UNITED NATIONS AND CONFLICT MANAGEMENT OF THE CIVIL WAR IN LIBERIA
1.1 Background of the Study
According to Collier and Lowe (2017), the international political climate is currently fraught with unresolved interstate and interstate conflicts, which often result from mere suspicion, mistrust, political and economic rivalries, and competition in the territory. Conflicts, if not carefully controlled and peacefully resolved, can lead (as they did) to armed conflict – conflicts that would (as they did) have devastating effects not only for the parties in conflict, but also for the international community. To that end, the desire to maintain international peace and security has always been at the heart of the international community. States have done a number of bilateral and multilateral treaties ranging from the 1899 Hague Convention on the Pacific Settlement of International Conflicts, revised by the Second Hague Peace Conference in 1907, to peacefully settle their differences and conflicts (Collier and Lowe, 2017). It was also the fundamental goal of the creation of the League of Nations in 1919 and the United Nations (UN) in 1945. Since its establishment, the United Nations has assumed responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security global security. The drafters of the United Nations Charter have envisioned an organization across the spectrum of conflict management and resolution, ranging from preventive measures to ad hoc responses to crises, to the long-term stabilization of conflict zones with a view to Preserving future generations from the scourge of war Separate opportunities has brought immense pain to humanity (Osmancavusoglu, 2015). To this end, the Charter obliges the parties to any conflict that may endanger international peace and security to settle this conflict through negotiation, investigation, mediation, conciliation, the maintenance of their mandate or by any means peaceful of their choice. Or, regional arrangements or agencies should be used. When this is not successful, the UN is allowed to intervene to review the conflict and make recommendations (Collier and Lowe, 2017).
However, the end of the cold war presented both opportunities and challenges for the international community. Opportunities in the sense that the UN has been more free to act than at any time in its history; challenges in that the end of the Cold War ushered in a regime of intra-state armed conflict, largely because citizens’ expectations for an improved and egalitarian society did not materialize. As a result, the ethnic and nationalist forces whose expectations were not fulfilled began to challenge the authority of the state and the old imperial borders. In fact, the demands of sub-national groups for empowerment, autonomy and even independence have taken on a violent dimension in the struggle for self-determination (Gambari, 2013). This has led to the collapse of state institutions in Somalia, a coup in Haiti and civil wars in Bosnia, Cambodia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Liberia and Angola, among other countries. As a result, it has become necessary for the United Nations to rely on regional organizations for the maintenance of international peace and security. This was partly based on the assumption that the parties better understand the security problems in their respective regions and partly on some form of burden-sharing (Essuman, 2018). Therefore, while the primary responsibility of the United Nations remains the maintenance of international peace and security, regional agencies should only reduce the burden of the United Nations by providing the services needed to achieve regional and international peace and security, in a coherent manner in accordance with the purpose and principles of the United Nations Charter (Michael & Nicholas, 2014).
On the other hand, the first Liberian civil war was an internal conflict in Liberia from 1989 to 1997. The conflict killed an estimated 250,000 people and eventually led to the participation of ECOWAS and the United Nations. Peace did not last long, and in 1999 the second Liberian civil war broke out. The second Liberian civil war began in 1999 when a rebel group backed by the neighboring government of Guinea, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), appeared in northern Liberia. In early 2003, a second rebel group, the Movement for Democracy in Liberia, appeared in the south of the country. In June-July 2003, Charles Taylor’s government controlled only one-third of the country war for nearly a century with indigenous peoples, whom they called “Aborigines or members of tribes”(Edgerton and Robert, 2012). Among the Liberians of America, there was a power struggle between the “Mulatoes” or the white-born, whose President Roberts and Tubman were the leading members and those of pure African dissent. In 1944, William U.S. Tubman (1895-1971), lawyer and senator, became president. He served for 27 years. President Tubman has made considerable progress in reducing legal and effective discrimination between Liberians and “tribesmen”. Political rights have been extended to them. But under Tubman, the supreme power of Liberian America from their few aristocratic families and the True Wig party (the TWP remained unchanged). There were very few tribal ministers under him. Tubman died in Great Britain on July 23, 1971; he was strongly anti-communist, although he authorized the opening of relations with the USSR in 1956. On the death of Tubman, the vice president William Tolbert him automatically succeeded. He was re-elected in 1975 and 1979, but announced that he would not run again in 1983. President Tolbert has often shown concern for ordinary citizens. Among the many official slogans that characterized his diet, there was “Mat to Mattresses”.
