On 7 August 1990, the Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) Standing Mediation Committee established a Military Observer Group (ECOMOG), to help resolve an armed internal conflict which had broken out in Liberia the previous year. This was not the first time that an African multinational force had been deployed on the continent. In 1981, the Organisation of African Union (OAU) Pan-African Peacekeeping Force in Chad was established as a response to the civil war in that country. The aim and objective of this paper is the presentation of only the second major involvement of an African regional organisation in the internal affairs of a member state. The civil war in Liberia is significant for two reasons. First, it served as an important example of a new type of external intervention – intervention by a subregional organisation. Second, it has led to a re-examination by African leaders, of the policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of states. Non-intervention in the internal affairs of states is one of the principles underlying the OAU. African leaders are, however, far more aware of the threat to regional security posed by internal conflicts. This was reflected in the second principle of the 1991 Conference on Security, Stability, Development and Cooperation in Africa which stated that ‘[t]he security, stability and development of every African country is inseparably linked with those of other African countries. Consequently, instability in one African country reduces the stability of all other countries.’ [2]This paper is divided into five sections, the first dealing with issues pertaining to the background of the civil war. The second deals with the initial stages of the conflict before the arrival of the peacekeeping force into the capital city, Monrovia. Section three discusses the decision to intervene and the differences of opinion that emerged from within the Community about the deployment of a peacekeeping force. During the intervention, ECOWAS has had to prevent rifts and political entanglements from developing. This section also examines the legal pretext and justifications given for the intervention. It focuses on the provisions that existed which allowed ECOWAS to take the necessary decisions to intervene in the conflict. The fourth section analyses the political and military aspects of the operation, especially the problems and complications encountered which had turned what can be seen as a new innovation in peacekeeping into a frustrating impasse. Finally, section five considers the humanitarian crisis that has confronted Liberia since the outbreak of the conflict. It argues that due to the lack of a credible security structure within Liberia, the humanitarian community has been unable to help the number of displaced people and refugees of Liberia. On the other hand, a strong case can be made that the presence of ECOWAS in Liberia has adverted a humanitarian catastrophe from taking place in that region. What has been of growing concern has been the predominance of child soldiers in different warring factions.

Background to the Civil War

Liberia’s internal conflict can be traced back to at least 1847 when it gained its independence from the United States. However, the civil war has immediate root causes in the Samuel Doe military regime and his failed promise to institute democratic reforms and return the country back to civilian rule after the 1980 coup which brought him to power.

On 12 April 1980, Samuel Doe, a 28 year old Master Sergeant (Staff Sergeant) in the Liberian Army and a member of the Krahn ethnic group, terminated the half a century rule of the Americo-Liberians in a military coup. Although only constituting 5% of the population, the Americo-Liberians exerted a monopoly of power over the majority of indigenous peoples and had dominated the country’s political, social and economic life for over 130 years [3]. Significantly for Doe, the country’s indigenous population initially supported the coup as it signalled an end to what was seen as a hostile regime. Doe subsequently established a military administration after he had executed President William Tolbert and most of the key figures in his administration. Doe’s military regime was to stay in power until 1985 when as he promised national elections would take place, and a new democratic constitution would come into force. Doe also promised to end the system of corruption and redistribute the nation’s wealth among the people. However, Doe failed on both counts. First, like the Americo-Liberians before him, Doe had created a governmental system that benefitted one ethnic group, the Krahns. Second, Doe stifled an attempt to create a draft constitution for a return to civilian rule in 1985. The National Constitutional Committee set up by Doe under the chairmanship of Amos Sawyer in 1981 to prepare a draft constitution was undermined as Doe objected to its contents of improving the powers, privileges and prerogatives of the Presidential office [4]. By 1984, Doe’s military regime had transformed itself into a transitional caretaker government which he headed as the constitutional civilian president. In positioning himself as president, Doe appeared to have tried to undermine, another commission, the Special Election Commission, set up to monitor the elections, by attempting to ensure that it was dominated by his friends and members of his National Democratic Party of Liberia, and that the rules were biased in his favour [5]. By the time of the 1985 elections, the Special Election Commission had declared Doe the winner [6].

From 1985, Doe eliminated opposition groups and subjected opposition leaders to harassment and intimidation by his security forces. This triggered an abortive coup by the ex-commander of the Liberian Army, Thomas Quiwomkpa, an ethnic Gio and former Doe ally. The failure of the coup resulted in a brutal campaign of repression by Doe’s Krahn-dominated Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) in Quiwomkpa’s home region of Nimba county [7]. The attack was also carried out against the Gio and Mano peoples who were thought to be Quiwomkpa’s strongest supporters. It was therefore ‘not by accident that (Charles) Taylor and (‘Prince’ Yormie) Johnson (himself a Gio) initiated their invasion, and that the core of their commando units (were) mainly Gio and Mano. [8]’

The NPFL Invasion

On Christmas Eve in 1989 an armed incursion launched by Mr Charles Taylor, an America-Liberian [9] of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) to remove the Samuel Doe government, degenerated into ethnic carnage that threatened to engulf the whole country. Taylor began his campaign in Nimba county, home of the Gio and Mano ethnic groups, which suffered greatly from Doe [10]. By April and May 1990, the fighting and massacre of civilians had moved closer to the capital city, Monrovia and other heavily populated areas. Charles Taylor’s forces, also joined by the Gio and Mano ethnic group, launched attacks on the Krahn ethnic group and their ally, the Mandingo. (The Mandingos were considered by the NPFL to have collaborated with the Doe government) [11]. The NPFL soon controlled the majority of Liberian territory and by May 1990, President Doe was constrained to call upon ‘all patriotic citizens’ to join forces with the government and fight the rebels with ‘cutlasses and single-barrelled guns. [12]’ This strategy did not delay Taylor’s advance significantly, although he suffered a setback when one of his commanders, ‘Prince’ Yormie Johnson, spilt from the main NPFL and began fighting both the forces of Taylor and Doe’s AFL as the Independent National Patriotic Front (INPFL).

As the conflict continued, over half the country’s population of 2.6 million was displaced internally (for example the population in Monrovia grew from 600,000 in 1991 to approximately one million at the height of the crisis) and externally (as Liberians who took refuge in neighbouring countries were estimated at 700,000) [13]. The rupture of civil administration through many areas of Liberia, especially the Gbarnga divisions, Buchanan town and areas of Grand Bassa and cessation of most forms of social services, and the disruption of economic activities, have resulted in considerable dependence on humanitarian assistance provided by the United Nations and non-governmental organisations.

Several attempts at mediation were made by Liberian groups, including Christian and Muslim leaders under the Inter-Faith Mediation Committee. At the beginning of the conflict the member states of the United Nations and the OAU took no collective action. International concerns were the Gulf and later conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and Somalia. The OAU for its part was hindered by a lack of resources and political will reinforced by vivid memories of its perceived failure in Chad in 1981. It only went as far as hailing ‘the laudable efforts deployed by ECOWAS and express(ed) its total support for its initiatives. [14]’ There was an expectation that the United States would intervene in what has often been described as its unofficial colony. But the US initially showed little concern for what it considered would be a brief disruption. The United States’ government stated that ‘the resolution of this civil war is a Liberian responsibility…a solution to Liberia’s current difficulties will be viable if it is worked (out) by Liberians themselves and has broad internal support. [15]’ Senior Liberian and interest groups called for the US marines to stop the fighting or at least to create a safe haven for the civilians [16]. The only response came with the use of 200 US marines to rescue at least 300 US nationals on 5 August 1990 [17].

The events taking place in Liberia came under the scrutiny of the 13th summit of the Heads of States of ECOWAS countries which was held in Banjul, Gambia on 30 May 1990, under the chairmanship of Sir Dawda Jawara of Gambia. The member states decided to set up the five-member Standing Mediation Committee [18] with the task of achieving a peace settlement to the Liberian civil war. On 6 July 1990 at a summit meeting in Banjul, Gambia, the five members of the SMC took an unprecedented step in deciding to send a multinational peacekeeping force into Monrovia. The mandate for the peacekeeping force stated that they were to, ‘keep peace, restore law and order and ensure that a cease-fire agreed to by the warring factions in Liberia was respected. [19]’ On the 25th August 1990, 3,000 troops from ECOMOG landed in Monrovia.

