Interpeace started working in Liberia in 2008 in a programme jointly implemented with the United Nations. Following an initial pilot project in Nimba County, the programme was rolled out across the entire country. Interpeace’s local project team, the Platform for Dialogue and Peace (P4DP), conducted nationwide consultations in which communities identified obstacles to peace. Overall, more than 10,000 Liberians were consulted to identify the main challenges to peace.
The fact that Liberian society is very divided, and the weak presence of state institutions in people’s daily lives, constitute fundamental challenges to peace. This in turn manifests itself in the following conflict drivers: land and property disputes; misappropriation of funds and patronage networks, especially at the local government level; lack of access to justice and a weak rule of law; discrimination on the basis of ethnic and religious identities against a backdrop of an underdeveloped national identity; and unemployment and uneven distribution of resources.
Recognizing that building peace in Liberia requires a sustained, and long term engagement, Interpeace supported the transformation of the United Nations project team into an independent, Liberian organization, the Platform for Dialogue and Peace (P4DP). P4DP’s biggest assets are its deep understanding of the context and its participatory approach. These enable trust building at all levels of society in the midst of constantly evolving conflict dynamics in Liberia.
Liberia has undergone a period of economic reconstruction and there was no major violence since the end of the civil war in 2003. However, the 2014 Ebola crisis in West Africa, exposed weaknesses in Liberia’s systems and institutions and revealed both cleavages in society and a lack of trust in the state.
Liberia is also one of the pilot countries of Interpeace’s Frameworks for Assessing Resilience programme. Interpeace and P4DP have engaged people in a nationwide discussion to identify the sources of resilience that exist in Liberian society. The consultations revealed the existing resources and strategies that people use to overcome and peacefully transform violent conflict. Despite the difficulties of operating during the Ebola crisis, more than 1,000 people from all sectors of society and all 15 of Liberia’s counties took part in the consultations. In interviews and focus group discussions, they identified existing capacities for resilience in the face of violent conflict and also discussed ways to cope with the devastation caused by the Ebola crisis.
Moving forward, the findings from the consultation will form the basis of a multi-stakeholder dialogue process. Two working groups will develop proposals for leveraging the existing capacities that have been identified in order to strengthen peacebuilding processes in Liberia. Moreover, findings from the FAR programme in Liberia will feed into a guidance note with universal application that proposes a methodology for identifying resilience for peacebuilding.