Liberia's Post-War Recovery: Key Issues and Developments
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress
This report, which is updated as events warrant, covers recent events in Liberia, a small, poor
West African country. It held elections in October 2005, with a presidential runoff in November, a
key step in a peace-building process following its second civil war in a decade. That war began in
1999, escalated in 2000, and ended in 2003. It pitted the forces of Charles Taylor, elected
president in 1997 after Liberia’s first civil war (1989-1997), against two armed anti-Taylor rebel
groups. It also destabilized neighboring states, which accepted Liberian refugees and, in some
cases, hosted anti-Taylor forces and became targets of the Taylor regime.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, an economist, won the presidential runoff vote, with 59.4% of votes cast
and took office in mid-January 2006, becoming the first female president of an African country.
Her runoff rival, George Weah, a former star soccer player, conceded Sirleaf’s win after initially
contesting it. Most observers viewed the vote as orderly, free and fair. It fulfilled a key goal of an
August 2003 peace accord that had ended the second civil war and led to an ongoing, U.S.-aided
post-war transition process, which is bolstered by the multifaceted peacekeeping and
development-focused U.N. Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). Liberia’s security situation is stable but
subject to periodic volatility. Progress in governance under the interim government that preceded
that of President Sirleaf was mixed; widespread corruption within it was widely reported.
Liberia’s economy and state structures remain devastated by war. Humanitarian conditions are
improving. Liberia receives extensive U.S. post-war reconstruction and security sector reform
assistance. In March 2006, former President Taylor was arrested in Nigeria and transferred to the
U.S.-supported Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) to face war crimes charges. He was later
transferred to the Hague, the Netherlands, where he is on trial by the SCSL.
In addition to providing substantial support for Liberia’s post-war peace and reconstruction th
processes, the 109 and preceding Congresses maintained continuing interest in the status of th
Charles Taylor. The 109 Congress passed laws and resolutions urging that SCSL indictees, like th
Taylor, face trial at the court. The 109 Congress and its predecessors provided $35 million in th
assistance to the SCSL through FY2006. Other legislation proposed in the 109 Congress
centered on immigration, debt, and tax haven issues, and the commendation of Liberia for th
successfully holding elections. The 110 Congress has continued to provide support to the SCSL
and for Liberia’s efforts to consolidate its post-war governance and economic rebuilding th
processes. Appropriations for Liberia in the 110 Congress were made under P.L. 110-5, P.L. 110-th
28, and P.L. 110-161. Other Liberia-related legislation introduced in the 110 Congress has
included H.R. 1941 (Kennedy); H.R. 1591 (Obey); H.R. 2206 (Obey); H.R. 2764 (Lowey); H.R.
3123 (Kennedy); S. 396 (Dorgan); S. 554 (Dorgan); S. 656 (Reed); S. 965 (Byrd); S. 1508
(Dorgan); and S. 1903 (Reed).
Recent Key Developments..............................................................................................................1
Backgr ound ..................................................................................................................................... 2
2005 Post-War Elections.................................................................................................................5
Conduct of Elections.................................................................................................................7
Gove rnance ..................................................................................................................... .... 8
Wome n ................................................................................................................................ 9
Corrupt ion ..................................................................................................................... ...... 9
Performance .................................................................................................................... ........ 10
Sirleaf Administration: Criticisms and Challenges.................................................................10
Rubber Sector Reform.............................................................................................................14
Security Sector Reform...........................................................................................................14
Special Security Service..........................................................................................................16
A IDS ........................................................................................................................... ............ 18
NTGL Anti-Corruption Efforts...............................................................................................25
Key Governance Issues.................................................................................................................26
Anti-Corruption Efforts Under Sirleaf....................................................................................26
Diamonds ....................................................................................................................... ......... 29
GEMAP .......................................................................................................................... ......... 30
Ouster of House Speaker Snowe.......................................................................................32
U.S. Legislative Assistance...............................................................................................33
War Crimes, Human Rights Cases, and Transitional Justice.........................................................34
Sirleaf Administration Role..............................................................................................37
SCSL: U.S. Views and Assistance....................................................................................38
Transitional Justice in Liberia.................................................................................................39
Potential for War Crimes Tribunal in Liberia...................................................................39
Truth and Reconciliation Commission..............................................................................39
Case of “Chuckie” Taylor.......................................................................................................40
U.S. and Congressional Focus.......................................................................................................41
Possible Issues for the 110 Congress..............................................................................43 th
U.S. Assistance Summary.......................................................................................................45
Economic Cooperation and Investment............................................................................46
Debt relief and Donor Cooperation...................................................................................47
U.S. Assistance Levels............................................................................................................48
Figure 1. Map of Liberia...............................................................................................................51
Table 1. Election 2005 Legislative Results by Party: Seats and Percentage of Vote Won..............6
Table 2. U.S. Assistance for the Special Court for Sierra Leone...................................................38
Table 3. U.S. Assistance to Liberia, FY2004-FY2008..................................................................49
Appendix. Acronyms Used in this Report.....................................................................................52
Author Contact Information..........................................................................................................54
On January 25, 2008, the White House announced that President Bush and Mrs. Bush would
travel to Liberia, as well as to Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Ghana. The aim of the trip is “to
discuss how the United States can continue to partner with African countries to support continued
democratic reform, respect for human rights, free trade, open investment regimes, and economic
opportunity” in Africa. The President will also review “the significant progress since his last visit
in 2003 in efforts to increase economic development and fight HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other 1
treatable diseases, as a result of the United States robust programs in these areas.”
The trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor on war crimes and related charges resumed
on January 7, 2008, after recessing in mid-2007. Taylor faces an amended, 11-count indictment
first brought against him in 2003 by the Prosecutor of the U.S.-backed Special Court for Sierra
Leone (SCSL). The prosecution alleges that Taylor directly aided and abetted diverse crimes
allegedly committed in Sierra Leone by a former rebel group, the Revolutionary United Front
In P.L. 110-161, signed into law on December 26, 2007, Congress appropriated FY2008
assistance for Liberia that includes $30 million in Development Assistance; $43.545 million in 2
Economic Support Funds (ESF); and $51.8 million in regional Peacekeeping Operations funds.
Additional assistance for Liberia is likely to be drawn from central account appropriations made
under P.L. 110-161, from which country-specific allocations will be decided under a consultative
process between the Administration and appropriations committees. P.L. 110-161 also provides
for $12.5 million in ESF funding for the SCSL and includes several directives pertaining to
Liberia and to the SCSL. FY2008 appropriations for Liberia are discussed further in the notes to
Tables 2 and 3, below.
In December 2007, the trial of the former National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) 3
Chairman Gyude Bryant resumed after Bryant’s arrest for failing to appear in court. Bryant, is
facing charges of economic sabotage relating to the alleged embezzlement of $1.3 million during
his tenure as chairman.
In September 2007 Liberia began to export diamonds for the first time after being admitted into 4
the Kimberley Process in May 2007. Such exports were sanctioned by the United Nations (U.N.)
Security Council in April 2007, when it lifted an export ban on Liberian diamonds (Resolution
1 White House Press Secretary, “President and Mrs. Bush to Visit Africa,” January 25, 2008.
2 These amounts are designated in the joint explanatory statement accompanying P.L. 110-161 (formerly H.R. 2764,
the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008), which reflects Congress’s legislative intent, but are not contained within
the text of the law.
3 Bryant was the chief executive of the post-war caretaker NTGL, which held power from August 2003 until the
current, elected government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took office in January 2006. He was given the title of
NTGL “chairman” to differentiate his NTGL role and authority from that of a constitutionally elected president.
