need to be guaranteed effective security before they could begin to exploit resources and operate cargo vehicles. In addition to the problems of securing an area in which to operate safely, foreign investors were also deterred by the Liberian political and social environment. "Fiscal indiscipline," inadequate legal protection and over-bureaucracy combined to create an unattractive climate for investment. Together with low expectations of any rescue plan, a debt of$3.5 billion US would be inherited by a newly-formed national government, which without the security of a successful ceasefire and disarmament programme would have been impossible to repay.

Part III: Why Cotonou Failed

Several progressive stages of restoration had to be successfully completed between the effective date of the Cotonou Agreement and the revised programme for the completion of elections in September 1994. These actions were linked so that the success of one led to another. For example the return of refugees and displaced population required first of all to establish a workable degree of individual security and freedom of movement in the concerned areas. But workable levels of security relied first of all on a successful disarmament that actually diminished, and ultimately removed power from the factions and sub-factions, preventing autonomous gangs from extorting a living off those who attempted to follow more lawful and productive lifestyles. Disarmament on such a scale needed the prospect of a viable rehabilitation. The disarmed fighter had to have an alternative means of survival, a job, a house and a social structure to which he could return or at least the realistic expectation of developing one. Jobs and houses relied on a resuscitated economy, but would-be investors needed the guarantee of a workable level of security as a sine qua non for any kind of rescue plan.

The stages in the peace process could not succeed in isolation. Furthermore in every case they involved the support of all the involved Liberian parties whether LNTG, the factions or the traditionally organised elements of the civil population, and above all an effective leadership to coordinate their efforts. At the signing of Cotonou there was widespread exhaustion and disinclination among fighters to go on indefinitely living like wild animals in the fringes of the countryside. But there were many reasons why the provisions of the Agreement might be ignored by Liberian communities, especially those living far beyond the protection and influence of the forces which were promising peace. There was not enough momentum in the peace process, it needed to be energised by outside forces that is the UN, regional forces and NGO's. Progressing from "ceasefire" to "elections" required a degree of coordination to take place between these external players, first to agree the prioritisation of immediate tasks and second to elicit the assistance of the right combination of aid and restructuring organizations that was essential to a particular element of the process. The central questions for this final section are whether the endemic problems, (discussed in Part II above under the "Liberian Factor"), were so overwhelming that any peace process would have failed, or whether Cotonou was after all just a stage in a larger process? Were conditions viable for a successful peace process and had ECOMOG, UNOMIL and the intervening relief agencies failed to generate sufficient momentum and energy for the peace plan to succeed?

Fundamental Flaws in the Agreement

The Cotonou formula (disarmament-resettlement-elections) is derived from previous inter communal conflict resolution attempts, its prototype being the Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) Independence Agreement of December 1979. In essence the concept is to freeze hostilities by a ceasefire, reduce the capability of the factions to continue fighting by regrouping them into cantonment sites, impose arms embargoes, resettle the displaced elements of the population and in the relative calm achieved by these measures conduct an election. The Zimbabwe/Rhodesia example relied on a risky and experimental programme of cantonisation and disarmament, which succeeded because contiguous regional powers, exhausted by years of insurgency, pressured their client factions towards a settlement. In addition, logistic support provided by the relatively more capable and undefeated Rhodesian Security Forces ensured that the Commonwealth monitors, whose job it was to supervise these events, reached all the designated cantonment sites in time to receive the incoming Patriotic Front. A decade later in Cambodia a similar formula was far less successful. Cantonment site teams failed to establish themselves in Khmer Rouge-held areas and the disarmament process was reversed when that faction failed to disarm and others rearmed to protect themselves in an atmosphere of mutual distrust. For different reasons the formula also failed in Angola and at the time of writing the full extent of disarmament is still unknown in Mozambique. Nevertheless Cotonou followed this procedure. Running in parallel were plans to organise the election and return displaced elements of the civilian population to their original villages and communities. Although conceptually this arrangement had the appearance of a workable peace process, in practice it turned out to be fundamentally flawed.

During the period between the start of the agreed ceasefire regulations and the successful conclusion of the election the essential elements of an interim administration would be provided by the Liberian National Transitional Government (LNTG). Its authority was to extend throughout the territorial limits of Liberia. This body was a successor to the previous interim regime IGNU, described above. Although its inclusive composition now represented elements of all the parties to the dispute, the LNTG's ability to extend its authority beyond Monrovia was in reality extremely limited. Despite its newly acquired inclusive characteristic, the LNTG's real authority had not increased and as before, the administration's reach and authority relied entirely on the supervisory presence of ECOMOG.

In view of the Monrovian administration's lack of effectiveness and limited reach, a more universally competent authority would be required to coordinate the separate but related modalities of the peace process. Although Cotonou did not explicitly confer this coordinating role on the SRSG it was assumed by many, de facto, to be the case. Liberian officials felt that the SRSG, would "ensure that each group plays its role in coordination and collaboration with one another in accordance with the provisions of the Agreement". UN staff documents also reflected apolitical/military coordinating role for the SRSG within the UN structure (see below). Under previous arrangements coordination had relied on the personality of Ross Mountain, the UN's resident representative in the preceding structure known as the United Nations Special Coordinating Office for Liberia.

However compared to similarly appointed interim authorities, for example Lord Soames in the Zimbabwe/Rhodesia settlement or Mr. Akashi in Cambodia, Mr. Gordon Somers held a much less powerful executive position which reflected the unique constituency of UNOMIL and its relationship with the other factions in the peace process. Unlike his predecessors, in the event of UNOMIL's role being challenged or his officers becoming exposed to danger, he would have to rely on the military support of ECOMOG, a force palpably not under his control or even within his aegis of influence. At the crucial point of interface with the ECOMOG Field Commander, Gordon Somer's precedence was unclear; however it was certain that the ECOMOG Commander held final authority over his own forces. Many Liberians saw UNOMIL as subordinated to ECOMOG. For them the signs were visible in everyday events on the street. They saw UNOMIL vehicles stopped and searched at ECOMOG roadblocks. UNOMIL was also required to observe the curfew times and influential Liberians asked -how could UNOMIL be "verifying" their activities when ECOMOG was free to act, unmonitored, during the hours of darkness.

By its explicit failure to address the question the ECOMOG/UNOMIL security providing relationship and how it would function, the Cotonou plan separated the coordinating element of the peace process, which de facto was to fall into the lap of the UN, from the responsibility for security and civil order which rested with ECOMOG force Commander who was to "create zones or otherwise seal the borders . . . to prevent cross-border attacks, infiltration or importation of arms." Although in the text of the agreement the functions of coordination and security seemed to be dovetailed together, in reality they were not. Moreover, when the provisions of the agreement were threatened, ECOMOG's peace enforcement powers included the right to self defense and the "obligation to ensure the security of UNOMIL observers and other UN staff present in the area". Implicitly the SRSG assumed the role of overall peace process coordinator, explicitly his authority and security was underpinned by ECOMOG, but nowhere did the agreement explain how this could work. Who should decide: -when, -where and above all -how was ECOMOG to support the UNOMIL teams? There were foreseeable difficulties in these arrangements. At crucial moments the SRSG might not be able to influence ECOMOG to come to his rescue; in any case their writ and presence did not extend beyond Monrovia. The apparent clarity of the agreement and the continuously emphasized relationship between ECOMOG and UNOMIL whereby ECOMOG's specified activities were "to be monitored and verified by the United Nations observers" concealed problems of command and the reliability of the ECOMOG/UNOMIL linkage. These manifested themselves later in June 1994 and September 1994 when UNOMIL teams were seized, humiliated and held by factions. In particular, it was not specified under what procedures and precisely how ECOMOG troops could come to UNOMIL's assistance; there were also areas in which the UN was operating without ECOMOG's protective cover. In his newspaper interview, Arthur Dennis of the LNTG implied this contingency would not arise as they would deploy "always in concert." In reality by 4 February 1994 when he gave the interview, UN observers had already deployed without ECOMOG cover.