The Decision to Intervene and Subregional Politics

The decision taken by ECOWAS to intervene can be seen as a novel move. ECOWAS was initially designed in 1975 by a joint initiative of Nigeria and Togo to promote economic and social cooperation within the West African region. Why then should a multilateral organisation established for economic integration assume the responsibility for collective security and the management of conflicts in the subregion? Neither in the aims of the Community nor in the modalities for achieving them is there any mention of interposition of force, armed or unarmed [20]. This is not to say that the Community cannot address political or security issues which could affect economic stability within the region. In Africa, the dominance of security issues and concerns in regional politics make it more imperative that economic relations be harnessed on a sound political and security foundation as the collapse of law and order render the pursuit of the objectives of economic integration difficult, if not impossible [21]. The convergence between economic and political matters informed the signing in 1978 of the Protocol on Non-Aggression, adopted at the Third Conference of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS held in Dakar, Senegal on 22 April 1978 and the Protocol on Mutual Assistance on Defence adopted in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on 29 May 1981. The Protocol on Non-Aggression states that the Community ‘cannot attain its objectives save in an atmosphere of peace and harmonious understanding among Member States’. It affirms the non-use of force contained in Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter and respect for the sovereignty of each member state. The Protocol however adds that ‘[e]ach member state shall refrain from committing, encouraging or condoning acts of subversion, hostility or aggression against the territorial integrity or political independence of the other member state.’ At the same time member states were ‘to prevent non-resident foreigners from using its territory as a base for committing (these) acts. [22]’ While the 1978 Protocol upholds the principle of non-intervention, it neither rules outs the right of individual or collective self-defence nor the possibility of enforcement under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

Although valuable the Protocol was limited to only addressing aggression between member states [23]. It made no reference to aggression coming from outside the Community or the problem of internal conflicts. The Protocol subsequently became supplemented by the Protocol relating to Mutual Assistance on Defence and dealt with these omissions. Here member states were ‘firmly resolve to safeguard and consolidate the independence and sovereignty of member states against foreign intervention.’ Members also declared that any ‘armed threat or aggression’ directed against fellow members shall constitute a threat or aggression against the entire Community. In the case of ‘internal armed conflict within any member state engineered and supported from the outside’ and which is ‘likely to endanger the peace and security’ in the region, the Protocol empowers ECOWAS to initiate armed or collective intervention. Where armed intervention (Article 9) is to occur, the Protocol empowers the Authority (Head of ECOWAS) to decide on the expediency of military action (Article 6(3)). If necessary, the Authority shall interpose the Allied Armed Force of the Community between the troops engaged in the conflict. (Article 17). Article 13(1,2) allows for the creation of a Community army made up of troops earmarked from national units [24]. This Protocol has been cited by its proponents as providing the basis for the ECOMOG intervention in Liberia [25].

In its first decision, the Standing Mediation Committee, referring to the Protocol on Mutual Assistance and Defence and ‘acting on behalf of the Authority of Heads of States and Government’, called for:

  1. The parties to observe an immediate ceasefire;
  2. An ECOWAS ceasefire monitoring group (ECOMOG) to be set up for the purpose of keeping the peace, and restoring law and order and ensuring respect for the ceasefire;
  3. A broad-based interim government in Liberia set up through a National Conference of political parties and other interest groups;
  4. Free and fair elections within 12 months leading to the establishment of a democratically elected government;
  5. The exclusion of all leaders of the various warring factions to the Liberian conflict from the Interim Government; and
  6. The creation of a Special Emergency Fund for the ECOMOG operation in Liberia [26].

Member states of ECOWAS had advanced several reasons for their decision to intervene. First, was the argument that regional instability was inevitable due to the overflow and displacement of refugees in neighbouring countries. General Erskine of ECOMOG stated that, ‘with the crisis in Liberia creating unbearable refugee problems for Sierra Leone, Ghana, the Gambia, Guinea, Nigeria and the Ivory Coast, it is obvious that the situation in Liberia has gone beyond the boundaries of the country and ceases to be an exclusive Liberian question. [27]’ A further threat to the subregion’s peace and security can be found in the argument that the current crisis in Sierra Leone is as of a direct consequence of the Liberian civil war. Elements of NPFL are said to have joined the Sierra Leone rebel group, the Revolutionary United Front in the overthrow of government forces and Joseph Momoh in March 1991. Second, the decision of some West African leaders to get involved in the Liberian crisis was said to be humanitarian. In its Final Communiqué, the Standing Committee gave a strongly humanitarian rationale for its decisions, adding that, ‘presently, there is a government in Liberia which cannot govern and contending factions which are holding the entire population as hostage, depriving them of food, health facilities and other basic necessities of life. [28]’ A subsequent ECOWAS statement in August 1990 was more explicit in stating a humanitarian objective: ‘stopping the senseless killing of innocent civilians nationals and foreigners, and to help the Liberian people to restore their democratic institutions. [29]’ It is hard to escape the conclusion that ECOWAS had strengthened its overall case by increasing the humanitarian justification post facto. The third justification given for the intervention was based on the 1981 ECOWAS Protocol relating to Mutual Assistance in Defence. According to Article 16 of the Protocol, the Head of State of a member country under attack may request action or assistance from the community. General Doe did request assistance in a letter addressed to the chairman and members of a Ministerial meeting of the SMC when he indicated that, ‘it would seem most expedient at this time to introduce an ECOWAS Peace-keeping Force into Liberia to forestall increasing terror and tension and to assure a peaceful transitional environment. [30]’ There is however some concern over this letter. Specifically, there is the question of whether Doe could still be regarded as the ‘legal’ authority in the country. By July 1990, at the time the letter was written, Liberia was in a state of anarchy with Doe trapped within the Executive Mansion, the seat of the government. At least one of the warring factions, the NPFL, effectively controlled large parts of the country and the capital city.

Aside from the above justifications given for the interventions, individual member states harboured different reasons for wanting to intervene and assist the various warring parties to the conflict. Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire (along with Libya) were said to have given Charles Taylor some support. At the beginning of the conflict, Doe supporters alleged that the Charles Taylor forces had been trained in Burkina Faso (and Libya) and had entered the country from Côte d’ Ivoire – a claim which was denied by the states concerned [31]. Burkina Faso’s Head of State, Blaise Campaore is said to have provided the NPFL with a ‘strategic planning ground’ and acted as ‘a major source of arms supply for Charles Taylor, while Libya became a training ground for the NPFL. [32]’ Both the Burkbinabe leader and President Houphouët-Boigny of Côte d’Ivoire are said to have personal reasons for intervention. For example, in the case of Côte d’Ivoire, Doe had killed President Tolbert and arrested his eldest son, Adolphus Tolbert, the son-in-law of Houphouët-Boigny, who was subsequently killed in jail. It was against this background that the Ivorian leader was believed to have encouraged another of his sons-in-law, Blaise Compaore to support the rebel cause [33]. Compaore in turn is believed to have introduced Taylor to the Libyan leader Colonel Ghadaffi, but it is difficult to assess the motives of the Libyan leader. Ghadaffi had been involved in several projects with the intention of creating and supporting an ‘anti-imperialist coalition’ against the West and the United States in particular, and to extend his influence in Sub-Saharan Africa [34].