In 1979, Dr. Tolbert showed the fairness and sense of justice for which he was reputed by refusing to grant deferment to two men of the American Liberian elite, son of the true Wig party president, James Anderson, and former Vice President Yancy Sentenced to death. Beginning in 1977, the close relations between Liberia and Sierra Leone were strengthened by the Mano River Union, under which important projects were agreed to develop closer ties and in 1975, joined the new Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). A Liberian doctor, Romeo Horton, was director general of the ECOWAS fund. Relations with other countries have changed little under President Tolbert. The close relationship with the United States is illustrated by the great welcome given to President Carter during his visit in May 1978. The 1970s were such a period of economic hardship, but also a decade to a national debate about issues of social justice and equality and the imperatives of democracy. Interested opposition groups have emerged to engage the government. . The leadership of President Tolbert (1971-1980) was problematic and oscillated between a willingness to change and the maintenance of the status quo. A political vacuum has been created (Dickovick, 2012).
On April 12, 1980, a military coup was organized under the leadership of Samuel Doe and, for the first time, Aboriginal groups were in power. President Doe has filled his ranks with people from his own ethnic group, the Krahn. Given the unprecedented nature of the coup d’etat and the excesses of its violence, as well as the refusal of the conservative elements of the old order to accept change, many observers have concluded that the act was revolutionary and that a profound social transformation would be necessary sent by train. Others said that Liberia had been decolonised by “black colonialism”. The significance of this historic event was that the way was now free to replace the colonial minority government with the majority Aboriginal government. But such a promising prospect should not exist; Liberia was too rich in history to conform to what turned out to be a simplistic assumption about politics and society and after a period of initial uncertainty caused by an inexperienced military government and its civilian political facilitators (Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA) and People Progressive Party (PPP). The process of resolving the need for a return to a civilian regime was soon under way. Largely in response to pressure from the US government to fund the military regime in accordance with the Cold War demands in America, a new constitution was passed, approved by referendum. The elections were held on October 15, 1985. Many documents were rigged and the current military leader, Doe, declared the winner of the presidency, actually stole the election. With the elections, the US government approved the fraud, claiming that this was Africa’s policy. A deep disappointment settled. General Quinwonkpa tried his blow and his failure cost him his life. A brutal and massive repression ensued. Liberia at Wimba Origin has been hit hard by the brutality inflicted by General Quinwonkpa’s country of origin (Stephen, 2011).
On December 24, 1989, a small group of rebels attacked the Butuo border town of Nimba County as a first step toward overthrowing the Doe government. The rebels were the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) led by Charles Taylor. In February, a split led by Prince Y Johnson, a veteran and a number of members of the Gio tribe, developed with the NPFL; declaring that he did not want power. Johnson formed an independent national patriotic front of Liberia and accused Taylor of being a Libyan-backed socialist. All peace talks give nothing. The NPFL promised that there would be no ceasefire or peacekeeping from ECOWAS to Liberia until Doe’s resignation. Dr. Amos Sawger, a former professor at the University of Liberia, was elected interim president. Taylor (along with other Liberian forces) refused to work with the caretaker government and continued to fight. Johnson’s forces captured and killed Doe on September 9, 1990, while visiting General Quinoo at the Monrovia Freepot. The initial insurgency developed shortly thereafter into large-scale gang warfare, where groups fought to control the country’s rich mineral resources, such as timber, diamonds, gold and ore. of iron. Warlords have used these resources to enrich themselves and continued access to resources also allows them to continue to wage war. Eight main factors were involved in the civil war, henceforth involving intra-fractional fighting and divisions between several warring factions, which added to the complexity of this conflict. However, efforts were made to resolve the conflict and no less than fourteen peace agreements were signed between 1990 and the following years. The Abuja peace agreement was on the 14th and was to resolve the conflict (Essuman, 2018).