Although the Schedule of Implementation (Article 12) set out to provide a time structure for a peace process, a degree of flexibility was allowed in setting the timing of its stages, this provision to allow overrun was to some extent exacerbated by Article 16. It stated that the "Transitional Government shall have a life span of approximately six months from the date of its installation" and that elections "take place approximately seven months from the signing of the Agreement." The vagueness of the word "approximately" contrasts with the finite period implied by the concept of time limits set in the schedule. Both injunctions relied on unanimous interpretation by the factions and a best case scenario outcome with regard to the administrative arrangements prior to the election. If these failed to meet the seven month deadline or parties failed to agree on the implications of the word "approximately", there was no obvious fall back position. In his reported interview on 4th February 1994 Arthur Dennis was alert to the lack of any provision in the agreement for the organization of a "new national army in Liberia". He asserted that regardless of its omission in both the Cotonou Agreement and the text of S/Res/866 which spelt out UNOMIL's mandate, this requirement was reflected in UNOMIL's tasks during the preceding negotiations. Moreover during the Geneva Peace talks in July 1993 a list was circulated to the conference which included the need "to monitor and verify the formation of a new model army". In its translation to the Cotonou text however, the item from the Geneva version seems to have been forsaken in favour of the list of UNOMIL tasks published in S/Res/866.Neither its standing procedures (see note 38) nor the UN's official brief reflect a role for UNOMIL in the formation of a new army in Liberia.

The procedures for elections were not covered with much rigour. Article 15 left it to the LNTG and the Electoral Commission to "work out the modalities for the participation of observers or monitors" and confirmed that the parties agreed that the elections should conform to accepted codes of conduct. There was no solution given for the related problems of population displacement, voter registration and no provision for an electoral law to define the rules of the contest and the nature of its constituent voting districts. Although a successfully held election was central to the peace process, its organization and control had been delegated to a semi-autonomous Liberian Electoral Commission. It was unclear how this untried, ad hoc body would relate to, or become part of the overall structure of agencies and military units which would have to provide its security, logistic support and all the communications needed to promulgate its proposed election plans.

It is a characteristic of intercommunal peace negotiations that the politicians who facilitate their success often have to exercise a degree of unwarranted optimism over detail otherwise the discussion becomes interminably bogged on practicalities. Even the exhaustively negotiated Paris Agreements for the Cambodian peace process were fatally reliant on a best-case-scenario outcome on matters of disarmament. In the Cotonou Agreement, with a wave of the negotiators' "magic wand", factions would become disarmed, displaced populations resettle, voters register and elections held. In previous examples negotiator optimism was to some extent underpinned by a strong and flexible interim authority. In the event of delay and opposition the supervisors of the peace process had to overcome the unsuccessful parts of the agreement and where necessary circumnavigate and re-design them to keep up the momentum of ้ntente. In Liberia the structure and relationship that was agreed between ECOMOG and UNOMIL was too fragile to provide for a strong and flexible interim authority; but there were, however, plenty of reasons why a best-case-scenario might not be expected and a powerful and effective interim body essential for success.


In the past negotiators of intercommunal conflict have set great store on "disarming" as though it was a concept which would somehow drive the peace process towards its goals. In the planning process it has been cited as the key to success, but in the epilogue often the principle reason for failure. Despite the enthusiasm of third party negotiators to disarm the parties involved, few intercommunal conflicts have experienced verifiably successful disarmament. Even in peace processes where the final outcome has been apparently "successful", subsequent investigation has shown that the most powerful factions cheated on the process, reserving a military capability until the outcome was clear. For several reasons it is now questionable whether the instinctive urge to have warring factions disarmed as soon as possible is not counterproductive to the overall effort to establish conditions for a lasting peace process. No population that has 'survived in' a war zone for several years can expect to be absolutely disarmed. There will be too many residual weapon caches to monitor, and consequently impossible to guarantee that factions could not swiftly rearm when the need arises. Nor can disarmament be conducted in isolation. First there must be convincing reasons to disarm, an environment in which weapons become redundant, rusty and unserviceable impediments to the more important problems of finding shelter and gainful employment. This is only likely to happen when individual security can be assured by a higher authority or regime in which the individual does not have to fend for himself. In a collapsed state, it is when a super-gang or military force which is superior to the sum of all the parties in the immediate area, possibly nation-wide, can establish itself. In some cases the regime that provides this condition of local security may not be democratically elected, even behave in a brutal and unjust manner. The question that the designers and negotiators of a peace process have to decide is whether a despotic regime is easier to bring into a peace process than the array of sub-factions and local gangs spawned by a partially successful disarmament process that has robbed the district of its super gang which previously guaranteed individual security.

In Liberia there is no convincing super-gang or a pervasive nation-wide military force. Only the factions acting within their own areas can exercise this stabilizing condition locally. For example in Gbarnga the NPFL had established the embryo of an alternative state within Liberia. In summer 1994 Gbarnga had begun to take on the functions of a capital, in which Taylor's staff and HQ compound assumed a presidential character. Livestock presented by heads of state grazed on the lawn, a "presidential" guard supervised security around the HQ. In Gbarnga town goods were traded for the NPFL's own currency and considering the circumstances there were reasonable arrangements for policing, security of vital installations, a civil radio station and a hospital. However by the summer of 1994 the lessening or removal of the threat also diminished Taylor's control. In common with other faction leaders, the prospect of being able to regulate the possession and carriage of weapons even within their own areas was fast diminishing. In each faction, eroding coherence, subdivisions and intra-factional rivalry reduced that likelihood. Individually the unpaid faction fighter still needed his personal weapon for his own survival. If he managed to scrape an honest living from the land he became vulnerable to those that were still armed. In the Liberian context it maybe useful to learn from the Cambodian and Angolan failures. It may be more realistic to accept that without the interim presence of an effective third party military force or in the worst case scenario a super-gang to ensure individual security, disarmament is not a viable concept at national level. Individual security may only be possible within the aegis of each faction. This must lead to the unusual view that instead of negotiating to weaken the factions by disarmament, in the short term stability may be improved by encouraging them to be stronger and more centrally controlled. Rather than attempting to disarm in isolation, it is probably more fruitful to create an environment in which weapons become increasingly less important to individual survival by improving the linked conditions of the economy and reconciliation, at the same time increasing the tempo of political exchanges between faction leaders rather than in the case of Liberia relying on their proxy representatives in the LNTG.

