The Liberian War

Essay by Jim StryjewskiUniversity, Master'sF, April 1995

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The Liberian War: A Modern Humanitarian Crisis

Term Paper

Professor Barry Stein

PLS 461


It is my intention in this paper to provide a historical background to the Liberian war, its historical origins, the factions involved, the refugee and displaced populations created by it across the region, and the regional and international communities reaction to it. Using the Liberian situation as a reference point I intend to then conclude with a relevant discussion of the topic of weak and failed states, modern refugee crises in and around them, and some of the tactics and policies adopted by the international community over the last 10 years in response.

The Liberian political-social dilemma and war embodies much of what has become characteristic of today's weak state humanitarian crises. A country with a conflictual formation and history, having experienced a great deal of political and institutional instability, and having historical ethnic cleavages, the state of Liberia erupted in 1989 into war.

As a result almost any trace of civil organization and authority has ceased to exist. The war has numerous actors and factions, persecutions and murders based on ethnic identity alone, killing and brutality directed upon civilian populations, and it has been protracted seemingly without any end.

In response to these kinds of conflicts new procedures and trends have arisen among the governmental and international actors within the world community. In Liberia the intervention force called the ECOWAS -Cease Fire Monitoring Group(ECOMOG), is one such example. The Peace keeping force, made of soldiers of members of the Economic Community of West African States, intervened in 1990 to monitor the cease fire between warring factions. From the very beginning the neutrality of the force was questioned by leaders of...