The political instability leading to the civil wars in Liberia began in the 1980s when military coups and purges of military and political class were witnessed and corruption in state corporations was rife as Samuel Doe became the president. The civil war, however, broke out in 1989 as Charles Taylor, the leader of National Patriotic Front of Liberia, instigated a military coup seeking to usurp Doe’s presidency. The factions that had been discriminated upon by Doe’s government including Gio and Mano communities supported Taylor. Taylor’s group split but the rebellions continued. A monitoring group sent by the Economic Community of West African States abbreviated as ECOMOG was not able to avert the seizure and execution of President Doe in 1990. During this period, various armed groups had sprouted up with various personalized agendas (Jennings 694). This paper describes the United Nations Mission in Liberia and determines if it was successful or not.
The United Nations Observer Mission in Liberia coined UNOMIL was deployed in 1993 but did not help as the neighboring countries of Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone was also affected by this war. Heavy fights in Monrovia were experienced in 1996 leading to an armistice which held. In 1997, a multi-party election was held, and Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Party emerged victorious amid threats of war if the party had not won. The following year, both ECOMOG and UNOMIL left Liberia. From 1998 to 1999, a truce held the stability of the country but the following year, various Taylor’s forces broke up and warfare arose. Various organs as the African Union, ECOWAS, and the UN brokered a peace deal for the warring parties forming a transitional government. Over 205,000 civilians had been killed and following various deliberations, the United Nations Mission in Liberia was established consisting of over 15000 military personnel and about 1000 police officials and it took over from the then ECOMIL first of October 2003, and by March the following year, it was considered successful (Jennings 695).
The mission of UNMIL entailed a program aiming to disarm, demobilize, rehabilitate, and reintegrate the warring factions in Liberia. The mission was initially hindered by lack of political goodwill from the factions who alternated their readiness for discussion and insecurity in the camps. Some groups rioted in Monrovia when they gave out their guns and failed to get money. The riots intensified to Monrovia which caused 9 fatalities leading to a suspension of the program for re-organization of the UNMIL forces. The mission recommenced in April 2004 and by November of the same year, a Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed by the then president Taylor, leaders of rebellions, and political parties enabling the UNMIL to be deployed throughout Liberia. The deployment saw positive results as over 102000 people had been disarmed, over 92000 demobilized, over 27000 guns and 6 million rounds of ammunition collected (Jennings 697). Since the signing of the pact, even though different riots from ex-combatants were witnessed due to various small dissatisfactions, no major battle was experienced.
This mission was successful since UNMIL was able to protect civilians, give aid to humanitarian and human rights practices, and aid in the enacting of reforms that Liberia undertook in its security processes. Such security reforms included training and establishment of a new and re-organized military army. UNMIL facilitated the returning home of very many people, hundreds of thousands, who had been displaced or were refugees. This included the approximated 26000 who returned to Cote d’Ivoire. The UNMIL espoused the strengthening of security forces in Liberia and incorporated women in the forces. UNMIL was able to accord Liberia the much-needed peace and tranquility. The Gross Domestic Product of Liberia which had fallen by over 70 percent started regaining. Sexual-related violence that the womenfolk had been subjected to during the war was stopped. The UNMIL was able to oversee 3 peaceful civil elections, in 2005, 2011, and 2017. In fact, its success was evident in the winning of the first female president in Africa despite the fact that Liberia had just come out of the war (Jennings 699). The social systems like schools and health facilities were able to operate and serve the community. This makes the mission one of the most successful ones the UN has undertaken in recent history.
However, reports emerged that UNMIL forces were engaging in sexual abuses. There has been little impact of the UNMIL in terms of economic capacity amongst the ex-combatants who underwent the rehabilitation and reintegration programs of the UNMIL as well as the country in general. The UNMIL soldiers had a bad rapport with the locals (Jennings 702–03). Despite all these, I posit that the mission was a success since the country was able to achieve tranquility and political stability. The warring parties were able to come together and renege on their individual agendas and establish a country with the aid of UNMIL. Human life protected which can be considered the success of any military mission. UNMIL was able to help Liberia attain democracy and also forge useful relationship between the ECOWAS, African Union, United Nations agencies among other agencies and donors to help Liberia. These signify that UNMIL’s mission was successful.