Although details of the overall security under which demobilisation could operate seemed unresolved, the UNOMIL plan itself was well conceived. In particular there were well developed arrangements to provide for the rehabilitation and personal needs of each fighter which in many ways were considerably more advanced than previous disarmament programmes by UN and regional forces. The rehabilitation plan recognised the psychological dislocation of young Liberians who left school to train and be indoctrinated as faction fighters. It also took account of the resentment and hostility which they would experience on their return to their original communities. In many cases the communities themselves had been uprooted and dispersed so that reorganisation became impossible. In a sense the civil war setoff a social revolution in Liberia that had destroyed many of the traditional structures of tribe and community without providing a workable alternative.

The unsettled bands of young men that roamed the roads and villages in Monrovia and in the NPFL areas as a consequence exerted a destabilising influence. There were also the problems of revenge taking. To address these obstacles there were UN programmes and national organisations tasked to reintegrate the demobilised combatants. Teams visited villages and communities in anticipation of the arrival of the returnees, explaining the problems of reconciliation and attempting to purge away the residual inclination for violence and revenge.

Due to the lack of Liberia-wide security and the failure of ECOMOG's infantry companies to reach all their agreed locations, disarmament and demobilisation sites were not opened in all of the areas originally proposed. On arrival at an established site, fighters received clothing, rations, digging tools and transport to a community of their choice. After an initial flow of personnel and weapons from each faction (except the LPC), disarmament came to a standstill by June 1994 except for a small trickle of variously motivated fighters heading for Monrovia. The lack of accurate information about the factions, or their disregard for truthful declaration, was demonstrated by the extreme disparity between the estimated figures (for example see "weapons" and "ammunition" below) and the greater or lesser figures received.

(From figures used in the UNOMIL official brief in June 1994).

The disarmament process on which so many other mechanisms of the peace process relied never seemed likely to succeed (at any stage). The June 1994 figures shown above convey the extent to which the aspirations of the process failed to match reality. Power had not been transferred from the hands of the factions to a newly convened pan-Liberian authority. It has not been possible for the authors of this report to investigate conclusively the reasons for the failure of the process. The reluctance to demobilise seemed to be motivated by a complex web of local conditions in which no single cause could be isolated. Individual fighters who demobilised seemed to have planned for the next stage of their life and had aspirations for employment or resettlement. The corollary may be that the majority did not have such prospects, and it was more secure for them to remain in the factions. It is not clear to what extent the failure to provide for a "new national army" in the Liberian reconstruction plans added to the fear that demobilising the factions would lead to greater anarchy. Taylor himself voiced this anxiety, but it is doubtful whether at grass roots level the perception of a security vacuum would in itself have deterred young men from coming forward.


Since its initial deployment in August 1990 ECOMOG performed many different roles and its strength and deployment have altered accordingly. In summer 1994 when this study took place ECOMOG troops could be seen as peacekeepers moving in small infantry groups, arms slung on the shoulder and not "at the ready" in a gun-pointing manner that signals aggression. But many remember them in a more offensive mode when they advanced, supported by tanks and light howitzers, along the roads leading out of Monrovia. During operation Thunderbolt in April 1993 ECOMOG troops fought their way towards Buchanan, their fire-power boosted by Guinean 122 mm multibarrelled rocket launchers and naval gun-fire from Nigerian warships standing offshore. Ground attack aircraft were also used to attack Gbarnga. After Cotonou was signed the force reorganised and at the time of writing was deployed in three groups:

a) Ground Task Force for the security of Monrovia b) 15 ECOMOG Brigade on the Gbarnga axis c) 7 ECOMOG Brigade on the Buchanan axis

Although close support artillery and light tanks are still present they are less evident in Monrovia where urban security is the primary role. Naval patrols continue to monitor traffic in and out of Liberia and there are occasional incidents when boats attempt to run the blockade.

In its Cotonou manifestation ECOMOG acted in a policing role and in some cases individual commanders seemed more alert to the long-term consequences of losing local support. Its narrowly Nigerian-dominated West African composition can be shown to have been diluted by the addition of Tanzanian and Ugandan battalions and a large contingent of Ghanaians. However these alterations were to some extent cosmetic, strength returns continue to show a Nigerian domination of the force, not only in terms of numbers (some 8000 Nigerians out of 11, 500 troops total)but also in the key appointments. As a result much depended on the personal qualities and approach of the Force Commander. But without an ambassadorial presence to give political guidance or lead in the constant round of negotiations, professionally he was a lonely figure. The influence of ECOWAS varied. Prior to summer 1994under the guidance of Benin's chairman, ECOWAS tended to be a reaction forum, but under Ghana it took on a much more proactive role, by which time the fate of Cotonou was already sealed. Within ECOWAS there were also linkages to individual factions, the Nigerians to LPC, the Guineans to Kromah and francophone partiality for the NPFL. Ostensibly he received his instructions from the distant ECOWAS HQ in Lagos whence the Executive Secretary General might issue instructions, but this rarely happened. More frequently directions came from the Chiefs of Staff conference held in the contributing nations' capitals on a rotational basis each month. However in reality the Force Commander himself had the most direct influence on the conduct of ECOMOG and there was little micro-management from distant national HQs. The force Commander received vaguely worded political directives and translated them into action on the ground.

For some, ECOMOG was part of Liberia's problem and for others - the solution. Judged by NATO standards it has weaknesses as a military force and according to the criteria set by Cotonou, has not delivered its agreed targets to deploy Liberia-wide. ECOMOG barely controlled a third of the country, its troops occupied weakly constructed positions along the main highways and there was no presence in depth between posts. Logistic supply, motor transport, communications, pay, personal mail, living conditions and a high incidence of malaria were a source of discontent among units in the field. But over and above the problems of troops in the field, a source of unhappiness in most armies, was the more fundamental problem of ECOMOG's impartial status. It was expecting a great deal for the negotiators of Cotonou to imagine that ECOMOG, after two years of unrestrained combat against the NPFL could, by inclusion of an additional two battalions from East Africa, somehow assume an impartial status in Liberia. Cotonou came too soon after the fighting around Monrovia, it was impossible to restore mutual trust between the NPFL and ECOMOG, particularly Nigerian staff officers who still regarded their former adversary with some caution. Although the tension existed principally between the NPFL and the Nigerian elements of ECOMOG, disquiet towards the Nigerian activities in Liberia was widening. Liberians regarded Nigerians with a degree of caution ( which softened, only for a moment, during the 1994 World Cup Football). This caution was exacerbated by the behaviour of Nigerian troops in Monrovia. The NPFL alleged sizable arms and ammunition sales by individual Nigerians to factions. There were also wider allegations of systematic looting of Liberian installations in which the removal of very large amounts of equipment required the use of sea transport and connivance at a senior level. Finally there were allegations of Nigerian support for the LPC faction, allegations which were not only made by the NPFL, who could be expected to make them, but also by UN officials and reliable correspondents. The seriousness of these allegations for the future of ECOMOG in Liberia was not so much that they might be true, but that there was a growing body of Liberians and international civil servants which believed they were true. This increasing lack of faith in Nigeria's motives would in due course become an extremely disabling factor in the search for peace.

