From the establishment of the Liberian state in 1847, the government’s indirect rule over the majority indigenous Liberian population was oppressive and exploitative, and in 1980 the settler government was overthrown. But instead of uniting Liberians, the first indigenous Liberian president presided over a 10-year dictatorship, followed by a brutal civil war that lasted until 2003.
In this case study, we examine the methodologies and approaches of the various actors involved in civil resistance and peacebuilding throughout each phase of conflict in Liberia. Organizations like the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia, the Mano River Women’s Peace Network, and the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission worked for peace and advocated for democratic change throughout the civil war.
Then in 2003, the Mass Action for Peace began organizing protests, sit-ins, and vigils to actively pressure the warring parties to come to an agreement. These actors pursued strategies of peacebuilding and civil resistance simultaneously, which led to the complementarity of their work and increased the impact they had on the peace process.
Using the framework developed by Véronique Dudouet in her 2017 ICNC Special Report, Powering to Peace: Integrated Civil Resistance and Peacebuilding Strategies, we examine the methodologies and approaches of the various actors involved in civil resistance and peacebuilding throughout each phase of conflict in Liberia, from a period of latent conflict (before 1980) to the post-settlement phase after 2003.
Many different actors in Liberia pursued strategies of peacebuilding and civil resistance simultaneously, which led to the complementarity of their work and increased the impact they had on the peace process, as well as political and civic reform. This case study takes an in-depth look at the interaction of these strategies in their common pursuit of peace and justice in Liberia.
Peace is the best that you can have; it cuts across class and region. When at peace, everything is possible. …The message of peace transcends all other barriers, even religion and tribes. – Rev. Bartholomew Bioh Colley, Source, pg. 3
About the Authors
Janel B. Galvanek is the Head of the Sub-Saharan Africa Unit at the Berghof Foundation in Berlin, Germany, where she leads the Foundation’s projects in Somalia, supporting mediation and dialogue initiatives among local communities in Hirshabelle and Galmudug States. Janel’s professional focus includes insider mediation, infrastructures for peace, and engaging local actors in conflict transformation processes. On a volunteer basis, Janel is the director of Growing Tree Liberia, an NGO based in Germany that supports programs for disadvantaged children in Liberia. She holds a Master’s degree in Peace Research and Security Policy from Hamburg University and an MA from Georgetown University in Washington, DC.
James Suah Shilue is Executive Director for Liberian NGO, Platform for Dialogue and Peace (P4DP) as of June 2012. Prior to occupying this position, he served as Liberia’s Programme Coordinator for UN joint Programme/Interpeace initiative (2007-2012). He presently serves as chairman for CSOs Cluster on peacebuilding and national reconciliation. He is also an adjunct lecturer at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Liberia. His professional areas of interest include, social research, post war reconstruction and development, rule of law, peacebuilding and conflict prevention, youth, women peace and security and human security. He has enormous experience working with national and international stakeholders to communicate complex findings into policy relevant action plans. He holds a master’s degree in Social and Community Studies (De Montfort University, UK) and an MA in Development Studies (Institute of Social Studies, The Netherlands).
- From the Street to the Peace Table: Nonviolent Mobilization during Intrastate Peace Processes by Véronique Dudouet
Through an analysis of six peace processes in Liberia, Basque Country/Spain, Kosovo, Aceh/Indonesia, Guatemala, and Nepal, this report develops a typology of grassroots movements that emerge during armed conflicts and identifies the strategic choices made by those movements to influence peace processes.
- Powering to Peace: Integrated Civil Resistance and Peacebuilding Strategies by Véronique Dudouet
This report explores the complementary ideas and practices that civil resistance and peacebuilding approaches present, each from different points along the conflict transformation spectrum. Both strategies oppose violence in all its forms, and seek to pursue just peace by peaceful means. However, they take different approaches to conflict transformation, in particular how they analyze primary causes of violence and how they respond to conflict. Drawing on a number of case studies, this report aims to help practitioners and scholars understand how integrating these strategies can help establish a path for “powering to peace.”
- Watch Webinar – Civil Resistance of Ordinary People against Brutal Regimes in Africa: Cases of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Kenya, ICNC, 2021
- International Center on Nonviolent Conflict ICNC – Resource Library
- Civil Resistance Tactics in the 21st Century
- The Path of Most Resistance: A Step-by-Step Guide to Planning Nonviolent Campaigns
- Civil resistance
- Movements_Campaigns - Africa
- Movements_Campaigns - Democracy - Liberia
- Movements_Campaigns - Peace
- Movements_Campaigns - Peace - Liberia