Follow us on Twitter

About The Research

You are here

Liberia’s civil war between 1989 and 2003 left hundreds of thousands dead, and many more affected by the extreme violence that ravaged the country. The wars ultimately ended with the exile of then president Charles Taylor, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2003, and the establishment of the National Transitional Government of Liberia, leading to elections in 2005.

The task of rebuilding Liberia, a divided and impoverished country even before the war, has been a daunting one. Almost all facets of the state and people’s lives were damaged or destroyed. The challenges of post conflict reconstruction include the establishment of a legitimate and effective government, reform of the security and justice sectors, and economic and social revitalization. The war was fought between war lords who forced people to divide along ethnic lines.  A major task for Liberians is, therefore, to rebuild trust between all sections of society and find ways to live together peacefully.[1] In 2005 the country voted for Liberia’s (and Africa’s) first elected female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Her government, along with strong support from the international community, began the transition from an emergency security and humanitarian support phase to a Post-Conflict development and reconstruction phase. To help address the wounds of war, the government funded an independent Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that began in 2006 to look into the causes of the war and recommend steps to address the issue of accountability.

As the 2011 presidential election nears, Liberia is once again at an important juncture on the path to its peaceful reconstruction. Much progress has been made, but enormous challenges remain as the government continues to work to implement the country’s Poverty Reduction Strategy.  This study was undertaken to contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the population’s priorities for peacebuilding, of Liberians’ perceptions of their post-war security, and of existing disputes and dispute resolution mechanisms. The study is based on extensive consultation with local organizations, interviews with key informants, and a nationwide survey of 4,501 respondents randomly selected to represent the views of the population, implemented in November and December 2010. [2]

By providing county-level as well as national data, the results of this study give a voice not only to Liberians as a nation but also as residents of each of the 15 counties. This is particularly meaningful in Liberia because county lines were in part drawn around ethnic groupings, and different counties (and their specific populations) were impacted in different ways and at different times by the civil war. By presenting the priorities, perceptions, and attitudes of Liberians in each county, this report aims at contributing to the ongoing dialogue about how to make a successful transition from war to peace. The first part of this report focuses on understanding areas of tension and disputes among the population. The second half explores Liberians’ views on ways to consolidate peace, resolve disputes, and prevent conflicts.

[1] For a discussion of the broad challenges of Post-Conflict transition, Nicole Ball, “The Challenge of Rebuilding War-Torn Societies,” in Turbulent Peace: The Challenges of Managing International Conflicts, eds. Chester A.Crocker, Fen Osler Hampson and Pamela R. Aall (Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press, 2001).

[2] This is possibly the largest county-level nationwide survey on peace and reconstruction ever undertaken in Liberia.