Many Liberians continued to see ECOMOG as a solution and argued Nigerian domination was the price of effective intervention. Nigeria was the strongest military power in West Africa and the OAU. It therefore supplied the majority of fighting and logistic assets because no other OAU country was able or willing to do more. Its domination of ECOMOG was to be expected and the pervasive presence of Nigerian staff officers was essential if ships and aircraft under command were largely Nigerian. The same principle after all dictated the command structure of the coalition forces in Desert Storm, dominated and controlled by the US. Many Liberians were saved by the arrival of ECOMOG in Monrovia and its subsequent operations to arrest the NPFL advance on the capital in 1992. Relief operations continued and a workable level of security prevails in areas held by ECOMOG, but they did not extend with any assurance into areas held by the factions. Although a poor military force judged by NATO standards, ECOMOG has been militarily quite successful in Liberia and in unrestrained conflict demonstrated its is superiority to the factions deployed against it. This was a significant factor in the development of the Yamoussoukro and Cotonou peace processes. Monrovians were only half joking when they said that UN observers in their expensive vehicles were tourists in their country and that it was in fact ECOMOG that had to tackle the problems of the city. It was true that post-Cotonou ECOMOG failed to deploy to its agreed areas but with only 11,000 troops this task would have been extremely difficult in a best-case-scenario and impossible against local opposition. The problems of alleged corruption and clandestine support were less easy to ignore. If they were untrue, as allegations they nevertheless eroded, and in due course may jeopardize Liberian confidence in a Nigerian-dominated solution; if they were true, they had a much wider implication for the credibility of any future Nigerian-led response to the region's growing list of impending disasters.

UN Coordination

Although the SRSG's office may have seen itself as the coordinating instrument between the various agencies of the UN, possibly extending to the NGO community, there is no evidence of an overarching plan, published by the SRSG's office, which focused the disparate elements of the relief community within Liberia towards the achievement of an overall long term strategy. In view of the six to seven month suspense period between Cotonou and the election, the time to achieve the necessary conditions for successful disarmament, rehabilitation, resettlement and to conduct an election was impossibly short and the impatience of the Security Council made no allowance for the slow moving pace of events in Liberia. To be effective any plan had to be agreed and promulgated directly after Cotonou, not in mid-summer when the transition period was almost over.

Among officials in the UN HQ at Mamba Point in Monrovia, there was an awareness of the scope of the problem as well as the political difficulties of achieving a coordinated response. After Cotonou, Liberia needed to move out of its hand-to-mouth emergency response phase towards a recovery mode. It was true that civil violence continued and there was still requirement for humanitarian relief efforts to cope with the victims of dislocation and intercommunal fighting. Nevertheless response mechanisms had become more orderly and systematic. Between the bouts of intense violence traffic returned to the streets, goods were displayed for sale and business began to return from overseas in an opportunistic manner. These locally encouraging, although superficial developments, and the imperatives of the peace process itself, dictated the need for a "recovery plan" as opposed to ad hoc, independently managed progressions in each of the strands of relief activity that contributed to overall recovery. Although funding from international resources was assured (for example after the 21 June '94 meeting at Abidjan) it seemed to rely on assumptions about Liberia's ability to organise its own recovery that were unfounded. At an early stage in the process, officials working on the reintegration phase identified a gap between the act of demobilisation and the necessary level of resuscitation in the Liberian economy. It was apparent even before the process began that without contingency planning to improve this problem area combatants would revert to banditry after their demobilisation. In practical terms a plan was needed; it had to integrate funding efforts and regional interests at a strategic level with tasks at operational level, in particular it had to achieve a marriage of interests between the relief providers and the political/ military imperatives of the peace process. In several areas coordination failed.

The coordination of security for disarmament and related humanitarian/reconstruction efforts was essential to success. In a recent conflict zone such as Liberia it was important for the UN's installations and the staff who operated them to be protected. Although ECOMOG had ostensibly agreed to do this for the demobilisation process, it was possible to deduct from their lack of resources and enthusiasm to extend their deployment after the Cotonou agreement that ECOMOG units would not spread out Liberia-wide, in step with the plan for demobilisation and elections. It is not clear to what extent a new UNOMIL demobilisation plan was developed in view of this consideration, or whether UN security planning became a reactive, damage-control process that took place on a day-to-day basis. Each disarmament and demobilisation site was in theory protected by an infantry company, complete with personal weapons, provided by ECOMOG; in reality UNOMIL observer teams deployed beyond the capability of ECOMOG protection. Although in locations where ECOMOG sub-units were deployed their presence was reassuring, when armed factions interfered with the sites and their staff, which they did in June and September1994, ECOMOG infantry failed to protect them. The arrangements between UNOMIL and ECOMOG provided only for "consultation" and "reporting procedures". UNOMIL documents ( see above) acknowledged that the line of command would be separate which invited doubt about who could call out ECOMOG to launch an effective rescue. On paper the disarmament plans seemed to be well conceived and the supporting rationale for rehabilitation and reconciliation programmes better thought out than in the past. They failed because the environment for disarmament and rehabilitation was not sufficiently established. However it could not be concluded therefore that the whole process was doomed from the start. There were "patches" where a climate for peace and restoration was developing. In some communities locally arranged "food for work" programmes were successful, but these were isolated and failed to spread into an area-wide trend that could have fueled a wider desire to disarm. Perhaps with more aggressive funding at an earlier stage and a more intrusive mandate it may have been possible to connect these nascent attempts to achieve local stability towards longer-term economic resuscitation and disarmament. The Liberian peace process differed from the carefully negotiated buffer zones and carefully organised electoral processes of the UN's previous experience. To be successful it required a massive effort to move the participants towards a new chapter of reconciliation and demobilisation. In the event, lack of coordination between relief providers and political elements of the intervening agencies may have contributed to the grid-lock from which it was impossible to generate a convincing climate and momentum for disarmament.

The political negotiators who envisaged a continuum of peace restoring activities from Cotonou to the September1994 elections also assumed as much about the executive capabilities of the LNTG as the harmonious cooperation among the relief and reconstruction agencies. As early as May 1994 UN officials could identify serious obstacles to a spring election. Between 700,000 and 1.2 million Liberians were still displaced; there were no practical methods to enable them to register or vote in foreign countries where they resided in camps. It was not possible to assume that the balance remaining in Liberia was still located in its correct constituencies. National records had been destroyed, the 1985 electoral boundaries were invalid and there was no way of assessing who was eligible to vote. Even the electoral system itself and the principles of representation to be adopted remain unresolved; Liberians, it was felt by some, would vote for candidates not parties but the electoral concept that was emerging did not seem to address this likelihood. Professional UN staff at Mamba Point felt that the ad hoc Liberian Election Commission had neither the expertise nor the executive energy to tackle these problems by September 1994, and to be fair it would have needed superhuman organisational skills to have succeeded in these circumstances. The question is whether these problems could have been resolved by identifying and tackling them at an earlier stage in the Cotonou-election continuum.