4 The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) is a voluntary international trade regime that regulates global
trade in rough diamonds in order to prevent the sale of “conflict diamonds,” i.e., rough diamonds used to fund armed
conflict. U.S. support helped Liberia to build the institutional capacity necessary for it to become eligible for KPCS
On September 12, 2007, President Bush, citing the continued fragility of “the political and
economic situation in Liberia,” directed that eligible Liberians resident in the United States and
subject to a loss of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) as of October 1, 2007 be granted Deferred 5
Enforced Departure (DED) for 18 months, until March 31, 2009. He also directed that such
grantees be allowed to work in the United States. His action fulfilled the basic aims of several 6
Liberia, a small, poor West African country of about 3.4 million people, is undergoing a post-
conflict transition and peace-building process after its second civil war within a decade. The latter
conflict burgeoned in 2000, after several minor border incursions in 1999. It pitted the forces of
Charles Taylor, elected president in 1997 after Liberia’s first civil war (1989-1997), against two
armed anti-Taylor rebel groups: Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) and
the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL). The war led to an extreme deterioration in
political, economic, humanitarian, and human rights conditions. It also affected neighboring
states, which accepted Liberian refugees and, in some cases, hosted anti-Taylor forces. The Taylor
regime also sponsored or facilitated acts of armed aggression against its neighbors, Guinea, Sierra 7
Leone, and Cote d’Ivoire.
5 TPS is a temporary “safe harbor” immigration status granted to qualified nationals of some countries affected by
ongoing armed conflict, natural disaster, or other difficulties. It had been in effect for Liberians since March 1991.
DED is discretionarily granted by the president based on his constitutional power to conduct foreign relations. It is not
a specific immigration status under the law; rather, it has the effect of suspending enforcement of certain immigration
laws for a specified class of persons. See Department of Homeland Security, “Fact Sheet: Liberians Provided Deferred
Enforced Departure (DED),” September 12, 2007; and CRS Report RS20844, Temporary Protected Status: Current
Immigration Policy and Issues, by Ruth Ellen Wasem and Karma Ester, inter alia.
6 H.R. 1941 and S. 656 would provide permanent residency status to certain Liberian nationals who were granted or
were eligible for immigration temporary protected status (TPS), while H.R. 3123 and S. 1903 would have extended the
status of persons eligible for TPS. A basic underlying goal of these bills was to defer or prevent the deportation and
work permit revocations of TPS-eligible Liberians.
7 This report focuses on current issues and recent events. CRS Report RL32243, Liberia: Transition to Peace, and CRS
Report RL30933, Liberia: 1989-1997 Civil War, Post-War Developments, and U.S. Relations, both by Nicolas Cook,
provide in-depth background on events in Liberia during recent decades, and on the presidential tenure of Charles
A peace accord was signed on August 18, 2003, after months of international mediation. It was
facilitated by two events: Charles Taylor’s resignation of the presidency and departure from
Liberia on August 11, after he was granted political asylum in Nigeria; and the early August
deployment of an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) military intervention
force, the ECOWAS Mission in Liberia
(ECOMIL). ECOMIL, with extensive U.S. Liberia at a Glance
and United Nations (U.N.) assistance, Geography: Small tropical coastal West African country
deployed to Liberia to end heavy fighting and about the size of Virginia
alleviate a worsening humanitarian crisis in Population: 3.12 (2007 est.); some estimates are higher.
the wake of a failed June 2003 cease-fire. It Ann. Population Growth Rate: 2.64% (2004) to
was tasked with monitoring and securing the 4.84% (2007); estimates vary
cease-fire, enabling the delivery of relief aid, Exchange Rate Adjusted Gross National Income
and preparing the way for the U.N. Mission in (GNI) Total: $468.9mill. Per Capita: $140 (2006)
Liberia (UNMIL). UNMIL, first authorized by Gross Domestic Product: $631 mill. (World Bank
the U.N. Security Council on September 19, est./2006); $839 mill. (EIU est.*/2006); $997 mill. (EIU
two weeks before the National Transitional External Debt: $2.59 bill. (World Bank/2005)-$3.2 bill
Government of Liberia (NTGL) took office on (CIA/2005). Estimates vary; debt write-downs are under
October 14. ECOMIL was dissolved and its way.
military forces absorbed into UNMIL, which Key Exports: Rubber, timber, iron, cocoa, gold, coffee,
carries out diverse peacekeeping, civilian diamonds.
policing, and socio-economic assistance Languages: English & 29 distinct languages/dialects
functions in support of Liberia’s transition
process. UNMIL has also assumed Ethnic groups: 16 indigenous groups (95%) and
responsibility from the U.N. Mission in Sierra Americo-Liberian/freed slave descendants (5%)
Leone (UNAMSIL) for providing a military Religions: Indigenous beliefs 40%, Christian 40%, Muslim
guard force for the Special Court for Sierra 20%
Leone, discussed below; UNAMSIL’s Literacy: 20% (2005) - 57.5% (2003) Data vary†
mandate ended on December 31, 2005. Under-5 Mortality rate: 235 deaths/1,000 live births
UNMIL has a current authorized force HIV/AIDS adult infection rate: 1.5% (2007; Preliminary est.)
strength of 14,875 military personnel and
total force size of 14,141 troops and 1,180
police officers, composed of personnel from Male, 38.93; Female, 41.89 (2007 est.)
uniformed personnel in UNMIL included six Development Indicators and other data; *Economist
troops, eight police officers, and seven Intelligence Unit (EIU) Ethnologue.com; UNAIDS.
military observers. U.S. funding for UNMIL is † Published data on literacy vary. State Department and
covered in Table 3, below. In September United Nations sources report adult literacy at 20% but
UNMIL leaders recommend a force drawdown vary; current data sources do not show a literacy rate, but an April 2004 entry from the World Bank’s World
plan for UNMIL, including specific Development Indicators database gives a rate of 55.9% for
benchmarks and a planned schedule in a 2002, and a 2007 World Bank background slide
March 2006 report. The report, the Tenth presentation gives a rate of 30%. The CIA World
Progress Report of the Secretary-General on Factbook, (2006) gives a figure of 57.5% for 2003.
the United Nations Mission in Liberia
(S/2006/159, March 14, 2006), found that there was a need for a two-year “consolidation phase,”
but that it is “too early for a major drawdown of UNMIL.” During the “consolidation period,”
UNMIL would implement an “adjusted mandate” defined by a 11-point agenda of “priority
tasks,” centering on such objectives as maintenance of a stable and secure environment;
completion of ex-combatant, refugees, and internally displaced persons reintegration; security
sector reform; and consolidation of state authority and governance capacity. However, the report
recommended that “in the absence of an immediate armed threat within Liberia [...] an adjustment
to the UNMIL military component by reducing one infantry battalion in mid-2006 and another
infantry battalion in early 2007 would be appropriate.” These adjustments would be “followed by
a drawdown of the Mission, which should begin in early 2007, security conditions permitting.”
In mid-March 2007, the United Nations reported significant progress in meeting key benchmarks
including the police and military training, restructuring and reform, management of natural
resources, and the creation of a national security strategy and architecture, though each of these
activities has faced sometimes considerable challenges. Progress toward the reintegration of all
ex-combatants and the consolidation of state authority has been slower, however, in large part due
to resource constraints. Due to these and a range of other reconstruction and development
challenges, and notwithstanding areas of progress, in mid-March 2007, citing what he called
“limited progress made in meeting the benchmarks for the consolidation and drawdown of the
Mission,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recommended a year-long extension of the
In August 2007, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recommended that a drawdown process linked
to attainment of several core benchmarks be initiated. These benchmarks focus on multi-focal
improvements in police operational capacity; completion of a national security strategy and
architecture and implementation thereof nationwide by December 2008; training and
operationalization of two newly trained military battalions by September 2008 and September
2009, respectively; and the restoration of the rule of law and achievement of increased
operational capacity by government agencies throughout Liberia. He also stated that the conduct
of elections in Sierra Leone in 2007 and in Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire in 2008 “are important
contextual benchmarks that need to be taken into account when deciding on the timing of 8
adjustments to UNMIL troop deployments.”
UNMIL has implemented measures to prevent, detect, investigate, and punish acts of sexual
exploitation and abuse (SEA), in line with recent reforms and renewed U.N.-wide regulations
regarding sexual conduct, following abuses in several U.N. peacekeeping missions around the
world, including in Liberia. U.N. Resolution 1626 (2005) bars SEA, and UNMIL has created a
mission conduct and discipline team and investigatory capacity to ensure adherence to these rules.
