Learn more about Liberia

Ambassador Staffan Tillander, Chair of the Liberia Configuration
Ambassador Olof Skoog of Sweden
Chair of the Liberia Configuration

 

In 1980, Samuel K. Doe led a coup resulting in the execution of President William R. Tolbert and the domination of Doe's ethnic group in political and military life.  Liberia was characterized by human rights abuses, corruption, and ethnic tension under Doe's regime. 

Opposition to Doe boiled over into civil war when Charles Taylor and a group of rebels, the National Patriotic Front, infiltrated Liberia from Côte d'Ivoire in 1989.  Although Doe was killed in 1990, civil war ensued until 1996, leaving over 200,000 people dead and another million displaced.

Charles Taylor was elected president during a special election in 1997, even though many voters feared that Liberia would return to civil war if they did elect Taylor president. Unfortunately, living conditions did not improve underTaylor's administration and Liberia continued to lack the necessary infrastructure to distribute clean water and electricity; more than 75% of people remained illiterate and unemployed.

Armed militias soon reentered conflict with Taylor, but by 2003, fighting inLiberia and pressure from the international community had forced Taylor to resign.  Thereafter, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and its peacekeeping force of 12,000 took control of the security situation.

In 2003, a two-year transitional government was established to stabilizeLiberia before presidential elections in 2005.  Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was elected president, becoming the first female head-of-state in Africa. She was re-elected in the 2011 elections as well. The outbreak of Ebola in 2014, however, put a significant strain on liberian economy and society as it put all of its focus on the containment of the pandemic and lacked the resources necessary to treat all its victims. 

The PBC at Work

In September 2010, the Security Council met to discuss the situation inLiberia. The Special Representative to the Secretary General (SRSG) noted that Liberia had achieved seven years of unbroken peace, but required significant UN involvement to progress development. In his statement, the SRSG stressed the importance of Liberia's request to be included in the agenda of the UN Peacebuilding Commission (PBC). 

Soon after, on 16 September 2010, Liberia was formally added to the agenda of the PBC.

Liberia became the fifth PBC agenda country, with Ambassador Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeud Al-Hussein, Permanent Representative of Jordan, selected as the first Chair Liberia's country-specific configuration (CSC).

The Liberia's Statement of Mutual Commitments (SMC), adopted on 15 November 2010, identified (1) strengthening security sector reform, (2) supporting rule of law, and (3) promoting national reconciliation as the three main priority areas of the peacebuilding process in Liberia.

The SMC reflects the UN and Government of Liberia's commitment to building lasting peace in Liberia and alleviating social tension between indigenous and "American" Liberians. The Liberia Configuration also works alongside the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF), which have been operating in Liberia since 2003 and 2007, respectively. 

Current Status

The Liberia configuration of the PBC finalized targets for a nine-month review of the SMC in December 2010.  The review included the PBC Delegation's first official visit to Liberia from 12-17 June 2011.  During the visit, the Delegation oversaw construction of the first security and justice hub in Monrovia.  In an informal meeting of the Liberia configuration in July 2011, the Chair concluded that the acquisition of funding for further security and justice hubs must remain a top priority as UNMIL begins its drawdown.

Liberia's peacebuilding program in 2013-14 was in its final stages.  The Priority Plan and Peacebuilding Programming document were being finalized and reviewed. The Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) was intending to use the programming document to allocate funding in various peacebuilding areas.

Unfortunately, the Ebola outbreak was strongest in Liberia and threatened peace enough that the peacebuilding programme was revitalized. The measures undertaken by the government to contain and combat the disease also contributed to creating rifts between the authorities and the population which remains consequential today. 

However, Liberia remains on the pact towards transition with scheduled presidential and Legislative Elections in 2017 and the UNMIL and PBC engagement in the processes of being drawn down (see an overview of events and actions by the Security Council related to UNMIL here). This processes is supported by the PBC Liberia Configuration, that remains engaged in the country.  

At a  meeting of PBC's Working Group of Best PracticesUNSCR 2282 in November 2016, Liberia was discussed as a test case for transitions. According to  on sustaining peace from April 2016, PBC has a clear role in transitions, and at this meeting it was discussed what this would entail in the case of Liberia, among other countries

In a Liberia Configuration meeting, also in November 2016, the Chair noted that there was general agreement among "government and international actors that several root causes of conflict in Liberia remain unresolved and demanded concerted attention" and reflected on what was needed for the elections and the transition to be successful and peaceful and further consolidate democracy and good governance. 

In december 2016, the Security Council adopted resolution UNSC 2333 (2016) which extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) for a final period until 30 March 2018.