The weakness of the interim government impacted also on the prospects for economic recovery. Humanitarian relief and long-term restoration assets were controlled by independent agencies, many with directorates based in foreign countries. This universal relief problem greatly complicated coordination. Any plan which successfully moved Liberia towards recovery would have to harness the array of third party resources and organisations to an overall strategy. In spring1994 relief activity, although apparently achieving the telegenic qualities and sense of immediacy needed for donor mobilisation, was acting against the Liberian interests for long-term recovery. Short-term emergency relief distribution of dry rations was discouraging the development of more ambitious plans to return to subsistence agriculture. A coordinated strategy was needed to wean the displaced element away from short-term expedients and push for an overall resettlement campaign that gradually transferred them from one system to another. Emergency aid was generating a dependency on systems and programmes that were too sophisticated and could not be sustained once a Liberian administration took them over. Although UN officials in Monrovia saw the need for a plan which integrated the functions of UN agencies, bilateral relief organisations, local and international NGOs, they lacked the authority to provide the necessary direction or coordination. The pressure of events after Cotonou, their inability to incorporate the more independent minded elements into an overall strategy and their failure to step back from day-to-day pressures to take a long-term view, all combined to prevent the UN from assuming this role. In the eventual collapse of the Cotonou peace process it is possible to argue that even with the most optimistic and effective leadership this initiative may have been unsuccessful because of the overwhelming nature of the "Liberian factor". The endemic problems that lay beyond the control of any intervention were not ready to be resolved and despite aspirations Cotonou has proved to be just a chapter on a much longer path to recovery. But it is also possible to argue that in spring 1994 there were areas in Liberia where a resolve to move away from factional violence towards a climate for rebuilding a better society was emerging. If that is true, the international community and its response mechanisms have failed to exploit this opportunity and by following their individual, and in some cases counter production programmes they have helped to plunge Liberia backwards, in another chapter of chaos.

Lessons for the Future

Despite the continuous violence, the human misery and the detailed destruction of what had been once a viable nation state, Liberia barely exists in international awareness. Isolated on the rump of West Africa, its tragedy cannot command the attention of powerful leaders and opinion-formers who shape the public's attitudes and direct its attention. Rich nations are not involved; the consequences of Liberia's collapse and the displacement of its population can be ignored in a way that similar tragedies in the Balkans and other African states cannot. But can the international community safely disregard a humanitarian disaster on this scale, regardless of its importance as a strategic interest? Laying aside the moral issues, it probably can for in the short term Liberia's tragedy will not impact on their prosperity or security. But the lessons of Liberia's experience are universally relevant; above all for future complex emergencies, especially those which comprise the same chemistry of civil violence, collapsed government infrastructures and humanitarian disaster on a wide scale.

Although Liberia received scant attention in comparison to Rwanda, Somalia and former Yugoslavia, the elements of all these emergencies are similar. In Liberia's case instead of third party intervention by UN forces, this element was provided by a sub-regional force. Commentators have so far failed to make the comparison that in its relative strength, role and mandate ECOMOG has similarities to UN forces in Bosnia, Somalia and Rwanda. Although Cotonou has become just another chapter of the Liberian peace process, the lessons have a wider significance both for the UN at large and for future pan-African disaster response.

Absence of a Success Strategy

Relief providers and peace-process supervisors in a complex emergency now face challenges which no longer respond to tried UN peace formulas. There are now so many disparate elements in international, regional and local response packages that unless they can be coordinated towards the same strategic concept for recovery, individually they may act against each other in the long term. Although there is a widely recognised need for coordination that overrides the parochial interests of individual agencies, there is depressingly little evidence in the recent history of Liberia that any effective institution is, or will be, vested with the authority to coordinate efforts in the field or that directors in far away Geneva, Paris and New York HQs are willing to subordinate their assets in the field to any form of local control. A major obstacle to achieving coordination is that the international community has no proven strategy for success in these circumstances. Donors have developed funding campaigns which are geared to respond to short-term, high- drama humanitarian emergencies but there is no evidence of the change of funding tactics that would be needed to sustain a conflict resolution process in a strategically less important area that could take decades to achieve success. In view of these universal problems, now re-emphasised by the Liberian experience, it must be concluded that although the international community may still be willing to respond to complex emergencies, albeit with varying degrees of conviction and generosity, it has no successful strategy for response.

Stronger Executive Capability in the Field

In Liberia, as in other recent UN peace supervisory experiences in Bosnia and Somalia, the overriding condition for a success is the consent of the factions on the ground. However in reality these missions did not have the self-fulfilling qualities that are sometimes attributed to them by organising staff in New York and needed to be energised by UN officials and third party negotiators. The absence of a cut and dried peace treaty which could run smoothly to its conclusion required UN officials in Monrovia to steer the process and keep up its momentum. This needed the UN to provide a strongly proactive executive capability that allowed senior officials to do more than just react to events. A staff was needed to think ahead, investigate options, plan and above all promulgate ideas and ensure that they were being followed. Despite the energy and very high standard of the tiny nucleus of key officials and military staff in Monrovia, UNOMIL did not have sufficient executive capability. It was established on the wrong assumption that its small numerical presence limited it to a commensurately insignificant role to play, whereas in reality UNOMIL HQ influenced a much wider span of events. It was already clear in early 1994 that many assumptions about the continuum of events from Cotonou to the September 1994 elections were incorrect, but no restructured plan or realistic coordinating strategy could be promulgated to maintain the momentum of the peace accord.

As a result when Cotonou began to slow down, the fresh approach that was urgently needed to coordinate a strategy to exploit the pockets of success was never developed. There was no capacity to allow key officials to disengage from day-to-day damage control and look ahead and plan effectively.

Misconceptions about Disarmament

In common with Somalia, Bosnia and Angola, the Liberian experience demonstrated that some UN officials and internationally respected diplomats involved in designing and negotiating the peace process cherished an academic perception on the value of disarmament per se. Events in Liberia have re-emphasised the previously researched understanding (see notes 43)of the problems of insisting on disarming factions without accounting for the consequences of a partial disarmament. In Liberia it was demonstrated that disarmament cannot take place in isolation to prevailing conditions in the area. Unless faction fighters have reasonable expectations of employment, shelter, a community structure and personal security, they will probably retain their weapons and remain as part of a local gang. As a rule disarmament planners should not attempt to disarm factions until they have organised effective state wide security or at least the guarantee of achieving it. In the uncertain period after the reduction of hostilities, a failed or half successful disarmament can encourage a proliferation of smaller groups at local level. These lawless gangs become harder to bring back into the disarmament process than their parent factions, however despotic and inhumane their leaders may be.

Regional Response Mechanisms - ECOMOG

Military analysts, particularly in NATO, tend to disparage regional attempts to intervene in conflict resolution on the grounds that these forces cannot deliver what NATO experts regard as the minimum standards of effectiveness required for the task. There is a danger that the international community's failure in Liberia will be used to reinforce this fallacy in the case of ECOMOG. In the African context ECOMOG's intervention has been, on balance, successful so far. ECOMOG demonstrated a rough and ready capability to take on the factions and restore a relative degree of order. In this way it has been a vital element of the peace process. But even in the most optimistic circumstances ECOMOG did not have sufficient forces in Liberia to maintain a reasonable level of security and deploy to all the proposed encampment areas for disarmament. In addition ECOWAS failed to provide an ambassadorial figure in Monrovia to assist in the negotiating and political processes that the involved the intervening regional forces. If in due course ECOMOG fails to meet the criteria for a successful peacekeeping force it will be because of its overt and clandestine involvement in Liberian affairs. In particular Nigeria is jeopardising its impartial status in Liberia and diminishing its regional credibility as a future leader of an African response mechanism by failing to take action concerning allegations of looting in Liberia and its active support for the Liberian Peace Council faction. But perhaps the most important lesson in the ECOMOG experience concerns its compromised impartiality. After months of bitter fighting, it became impossible for the factions to see them as effective peacekeepers. Despite efforts to broaden their political structure ECOMOG units were irretrievably part of the problem.