Between January 1, 2004 and June 8, 2006, 17 UNMIL military personnel were repatriated to
their home countries for probable SEA crimes; two UNMIL civilians were dismissed or faced a
non-renewal of their contract; three UNMIL civilians were suspended; and investigations cleared 9
13 UNMIL military personnel and three UNMIL civilian police. In mid-March 2006, five crew
members of a UN contractor, who had been under investigation for alleged rapes and the assault
of Liberian police officers, left Liberia after being released on bond. According to UNMIL, their
departure “is highly regretted and the matter is being brought to the attention of the authorities of 10
the country concerned.”
8 U.N. Security Council, S/2007/479, August 8, 2007.
9 State Department compilation.
10 See UNMIL, “Statement on the Departure from Liberia of Five Crew Members, Employees of a UN Contractor,”
March 14, 2006.
The August 30, 2007 Comprehensive Peace Agreement,11 signed by the three warring factions
and 18 political parties, laid out a peace process, provided for the creation of the National
Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL), and allocated leadership positions within it. The
NTGL was mandated to re-establish functioning government authority and prepare for national
elections that were held in mid-October and November 2005. The elected government of 12
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf replaced the NTGL in late January 2006, as described below.
The NTGL consisted of an executive branch, presided over by a Chairman, Gyude Bryant, and an
interim parliament, the National Transitional Legislative Assembly. Bryant, a businessman and
church layman who led the Liberian Action Party, oversaw the functions of the central
government and various public corporations, agencies, and commissions. The transition faced
many challenges, most related to the extremely destructive effects of many years of war in
Liberia. Others included the dominant role within the NTGL of the three former armed factions,
which were prone to internal rivalries; political discord over the allocation of state positions and
resources; very limited state capacities; and reported public sector corruption.
Peaceful Senate, House of Representatives, and presidential elections were held on October 11,
2005, and a presidential runoff vote was held on November 8. The 22-candidate presidential poll
led to a runoff race. It pitted George Manneh “Oppong” Weah, 39 years of age, a former
professional top soccer player whose star status and rags-to-riches history make him a hero to
Liberian youth, against Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, 67 years of age, a Harvard-trained economist and
former businesswoman who had served as Liberian finance minister and as a United Nations and
World Bank official. On November 15, 2005, the National Elections Commission (NEC) declared
Sirleaf the winner of the presidential race, with 59.4% of votes against Weah’s 40.6%, making her
the first-ever female president of an African country. Despite its declaration in favor of Sirleaf,
the NEC subsequently probed and later rejected claims by Weah that the election was fraudulent.
A presidential election will next to be held in 2011.
In contrast to the presidential race, election results for seats in the bicameral legislature were
disparate; no party received more than 24% of seats in either chamber, and none dominated in
both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The largest party in the 64-member House, in
which members serve 6-year terms, is Weah’s Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), which
won 15 seats. The Liberty Party (LP) won nine House seats, while Sirleaf’s Unity Party (UP) and
the Coalition for Transformation of Liberia (COTOL) each won eight. Seven other parties each
won between one and five House seats, and seven independent candidates each won a seat. In the
11 Accord text available from U.S. Institute of Peace http://www.usip.org/library/pa.html.
12 Although her name is widely cited as Johnson-Sirleaf, the Liberian president does not employ a hyphenated form of
her last name. See Wil Haygood, “For Liberia’s ‘Iron Lady,’ Toughness Part of Territory,” Washington Post,
December 16, 2005.
the UP won four; all other parties won between one and three seats.
Notable among the newly elected legislators were several former Taylor regime officials and
leaders of former armed factions or security services. These include senators Jewel Howard-
Taylor, a former wife of Charles Taylor (NPP; Bong County); Prince Yormie Johnson
(independent, Bong County); and Saye-Taayor Adolphus Dolo (COTOL, Nimba County).
Johnson is the former leader of a faction that splintered from Taylor’s early in the first civil war,
and is infamous for personally presiding over the bloody, videotaped murder of former head of
state Samuel Doe. He returned to run in the election from exile in Nigeria, where he had
professed to have become a born-again Christian evangelist. Dolo is a former pro-Taylor militia
leader, known by the nom de guerre General Peanut Butter, who reportedly committed war-time
atrocities and recruited child fighters, and who is said to have aggressively opposed UNMIL
peacekeeping activities. In the House, they include Edwin Snowe (independent, Montserrado
County); Saah Richard Gbollie (NPP, Margibi County); and Kai G. “White Flower B-50” Farley,
(CDC, Grand Gedeh County). Snowe, who was elected speaker of the House in mid-January 15
2006 but has since stepped down, is a former Taylor in-law. He is also the former head of the
Liberian Petroleum and Refining Corporation (LPRC), from which Taylor regime officials
reportedly diverted significant amounts of funds, some of which may have benefitted Taylor 16
during his exile in Nigeria. Gbollie is a former Taylor fighter and Taylor administration police
official accused of human rights abuses. Farley is an ex-MODEL commander and NTGL official
accused of threatening the 2003 peace accord. Jewel Taylor, Dolo, Snowe, and Farley are subject
to U.N. travel sanctions.
Table 1. Election 2005 Legislative Results by Party: Seats and Percentage of Vote
Seats Vote (%) Seats Vote (%)
Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) 3 10 15 23.4
Coalition for Transformation of Liberia (COTOL) 7 23.3 8 12.5
Liberty Party (LP) 3 10 9 14.1
Unity Party (UP) 4 13.3 8 12.5
Independent 3 10 7 10.9
Alliance for Peace and Democracy (APD) 3 10 5 7.8
National Patriotic Party (NPP) 3 10 4 6.3
All Liberia Coalition Party (ALCOP) 1 3.3 2 3.1
Nation Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL) 2 6.7 1 1.6
New Deal Movement (NDM) - - 3 4.7
13 Current junior senators, those who obtained the second highest number of votes in the 2005 elections, will serve a
six-year term. Thereafter, all senators will serve nine year terms.
14 Full election results are available online from the NEC at http://www.necliberia.org/results.
15 See “Ouster of House Speaker Snowe” under section Current Governance Issues, below.
16 Coalition for International Justice, Following Taylor’s Money: A Path of War and Destruction, May 2005.
Seats Vote (%) Seats Vote (%)
National Reformation Party (NRP) 1 3.3 1 1.6
United Democratic Alliance (UDA) - - 1 1.6
Source: National Elections Commission of Liberia, 2005 Election Results, available online at
With some minor exceptions, the election was reportedly well-administered. About 1.35 million
citizens registered to vote in April and May 2005, in a process that was marred by some minor
acts and threats of violence and localized disruptions but was generally peaceful. Attempts by
some NTGL ministers to try to run for office in the 2005 election, in violation of the 2003 peace
accord, also sparked controversy. About 1.012 million registered voters (74.9%) participated in
the October elections, and over 821,000 (60.7%) voted in the runoff poll. Registration results
guided decision making about the distribution of polling places and electoral materials and the
composition of constituencies. The large number of presidential candidates (over 50 initial
prospective candidates, of whom 22 were ultimately registered) and registered political parties
(30) reportedly proved confusing for some voters. Key election issues included national
reconciliation and unity, corruption, jobs, general economic growth, and social services and
physical infrastructure needs.
UNMIL elections staff and U.N. agencies supported media outreach and civic education,
technical tasks, and electoral security coordination, together with the national police. UNMIL aid
for the elections reportedly totaled about $8 million, and the European Union pledged $1 million.
Most of $10 million in U.S. elections assistance supported the programs of the nonprofit
democracy strengthening organizations IFES (elections technical assistance); the National
Democratic Institute or NDI (civic education); and the International Republican Institute or IRI
(political party training). IRI and NDI, the latter jointly with the Carter Center, deployed teams to
monitor the elections, as did the African and European Unions, the U.S. and many other
governments, and international organizations. Over 6,000 domestic observers, including over 17
Weah, who had claimed to have been cheated in the first round, contested his loss in the second
round and called for a re-run of the vote. He pursued his claim though a number of formal
channels, but after the NEC dismissed his claim, after meeting with Sirleaf, and under heavy
international pressure, in late December 2005 he agreed to drop his claim and accept the poll
results. Many observers doubted that systematic or large-scale fraud had marred the election. U.S.
officials viewed the process as having been orderly, largely well-administered, and free and fair,
and such views were shared by most other governments and international entities that observed
17 The author of this report observed the election as a member of the IRI delegation. In the county where he monitored
the voting process, the election was well-run. Poll workers appeared well trained; voting equipment and materials were
distributed on time and in sufficient quantity; and voting was peaceful and voter turnout rates high.
the vote. The United States nevertheless called for a probe of Weah’s claims and for any contest
of results to be carried out peacefully and through established legal channels.
