Mar 2012

Navigating paths to peace in Liberia and Sierra Leone

Conciliation Resources/Paul Koroma

Building peace takes time. What does ending conflict mean in practice? How do good governance, justice and human security strengthen each other?

These are pressing issues for any society recovering from violent conflict and just some of the questions addressed in Accord 23: Consolidating Peace. Its findings have been presented recently to local and international policymakers in West Africa and the USA.

It's clear that both Liberia and Sierra Leone are making gains. But almost ten years on from the official end of wars in both countries, the structural causes of conflict persist in both familiar and new forms. These must be overcome if a just and lasting peace is to be secured.

Relationships are central to sustainable societies

Drawing on experiences from across communities in Liberia and Sierra Leone, Accord 23 explores comparative lessons and examines progress. It looks at issues such as:

  • political reform
  • social reconciliation
  • youth exclusion
  • local conflict resolution and decentralisation

Consolidating Peace highlights key common challenges and assesses initiatives – both local and international – which respond to these threats. It argues that a peacebuilding strategy, which repairs relationships, promotes inclusion and integrates local structures, is needed in order to effectively counter triggers of conflict and build peace.

Sharing lessons for policy-making and practice

Meaningful dialogue and looking to others' experiences – both of what is successful and what is less so – are key to a just and sustainable peace.

At events held in Abuja (Nigeria), Freetown (Sierra Leone), Monrovia (Liberia), New York and Washington (USA), these findings have been presented to civil society representatives and officials who have a part to play in the current and future stability of West Africa.

A broad range of actors – including civil society representatives, non-governmental organisations, a range of national officials and delegations from the European Union, DfID, USAID, the US State Department, as well as United Nations personnel – attended the events and engaged in discussions.

At the Monrovia event, Blomah Nelson, Minister for Internal Affairs, commended the role Conciliation Resources continues to play in promoting discussion on many critical issues.

Consolidating peace is about building lasting processes and practices that enable citizens to feel their state works in their interests. This is about democracy and development, but it also means keeping focused on preventing a renewal of conflict and violence.

Janet Adama Mohammed, West Africa Programme Director

Accord 23 is accompanied by a policy brief, which sets out key findings and practical recommendations.

Both publications are part of our European Commission-funded project, People’s Peacemaking Perspectives (PPP).

Locally informed analysis

The PPP project – a joint project with Saferworld – seeks to provide policymakers, primarily within EU institutions, with timely and accurate analysis and recommendations based on the opinions and experiences of local people in a range of countries and regions affected by fragility and violent conflict.