Negotiating a Viable Peace Formula

Cotonou contained the ingredients for its own failure and it seemed that the negotiators had repeated the mistakes of past UN experience. The talks were characterised by a collective desire to deliver a favourable outcome at any cost which seemed to outweigh the more important need to address practical details on the ground. Too much credibility was given to respected figures who, in the changed circumstances of civil war, no longer controlled events on the ground and consequently could not deliver vital elements of the agreement. There was too much willingness to believe that a new Liberian government would be vastly different from the previous manifestations of interim leadership, and that somehow venality and partisan attitudes that had degraded previous administrations would somehow disappear in favour of strong leadership. There was a lack of attention to details regarding the election, the methodology of demobilisation and arrangements for security in the new Liberian government. The drafters of the Cotonou Agreement assumed too much about the: the strength and deployment intentions of ECOMOG, the mechanisms whereby ECOMOG would protect UNOMIL and above all the preconditions needed to achieve successful disarmament. These omissions have been noted in previous negotiating experience and are not peculiar to Liberia; it must be concluded that the international civil servants and respected diplomats concerned approached this particular problem with a narrowly exclusive view of recent history.

Above all the officials involved should have had the vision and experience to see that they were crafting an agreement that could not be successfully translated on the ground. They should have been able to see that even the logistics to support the agreement could not be deployed in time. There must be a point in every negotiating process when the desire for a successful outcome is subordinated to guarantee a basic framework for success. Cotonou did not seem to have that framework, the lesson must be that it is better to renegotiate a workable agreement than to launch one that will surely sink.




          THIS AGREEMENT is made this twenty-fifth day of July one thousand nine hundred and ninety-three -

          BETWEEN THE Interim Government of National Unity of Liberia (IGNU) of the first part and the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) of the second part and the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO) of the third part.


Military issues


Article 1


1.       The Parties to this Agreement hereby agree and declare a cease-fire and the cessation of hostilities - to become effective at the date and time and on the conditions stipulated in article 2 and section C below.

2.       The parties further declare that all parties or groups within and without the perimeter of Liberia shall refrain from act(s) or activity(ies) that may violate or facilitate the violation of the cease-fire.

Article 2


The Parties also agree that the cease-fire stated herein-above and the cessation of hostilities shall take effect seven days from the date of signing of this Agreement, commencing at 12 midnight.


Article 3


1.       The ECOMOG and the United Nations Observer Mission shall supervise and monitor the implementation of this Agreement, The Parties hereby expressly recognize the neutrality and authority of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Military Observer Group (ECOMOG) and the United Nations Observer Mission in respect of the foregoing. Accordingly, the ECOMOG and United Nations observers shall enjoy complete freedom of movement throughout Liberia.

2.       By "ECOMOG Peace-Keeping Force" is meant an expanded ECOMOG which includes the forces of ECOWAS Member States and African troops from outside the West African region.

3.       The Parties agree further that in order to monitor and ensure against any violation of the cease-fire between the period of the effective date of the cease-fire and the arrival of ECOMOG and full contingent of the United Nations Observer Mission, a Joint Cease-fire Monitoring Committee is hereby established, which shall have the authority to monitor, investigate and report all cease-fire violations. The Committee shall comprise an equal number of representatives from each of the parties hereto, ECOMOG and an advance team of the United Nations Observer Mission. Each group of the Joint Cease-fire Monitoring Committee shall be chaired by the United Nations observer in the group. It shall freely travel throughout the country. The committee shall automatically be dissolved and deemed to be dissolved upon the arrival and deployment of ECOMOG and the full contingent of the United Nations Observer Mission.


Article 4


1.        Prohibitions upon the Parties:

       The Parties agree not to:

       (a)    Import any weapons and war-like materials by any means into Liberia;        (b)   Use the period of the cease-fire to engage in any military build-up whether in manpower or armaments; or

       (c)   Engage in any other activity that would violate or result in the of the cease-fire.

2.        Adherence to stipulations on military embargo

The Parties recognize and accept that the military embargo imposed on and upon all warring parties by ECOWAS and the United Nations Security Council shall remain in full force and effect.

3.        Creation of buffer zones

ECOMOG shall create zones or otherwise seal the borders, whichever is militarily feasible, of Liberia-Guinea, Liberia-Sierra Leone and Liberia-Cote d'Ivoire to prevent cross-border attacks, infiltration or importation of arms. There shall be deployed United Nations observers in all of such zones to monitor, verify and report on any and all of the foregoing and the implementation thereof.

4.        Monitoring and supervision of entry points

All points of entry including, sea ports, airfields and roads shall be monitored and supervised by ECOMOG. There shall be deployed United Nations o observers to monitor, verify and report on the implementation of the foregoing activities.

5.        Position of warring parties at declaration of cease-fire

The warring parties shall remain and maintain their positions held as at the effective date of this cease-fire, until the commencement of encampment.


Article 5


1.       The Parties hereto hereby agree to honour every and all provisions of this Agreement, and stipulate that any party committing any acts of violations shall be held liable for such violations.

2.        The following acts shall constitute violation of the cease-fire:

       (a)    Importation of arms and ammunition, incendiary devices and other war-related items;

       (b)   Changing or improvement of existing positions or fortification alteration of existing position;

       (c)   Attack (whether with conventional or unconventional weapons) against the position of any warring faction by another, or firing at an individual of a warring faction established to have been carried out at the instance of the authority of the warring party to which he/she belongs;

       (d)   The systematic use of conventional or unconventional weapons (i.e. knives, cutlasses, bows and arrows, etc);

       (e)    Recruitment and training of combatants and/or groups or persons after the effective date of this Agreement;

       (f)   Any proven use of communication devices, facilities or propaganda designed to incite or having the effect of inciting hostilities between any of the warring parties;(g) Planting of mines and incendiary devices subsequent to the effective date of the cease-fire; refusal to disclose the existence of or places where such devices or mines have been planted; and deliberate failure to cooperate or furnish maps (where available) where such devices have been planted;

       (h)   obstruction of the implementation of any of the provisions of the Agreement by any party or its authorized agent;

       (i)   Harassment's or attacks upon ECOMOG, the United Nations Observer Mission or the Joint Cease-fire Monitoring committee;

       (j)   Obstructions of the activities of ECOMOG, United Nations observers and the Joint Cease-fire Monitoring Committee.


Article 6


Disarmament being the ultimate objective of the cease-fire, the Parties hereto agree and express their intent and willingness to disarm to and under the supervision of ECOMOG, monitored and verified by the United Nations Observer Mission. In conformity therewith, the parties agree that:

1.       All weapons and warlike materials collected shall be stored by ECOMOG in armours designated by ECOMOG, monitored and verified by United nations observers.

2.       All weapons and warlike materials in the possession of the parties shall be given to ECOMOG, monitored by United Nations observers, upon appropriate recording and inventory, and placed in designated armours.

3.       Said armours shall be secured by ECOMOG, monitored and verified by United Nations observers, upon proper documentation or inventory of all weapons and warlike materials received.

4.       Each of the warring factions shall ensure that its combatants report all weapons and warlike materials to ECOMOG, monitored and verified by united Nations observers, upon proper inventory. Such weapons and warlike materials, upon inventory, shall be taken to the designated armours by ECOMOG, under the monitoring and verification of United Nations observers.