President Sirleaf took office on January 16, 2006 and shortly thereafter nominated a cabinet seen
as dominated by technocrats, professionals, and former opposition or policy activists. In her
inaugural address, she laid out a detailed governance agenda, and launched her tenure with a
series of actions to counter corruption. Sirleaf highlighted what she pledged would be “a new era
of democracy” defined by political inclusion and toleration, non-violence, and safeguarding and
promotion of constitutional and civil liberties and rights. She stressed the need for national
reconciliation as an “urgent” and “compelling” task facing her administration. During the first
150 days of her tenure, in coordination with donors, her government also pursued diverse rapid
impact projects aimed at showing “quick and visible progress.” These were grouped under four
(initially five) “major pillars”: Security; Economic Revitalization; Basic Services and
Infrastructure; and Good Governance. The same pillars continue to define her administration’s
medium to long term development efforts. These are spearheaded by an entity called the Liberia
Reconstruction and Development Committee (LRDC), which is composed of four working
committees, each of which supports a separate “pillar.”
Sirleaf proposed an economic agenda emphasizing the creation of an investment-friendly climate;
the exploitation of Liberia’s rich natural resources; land tenure reform focused on increasing
agricultural production; job creation, notably for youths; and expanded economic and social
infrastructure rehabilitation, particularly in historically economically marginalized areas. The
Sirleaf administration has consistently emphasized the importance of laying the groundwork for
sustained economic growth and job creation. The latter is viewed as key by many observers, both 18
because formal sector unemployment rates are reportedly as high as 80% and because
unemployment is a potential source of instability. The economic and educational
disenfranchisement of Liberia’s large youth population is viewed as having fueled Liberia’s
armed conflicts, and joblessness is a continuing source of popular dissatisfaction. In August 2007,
the United Nations reported that the majority of ex-combatants remained unemployed and that
thousands had regrouped in order to illegally exploit diamonds, gold, and plantation-grown
Sirleaf vowed to take forceful action against corruption, including by requiring all key officials to
declare their assets and follow a national code of conduct. She strongly endorsed and promised to
18 Data according to the Liberian Ministry of information. In late 2007, President Sirleaf stated that previous reports
that the unemployment rate stood at 85% were exaggerated, and that a planned census would establish more definitive
data on this and other indicators.
“enforce” the Governance and Economic Management Program (GEMAP, discussed below) to
deal with “serious economic and financial management deficiencies” and pursue an “integrated
capacity building initiative.” She also vowed to overhaul the “seriously bloated” the civil service,
while noting that civil servant pay was poor and in arrears. She promised to institutionalize a
meritocractic, performance-based civil service system.
Sirleaf declared economic private sector-focused regional integration and security cooperation to
be her guiding foreign policy goal. She vowed to maintain strong international bilateral and
multilateral partnerships. Notably, given recent regional history, she stated that “no inch of
Liberian soil will be used to conspire to perpetrate aggression” against neighboring countries. Her
government has also shown itself to be open to new foreign ties. Liberia now has diplomatic
relations with Cuba and it established bilateral relations with China in late 2003, after the 19
departure from power of President Taylor, who had maintained relations with Taiwan.
Paying homage to what she said were the special efforts of women in securing her election and
the peace that made it possible—even in the face of war-related “inhumanity,” “terror,” military
conscription, forced labor, and rape—Sirleaf vowed in her inaugural address to “empower
Liberian women in all areas.” She pledged to strengthen laws and law enforcement to protect
women against rape, support the education of children, notably of girls, and to provide programs 20
to enable women to play a key role in the economic revitalization process. Sirleaf has
nominated women to head multiple key ministries and public agencies.
Upon taking office, Sirleaf announced an audit of the previous transitional government and
dismissed all transitional government political appointees. She also laid off the entire staff of the
Finance Ministry, pending a screening of employees’ qualifications and level of probity. In
February 2006, she revoked all existing timber concession contracts, which had been widely
criticized for being let in a corrupt fashion and for being executed in an environmentally
unsustainable manner. This action provided the basis, in part, for the U.N. Security Council’s
June 2006 lifting of a ban on Liberian timber exports. Sirleaf later initiated reviews of other
contracts and concession deals granted by the transitional government. In early June 2006, she
fired three sub-cabinet level officials and several mid-level civil servants accused of corruption.
Her administration has also publicly released audit reports of several state agencies.
19 On China’s diplomatic rivalry with Taiwan, see CRS Report RL33510, Taiwan: Recent Developments and U.S.
Policy Choices, and CRS Report RL32804, China-U.S. Relations in the 109th Congress, by Kerry Dumbaugh. China’s
role in Africa is covered in CRS Report RL33055, China and Sub-Saharan Africa, by Raymond W. Copson, Kerry
Dumbaugh, and Michelle Weijing Lau.
20 According to UNMIL media summaries, local Liberian media reported that a Liberian women’s group demanded the
establishment of a special expedited rape cases court during a late June 2006 public demonstration. See also Katharine
Houreld, “Liberia’s Women Fight Back,” Mail & Guardian, June 2, 2006.
In mid-April 2006, in a document entitled 150 Day Action Plan: A Working Document for a New
Liberia, the Sirleaf administration laid out a detailed status report on short-term, quick impact 21
policy and project implementation efforts and achievements to date. The document, which was
aimed both at increasing government transparency and proving her administration’s adherence to
Sirleaf’s campaign and inaugural pledges, demonstrated that most of her plans were being
implemented in a timely manner. The Executive Mansion, the equivalent of the U.S. White
House, also releases similar documents pertaining to ongoing LRDC activities. Sirleaf has faced
challenges in meeting high voter expectations, for instance, in relation to her election promise to
provide public electricity in Monrovia within six months of being elected, despite the complexity
and great cost of that an undertaking. Many voters appeared to have given the new government a
honeymoon period, although expectations remained high following what many saw as
disappointing performance by the transitional government. The public remains eager to see rapid
job growth and rapid improvements in social services and the construction of physical
infrastructure, particularly in support of education, healthcare, and transportation.
In recent public comments, Sirleaf has assured Liberians that her government is successfully
continuing to build the groundwork for sustained growth, but counseled Liberians to be patient,
since many ongoing investments in infrastructure, basic services capacity building and foreign
investment business projects will take time to generate jobs and incomes. Several road building
projects are currently underway and the government is examining options for large-scale
electricity generation and long-distance power transmission. Despite the fact such projects, which
are largely donor-financed, may not generate general economic growth for some time, Liberia’s
economy is growing rapidly. In December 2007, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) reported
estimates and projections showing a sharp jump in Liberia’s gross domestic product, from 5.3%
in 2005, to 7.8% in 2006, to 8.5% in 2007, with rates of 9.5% and 11% projected for 2008 and 22
2009, respectively. In March 2008, Liberia is expected to publish a Poverty Reduction Strategy
Paper (PRSP), which expected to guide economic policy and provide the basis an agreement with
the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a credit and technical assistance program for 2008-10,
as well as ongoing cooperation with the World Bank. Liberia is also in the process of awarding
offshore oil exploration contracts.
The general public largely gave Sirleaf a political honeymoon in 2006 and 2007, but she has been
the target of some criticism, both of a routine political nature by opposition parties (including
Taylor supporters upset by his SCSL trial) and by some human rights advocates. Although many
Liberians and international human rights advocates have praised Sirleaf’s strongly stated support
for such rights and the rule of law, some criticized her nomination of the recently confirmed 23
Kabineh Janneh as a Supreme Court Justice. Her administration has also been criticized for not
21 Available online from PeaceAfrica, a project of the AllAfrica Foundation. See http://allafrica.com/peaceafrica/
22 EIU, Country Report/Liberia, December 2007.
23 Janneh was the transitional government’s justice minister and is a former leading member of the LURD rebel group.
Critics see Janneh as responsible, in part, for violence committed by LURD fighters against civilians during the
Liberian war and view his nomination as counter to the goals and spirit of the TRC. Michael Kpayili, “Liberia: Liberian
Senate Confirms Kabineh Jan’eh As Associate Supreme Court Justice,” The Liberian Times, May 9, 2006.
creating an Independent National Human Rights Commission of Liberia, an institution called for
under the 2003 peace agreement. Her administration contends that it is in the process of creating
such a commission, and will submit legislation to the parliament related to this goal.