Charles Taylor was not however the only one receiving external support. Doe visited countries within the sub-region of West Africa, namely Sierra Leone and Nigeria [35]. The Nigerian leader, President Ibrahim Babangida, was seen by some as Doe’s sub-regional god-father, and the Liberian leader named a Graduate School of International Relations and a major road after him. Nigeria was also partly motivated to intervene because of the attacks on foreigners, especially Nigerians in Liberia. In July 1990 shooting is said to have taken place at the Nigerian Embassy in Monrovia by Charles Taylor’s forces. Similarly, on 8 August 1990, NPFL forces reportedly killed 700 to 1,000 Nigerians inside the Nigerian Embassy [36]. Beyond the concerns for its nationals, the Liberian conflict has provided Nigeria with the opportunity to establish itself as the most influential mediator in the sub-region. Nigeria has been a major contributor especially in the composition and finance of ECOMOG contributing at least 70% of the troops. Its role in the conflict and the perception that it is using Liberia as a means of exacting her dominance in the sub-region has been a source of contention among the member states, in particular the francophone states. Sierra Leone’s position is more difficult to assess. The only plausible explanation is that Joseph Momoh and Ibrahim Babangida have a close relationship that was first established while they were both attending the Nigerian Defence Academy at Kaduna. Sierra Leone had received economic assistance from Babangida and Momoh’s support for Doe was seen as a repayment of this assistance [37].

The decision to intervene was reportedly unwelcome by Charles Taylor who saw the initiatives as an attempt to prevent him from taking power. He subsequently went on to denounce the intervention by ECOMOG calling it a ‘flagrant act of aggression’ and stating that he did not consider the (ECOMOG) force to be a peace force [38]. Charles Taylor was however not alone in criticising the decision to intervene. Some members of ECOWAS were opposed to the idea of sending in a peacekeeping force into Liberia. Strong opposition for the deployment of ECOMOG came from the francophone countries, in particular Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire. The Burkinabe Head of State and Government, Lt Blaise Compaore, was reported by Radio Burkina to have sent a message to the ECOWAS Chairman Dawda Jawara of Gambia, declaring his country’s ‘total disagreement’ with the operation and adding that ECOMOG had ‘no competence to interfere in member states’ internal conflicts, but only in conflicts breaking out between member countries. [39]’ Côte d’Ivoire too was believed to be opposed to the initiative, which they saw as being largely advanced by Nigeria [40]. Both countries were suspicious of Nigeria’s intention, the more so when it was believed that the country was supporting Doe. Togo, a member of the SMC, initially announced that it would ‘refrain from intervening’ and making troops available for ECOMOG ‘until the three factions agreed to the mediatory mission. [41]’ The opposition to the deployment of ECOMOG has raised fears that the age old rivalry between the anglo and francophone countries would be rekindled. In an attempt to reduce the tension, Nigeria initially conceded the leadership of the force to Lt. General A. Quainoo of Ghana in order to avoid giving any impression that they wanted to dominate the ECOMOG operation [42].

ECOWAS and ECOMOG intervention in Liberia

The Liberian conflict has exposed most of the classical problems of peacekeeping operations, especially in internal security situations. What happens when a peacekeeping force itself becomes a party to the conflict and assumes a combative role? ECOMOG’s deployment in Liberia has raised significant questions about its legitimacy, neutrality, and effectiveness. Although subsequently referred to as a peacekeeping force, the consistent denial by NPFL of ECOMOG’s compromised neutrality undermined its authority in Liberia. As early as October 1990, the neutrality and peacekeeping nature of ECOMOG was in question especially when it was seen as assuming a combative role in alliance with the INPFL and AFL [43]. The ECOMOG force which landed in Monrovia on 24 August 1990 was met with Charles Taylor’s promise to intensify his attack in order to undermine their advancement. Taylor’s policy however had implications for ECOMOG. Within a month of landing ECOMOG’s strategy had evolved into a conventional offensive, with the aim of driving Taylor’s troops out of Monrovia and creating a protected buffer zone around the capital city. Although styled as a peacekeeping force, ECOMOG’s actual mission bordered on peace-making and peace-enforcement, ‘a major departure from the original mandate.[44]’ ECOMOG remained as an enforcement unit for at least six to eights months after its deployment. By November 1990, ECOMOG controlled Monrovia and a ceasefire was subsequently established. During this period, President Doe had been tortured and killed by Prince Johnson’s men on his way to the ECOMOG headquarters [45]. In justifying the position taken by ECOMOG, the chairman of ECOWAS stated that ‘the strategy being pursued (was) one of peacekeeping, but one which they (ECOMOG) are obliged to fire back and attack’ given the NPFL’s refusal to accept a ceasefire [46].

On the diplomatic front, ECOWAS had to begin a long and slow search for the elusive formula that would unify the country under free and fair elections. The first attempt came with peace talks in Bamako, Mali on 27 November 1990 and the swearing in of the Interim Government of National Unity under Amos Sawyer [47], with ECOMOG providing a security zone for it around Monrovia. Two other peace talks were held at Lome, Togo (12 February 1991), and Monrovia, Liberia (15 March 1991). However, all three talks were largely unsuccessful due in part to Charles Taylor’s refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy of the interim government and his claim that he should be president since he controlled over 90% of Liberia [48]. As a consequence, Taylor established an alternative government for the bulk of ‘Greater Liberia’ in his own capital city of Gbargna, Bong County with the NPFL and its civilian counterpart, the National Patriotic Reconstruction Assembly (NPFA). This effectively led to a partitioned state. During this period and largely because of the political and military stalemate in Liberia, the peace process was halted and thrown into a state of confusion by the emergence of a new warring faction, the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO) on 29 May 1991.

ULIMO was founded in Sierra Leone and in Conakry, the capital of Guinea from four existing components. One group, the Liberian Peace Council (LPC) was headed by George Boley, former advisor to President Doe. The second group, the Liberian United Defence Force was headed by an ex-functionary in the Doe government, General Albert Karpeh [49]. The third group, the Movement for the Redemption of Liberian Moslems (MRLM), was founded in February 1990 and based in Guinea. This group was headed by Doe’s former Minister for Information, Alhaji Kromah. The fourth group contained elements of Samuel Doe’s army, the AFL soldiers who fled to Sierra Leone [50]. The AFL wants to be viewed as the legitimate government army, and not just a warring faction, but its position is somewhat ambiguous. The AFL was regarded as the army of the Interim Government (IGNU) [51], as illustrated by the fact that the IGNU minister of defence was ostensibly in charge of the AFL. ULIMO is generally believed to be ‘a mixed bag of people most of whom are members of the Krahn (Doe’s) tribe and former officials of the Doe government.[52]’ According to official ULIMO documents its ‘aims and objectives’ are said to be ‘to liberate Liberia from Taylor’s NPFL occupation….(and) [t]o support and cooperate with legitimate national and subregional authorities…in the search for lasting peace, harmony, security and genuine democracy in Liberia. [53]’

Despite the emergence of ULIMO in the conflict, ECOWAS continued its attempts to solve the conflict through mediation during 1991. This period also saw attempts to prevent a division within the organisation from emerging between the francophones who saw the anglophones as extending their dominance in the peace process. In responding to this dominance, francophone countries were brought into the critical stages of the conflict and the leadership of the negotiating process was transferred from Nigeria to Côte d’Ivoire. Under this new initiative, a francophone Committee of Five (Burkina-Faso, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Togo and Côte d’Ivoire) was established under the chairmanship of President Houphouët-Boigny. Four meetings were hosted by Houphouët-Boigny at his country retreat in Yamoussoukro, in Côte d’Ivoire culminating on 30 October 1991 with the Yamoussoukro IV Accord. This Accord which was agreed by the warring factions is said to have specified the steps to be taken together to constitute a framework for the settlement of the crisis. Specifically, these steps included the encampment and disarmament of warring factions under the supervision of an expanded ECOMOG by January 1992; the creation of a buffer zone along the Sierra Leone-Liberia border in order to insulate Sierra Leone from further attacks from NPFL forces and the opening of all roads into Monrovia [54]. Taylor agreed to disarm his troops under the supervision of an expanded peacekeeping force and to confine his fighters (‘encamp them’) as part of the ongoing peace process. However Taylor made his commitment to ECOMOG, provided that the composition of the contingent was changed to add troops from Senegal and reduce the Nigerian contingency [55]. Until then, Nigerians had made up approximately 90% of the ECOMOG force, and Taylor had always considered them to be particularly hostile to NPFL [56].