5.       All non-combatants who are in possession of weapons and warlike materials shall also report and surrender same to ECOMOG, monitored and verified by United Nations observes. Such weapons and warlike materials shall be returned to the owners after due registration, licensing and certification by the governing authority after the elections.

6.       ECOMOG shall have the authority to disarm any combatant or non-combatant in possession of weapons and warlike materials. The United Nations observers shall monitor all such activities.7. For the sole purpose of maintaining the cease-fire, ECOMOG shall conduct any search to recover lost or hidden weapons, observed and monitored by the United Nations observers.


Article 7


1.        Purpose

       (a)   The Parties agree and fully commit themselves to the encampment of their combatants in encampment centres established by ECOMOG, monitored and verified by United Nations Observers, the purpose of which shall be, in addition to the disarmament and demobilization, to serve as a transit point for the further education, training and rehabilitation of said combatants; and

       (b)   Consistent with the above, the parties agree to submit to ECOMOG and the United Nations Observers, a complete listing of their combatants and weapons and warlike materials and their locations to the nearest encampment centres.

2.        Commencement of encampment

The Parties agree that encampment shall commence immediately upon the deployment of ECOMOG and the United Nations Observer Mission. Copies of the schedule of encampment shall be furnished to all the parties hereto.

3.        Identification and security of encampment sites

In consultation with the Parties, ECOMOG and the United Nations Observer Mission shall identify locations for encampment. Security of encampment sites shall be provided by ECOMOG, monitored and verified by United Nations observers.


Article 8


1.       It is also agreed upon that ECOMOG shall have the right to self-defense where it has been physically attacked by any warring faction hereto.

2.       There shall be established, upon deployment of ECOMOG and the full contingent of the United Nations Observer Mission, a Violation Committee consisting of one person from each of the parties hereto and ECOMOG and the United Nations Observer Mission, chaired by a member of the United Nations Observer Mission.

3.       All violations of the cease-fire shall be reported to the United Nations Observer Mission/observers who shall, immediately upon receipt of the information of violation, commence an investigation and make findings thereof. In the event the violations can be cured by the United Nations observers, they shall pursue such a course. However, should such a course not be possible, the United Nations observers shall submit their findings to the Violations Committee. The Violation Committee shall invite the violating party/(ies) for the purpose of having such party/(ies) take corrective measures to cure the violations within such time-frame as may be stipulated by the committee. Should the violating party not take the required corrective measures, ECOMOG shall be informed thereof and shall thereupon resort to the use of its peace-enforcement powers against the violator.


Article 9


1.       The parties hereby agree that any warring faction or factions that may have non-Liberian fighters or mercenaries shall repatriate such persons, or when found, upon evidence, shall be expelled by the Government of the Republic of Liberia.

2.       Further, the Parties hereby call upon the United Nations, other international organizations and countries, to programme and finance the process of demobilization, retraining, rehabilitation and re-absorption of all former combatants to normal social and community life.

3.       It is agreed by the Parties hereto that each party shall immediately commence a community information or educational programme, explaining to the pubic by means of communication devices or any form of media, the essence and purpose of the cease-fire, encampment, disarmament and demobilization. Such programme shall include other social institutions.


Article 10


The Parties hereby agree that upon signing of this Agreement all prisoners-of-war and detainees shall be immediately released to the Red Cross authority in an area where such prisoners or detainees are detained, for onward transmission to encampment sites or the authority of the prisoner-or-war or detainee. Common criminals are not covered by this provision.


Article 11


Consistent with the provisions of paragraph 5 of article 14 of this Agreement, all Parties agree to submit themselves to the authority of the Transitional Government.


Article 12


Schedules of implementation of this Agreement, including a schedule for disarmament, encampment and demobilization of combatants, shall be drawn by ECOMOG and the United Nations observers. This schedule of implementation shall be given to each of the warring parties prior to implementation. The Parties undertake that they will create no obstacles to the full implementation of any of the foregoing activities.


Political Issues


Article 13


The Parties to this Agreement reaffirm that the Yamoussoukro Accords provide the best framework for peace in Liberia, noting the links between the ECOWAS peace plan and the Yamoussoukro Accords.


Article 14


1.       The Parties observe that Liberia is a unitary State and as such agree to form a single transitional Government, styled THE LIBERIA NATIONAL TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT. The authority of the transitional Government shall extend throughout the territorial limits of the Republic of Liberia.

2.       The mandate of the transitional Government is to provide essential government services during the transitional period and to also hold and supervise general and presidential elections in accordance with the ECOWAS peace plan. The Transitional Legislature Assembly or the Council of State shall have power to enact or cause to been acted any rule(s), regulations(s), or law, or take any action(s) which may facilitate the holding of free and fair democratic elections.

3.       Formal installation of the Council of State shall take place in Monrovia, the capital city of the Republic of Liberia, and the Council of State shall also be permanently headquartered there.

4.       The Parties further agree that the aforesaid transitional Government shall be selected in accordance with the below listed provisions and installed in approximately thirty (30) days of the date of signature of this Agreement, concomitant with the commencement of the disarmament process. Upon the installation of the transitional government, both IGNU and NPRAG shall cease to exist and shall be deemed dissolved.

5.       The Parties further agree that the transitional Government shall operate as closely as practicable under the Constitution and laws of Liberia.

6.       The Parties further agree, warrant and promise that from the date of signature of this Agreement, no loans shall be negotiated or contracted in the name of or on behalf of the Liberian Government except to ensure the carrying out of the operations and activities of governmental and other public services. All financial transaction entered into by the Transitional Government shall be formally submitted to the Transitional Legislative Assembly for ratification.

7.       The Parties also agree that the transitional Government shall have three branches: Legislative, executive, and judicial.


(i)       The Parties further agree that, during the transitional period, the executive powers of the Republic shall be vested in a five (5) member Council of States which is hereby established. Each of the parties shall appoint one (1)member to the Council, whilst the remaining two (2) shall be selected in accordance with the following procedures:

Each of the Parties shall nominate three (3) eminent Liberians who together shall select two (2) of their number to be additional members of the Council.

(ii)       Each Party shall submit the name of its appointee to the Council and also the names of its three (3) nominees in accordance with the provisions of the preceding paragraph to the office of the current Chairman of ECOWAS within a period of seven (7) days from the date of signature of this Agreement. Copies of the list of these names shall also be forwarded to each of the Parties.

(iii)       The Parties shall, not later than three (3) days from submission of the aforesaid names, jointly and mutually determine the time and venue for the selection of the two (2) additional members of the council. This entire selection process shall not exceed ten (10) days after the determination of the time and place of the meeting. If at the appointed place and time, any of the nominees fail to appear, the nominating party shall forfeit its right to renominate any other person(s), and the selection process shall proceed.

(iv)       Proof of the selection of the two additional Council members shall be made by a written statement signed by all the nominees (excluding the two nominees selected) who participated in the selection process confirming same. The statement shall be forwarded to the current Chairman of ECOWAS with copy of each of the Parties.

(v)       The Council shall select from amongst its members a Chairman and two (2) Vice-Chairmen.

(vi)       The Council shall conduct and be responsible for the day-to-day operation of Government. All decisions shall be made by consensus of all the members.(vii) The Council shall also device and implement appropriate procedural rules in respect of its operation.