Some critics have alleged that the Sirleaf government, like its predecessors, is corrupt, but the
Sirleaf Administration rejects such accusations, citing its record of anti-corruption actions. Given
the historically embedded presence of public sector corruption in Liberia, the government is
likely to have to pursue a continuing series of law enforcement actions if it is to effectively
counter corrupt practices, both grand and petty. It may, however, face difficulties in prosecuting
indictments, given the limited capacity of Liberia. It will also need to ensure that it pursues
enforcement actions in a professional and apolitical manner, as recent Liberian history mas been
marked by the use of corruption prosecutions as a tool for achieving political retribution.
In 2006, there were several reports of assaults or harassment of journalists by members of the
Special Security Service (SSS), a Liberian executive branch security agency, and by regular
police. In response, the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) threatened to launch a “news black-out” of
coverage of the government. President Sirleaf reportedly responded to the allegations by stating
that “those who violate the rights of the Liberian people or journalists for that matter will be dealt
with and punished appropriately” and that her “government will not tolerate violation of the rights 24
of people, including journalists.” Information Minister Johnny McClain also met with the PUL
and re-emphasized that the Sirleaf administration “is committed to press freedom and that there is 25
a standing policy of respect and cordiality toward the press.” The international press rights
advocacy organization Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has stated in an open letter to
President Sirleaf that it is “troubled” by the alleged attacks on the press and that “despite an
Information Ministry statement [...] affirming the government’s commitment to press freedom,
there has been no evidence of an investigation into these incidents nor any public effort to punish
those responsible.” The CPJ also stated in an open letter to President Sirleaf that
While there is no evidence that these incidents are the result of government policy, your
administration has a responsibility to restrain security forces from attacking or harassing
journalists who are trying to do their jobs. As an organization of journalists dedicated to
defending the rights of our colleagues worldwide, CPJ respectfully urges you to make good
on your pledges to uphold press freedom by ensuring a prompt and transparent investigation 26
into these cases.
Liberia’s security situation has improved markedly since August 2003 and is generally stable, but
is subject to periodic volatility and localized instability, and largely dependent on the presence of 27
UNMIL. Liberia remains under U.N. sanctions, which were first imposed to counter the Taylor
24 The Analyst (Monrovia), “Liberia: President Promises to Probe Manhandling of Journalists,” June 19, 2006.
25 James Butty, “Liberian Media Reports Government Harassment of Press,” VOA, June 16, 2006; CPJ, “Liberia:
Journalist Assaulted by Security Forces,” May 24, 2006; and CPJ, “Liberia: Sports Editor Assaulted,” March 10, 2006,
26 Ann Cooper, Exec. Dir, “Liberia: CPJ Urges President to Probe Attacks on Press [open letter],” CPJ, June 16, 2006.
27 A February 16, 2007, State Department travel warning on Liberia, which is no longer in effect, stated that “[t]he
Department of State continues to be concerned about the security situation in Liberia,” despite the deployment of
UNMIL, in part because “crime rates are still high, and resources for responding to emergencies of any kind are
regime’s alleged regional destabilization efforts and other activities counter to international law
and U.N. policy goals. Under the current sanctions, individuals associated with the Taylor 28
regime’s activities remain subject to a U.N. travel ban and, in some cases, asset freezes. Liberia 29
also remains subject to an arms embargo. Bans on the export of Liberian timber and diamonds
have been lifted.
A key post-war source of instability in Liberia, former fighters associated with various armed
factions, was largely neutralized in the year after the August 2003 peace agreement was signed.
More than 101,000 ex-combatants (22% women and 10.8% children), were demobilized under a
disarmament program administered by UNMIL and the NTGL that ended in late 2004. Some
demobilized fighters remain a periodic source of sometimes violent protest, mostly related to the
status of generalized joblessness among ex-combatants and the demands of those who are owed
reintegration job training and subsistence assistance. In August 2007, a United Nations report
stated that “some 9,000 eligible ex-combatants are still awaiting reintegration opportunities” and
that there is a widespread view among Liberians that “the [U.N.-assisted] reintegration 30
programme has failed to provide sustainable alternative livelihoods for ex-combatants.” A small
minority of ex-combatants have reportedly turned to crime, including armed robbery and the
illegal exploitation of natural resources.
Public protests relating to severance and pension payments by former members of the Liberian
military and members of security services not included in demobilization programs have
generally subsided. Other public security threats include a wave of armed robbery in Monrovia,
which the government is attempting to suppress, and periodic civil unrest related to socio-
economic grievances, predominantly involving students, workers, civil servants, and jobless
youth. Price increases for rice, fuel, and cement are also sources of public dissatisfaction. In her
annual address to the legislature in January 2008, Sirleaf stated that she would temporarily
suspend a $2 tax on bags of rice, the Liberian staple food, pending consideration of a legislative
tax reform proposal.
Community-level property dispute conflicts have repeatedly occurred in some locales, notably in
Nimba County in northern Liberia between members of the Gio/Mano and Mandingo ethnic
groups, but also in other counties. Contested claims over home and land occupancy and
ownership rights are often at the center of such disputes, which sometimes take on ethnic
dimensions. Such disputes often occur when displaced persons or refugees return to their places
of origin and find their property occupied. A Presidential Commission created to probe such
minimal. Liberia’s local and national police forces are in the process of being reconstituted and still lack adequate
capacity to prevent or to investigate criminal activity.”
28 These sanctions were first imposed under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1521 (2003), which prohibited trade in
arms and diamonds with Liberia, and the travel of certain designated individuals, mostly members or associates of the
Taylor regime. Some of the listed individuals are also subject to financial asset freezes mandated by U.N. Security
Council Resolution 1532 (2004).
29 Liberia remains under the general arms embargo imposed by Resolution 1521, but on June 13, 2006 (Resolution
1683), the Security Council exempted from the ban limited weapons and ammunition “intended for use by members of
the Government of Liberia police and security forces who have been vetted and trained” and certain armaments
“already provided to members of the Special Security Service (SSS) for training purposes pursuant to advance
30 U.N. Security Council, Fifteenth Progress Report of the Secretary-general on the United Nations Mission in Liberia,
August 8, 2007.
disputes in Nimba County has reportedly recommended to President Sirleaf that a process of
community reconciliation and dispute resolution be pursued. President Sirleaf has also ordered
that contested properties in Nimba be returned to their legal owners.
The threat to Liberia from instability in neighboring Côte d’Ivoire, which has posed a significant
external threat to the stability of Liberia and to sub-regional security for several years, according
to United Nations reports, has waned somewhat with the signing of a peace accord in that
country. Widespread violent general strikes in neighboring Guinea in early 2007, however, posed
a new potential threat to Liberia’s stability, though a political agreement ending the political
standoff and the accession to office of a new Prime Minister in Guinea has reduced that threat. In
2007, UNMIL forces and Guinean armed forces undertook several joint patrol operations along
the Guinean-Liberian border.
Political groups who lost political power due to Liberia’s elections and the attendant realignment
of Liberian political forces remain a potential source of instability or violent acts. The family of a
witness in the SCSL trial of former president Charles Taylor (see below), for instance, was
reportedly targeted with death threats in early 2008. Prior to his capture, U.N. and U.S. officials
and many Members of Congress had been concerned about persistent, credible reports that Taylor
had periodically interfered in Liberian affairs from exile in Nigeria through a network of political,
military, and business associates, which Taylor denied. These alleged actions were seen as
destabilizing and threatening to the consolidation of peace (see section on Taylor below). There
had been some speculation that former Taylor administration officials would make large gains in
the 2005 elections and that he would be able to use them as proxies to influence the new
government. There was no such general outcome, but several close Taylor associates were elected
(see “2005 Post-War Elections,” above).