Despite the apparent willingness of the warring factions to participate and cooperate in the peace process, the Yamoussoukro IV Accord ran into difficulty at the implementation stage. Attempts by ECOMOG to implement the Accord were undermined by the continued fighting between themselves and the NPFL on the one hand and later by ULIMO and NPFL. Impatient with the progress being made with the implementation and largely frustrated by Taylor’s forces, the Heads of State of ECOWAS issued a communiqué warning that ‘[u]nless (he) and the NPFL comply fully with the implementation, the Authority shall impose comprehensive sanctions against (him) and the NPFL’ within 30 days from the conclusion of the fifteenth session [57]. Charles Taylor accused ECOMOG of harbouring support for ULIMO and refused to disarm thus effectively undermining the Yamoussoukro agreement [58]. A group of at least 500 ECOMOG troops sent into NPFL territory to prepare for the programme of disarmament and encampment were subsequently captured and held under surveillance by NPFL [59]. Finally, on 15 October 1992, while fighting ULIMO and AFL elements, NPFL forces launched ‘Operation Octopus,’ attacking ECOMOG forces near Bremervile thus precipitating a collapse of the fragile cease-fire and a two-month siege in Monrovia. ECOMOG is said to have pursued an offensive operation, using aircrafts to bomb NPFL positions which led to large civilians deaths [60]. ECOMOG eventually regained Monrovia in December 1992. During this period, Prince Johnson’s INPFL collapsed with some former members rejoining the NPFL. Johnson himself left the country to live in Nigeria [61]. Once again, ECOMOG found itself fighting alongside two warring factions, ULIMO and AFL, against the third, NPFL.

ECOMOG’s continued attacks on NPFL, whether in concert with or independent of ULIMO and the AFL left many in doubt about its competence to continue as a peacekeeping force. Former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter questioned the size of the ECOMOG contingent, its neutrality and the level of armaments available to it. Carter also stated that a small UN contingent of unarmed observers be sent to Liberia to help restore confidence in the peacekeeping operation and oversee the encampment and disarmament process [62]. Within ECOWAS there were divisions on the future role of ECOMOG and policy of the organisation in Liberia. There was growing uneasiness among member states about the inability of ECOMOG to implement the imposition of a comprehensive economic sanction against the NPFL leader. Blaise Campaore of Burkina Faso had criticised ECOMOG for instigating the continued attacks on NPFL. In a special message said to come from President Campaore, one of his minister, Salif Diallo stated that ECOMOG had become a force of aggression and must leave Liberia: ‘(ECOMOG) had forgotten its role as (a) peacekeeping force because it is fighting against one of the factions. In so doing, it has become one of the belligerents in Liberia. [63]’ At the First Joint Meeting of the ECOWAS Standing Mediation Committee and the Committee of Five held on 20 October at Cotonou, Benin, member states decided to create a monitoring committee of nine comprising Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’ Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo to monitor the strict implementation of Yamoussoukro Accord IV which was to begin within 15 days from the declaration of the cease-fire [64].

The joint meeting also reaffirmed its commitment to the imposition of sanctions by the 5 November 1992 against the NPFL and other warring factions which failed to comply with the provisions outlined in the Yamoussoukro IV Accords. A special appeal was also made to the three countries bordering Liberia for their cooperation to ensure the strictest application of the sanctions decision. This latter point was made in light of accusations that Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso were supplying Charles Taylor forces with arms. At a subsequent meeting of 7 November held at the ECOWAS headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria, the First Meeting of the Committee of Nine condemned NPFL for its attacks against ECOMOG and ‘reaffirmed the right of ECOMOG, as a peace-keeping force to defend itself decisively against armed attacks from any quarter’. It also called for a ceasefire to be effective from 10 November, midnight and ‘invited the Secretary-General of the United Nations to appoint a Special representative to co-operate with ECOWAS in the implementation of the ECOWAS peace plan [65]. The latter decision can be seen as part of a compromise ‘package’ aimed at healing the growing differences and the absence of consensus in policy between the francophone countries led by Côte d’Ivoire who preferred a more mediatory approach and the anglophone countries, led by Nigeria and Sierra Leone who favoured a major military offensive against the NPFL [66].

In early November 1992 ECOWAS made a representation to the UN Security Council, followed by a Security Council meeting on 19 November 1992. The discussion within the Council is notable for its appeal to a regional solution to the conflict and its approval, if somewhat guarded, of ECOWAS’ decisions [67]. The Security Council meeting formed the basis of Resolution 788 which reaffirmed ‘its belief that the Yamoussoukro IV Accord … offer(ed) the best possible framework for a peaceful resolution of the Liberian conflict’. Resolution 788 also condemned NPFL for its attacks against ECOMOG, requested that the Secretary-General dispatch a Special Representative to Liberia to evaluate the situation and imposed ‘a general and complete embargo on all deliveries of weapons and military equipment to Liberia. [68]’ The arms embargo did not however extend to ECOMOG. Significantly, the Resolution and subsequent meetings within the Security Council never drew attention to or criticised ECOMOG’s use of force, its reported alliance with other warring factions, or its indiscriminate attacks on civilians, especially during ‘Operation Octopus’. Rather the Council praised ECOMOG’s performance and condemned the continued armed attacks against the peacekeeping force. A strong case can be made that this outward approval from the Council encouraged ECOMOG to continue its attacks against the NPFL even when Taylor had earlier indicated that he would cooperate with the UN embargo. Taylor, who had previously lobbied for a UN presence, released a ‘conciliatory’ statement declaring that his forces would implement the provisions of Yamoussoukro IV Accords [69]. This however did little to end the fighting which continued until April 1993. During the renewed attacks, ECOMOG recaptured significant territories from NPFL including Harbel, Kakata, Voinjama and Buchanan by April 1993 [70].

On the night of 5 and 6 June 1993, as peace negotiations were taking place, nearly 600 Liberians, mainly displaced men, women, children and elderly, were killed in an armed attack near Harbel, Liberia. An inquiry into the massacred was called for by ECOWAS and Charles Taylor. On 9 June, the President of the Security Council asked the Secretary-General to ‘begin immediately a thorough and full investigation of the (Harbel) massacre, including any allegations as to the perpetrators, and report as soon as possible. [71]’ In an inquiry by Dr Amos Wako for the United Nations [72], AFL troops, which were supposed to be guarding the refugees, responsible for the massacre. The inquiry also revealed that evidence pointing to the complicity of Taylor’s forces was actually laid as ‘part of a scheme of deception. [73]’ The inquiry added, however, that this finding did not mitigate or diminish the responsibility of NPFL, ULIMO and others alleged to have engaged in similar atrocities against unarmed, innocent civilians throughout the conflict [74]. The inquiry concluded that while ‘no evidence (exists) that ECOMOG personnel had advance knowledge of the massacre, ECOMOG … may have suspected soon after learning of the incident what had actually happened and treated the matter as if it were not its direct responsibility. [75]’

The Harbel Massacre heightened the pressure upon ECOWAS and the international community to try to bring together the rival factions in order to resume negotiations and find a consensus to the crisis. Peace-talks were conducted in the summer of 1993 with the assistance of the UN and the OAU. These talks resulted in the Cotonou Agreement, which was signed by the IGNU, NPFL and ULIMO. The Agreement, which contained both a military and political component, laid out a continuum of action, from ceasefire through disarmament and demobilization to the holding of national elections. The parties agreed to establish a Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee (JCMC), comprising representatives of the three warring factions, ECOMOG and an advance team of 30 UN observes [76]. Eventually this Committee was to be replaced by a monitoring group composed of an expanded ECOMOG (with additional troops form outside the West African region) and a UN Observer Mission. The Agreement assigned the primary responsibility for ensuring its implementation to ECOMOG, and called upon the United Nations to verify the impartiality of its various implementation procedures [77].