(viii)       The Parties shall, in consultation with each other, determine the allocation of cabinet posts.


8.       The parties further agree that for purposes of continuity, there shall be no change in the existing structure of the Supreme Court. ULIMO shall have the right to nominate the fifth member of the court to fill the vacancy which currently exists. The nominee by ULIMO to the Supreme Court shall meet the established criteria and successfully undergo a screening by his or her peers in the Court.


9.       The Parties agree that the Transitional Legislative Assembly shall be a unicameral body composed of thirty-five (35) members. Both IGNU and NPFL shall each be entitled to thirteen (13) members, and ULIMO nine (9)members. The Parties agree that ULIMO shall have the right to nominate the Speaker from one of its members in the Assembly.


Article 15


1.       The Parties agree that, in order to enhance the inclusive nature of the transitional Government, ULIMO shall have the right to nominate two members to the Elections commission, thus expanding the existing Elections Commission to seven (7) members. For the purpose of continuity the present structure shall remain the same.

2.       Supreme Court : The Supreme Court shall adjudicate all matters arising out of the elections during the transition, in accordance with the constitution and laws of the country.

3.       Voters registration: Voters Registration shall commence as soon as possible having due regard for the need to expedite repatriation.

4.       Observers and Monitors: The transitional Government and the Elections Commission will work out the modalities for the participation of observers and monitors in the electoral process.

5.        Financing: Financing will be sought from the national and international communities.

6.       The Parties agree that the elections to be conducted shall conform to the several United Nations and internationally accepted codes of conduct and the Elections Commission shall, accordingly be guided thereby.


Article 16


1.       The transitional Government shall be installed approximately one month after the signing of this Agreement, concomitant with the commencement of the disarmament process.

2.       The transitional Government shall have a life span of approximately six (6) months commencing from the date of its installation.

3.       General and presidential elections shall take place approximately seven (7) months from the signature of this Agreements.

4.       Holders of positions of leadership within the Transitional Government (i.e. members of the Council of State, Supreme Court Justice, members of the Elections Commission, Cabinet Ministers, members of the Transitional Legislative Assembly, Managing Directors or Heads of Public Corporations and Autonomous Agencies) shall be ineligible to contest the election provided for in paragraph 3 of this article.


Article 17


The Parties agree that every effort should be made to deliver humanitarian assistance to all Liberians, particularly children, who are malnourished and suffering from related diseases. Convoys of humanitarian assistance should travel to all areas of Liberia through the most direct routes, under inspection to ensure compliance with the sanctions and embargo provisions of this Agreement.


Article 18


1.       The Parties hereby commit themselves immediately and permanently to bring to an end any further external or internal displacement of Liberians and to create the conditions that will allow all refugees and displaced persons to, respectively voluntarily repatriate and return to Liberia to their places of origin or habitual residence under conditions of safety and dignity.

2.       The Parties further call upon Liberian refugees and displaced persons to return to Liberia and to their places of origin or habitual residence and declare that they shall not be jeopardized in any ethnic, political, religious, regional or geographical considerations.

3.       The Parties also call upon the relevant organizations of the United Nations system, particularly the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee and the United Nations Development Programme, other intergovernmental and non governmental organizations, to implement programmes for the voluntary repatriation, return and reintegration of the Liberian refugees and internally displaced persons.

4.       The Parties proclaim that they shall, jointly or individually, cooperate in all necessary ways with themselves and with the above-mentioned organizations in order to facilitate the repatriation, return and reintegration of the refugees and displaced persons. Amongst others, they agree to:

       (a)   Establish all necessary mechanisms or arrangements, such as joint repatriation committees, which would facilitate contacts, communications and work with the relevant organizations for purposes of implementing the repatriation, return and reintegration operation and to enable effective decision-making and implementation of the relevant activities;

       (b)   Facilitate access by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and displaced persons who have returned so as to deliver the necessary humanitarian assistance and programmes and monitor their situation;

       (c)   Guarantee and provide security to the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the other relevant organizations, their staff, vehicles, equipment and resources necessary to carry out their work; and

       (d)   Provide all other necessary facilities and support that will be necessary to facilitate the implementation of the return, voluntary repatriation and reintegration of refugees and displaced persons.


Article 19


The Parties hereby agree that upon the execution of this Agreement there shall be a general amnesty granted to all persons and parties involved in the Liberian civil conflict in the course of actual military engagements. Accordingly, acts committed by the Parties or by their forces while in actual combat or on authority of any of the Parties in the course of actual combat are hereby granted amnesty. Similarly, the Parties agree that business transactions legally carried out by any of the Parties hereto with private business institutions in accordance with the laws of Liberia shall in like manner be covered by the amnesty herein granted.



19.       The UNOMIL SOP's are accorded with the minimum security classification of UN - RESTRICTED. They will be issued to all and read by UN personnel only. The purpose of these SOPs is to underline responsibilities and procedures to be followed by all UN personnel in UNOMIL. Unauthorized disclosure of any form is strictly prohibited. However, if it is necessary to quote from the SOPs to non-UN personnel, this should only be done by releasing an authorized extract and not by giving the individual concerned the complete SOPs.

20.       The copies of the SOPs are being restricted to the necessary required number. Each copy of the SOPs will be numbered in serial out of the total numbers issues (e.g. copy number 10 of 100 copies). Subsequently the distribution will be made by the numbered copy only. All recipients are responsible for the care and custody of their copies.



Text of resolution S/RES/866 (1993)

a. Para  2 Decides to establish UNOMIL under its authority and under the direction of the Secretary-General through his Special Representative for a period of seven months, subject to the proviso that it will continue beyond 16 December 1993 only upon a review by the council based on a report from the Secretary-General on whether or not substantive progress has been made towards the implementation of the Peace Agreement and other measures aimed at establishing a lasting peace;

b. Para.  3 Decides that UNOMIL shall comprise military observers as well as medical, engineering,

communications, transportation and electoral components, in the numbers indicated in the Secretary-General's report, together with minimal staff necessary to support it, and shall have the following mandate;

(a)To receive and investigate all reports on alleged incidents of violations of the cease-fire agreement and, if the violation cannot be corrected, to report its finding to the violations committee established pursuant to the Peace Agreement and to the Secretary-General;

(b)To monitor compliance with other elements of the Peace Agreement, including at points on Liberia's borders with Sierra Leone and other neighbouring countries, and to verify its impartial application, and in particular to assist in the monitoring of compliance with the embargo on delivery of arms and military equipment to Liberia and the cantonment, disarmament and demobilization of combatants;

(c)To observe and verify the election process, including the legislative and presidential elections to be held in accordance with the provisions of the Peace Agreement.

(d)To assist, as appropriate, in the coordination of humanitarian assistance activities in the field in conjunction with the existing United Nations humanitarian relief operation;

(e)To develop a plan and assess financial requirements for the demobilization of combatants;

(f)To report on any major violations of international humanitarian law to the Secretary-General;

(g)To train ECOMOG engineers in mine clearance and, in cooperation with ECOMOG, coordinate the identification of mines and assist in the clearance of mine and unexploded bombs;

(h) Without participation in enforcement operations, to coordinate with ECOMOG in the discharge of ECOMOG's separate responsibilities both formally, through the Violations Committee, and informally.

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