Conflict is the major pattern of social interactions (Ukaegbu and Agunwamba, 2015). Ekong (2010) also reiterated that conflict is a form of social interaction in which actors eliminate or weaken the other party to obtain a scarce reward. Conflict simply suggests differences and disagreement, struggle and strife. It is an ever-present process in human relations and an integral part of human’s life. Studies have shown that generally, conflicts share three common characteristics. First, there is a kind of contact or relationship between the parties involved; second, the parties perceive conflicting views; and finally, one of the parties always wants to redress existing contradictions (Vanderlin, 2005; Ekanola, 2014; Deutsh, 2011). There is no single practical definition of conflict; rather, different views exist on a continuum. While some perceive it as a negative situation which must be avoided at any cost, others see it as an occurrence which could be managed and another category consider it as opportunity that must be exploited to the best advantage. Whatever the position upheld on this continuum of viewpoints on conflict, it is certain that a continual state of conflict is not desirable for any meaningful community and national development (Nebgen, 2008). Rather, conflicts constitute a threat to community peace, stability and development as well as having serious implications for tribal co-existence, especially in a multi-ethnic and multi-tribal nation like Liberia. Rahim (2016) posited that most conflicts have negative connotations, invoke negative feelings and often lead to destruction and whether the effect of conflict will be good or bad depends on the strategies used to deal with it but Robbins, (2013) considers conflict as a potential force contributing to the performance of individuals. Thus, it is necessary to pay attention to causes of conflict and correct them in order to improve group performance (Robins, 2013). Bodtker and Jameson (2013) therefore suggested conflict resolution training and direct intervention as some of the ways to influence the nation against conflict.
In Africa, given that the state of peace and security on the continent has remained a pre-occupying phenomenon, certain regional organisations have since become directly involved in conflict resolution in their regions. For instance, the African (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) have played increasing role of late in resolving regional conflicts in various regions in the continent. However, while these organisations have made remarkable impact in certain places, their efforts in other places have not yielded a resounding success. For instance, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) may be said to have achieved a relative success in the settlement of conflicts that resulted in millions of casualties in the 1990s in Angola, the same may not be said of SADC in places like Somalia and Liberia. In fact, in Liberia, a regional war has ravaged almost the entire country. What has started as an internal crisis for a troubled Central African state could not be effectively resolved by the SADC consequently, turning some parts of the country into a theatre of war, resulting in negative security and socio-economic condition. Beyond the deaths and displacements caused directly by this war, it has also cause deterioration of health level for the entire state. This development has raised a big question as to the effectiveness of the UN regional organisation in bringing about conflict management in Liberia (Osmancavusoglu, 2015).
1.2 Statement of the problem
The frequency and the violent nature of conflicts have caused Liberia residing in these conflict zones to live in fear of the uncertainty. The economic havoc, the social disruptions and political instability brought about all these conflicts, undermining the foundation of the cooperative existence of all the affected area to enhance peace resolution. It is unfortunate that in this era of globalization, many Liberians are still openly discussing with impurity the possibility of dismemberment of the community through succession (Max, 2017). The search for the maintenance of international peace and security has always been at the heart of the United Nations. Although Article 24 of Chapter V of the United Nations Charter clearly attributes the responsibilities of the Security Council to the maintenance of international peace and security, Article 33 of the Charter gives regional organizations a role in the maintenance of international peace and security. peace and security in their respective regions. . However, achieving this goal may not be as simple as it appears at first glance. First, there may be a problem when a regulation is made by a political body such as the United Nations Security Council, as there may be a risk of self-interest or there may be no problem. common interest among the members of this political body to resolve an international conflict or respond promptly in the interest of the States Parties concerned. For example, if conflicts such as Iraq’s reversal of Kuwait and Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait can prompt responses, are other less decisive or less obvious conflicts likely to provoke the same reactions? Again, there may be a problem of lack of due process as to how decisions on the legal interests of States should be made, as this can create unnecessary tensions in international relations and thus endanger international peace and security (Collier and Lowe, 2017).
