FBA in Liberia
It has been more than 20 years since the civil wars ended and a peace agreement was signed. Even though many of the key driving factors of the conflicts remain, and the road to sustainable peace is lined with grievances and tensions, Liberia has taken significant steps towards a robust and peaceful democratic system.
The general elections of 2023, the first post-war general elections without the presence of UN troops, was a positive step forward. In many respects Liberia today can be regarded as an example in West Africa.
Liberia, however, struggles with widespread poverty, corruption, impunity, gender discrimination, and weak state institutions. There is limited access to healthcare, education and markets. The economic and political arenas are dominated by a small elite, and land ownership continues to be a source of conflict. The social contract in Liberia is week and traditional and customary systems are generally more important in the citizens everyday life than state structures and policies.
Nevertheless, many actors – women and men, young and old, representing the public sector, the business community as well as civil society – are working hard to develop Liberia. After the surprisingly peaceful elections of 2023, prospects for success are better than in a long time.
Within the framework of the strategy for Sweden’s development cooperation with Liberia, FBA focuses on the following to promote peace, security and development:
Dialogue and peace mediation
Nearly 75 percent of Liberia’s population are under the age of 30, yet many young women and men face exclusion from political decision-making, socio-economic opportunities, and limitations imposed by stereotypical and gendered narratives of young people as either potential perpetrators of violence or passive victims. Young people’s leadership, particularly outside of the capital, is a particularly important force to prevent conflict and build peace. FBA has, together with Liberian partners, since 2018 trained young peace leaders from all 15 counties, equipping them with knowledge and skills to prevent, manage and resolve conflict in their communities. With mentorship, tailored advice and accompaniment, FBA has since 2021 supported teams with young peace leaders, and their design and implementation of county peace dialogue processes.
Furthermore, FBA accompanies the Liberian government in formulating policies for continued reconciliation.
Rule of law, human rights and election support
Weak institutions and widespread corruption have led to public mistrust in state authorities. Not the least among the rural population. A decentralization process is underway in order to ensure better public service for all citizens. FBA provides support in the areas of rule of law, professional ethics, transparency and accountability for Liberian civil servants.
The Liberian government agency Civil Service Agency is a crucial partner to FBA, together with a number of important Liberian civil society organisations. Cooperation on rule of law between state and civil society actors is highlighted in FBA’s activities as a way of fostering trust between the state and the citizens.
In order to support FBA’s activities and promote evidence-based approaches, a group of international researchers has been recruited and connected with FBA’s Liberia team.
Furthermore, an FBA inhouse researcher is carrying out a three year research project in Liberia on ”Early warning systems, the construction of risk, and conflict prevention”.
Secondment to the UN
FBA supports the United Nations in Liberia with a seconded Peace and Development Specialist stationed at the office of the UN Resident Coordinator.
Click here to read the entire strategy for Sweden’s development cooperation with Liberia 2021–2025.
Photo: UN Photo/Albert González Farran