The Agreement also made provisions for a single Liberian National Transitional Government (LNTG) which was to replace the Interim Government, and run the country for a period of six months under the Constitution of Liberia. The LNTG, which was to be a government of inclusion would have three branches – The Executive, Judiciary and Legislative – and a five member Council of State. The Agreement also provided for general and presidential elections to take place seven months from the signing of the Agreement, and set out the modalities for the elections to be supervised by a reconstituted Electoral Commission [78].

Finally, the UN Security Council established an Observer Mission in Liberia (UNOMIL) which was to remain unarmed, while ECOMOG troops were to provide their security. This was first joint UN/regional peacekeeping mission ‘undertaken by the United Nations in co-operation with a peace-keeping mission already set up by another organisation, in this ECOWAS. [79]’ By February 1994, UNOMIL was established on the ground with a military, medical, engineering, communication, transportation and electoral component. The signing of the Cotonou Agreement marked a new phase for ECOWAS as it embarked on a peacemaking mission in cooperation with the UN (and also the OAU). The UN Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali stated that the situation in ‘Liberia represent(ed) a good example of systematic cooperation between the United Nations and regional organisations, as envisaged in Chapter VIII of the Charter. [80]’ The joint initiative by ECOWAS and the UN should be understood as a reflection of the different but complementary roles that regional and international organisations can play in resolving localised conflicts. What was different about the Cotonou Agreement in view of past agreements, was that ECOMOG was to be expanded to include two contingents outside the West African sub-region – Tanzania and Uganda – and a UN observer mission. Throughout the conflict, Charles Taylor had consistently declared that he would only disarm his troops to UN forces or some international body other than the Nigerian-dominated ECOMOG which he saw as not being impartial [81].

The progress towards implementing the Cotonou Agreement was however slow with all the options that were outlined being undermined. As with the Yamoussoukro IV Accords, this latest Agreement did not bring peace, but instead a multiplication of warring factions who showed little commitment or political will. More importantly, the command and control structure of the differing warring factions contributed greatly to the instability of the security situation. For example, ULIMO, had spilt into three groups after months of tension and heavy fighting in Western Liberia. The three groups which remain opposed to Charles Taylor are now, ULIMO-K largely consisting of Mandingo fighters and headed by Alhaji Kromah, ULIMO-J which was made up of Krahns and headed by Roosevelt Johnson and the LPC headed by George Boley. The latter group began attacks in NPFL led areas of the south-east late in 1993. Another group, the Lofa Defence Force (LDF) added to the already complicated political scene. These groups were not signatories of the Cotonou Agreement. The ceasefire was also continually violated by all sides and there was a display of unwillingness by the factions to provide vital information on the number and location of their combatants., weapons and mines [82]. The growing hostilities and fighting added to the lack of success in the disarmament and demobilisation process. By June 1994, a total of only 3,192 combatants had been demobilised. (ULIMO, 739; NPFL, 731, AFL, 685) [83] The Cotonou Agreement was also undermined by the slow progress in establishing the Transitional Government. The factions had failed to reach an agreement on the disposition of ministerial portfolios, i.e. defence, finance, interior and justice. After some delay over its precise composition the LNTG was finally formed on 7 March 1994, under a five-person Council of State. It was also argued that free and fair elections would be held on 2 September 1994.

1994 could therefore be termed as the absence of progress in the peace process in Liberia. The governance of Liberia had been seriously affected by the inability of the five member Council of State to reach consensus on most issues and by the lack of resources available to the government to administer the country. The future of the joint UNOMIL/ECOMOG operation was also in doubt as it became apparent that the continued fighting between the rival factions undermined the implementation process and the election of September 1994. The UN Representative to Liberia, Trevor Gordon-Somers was reported to have admitted that mistakes were made over the disarmament process that were decided in the Cotonou Agreement: ‘[i]n the Cotonou agreement we all negotiated on the assumption of good faith…and therefore, there are aspects we did not pay sufficient attention to. For one, we did not address the issue of the internal security arrangements in the country.’ Gordon-Somers added that everything had been left to the African peacekeeping force and no attempt was made at planning for a future army [84].

As a number of obstacles continued to impede the implementation of the Cotonou Agreement several meetings were convened leading to the signing of two agreements. These were the Akosombo Agreement (September 1994) which was a supplementary agreement to the Cotonou Agreement, and the Agreement on the Clarification of the Akosombo Agreement and The Acceptance and Accession Agreement (hereinafter referred to as the Accra Agreement) in December 1994. However both Agreements became engulfed in controversy thus undermining any chance of reaching an implementation stage. The failure of both Agreements largely rests with the military situation in Liberia towards the end of 1994 which was confused with groups aligning and realigning themselves depending on their short-term interests and the breakdown of command and control within the factions. UN reports stated that the situation had reached the point where warlords, without any particular political agenda but a control of a certain number of soldiers, were seeking territory for the sake of adding to their own claim to power [85]. During this period, the NPFL were attacked by ULIMO-K and the coalition of the LPC, ULIMO-J, AFL and breakaway NPFL ministers known as the Central Revolutionary Council (CRC-NPFL). This attack was said to have been carried out with the clandestine support of some elements within ECOMOG [86]. On 9 September 1994, NPFL elements detained 43 unarmed UNOMIL military observers and 6 non-governmental organisation personnel at nine sites in the northern and eastern regions, confiscating their transport, communications and most other equipment. The detention of UN personnel may have been a premeditated action on the part of NPFL to use the observers as a shield against attacks by renegade NPFL forces and rival forces, and to secure reliable communication and transportation facilities from UNOMIL and non-governmental organisations to further their war efforts. After several negotiations between UNOMIL, NPFL and neighbouring ECOWAS countries, all military observers and non-governmental organisation personnel were released by 18 September. However, two Tanzanian soldiers were killed, a third later died from his wounds, seven were wounded and four were captured by ULIMO-J when they attempted to rescue six UNOMIL observers and non-governmental organisation personnel in the NPFL headquarters of Gbarnga [87]. On 15 September 1994, an attempted coup led by General Charles Julu, a former adviser to the late President Doe contributed to the failure of Akosombo. During the coup attempt, dissidents from AFL seized the Executive Mansion in Monrovia and held out for twelve hours before being routed out by a detachment of the ECOMOG peace-keeping force. ECOMOG went on to partially disarm the AFL in its barracks at the Barclay Training Centre and at Camp Schefflin [88]. It was not until December, after the signing of the Accra Agreement, that the Liberian parties agreed to re-establish the cease-fire at midnight on 28 December 1994 and facilitate the establishment of safe havens and buffer zones throughout Liberia. In addition to ECOMOG, the LTNG was to install an internal security arrangement, including police, customs and immigration. It was also to begin the formation of the AFL so that it could assume its character as a national army [89].

Humanitarian Assistance and Human Rights Abuse

Developments relating to the Accra peace agreement has also had little effect on humanitarian assistance within Liberia. The absence of credible security guarantees from the warring factions has prevented effective humanitarian assistance. Since the beginning of the conflict, the relief community has been frustrated by the warring factions’ disregard for humanitarian mandates. While sustained relief activities have been limited to greater Liberia, as of February 1995, the number of non-combatants within Liberia who have been affected by the conflict has reached 1.8 million [90]. Of this number, 1.5 million persons have been provided with life-saving assistance in areas where United Nations agencies and their relief partners are able to operate. In addition to Liberian civilians affected by the conflict, the most recent available information shows that there are now 870,000 Liberians refugees in Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria [91]. The humanitarian crisis in Monrovia is of particular concern as it continues to be aggravated by a steady flow of internally displaced persons. Built to support a population of 300,000, Monrovia is now a sanctuary to over 1.3 million people. Although the UN agencies, non-governmental organisations and national organisations (including the Liberian Refugee, Repatriation and Resettlement Commission) have been able to respond to the city’s steadily rising needs, they are approaching the limits of their capacity to do so [92]. On 3 February 1995, the Secretary-General launched an inter-agency consolidated appeal for Liberia, for the six month period January to June 1995, seeking the US$ 65 million in extra-budgetary resources required by the UN agencies to continue their work [93].

