Moving Beyond Sanctions: Evolving Integrated Strategies to Address Post-conflict Natural Resource-based Challenges in Liberia
Liberia is emerging from 14 years of war where it served as the epicentre in West Africa of conflict fuelled by disputes over natural resources. Almost three years after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement there remain resource-rich, poorly managed areas where ex-combatants wield considerable power due to lack of law-and-order capacity and alternative livelihood opportunities. Gaining government control of such areas and prohibiting the use of timber and diamonds to fuel conflict are central to the lifting of sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council in May 2003. This article examines the efforts of the Liberian government, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and other international partners to evacuate Sapo National Park as a case study for establishing control of natural resources – an important post-conflict challenge that can undermine the building of peace. 1 Critical components of what worked are examined in an effort to design and implement an integrated strategy, as are ongoing operational, coordination and other challenges. The case study illustrates the complexity of issues raised by, and the need to move beyond, sanctions for peace to be sustainable in resource-rich countries emerging from war.