Published June 17, 2015 | By Patricia Taft
In December 2013 in a tiny village in Guinea, a young child fell ill and died of a disease that would come to define much of the news in 2014. The Ebola virus, previously only known in Central and East Africa, laid ravage to large swaths of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, three countries that had just begun to recover after years of civil war. Indeed, Liberia and Sierra Leone were featured in last year’s Fragile States Index as two success stories, climbing back, slowly but steadily, from the abyss. Last year however laid bare where years of both national and international attention (or lack of attention, as in the case of Guinea) failed to address some of a country’s most basic needs: a functioning public health system and passable roads.
Published August 14, 2014 | By Krista Hendry
As we approach the last 500 days to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), I want to reflect upon what they actually mean for our work at The Fund for Peace. Our mission is to understand the underlying conditions of conflict in order to build practical solutions to address them with all actors, as well as measure our combined successes and failures in doing that. The MDGs have provided development actors, politicians, and many others with targets on issues that we often identify as putting pressure on a country and its citizens. If these are left unaddressed, they often lead to conflict, either within communities, across communities, or even against the state itself.
Published June 24, 2014 | By Nate Haken
Many truisms about peace-building incline towards pessimism. There is a “vicious cycle,” a “conflict trap,” “unintended consequences,” the problem of “political will,” and a slew of transnational “exogenous pressures” beyond the sphere of anyone’s control. Certainly, the Fragile States Index (FSI) is often perceived as a buffet of bad news stories and cautionary tales with the same sorry countries at the top of the list year after year. But there are also cases of sustained and steady progress that give occasion for hope. Liberia and Sierra Leone in West Africa offer two lessons for peace-builders working for lasting change.
Published November 26, 2013 | By Katherine Carter
Ten years into recovery from a horrific civil war, Liberia’s political leadership is often held up as a model of gender equality in West Africa. Elected in 2006, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is one of only two female African heads of state – President Joyce Banda of Malawi being the other. In 2011, President Sirleaf won the Nobel Peace Prize alongside another Liberian politician, Leymah Gbowee, for advancing women’s rights to participate peace-building work. In keeping with the recent tradition of having strong female peacemakers as politicians and heads-of-state, Sirleaf’s long-time friend and close political ally, Mary Tanyonoh Broh, seems poised to become Liberia’s next political magnate.
Published November 18, 2013 | By Patricia Taft
Monrovia, Liberia: Nearly ten years ago last month, in October of 2003, I first visited Liberia. Back then, the war that had consumed the country and killed and maimed thousands was only weeks in its ending. In the capital, Monrovia, children as young as six were standing on the side of the road holding rusted out AK-47s with twitchy fingers, eyes bloodshot from whatever combination of drugs their “commanders” had given them to compel their participation in horrible actions. Back then, the FFP was researching the willingness and ability of African nations to undertake peacekeeping and humanitarian intervention missions. Liberia was one of the early test cases and, by most lights, was a successful one.
Published June 14, 2013 | By Krista Hendry and George Wah Williams
Over the past decade, the Liberian economy has rebounded from fourteen years of civil war. Its GDP has had measurable growth since 2004 and the African Development Bank predicts a growth rate of over 7% in 2013. This is in part due to financial and technical aid from donor countries and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) of international companies in fields like mining, timber, rubber and palm oil. The input of aid in key sectors, such as infrastructure, facilities, and power generation, has the potential to strengthen the economy and raise the income level of the population.
Published March 8, 2013 | By Patricia Taft, George Wah Williams
On a clear day in the middle of the dry season, it can take up to fifteen hours to travel less than 475 kilometers (350 miles) from Liberia’s capital city of Monrovia to Zwedru, the capital of Grand Gedeh County. Grand Gedeh lies in the southeast corner of Liberia, bordering Côte d’Ivoire, and has long been a restive region of the country. This is due to various factors including continued instability in Côte d’Ivoire, a large refugee population, and the lack of resources in the county.
Published November 8, 2012 | By Kendall Lawrence, Nate Haken, Patricia Taft, Nóra Loncsár
On April 26, 2012, the International Criminal Court convicted Liberia’s former president Charles Taylor for his role in the commission of crimes against humanity during the war in Sierra Leone in the 1990s. For Sierra Leone, this brought a dark chapter to a close — and for Liberia as well. From 1989 to 1990, Charles Taylor and Prince Johnson fought to overthrow then-president Samuel Doe. After Johnson captured and killed Doe (sipping a Budweiser as he chopped off his ears), he and Taylor fought a bloody war for control of Monrovia. Taylor eventually took power, but the country was plunged into a civil war that lasted until 2003 when peacekeepers were deployed and Taylor was exiled to Nigeria.
Published March 8, 2011 | By Joelle Burbank
Elections are important for the renewal of the social contract between the people and their government. But that process of renewal can be rocky, as was vividly illustrated in Côte d’Ivoire in late 2010. In light of how difficult elections can be, the Fund for Peace has been working with civil society in Nigeria, Liberia, and Uganda for improved local capacity in communication and conducting situational assessments in the run-up to 2011 elections. The Ugandan election took place on February 18, the Liberian election is scheduled for October, and the Nigerian election is scheduled for April, 2011. This report, the latest in a series of reports on Liberia, analyses events in the country during 2010 and examines some of the challenges that face Liberia in the lead-up to the 2011 presidential elections.
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