The civil conflict in Liberia has been characterised by major abuses of human rights. All factions share the blame. The use of 6,000 children in combat is a flagrant example of disregard for the rights of the child. The Lutheran Church massacre in 1990, which claimed the life of 600 civilians, and the Harbel massacre of June 1992, where another 600 non-combatants were murdered in a five-hour period, are but extreme examples of atrocities which have been committed throughout the country [94]. One of the most disturbing feature of the Liberian civil war has been the use of child soldiers. Thousands of children under the age of 15 are said to have fought with the warring factions, and are also among the conflict’s victims [95]. International law – Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – forbids the use of children under the age of 15 as soldiers in armed conflict. Protocol II is binding on armed opposition groups as well as governments. The African Charter on the Rights of the Child, which was ratified by Liberia, but is not yet in effect, sets a higher threshold for the minimum recruitment age, stating that no one under the age of 18 can serve in armed hostilities [96].

There have been some successes in the humanitarian arena largely due to ECOMOG’s ability to restore a semblance of order and peace which allowed international humanitarian agencies to return to Liberia. At the same time, a joint operational coordination among relief workers and ECOMOG throughout ECOMOG-controlled areas has led to the restoration of water supplies within most regions. Alongside this, the coordination has led to the institution of programmes aimed at sanitation and shelter in the camps for internally displaced persons in Buchanan, Grand Bassa and Margibi, where the United Nations agencies, NGOs and national organisations are assisting a growing number of displaced Liberians.


Since writing this paper, a new peace process has been initiated with an agreed ceasefire. A new interim government was installed in the first week of September which will include all the warring factions and more importantly, Charles Taylor. What is significant about this latest peace initiative is that for the first time all the warring sides have participated in this agreement. This is in contrast to past agreements were one or two warring factions had decided not to participate thus undermining any chance of peace. Also significant is the presence of Charles Taylor in Monrovia who is going to participate in interim government. Taylor’s optimism is due in part to his belief that he may win the presidential elections due to be held early in 1996. Charles Taylor has stated that what is important now in this latest stage of peace in Liberia is not the demobilisation or disarmament process, but the reconstruction of Liberia. Soldiers, most of who are very young, need the guarantee of jobs and some form of welfare security once they are disarmed. He further added that the international community needs to provide Liberia with financial support to help rebuild and regenerate Liberia’s collapsed infrastructure.

In this paper, attention has been focused entirely on the political and military aspects of the ECOWAS peacekeeping operation. The formation of ECOMOG was the first major test of the subregion’s military capability to solve an internal conflict after all diplomatic avenues were said to have been exhausted. ECOMOG’s problems were obvious from the outset. This was essentially a peacekeeping force set up to monitor the ceasefire, but instead found itself pursuing a peace-enforcement strategy without the necessary equipment or mandate in place. ECOWAS’ failure to move quickly and implement its own peace plans, firstly after the initial success of the ceasefire in November 1990 had allowed the NPFL to re-group on several occasions and new factions like ULIMO to enter, thus widening the civil war. The increasing complexity of the conflict, the shift of progress in mediation, the creation or division of different warring factions and the uncertain battle lines has made ECOWAS’ task more difficult to accomplish. However, despite the numerous setbacks that have been experienced by ECOWAS, this intervention should be viewed as a possible first attempt by regional and subregional organisations in the maintenance of international peace and security. More important, this intervention should be seen as a small yet major step by African countries in developing regional collective security as a means of managing regional conflicts within the African continent.

Appendix I

Peace Agreements from the Liberian Civil War


November 28: Total cease-fire signed in Bamako (Mali) following a summit by ECOWAS member states.

December 21: Agreement of Banjul (Gambia) between the two factions to convene a national conference in 60 days.


February 13: Signing in Lome (Togo) under the aegis of ECOWAS of agreement on deployment throughout Liberia of ECOMOG which was previously deployed in Monrovia only.

June 30: Reconciliation in Yamoussoukro (Côte d’Ivoire) between Interim President Amos Sawyer and Charles Taylor.

September 7: NPFL agrees to disarm and disband its troops. Disagreements in weapons control broke out between NPFL and the Interim Government at the end of the Yamoussoukro meeting.

October 30: Peace Plan signed in Yamoussoukro in disarmament.


May 7: UN Security Council launches appeal to factions to respect Yamoussoukro Agreement.

July 29: ECOWAS gives Charles Taylor 30 day ultimatum to disarm fighters and apply Yamoussoukro Agreement.


July 17: Cease-fire agreement signed in Geneva between NPFL, ULIMO and the Interim Government.

July 25: Peace deal signed between the same parties in Cotonou (Benin) under the aegis of ECOWAS, the UN and the OAU. The agreement included disarmament arrangements and the setting up of a tri-partite transitional government responsible for organising the general elections in February 1994.


September 12: Peace accord signed in Akosombo (Ghana) under ECOWAS between NPFL, ULIMO and AFL. Agreement planned for immediate cease-fire and installation of a new State Council (transitional presidency), composed of five members appointed by the three factions and by the civil society. Agreed for general elections to take place in October 1995.

December 21: Peace Pact signed in Accra (Ghana) by NPFL, AFL, ULIMO-K, ULIMO-J, Lofa Defence Force, LPC, CRC-NPFL and LNC. The leaders agreed to the establishment of safe havens and buffer zones and the holding of elections in November 1995 for a government to take over in January 1996. A cease-fire was called for on 28 December 1994. The parties also agreed to demobilisation and reorganisation programmes. The function and structure of the five-member Council of State provide for the Cotonou and Akosombo Agreements.


January 25: ECOWAS Heads of State attend mini summit on the formation of the Liberian National Council of State. All the Liberian warring factions attending the peace talks had accepted, in principle, a proposal by the heads of Ghana, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire to expand the number of nominees of the Council of State from five to six in order that the AFL and the Coalition forces can be separately represented.

May 17-20: Third meeting of the Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS Committee of Nine held in Abuja, Nigeria. Delegations were sent by the following parties: AFL, LDF, LNC, LPC, NPFL, CRC-NPFL, ULIMO-K and ULIMO-J.

July 19: Peace negotiations aimed at breaking the six-month stalemate opened at the Unity Conference in Virginia, 11km west of Monrovia. Representatives of all seven factions were present along with delegates from ECOWAS, OAU and the Interim Government

August 19: Leaders from the various factions met in Abuja, Nigeria for another round of peace talks. A committee was set up to plan the election of a proposed Council of State, determine how to enforce a cease-fire and achieve disarmament. Liberia’s main warring factions signed a Peace Accord that calls for a cease-fire and the transition to democratic rule within one year. Under the Accord, hostilities will completely cease at midnight 26 August and the Council of State will be installed within 14 days from when the agreement is signed. A new democratic government will be installed in 12 months.


1. Comfort Ero is a research assistant for the UN and Conflict Programme and a research student at the London School of Economics. This paper is based on two earlier papers entitled Subregional Peacekeeping and Conflict Management: The Liberian Civil War (April 1995), written for the UN and Conflict Programme (United Nations Association) and Subregional Peacekeeping and Conflict Management: The ECOWAS intervention in Liberia (August 1995) written for the panel of War and Intervention at the Second Pan-European Conference in International Relations, Paris, 13-16 September 1995. This paper does not reflect the view of the United Nations Association. The author would like to thank Agostinho Zacarias, Josh Arnold-Forster and members of the War and Intervention Panel for their comments on earlier drafts.