In July 2007, the transitional government house speaker, George Koukou, a former army general
under former president Samuel Doe, Charles Julu, and several associates were arrested and
charged with treason for allegedly plotting the ouster of the Sirleaf government. The defendants
pled innocent, and in January 2008, President Sirleaf granted an “Executive Pardon” to Koukou
and the government dropped its case against him. Verdicts in the case trial, which began in
September 2007, were expected to be delivered in late January 2008. One defendant, whose
statements the government used to establish its case, has testified that the coup plot was
fabricated by the government and that his statements were coerced under torture. The government
denies that claim, for which no evidence has been forthcoming during court proceedings, and
asserts that it possesses video evidence proving its case.
Although there are currently no specific publicly reported threats against Sirleaf, the United
States provided her with a personal State Department Diplomatic Security team at the start of her
tenure and has continued to help train the Special Security Service; these efforts are described
below. An electrical fire in the Executive Mansion in July 2006 during a visit by neighboring
heads of state highlighted Liberia’s general lack of emergency services. Firefighters from
UNMIL, the Firestone rubber company, and the international airport, the latter two based about
45 minutes out of the capital, were called in to fight the blaze, since National Fire Service largely
lacks the capacity to respond to fires in the capital. That lack of capacity was again illustrated in
August 2006, when the U.S. Navy’s Apache, an ocean tug boat, helped to extinguish a fire on a
commercial freighter in the Port of Monrovia, and later rescued a fishing crew at sea. The Apache
crew was in Monrovia to conduct repairs on the city’s main commercial pier and survey the
harbor. Following the Apache’s departure from Liberia, marine safety experts from the
International Maritime Organization (IMO) undertook an assessment of Liberia’s search and 31
Rubber has traditionally been a key source of state export revenues and employment in Liberia.
The presence, however, of ex-combatants on several rubber plantations, some armed, has
undermined the industry’s post-war redevelopment. Rubber workers and local residents near
plantations have reported that former fighters have robbed them and coerced them into selling
rubber latex at sub-market prices, in the process earning revenues that were reportedly not 32
taxed. Ex-combatant control of plantations also reportedly resulted in unsustainable harvesting
practices, various human rights abuses, and environmental degradation.
To address this situation, in mid August 2006 the government and armed UNMIL troops took
possession of Gutherie, a major rubber tree plantation, from former LURD ex-combatants who
had squatted on it, tapping rubber and in some cases controlling local rubber sales. Gutherie had
been the reported site of forced child labor and diverse violent crimes against persons. The
repossession was one of the objectives of a joint government-U.N. task force created to make the
rubber industry transparent, environmentally sound and sustainable, subject to state governance
and regulation, and a source of legal jobs, including for the ex-combatants from whom control of
Gutherie was seized. UNMIL plans call for a similar seizure of another key ex-combatant-
occupied rubber plantation in the southeast county of Sinoe, though ex-combatants at the 33
plantation have reportedly met with local officials and agreed to vacate the site peacefully. In
May 2006, the UNMIL Human Rights and Protection Section (HRPS) conducted a study of
Liberia’s rubber sector. It examined the industry with respect to human rights; post-conflict
business practices and corruption; the status of and role of commercial rubber concession and
management agreements; worker, child, and community rights; implications of the industry and
practices within it for the environment; and the rule of law within the rubber sector, including
issues relating to ex-combatant occupation of plantations. It provided key summary findings and 34
laid out diverse recommendations pertaining to these issues. Despite UNMIL’s action in
Gutherie, illicit rubber tapping by ex-combatants reportedly remains a problem.
With U.S. assistance, Liberia has begun to create a new military made up of an initial 2,000 35
recruits. Recruiting targets call for 20% of this number to be female, and the recruitment pool
31 Navy News Stand, “Navy Tug Fights Fire Aboard Freighter in Liberia,” August 11, 2006 and “Navy Tug Rescues
Liberian Fishermen,” August 16, 2006; U.S. Embassy-Monrovia, “U.S. Navy Tug Begins Repair Work in Liberian
Harbor,” August 10, 2006; and Karfa Jamanka, “Maritime Receives Assessment Team,” The Inquirer, September 22,
32 Marcus Malayea, “Gunmen Seize Cocopa, Claim Right of Inheritance,” The Analyst, August 18, 2006, among others.
33 IRIN, “Liberia: Gov’t Reclaims Rubber Plantation From Former Fighters,” August 16, 2006; Alphonso Toweh,
“Liberia takes rubber estate back from ex-rebels,” Reuters, August 15, 2006; IRIN, “Liberia: UN Vows to Repossess
Another Troubled Rubber Plantation,” 23 August 23, 2006; and D. Sonpon Weah II, “Ex-Combatants At SRC Ready to
Leave,” The Analyst, September, 27, 2006.
34 UNMIL, Human Rights in Liberia’s Rubber Plantations: Tapping into the Future, May 2006.
35 In mid-February 2006, President Sirleaf, stating that “our country currently lacks the technical and tactical capacities
and proficiency to provide for its own defense and national security,” appointed Major-General Luka Yusuf, a Nigerian
has been drawn from across Liberia and includes members from diverse ethnic groups to ensure 36
ethno-regional balance. Selection of volunteer enlistees, for purposes of screening out human 37
rights abusers, began in early 2006, and selectees subsequently underwent a vetting process. As
of late January 2008, 1,100 had completed basic training, and 200 of these were undergoing
training in Nigeria at that country’s Command Army Staff College. The Sirleaf administration has 38
also nominated an initial slate of officer candidate nominees to the Senate.
The State Department, in cooperation with the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), is
administering the overall military training program through two contractors: DynCorp
International and Pacific Architects and Engineers (PAE), in coordination with U.S. military
trainers. DynCorp is helping to vet, recruit, and provide basic training for the new force. PAE
provides construction services and specialized advanced training, equipment, logistics, and base
services. The training package is projected to cost about $95 million, prospectively to be drawn
from a mix of FY2004 through FY2007 International Disaster and Famine Assistance, Regional
Peacekeeping, and Foreign Military Assistance funds, and possibly follow-on funds in subsequent
fiscal years. The United States and Liberia have also signed a bilateral military cooperation
agreement, though it is not directly tied to the State Department-administered military reform 39
A possible future area of U.S.-Liberia security sector engagement may focus on the development
of Liberia’s capacity to monitor and secure its oceanic fisheries, which are periodically poached 40
by foreign trawlers, and prevent illegal maritime waste dumping. Although Liberia largely lacks
the resources to field a coast guard, provisions for such an entity are expected to be included in a 41
forthcoming National Security Strategy plan. The Liberian government has voiced support for
the emergent U.S. Africa Command, and offered to host it in the region, although most observers
see this as unlikely, given the poor state of Liberian infrastructure and limited state capacity and 42
Military restructuring was hindered by a need to demobilize and verify the severance pay
eligibility of over 13,000 irregular forces and Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) soldiers. Funds for
UNMIL officer, to be Liberia’s military Chief of Staff heading the rebuilding of the armed forces. He was later
replaced by another Nigerian, General Suraj Abdurrahman. The appointment of a Nigerian head of the army drew
criticism from former Liberian military elements, who called it unconstitutional and an insult to Liberia’s national
pride. Sirleaf also said that she would seek the appointment of a U.S. military advisor. See Agence France-Presse,
“Liberian Leader Names Nigerian to Head Military,” February 13, 2006 and Alphonso Toweh, “Liberia Leader Gets
Flak for Hiring Nigeria General,” Reuters, February 14, 2006.
36 Jonathan Paye-Layleh, “Liberia Begins Recruiting Women Soldiers,” Associated Press, June 5, 2006.
37 The Inquirer (Monrovia), “Liberia: Public Vetting for Army Recruits Begins Monday,” June 23, 2006.
38 President Sirleaf, 2008 Annual Message to the National Legislature.
39 The document signed is an Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA), one of 90 worldwide according to
EUCOM, that permits “the exchange of logistics, support, supplies and services,” between the United States and
Liberia. U.S. EUCOM, “U.S.-Liberia Agreement Meant to Ease Acquisition Process,” Press Release, April 24, 2007.