Secondly, the Charter of the United Nations required the parties to a conflict that endangered international peace and security to peacefully resolve this conflict, but the Charter did not require it to settle conflicts. It may therefore be asked whether the absence of this obligation will not constitute a loophole in the system of international law which may remain a source of tension from time to time, thus threatening international peace and security to the extent that States parties may be unwilling to submit their conflict to political conflict court for diplomatic political reasons (as in the case of the Falkland Islands claim by Argentina and the United Kingdom). Moreover, how to determine which conflict could endanger international peace and security. It is imperative to define parameters in the interests of sovereignty and division in the UN Security Council, which has often led to a late international conflict or non-intervention (Michael & Nicholas, 2014). Third, the Charter allows the United Nations to intervene and review the conflict and make recommendations when the parties have failed to reach an agreement. Although the strengthening role of the United Nations Security Council can be seen as a positive development, it will not also provoke resentment if States Parties, particularly in developing countries, perceive it as great powers. In addition, the Charter requires States parties to resolve any conflict that endangers international peace and security by any of the means provided by the Charter (Max, 2017). Point on note, peaceful methods of settling international conflicts are increasingly recognized as the preferred means of conflict settlement. However, despite the increased use of these methods to resolve conflicts and other forms of hostilities, studies show that only 50% of all conflict management last more than five years. In some situations, the resolution of conflicts by these means has not been a resounding success. This raised a big question about the effectiveness of these methods. This research will aim to solve all these problems.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The general objective of this study is to examine the United Nations approach to conflict management of the civil war in Liberia.
Specific objectives of this study are:
- To describe socio-economic characteristics of respondents in the study area
- To identify causes of conflicts in the study area
- To determine the effects of such conflicts on the socio economic life of the people
- To examine the process of diplomatic settlement of conflicts in Africa since the end of cold war, particularly in terms of their compatibility with the United Charter and in terms of their effectiveness.
- To identify conflict management strategies used by the United Nations in the study area.
1.4 Research Questions
- What are the socio-economic characteristics of respondents in the study area?
- What are the causes of conflicts in the study area?
- What are the effects of such conflicts on the socio economic life of the people
- What is the process of diplomatic settlement of conflicts in Africa since the end of cold war, particularly in terms of their compatibility with the United Charter and in terms of their effectiveness?
- What is the conflict management strategies used by the United Nations in the study area?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
Two hypotheses were set in the null form
- There is no significant relationship between effects of conflict and the socio-economic characteristics of the respondents
1.6 Scope of the Study
This research is restricted to the examination of the United Nations conflict management of the civil war with reference to Liberia. Hence, the work will be limited to examining relevant articles of the United Nations Charter particularly as it relates to conflicts management, as well as other relevant literatures on the subject of this research. Though territorial, the research is confined to Liberia, reference may still be made to other regions or state for guidance where necessary.
1.7 Significance of the Study
This study is relevant, it will provide additional information for understanding how most conflicts arose and degenerate into violent stage due to poor management. The states and the world at large also stands to benefit from this work in that regional and international peace which this work set out to achieve will no doubt guarantee sound international relations and consequently save the succeeding generations from the scourge of war which has on two separate occasions brought untold sorrow to mankind. This work is equally beneficial because it will provide additional reference material for students, researchers, diplomats and the general public.
1.8 Definition of Terms
Conflict: This is an attempt to outwit or completely subdue other individuals, groups or nations by means that may separate from informative order and industry violence.
Effect: – is a change which is a result or consequence of an action or other cause.
Cause: Is anything that gives rise to conflict in Liberia
Management: Is the process of dealing with or the activities of setting the strategy to control conflicts in Liberia.
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Stephen, E. (2011). The Mask of Anarchy, Hurst & Company, London, p.57, 67-68
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UNITED NATIONS AND CONFLICT MANAGEMENT OF THE CIVIL WAR IN LIBERIA