2. This principle was one of six adopted by the Conference on Security, Stability, Development and Cooperation in Africa at the first conference in Kampala, Uganda, May 19-22 1991, cited in Smock, D., (ed), Making War and Waging Peace: Foreign Intervention in Africa, (Washington, D.C.: United States Institute for Peace, 1993), p. 252

3. For a history of Liberia see Dunn, E. and Byron Tarr, S., Liberia: A National Polity in Transition, (Methuchen, NJ.: The Scarecrow Press, 1988); Liebenow, J. Gus, Liberia: The Quest for Democracy, (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1987); Lowenkopf, M., Politics in Liberia, (Stanford, California: The Hoover Institution Press, Stanford University, 1976); Sawyer, A., The Emergence of Autocracy in Liberia: Tragedy and Challenge, (PRESS: Institute for Contemporary Studies: San Francisco, 1992) and Sesay, A., Historical Background to the Liberian Crisis in Vogt, M., (ed), The Liberian Crisis and ECOMOG: A Bold Attempt at Regional Peacekeeping, (Lagos: Gambumo Publishing, 1992)

4. Ofuatey-Kodjoe, W., Regional Organisations and the Resolution of Internal Conflict: The ECOWAS Intervention in Liberia, International Peacekeeping, Vol. 1, No. 3, Autumn 1994, p. 263

5. Sawyer, A., The Emergence of Autocracy in Liberia: Tragedy and Challenge, (PRESS: Institute for Contemporary Studies: San Francisco, 1992), p. 297

6. The Special Election Commission was headed by Doe’s close friend, Ambassador Emmet Harman, who pointed to a group of local and international observers who had returned a fair verdict after polling. The group also included foreign reporters and United States officials. A US official was quoted as saying in Newsweek, “It’s the first experience Liberia has had with this and its amazing they have been able to pull it off.” Omonijo argues that this statement was hardly surprising since it came at a time when Doe’s relations with Washington was going smoothly. Omonijo points out that if the international observers had looked closely they would have noted that only 50% of the population registered to vote. Omonijo, M., Doe: The Liberian Tragedy, (Ikeja, Nigeria: Sahel Publishing, 1990), p.24

7. Sawyer, A., The Emergence of Autocracy in Liberia, p. 297

8. Ofuatey-Kodjoe, W., Regional Organisations and the Resolution of Internal Conflicts, p. 267

9. Charles Taylor was born in 1948 and studied in the United States were he became prominent in the Liberian Students’ Movement. Through his wife’s family relation to Quiwonkpa, he entered into Doe’s regime. Taylor served under Doe as Director-General of the General Service Agency, ‘a government parastatals that had a duty to procure materials for all ministries, parastatals and departments.’ Taylor fled Liberia for the United States to avoid being tried for corruption having been accused for allegedly embezzling US$.9 million. Omonijo, M., Doe: The Liberian Tragedy, p.28

10. Although the NPFL sought to support the Nimba county people against Doe, it cannot be considered an ethnic movement in origin. The original guerilla force was ethnically mixed.

11. Human Rights Watch/Africa, Liberia. Waging the War to Keep the Peace: The ECOMOG Intervention and Human Rights, June 1993, Vol. 5, Issue No. 6, p. 6

12. BBC Monitoring Report, 21 May 1990, Document 18, p. 38 All notes in bold-italic type face have been obtained from Weller, M., (ed), Regional Peace-keeping and International Enforcement: The Liberian Crisis, Cambridge International Documents Series, Vol. 6, (Grotius Publications: Cambridge University Press, 1994). All page numbers given refer to that given in the edited book.

13. United Nations Development Programme, Monrovia, Liberia, (21 June 1994), United Nations Assistance to Peace Building and Rehabilitation Efforts, Doc/Rev/5, p.1

14. OAU Council of Ministers, Resolution on the Armed Conflict in Liberia, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 1 March 1991, Document 123, Weller, M., (ed), Regional Peace-keeping and International Enforcement, p. 140 (emphasis added)

15. Testimony of Assistant Secretary of State, Herman J. Cohen, US House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Africa of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, 101st Congress, 2nd Session, 19 June 1991, Document 29, ibid, p. 43 and 46

16. See Ruiz, H., Uprooted Liberians: Casualties of a Brutal War, (Washington, D.C.: US Committee for Refugees, 1992), p. 7 cited in Wippman, D., Enforcing the Peace: ECOWAS and the Liberian Civil War in Fisler Damrosch, L., (ed), Enforcing Restraint: Collective Intervention in Internal Conflicts, (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1993), p. 165

17. BBC Monitoring Report, 5 August 1990, Document 45 and US President’s Press Secretary (Fitzwater), Press Briefing, 5 August 1990 (Extract), Document 46, Weller, M., Regional Peace-keeping and International Enforcement, p. 63-65

18. The members of the Standing Mediation Committee were Gambia, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Togo. The SMC rotates every three years. See Decision A/DEC.9/5/90, Document 20, ibid, p. 38

19. Report of the Secretary-General on the Question of Liberia, UN Doc. S/25402, 12 March 1993, para 12.

20. Eze, O.C., Legal Aspects of Peace-keeping, in Vogt, M. and Ekoko, A. E., (ed) Nigeria in International Peace-keeping: 1960-1992, (Nigeria: Malthouse Press Limited, 1993), p. 14

21. Vogt, M., Nigeria in Liberia: Historical and Political Analysis of ECOMOG, ibid, p. 207

22. ECOWAS Protocol on Non-Aggression, Article 2 & 4, Document 2, Weller, M., Regional Peace-keeping and International Enforcement, p. 18,

23. Wippman, D., Enforcing the Peace, p. 166

24. Protocol relating to Mutual Assistance on Defence, 29 May 1981, Document 3, Weller, M., Regional Peace-keeping and International Enforcement, p. 19-24

25. See in particular Adisa, J., The Politics of Regional Military Cooperation: The Case of ECOMOG, in Vogt, M., (ed), The Liberian Crisis and ECOMOG, p. 213

26. Decision A/DEC.1/8/90, Document 50, p. 67-69; Decision A/Dec.2/8/90, Document 51, p. 69-70; Decision A/Dec.3/8/90, Document 52, p. 70-71 and Decision A/Dec.4/8/90, Document 53, p. 71-72, Weller, M., Regional Peace-keeping and International Enforcement

27. Emmauel, E., Peacekeeping, Africa Forum, Vol. 1, no. 1, 1991, p. 27, cited in Ofuatey-Kodjoe, W., Regional Organisations and the Resolution of Internal Conflicts, p. 282

28. ECOWAS Standing Mediation Committee, Banjul, Republic of Gambia, Final Communiqué of the First Session, 7 August 1990, Document 54, Weller, M., Regional Peace-keeping and International Enforcement, p. 72

29. cited in Greenwood, C., (February 1993), Is There a Right of Humanitarian Intervention?, The World Today, p. 36. See also the letter by the delegation of Nigeria to the United Nations Secretary-General which was published as a letter to the Security Council. The letter summarizes the decision of the Standing Mediation Committee. UN Doc. S/21485, 10 August 1990

30. Letter addressed by President Samuel K. Doe to the Chairman and Members of the Ministerial Meeting of ECOWAS Standing Mediation Committee, 14 July 1990, Document 39, Weller, M., Regional Peace-keeping and International Enforcement, p. 61

31. BBC Monitoring Report, 5 January 1990, Documents 8 & 9, ibid, p.33 See also Côte d’Ivoire: Friend or Foe? in African Confidential, vol. 13, No. 18, 14 September 1990

32. Nwolise, O., The Internationalisation of the Liberian Crisis and the effects on West Africa, in Vogt, M., (ed)The Liberian Crisis and ECOMOG, p. 57

33. Alao, A., Peacekeeping in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Liberian Civil War in Brassey’s Defence Yearbook, edited by the Centre of Defence Studies, King’s College, London, (London: Brassey’s, 1993), p. 341

34 Ofuatey-Kodjoe, W., Regional Organisations and the Resolution of Internal Conflict, p. 272

35. Nwolsie, O., The Internationalisation of the Liberian Crisis and the effects on West Africa, p. 58

36. Komolafe, K., ECOMOG Burdened With 7000 Stranded Nigerians, The Guardian (Lagos), Vol. 7, No. 4824, 10 Sept. 1990, p. 1 cited in Ofuatey-Kodjoe, W., Regional Organisations and the Resolution of Internal Conflict, p. 272

37. Alao, A., Peacekeeping in Sub-Saharan Africa, p. 341

38. BBC Monitoring Report, 23 August 1990, Document 61, Weller, M., Regional Peace-keeping and International Enforcement, p. 86

39. BBC Monitoring Report, 15 August 1990, Document 59, ibid p. 85

40. Alao, A., Peacekeeping in Sub-Saharan Africa, p. 342

41. BBC Monitoring Report, 25 August 1990, Document 63, Weller, M., Regional Peace-keeping and International Enforcement, p. 87

42. Alao, A., Peacekeeping in Sub-Saharan Africa, p. 342

BBC Monitoring Report, 18 and 19 September 1990, Document 79 and 80, Weller, M., Regional Peace-keeping and International Enforcement, p. 99-100

43. Adisa, J., The Politics of Regional Military Cooperation: The Case of ECOMOG, p. 218

44. BBC Monitoring Report, 11 September 1990, Document 74, ibid, p. 97 See also Dawda Jawara’s own version of events in an interview given to West Africa, Whiteman, K., Towards Peace in Africa, November 26-December 2 1990, p. 2894

45. Whiteman, K., Towards Peace in Liberia, West Africa, November 26-December 2, 1990, p. 2895

46. Amos Sawyer, a former Professor of Law at the University of Liberia, would not be eligible to run in the subsequent elections.

47. Wippman, D., Enforcing the Peace, p. 169

48. General Albert Karpeth was subsequently assassinated on 1 June 1992 as a result of a leadership battle. See Butty, J., What does ULIMO want?, West Africa, 7 September-13 September 1992, p. 1519

49. Ibid, p. 1519

50. In 1992, IGNU formed its own militia, the Black Berets, which has been incorporated into the AFL since the October 1992 attack – Operation Octopus

51. Butty, J., What does ULIMO want?, p. 1519

52. Ibid, p. 1519

53. Report of the Secretary-General on the question of Liberia, UN Doc. S/25402, 12 March 1993, para 16. See also ECOWAS Committee of Five, Final Communiqué of the Third Meeting on the Liberian Crisis, Yamoussoukro, 30 October 1991, Document 147, Weller, M., Regional Peace-keeping and International Enforcement, p. 175 -179

54. See Paris Agence France Presse (AFP), 3 October 1991, Document 145 and APS-Sen/PANA, 25 October 1991, Document 146, ibid, p. 174

55. As of 24 February 1995, the troop contributing countries to ECOMOG include Nigeria (4,908); Ghana (1,028); Guinea (609); Sierra Leone (359); Gambia (10) and Mali (10). These figures exclude Tanzania and Uganda who joined in January 1994.

56. Economic Community of West African States, Fifteenth Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government, Dakar, 27 – 29 July 1992, Decision A/Dec.8/7/92 Relating to Sanctions Against Charles Taylor and the National Patriotic Front of Liberia, Document 172, Weller, M., Regional Peace-keeping and International Enforcement, p. 205

57. AFP Report, Monrovia, 12 August Document 173, ibid, p. 207

58. Radio ELBC, Monrovia, 10 September 1992, Document 176, ibid, p. 208

59. Human Rights Watch/Africa, Liberia: Waging the War to Keep the Peace, p. 16-19. This is based on a report by Janet Fleischman

60. Ibid, p. 8

61. Joseph, R., Liberia’s Continuing Crisis, West Africa, 19 October-25 October 1992, p. 1765. President Carter’s involvement in the Liberian civil war began when he and the his International Negotiation Network were invited by ECOWAS to help monitor the elections. See Economic community of West African States, Fifteenth Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government, Weller, M., Regional Peace-keeping and International Enforcement, p. 205. Member States had previously called for the assistance of the United Nations. See Economic Community of West African States, Fifteenth Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government, ibid, p. 205 See also General Assembly, Provisional Verbatim Record of the Twenty-Seventh Meeting, UN Doc. A/45/PV. 27 October, 1990, p. 61 and Provisional Verbatim Record of the Two Thousand Nine Hundred and Seventy-Fourth meeting of the Security Council, UN Doc. S/PV. 2974, January 22, 1991, p. 3

62. Radio Cotonou, 2 November 1992, Document 188, ibid, p. 240

63. Final Communiqué of the First Joint Summit of the Economic Community of West African States Standing Mediation Committee and the Committee of Five, Document 181, ibid, p. 230-232

64. ECOWAS, First Meeting of the Committee of Nine on the Liberian Crisis, Final Communiqué, Abuja, 7 November 1992, Document 189, ibid, p. 243

65. See Ofuatey-Kodjoe, W., Regional Organisations and the Resolution of Internal Conflicts, p. 279 and Wippman, D., Enforcing the Peace, pp. 172-73

66. United Nations Security Council, Provisional Verbatim Record of the 3138th Meeting, 19 November 1992, S/PV.3138, pp. 2-98

67. United Nations Doc. S/Res/788, 19 November 1992

68. Butty, J., NPFL responds to embargo, West Africa, December 7-13 December 1992, p. 2093

69. Fulfilling ECOWAS’ Mandate: full text of a statement on ECOMOG’s present disposition issued by the Office of the Field Commander of ECOMOG, Liberia, West Africa, 1 March-7 March 1993, p. 325

70. Note by the President of the Security Council, UN Doc. S/25918, 9 June 1993

71. The inquiry into the massacre was led by an international expert panel which also included Mr. Robert Gersony (Member), Amb. Mahmoud Kassem (Member). Their report led to The Carter Camp Massacre: Results of an investigation by the panel of inquiry appointed by the Secretary-General into the massacre near Harbel, Liberia, on the night of June 5/6 1993, United Nations, New York, September 10, 1993.

72. Ibid, para. 98

73. Ibid, para. 111

74. Ibid, para. 102

75. See UN Doc. S/Res/856, 10 August 1993

76. For a summary of the agreement see United Nations Secretary-General, Further Reports on Liberia, United Nations Doc. S/26200, 2 August 1993, para. 7-10

77. Ibid, para. 11-12

78. United Nations Doc. S/Res/866, 22 September 1993

79. Report of the Secretary-General on the question of Liberia, UN Doc. S/25402, 12 March 1993, para. 40

80. Shiner, C., A disarming start, Africa Report, May-June 1994, p. 64

81. United Nations Secretary-General, Report on the Observer Mission in Liberia, UN Doc. S/26868, 13 December 1993, para. 19

82. The United Nations and the situation in Liberia, Reference Paper, April 1995, UN DPI, DPI/1697, (New York: May 1995), p. 10

83. Shiner, C., The Authority Vacuum, Africa Report, November-December 1994, p. 23

84. Seventh Progress Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in Liberia, UN Doc. S/1994/1167, 14 October 1994, para. 27

85. Ibid, para. 13

86. A full account of the events surrounding the detention of some of UNOMIL military observers and non-governmental personnel can be found in the Seventh Progress Report of the Secretary-General, ibid, para. 29-32

87. Ibid, para. 21

88. Ibid, para. 28

89. Ninth Progress Report of the SecretaryGeneral on the United Nations Observer Mission in Liberia, UN Doc. S/1995/158, 24 February 1995, para. 36

90. Ibid, para, 36

91. Ibid, para. 37

92. Ibid, para. 39

93. Fifth Progress Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in Liberia, S/1994/760, 24 June, para. 35

94. Whitman, L. & Fleischman, J., The Child Soldiers, Africa Report,June-August 1994, p. 65

95. Ibid, p. 65

96. Ninth Progress Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in Liberia, UN Doc. S/1995/158, para. 38

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2 Responses to ECOWAS and the Subregional Peacekeeping in Liberia

  1. Kwadwo Konadu says:

    I am using your article as part of the sources for my briefing report on the topic ‘ECOWAS in Liberia: success or failure?’ and want to cite it. The problem is I don’t know the issue number so how do I cite it in my bibliography.

    Thank you.

  2. Lawrence N. Jurry says:

    I want to use it for my master thesis at the University of Liberia Graduate of International Affairs on the Topic: The Role and Contribution of ECOWAS to Peace Keeping in the West African Region: The Liberian Experience(1990-2003).