40 Communication with State Department officials, May 1, 2007.
41 Liberian Defense Minister Brownie Samukai, Jr., presentation at U.S. Institute of Peace, May 11, 2007 and
interviews with U.S. officials in Monrovia, 2005 and 2006.
42 Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, “AFRICOM can Help Governments Willing to Help Themselves,” AllAfrica.com, June 25,
2007. See CRS Report RL34003, Africa Command: U.S. Strategic Interests and the Role of the U.S. Military in Africa,
by Lauren Ploch.
this purpose were initially scarce, but most irregular and regular forces have been demobilized.
Total demobilization cost estimates vary between $15 million and $18 million. In late April 2006,
400-500 former AFL soldiers claiming nonpayment of salary arrears and retirement benefits
conducted a violent protest outside the defense ministry and clashed with UNMIL peacekeepers 43
sent to contain the unrest. Budget support for the new military may prove difficult to sustain,
given Liberia’s modest annual budget and competing development and reconstruction priorities.
Defense Minister Brownie Samukai, Jr., however, maintains that the government will keep the
defense budget “in the single digits” as a proportion of the overall national budget.
The United States is providing Liberia with UNMIL-administered civilian police (CIVPOL)
training assistance, which includes the deployment of about 20 U.S. CIVPOL advisors as
members of UNMIL, as well as equipment and contractor-based logistical support. The United
Nations reports that police reform and restructuring efforts have made progress. As of mid-March
2007, 2,610 Liberian National Police had been trained as part of an effort to complete recruitment
and training of 3,500 police officers by July 2007. Although the national police force has been
trained, their deployment to the field, particularly up-country, has been slowed by a lack of basic
infrastructure and police equipment, including vehicles and communication gear, though Liberia
is receiving some donor assistance in the form of some vehicles and aid in rebuilding police
stations. Over 350 Special Security Services personnel and 210 Seaport Police had also
completed training. An additional 500-member police quick-reaction force is being created. It is
intended to provide a mobile capacity to respond rapidly and robustly to significant threats to
internal disruptions or threats to public security. PAE is providing U.S.-funded training assistance
for the unit. U.S. and UNMIL assistance efforts also support the rehabilitation of the judicial and 44
The Special Security Service (SSS), which provides executive branch and VIP close protection
services, is undergoing a process of restructuring and professionalization. It was a roughly 1,252-
member presidential protection unit that functioned under the NTGL and the Taylor government.
Under Taylor, the SSS—which was run by Benjamin Yeaten, a former Taylor militia commander
who is currently being sought by the Sirleaf government for alleged treasonous activities—gained
a reputation for brutality. The SSS has continued to have a sometimes troubled reputation. Some
members of the current leadership are viewed by informed observers as unprofessional and
corrupt, and multiple acts of arbitrary violence committed by SSS officers have been reported.
As part of the restructuring process, a substantial number of SSS members have been
decommissioned; on May 1, 2006, UNMIL announced that 841 SSS members had accepted U.S.
and UK-funded buyout packages and been deactivated in April. There are press reports, however,
that allege that some decommissioned SSS officers have not received their severance packages,
and there have been protests associated with such claims. Some protesting claimants, however,
are reportedly ineligible to receive severance payments.
43 Some of these soldiers may reportedly receive such back pay (“President Authorizes Defense Ministry to Pay Salary
Arrears to Former Soldiers,” UNMIL media summary citing ELBS Radio and Star Radio, June 14, 2006 ).
44 See Fourteenth Progress Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in Liberia, S/2007/151,
March 15, 2007, and previous Secretary-General’s reports on Liberia. Such U.S. programming is supported, in part, by
USAID Rule of Law programs and separate ones carried out by the Justice Sector Support Liberia (JSSL) program of
the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).
The restructuring process, which seeks to correct reported leadership weaknesses and
professionalize all aspects of SSS organization and operations, is being undertaken with the
assistance of the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). Using a mix of
Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining and Related Projects (NADR) and other foreign
assistance funds, DSS directly provided close protection services for President Sirleaf during the
first few months of her tenure, while about 100 SSS agents underwent specialized DSS close
protection training in Liberia and in the United States. Another 300 SSS agents received basic
close protection support and perimeter training in Liberia. About 600 SSS officers have also
reportedly received general UNMIL police training. DSS is continuing to assist the SSS on an
interim basis but is proposing to provide a more structured two-year-long assistance package.
Under the proposal, DSS would provide five U.S. contract-based presidential security advisors
who would help run SSS operations on an interim basis and at the same time help the SSS to
enhance its operational and administrative capacities. Some equipment and training would be
provided under the package, which is projected to cost about $3 million per year.
Humanitarian conditions are steadily improving, although from a base of severe and widespread
post-war need, and poverty remains endemic. Liberia continues to receive substantial
international food aid and is highly donor-dependent. International assistance is, however,
increasingly supporting resettlement and socio-economic recovery, rather than emergency
humanitarian needs. According to a U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) briefing
note, about 200,000 Liberian refugees had repatriated by mid-February 2006. By late April 2006,
over 321,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), including over 59,000 families, had returned to
their places of origin or resettled. Most had received resettlement assistance, usually consisting of
basic non-food items, transport aid, and two months of food supplies. U.N. agencies, together
with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and NTGL ministries have implemented a wide
range of reconstruction and capacity building projects relating to nutrition, water and sanitation,
primary health care services, and transport infrastructure. Numerous schools have reopened
nationwide, with extensive assistance from UNICEF.
Nearly all child ex-combatants have reportedly been reintegrated into their communities of origin,
and most are receiving follow-up aid in the form of social services. In mid-March 2006, the U.N.
Secretary-General reported (S/2006/159, March 14, 2006, op. cit.) that 65,000 of 101,495
demobilized ex-combatants had benefitted from donor-financed reintegration and rehabilitation
projects, and that about 37,000 were still waiting to be placed in such programs. The Secretary-
General reported that although funding was available for most of these ex-combatants, about $5
million was “urgently needed” to provide such assistance to some 5,125 ex-fighters.
Liberia faces substantial public health challenges. Malaria is endemic, water-born stomach
illnesses are common, tuberculosis cases often go uncured, and there are periodic outbreaks of
diseases like Yellow Fever, measles, and cholera, but Liberia lacks an adequate health 45
infrastructure for combating such illnesses. Medical supplies and trained staff are in chronic
45 War-related psycho-social trauma is also seen as widespread. The preliminary findings of a September 2005
short supply. A number of donor-backed initiatives help improve health care capacity, however.
UNICEF is aiding the reopening of health clinics nationwide, and a UNICEF/WHO polio
vaccination campaign that began in October 2004 has reached some 1.2 million children. WHO
coordinates a U.N./government/NGO/USAID technical group that is working to improve the
national health system, notably regarding HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis (see below). WHO
and FAO are also helping the government to create an avian flu surveillance and response plan.
The threat of HIV/AIDS in Liberia is gaining increasing attention, though recent survey
information indicates that HIV prevalence rates are lower than had been commonly assumed
previously. A 2007 demographic and health survey showed that the national adult HIV infection
rate was 1.5%, and indicated that infection rates varied from 2.5% in urban areas to 0.8% in rural 46
ones, with the highest prevalence rate, 2.6%, in and around Monrovia. Previous estimates of
infection rates, albeit not based on national surveys, had ranged between 5.9% and 8.2%, with 47
some observers positing that the rate could be as high as 12% in some population sub-groups.
The UNMIL HIV/AIDS Adviser’s Office is supporting public education-related AIDS prevention
and national planning efforts focused on care of orphans and vulnerable children, among other
activities. The World Health Organization, in coordination with other U.N. agencies and the
NTGL, is developing project proposals to fight AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and build health
system capacity. The U.N. Population Fund supports several AIDS awareness and prevention
programs. Liberia receives Global Fund assistance, but its application for further assistance under 48
the Fund’s recent Round 5 funding project assessment process was reportedly rejected.
USAID implements several AIDS-related programs in Liberia on behalf of the Office of the U.S.
Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC). These include the 2007 demographic health survey, in
partnership with other donors, which includes HIV surveillance; targeted behavior change efforts
focusing on youth and other groups; and support for home-based care and related assistance. In
her inaugural speech, in which she cited a 12% HIV infection rate, President Sirleaf vowed to
“tackle this national scourge.” At a February 2006 House International Relations Committee
hearing on Liberia (see below), Members suggested to USAID Assistant Administrator for the
Bureau for Africa Lloyd O. Pierson that Liberia be considered for U.S. assistance under the
Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief in South Africa (PEPFAR), a consideration that Mr.
Pierson stated he would raise with appropriate Administration officials. Liberia has received
about $.7 million a year in Global HIV/AIDS Initiative (GHAI) account funds in recent years.
WHO/Liberian government sexual and gender-based violence survey found that 91.7% of women and girls interviewed
had been the victims of multiple violent acts during Liberia’s war (Security Council, S/2005/764, December 7, 2005).
The transitional legislature made all rape illegal in December 2005 (only gang rape had previously been illegal) and
laid out punishments for rape-relation violations, but activists say increased sexual violence-related law enforcement is
needed. See U.N. Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN hereafter), “Liberia: Sexual Abuse of Children Still
Rampant, Report Says,” February 22, 2006, inter alia.
46 UNAIDS, AIDS Epidemic Update, December 2007.
47 IRIN PLUSNEWS, “Youth Not Putting HIV Prevention Lessons into Practice,” October 27, 2005 and USAID,
Health Profile: West Africa-HIV/AIDS, n.d.
48 For background on the Global Fund, see CRS Report RL31712, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and
Malaria: Background, by Tiaji Salaam-Blyther.
Liberia’s supreme law is its 1984 constitution, effective since 1986. It provides for a political and
legal system that is substantially modeled on that of the United States, though not entirely; for
instance, federalism is absent. Liberia’s government is made up of three branches that exercise
separate powers and authorities: a bicameral legislature, which consists of a 64-member House
and a 30-member Senate; a presidentially led executive branch that controls multiple line
ministries and several independent agencies; and a judiciary. Legislators are directly elected by
voters in each of Liberia’s 15 counties, while the president is directly elected by universal
suffrage. The President and House Members are each elected to six-year terms, and Senators
serve nine-year terms, except in cases of irregular vacancies of elected positions. Presidents may
serve up to two terms. Although the Sirleaf government’s mandate is derived from the
constitution, that of the NTGL was extra-constitutional. During its tenure, those provisions of the
Constitution and laws of Liberia that were inconsistent with the provisions of the 2003
Comprehensive Peace Agreement were suspended, though all other provisions of the constitution
remained in force.
Although Liberia’s constitution provides for a system of checks and balances among the three
branches of government, in practice the executive branch has historically exerted extensive
influence over the legislature, the judiciary, and local governments. Historically, Liberian
presidents have wielded exceptional, sometimes extra-constitutional powers and closely
controlled the legal system, the security forces, and the economy, as well as headed majority
ruling parties. Liberia has also long suffered from the effects of public sector corruption and a
tradition of political patronage. This often resulted in uneven, urban-centered socio-economic
development and often deprived large segments of the population, notably the rural indigenous
majority, of access to public goods and services.
Given this history, President Sirleaf could have attempted to aggregate predominant power in her
office, but doing so would have run counter to her emphasis on building national unity,
constitutional and institutionally robust governance, fighting corruption, and institutionally
developing the state. Her emphasis on developing state institutions and processes, rather than
exerting presidential command authority may mean that she is both less likely and less able to
rule in the largely unilateral manner of her predecessors. However, she also came to power with a
weaker electoral mandate than those of past presidents; neither Sirleaf’s Unity Party nor any other
party commands a legislative majority. Similarly, no candidate was able to command majority
support in the initial 22-candidate presidential first round presidential vote.
The relative strength of opposition parties in the parliament initially led some observers to
hypothesize that Liberia’s legislators might bridge their party differences and cooperate in
furtherance of their collective institutional power vis-a-vis the executive branch, and take on a
more engaged and assertive role in policy-making than has been traditional. To date, however,
President Sirleaf has often been able to dominate the national policy agenda. This is attributable,
in part, to limited capacity within the legislature; the limited legislative experience of many
current legislators; the fractionalized party make-up of the legislature; and to the governing
experience of Sirleaf and many in her cabinet. Most bills continue to be originated by the
executive branch and passed with presidential priorities intact. A notable exception to this pattern
was the legislature’s September 2007 rejection of the asset seizures bill targeting former president
Taylor and his associates.
A key impetus for the Sirleaf administration’s policy emphasis on anti-corruption initiatives was
the mixed governance record of its predecessor, the NTGL. The NTGL was able to successfully
carry out most of the basic functions assigned to it under the August 2003 peace accord, but its
efforts to restore state authority and the rehabilitate state institutions were hampered by central
government ministry inefficiencies, widespread resource constraints, and lack of institutional and
financial system capacities and trained manpower. Despite such challenges, it did make
significant progress during the last half of its tenure. During this time, many revenue, customs,
immigration, and local officials were deployed to sites outside Monrovia. Regional Central Bank
offices were also opened, permitting salary payments without recourse to time-consuming travel
to Monrovia. The process of deploying government officials upcountry was supported by USAID,
which has supported the rehabilitation of administrative buildings in several key counties.
Among the most challenging issues facing governance capacity-building efforts were persistent
reports of corruption within the NTGL, in some cases on a large scale. Alleged acts were
particularly notable in the context of import-export transactions, government contracts and
budgeting, and the issuance of commodity marketing or land, natural resource, and associated 49
concession rights. The U.N. Secretary-General reported in mid-March 2005 that there was a
“lack of [NTGL] transparency in the collection and use of revenues and the resistance of some
government and public corporation officials to reforms and audits aimed at fighting corruption”
(S/2005/177). The World Bank and bilateral donors made similar observations and called for
transparency measures. National fiscal and budget obligation mechanisms and voucher record-
keeping systems under the NTGL were chaotic and subject to manipulation by key officials in 50
some cases. In some government agency budgets, the miscellaneous expense budget account
category “Other” was reportedly substantial in many cases, and expenditures of such “Other”
funds were said to have been carried out in an ad hoc manner, with few controls. Actions by the
transitional legislature either to appropriate for private use or pay very nominal lease fees for
expensive vehicles that each legislator was given drew local and foreign condemnation. In
November 2005, the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia stated that the U.S. government was
shocked and disappointed by the recent incidents of transfers of Liberian Government
property and resources into private ownership. This drains vital government resources that
could otherwise be used for critical developmental programs, and sends the wrong signal to
international donors who finance such programs. It also perpetuates the culture of abuse of
public trust and impunity that has contributed to two decades of decline in Liberia. The U.S.
Embassy considers these transfers unscrupulous, irresponsible, and contrary to the public
interest of the people of Liberia. Liberian government resources are for the benefit of the 51
Liberian people and should not be misappropriated for private use.
49 See, for instance, The Analyst, “NTGL’s Past Haunts Bryant, Others,” March 9, 2006, regarding Liberian
parliamentary investigations into the transitional government’s budget and EU audits of key Liberian parastatals,
available online through FrontPage Africa http://www.frontpageafrica.com.
50 Discussion with U.S. embassy official.
51 See U.S. Embassy-Monrovia, “U.S. Embassy Shocked and Disappointed at Abuse Of Public Trust,” Press Release,
November 18, 2005, and Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), “Liberia: Scramble for Goodies Ahead of
Political Handover,” November 21 2005. IRIN is an editorially independent component of the U.N. Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. It provides news and analysis about sub-Saharan Africa and other selected
global regions. It seeks to inform decision makers in host and donor governments, non-governmental and international
humanitarian and advocacy organizations, academic institutions, and the media about developments in the regions it
Citing a 2004 presidential proclamation, it stated that Liberian government officials who engage
in “violations of the public trust” and persons who abet such actions might, along with their
families, be ineligible for U.S.-funded programs and services, including consideration for 52
Diversity Visa, Immigrant Visa, and other visa services.
The former NTGL chairman, Gyude Bryant, is currently on trial for corruption charges related to
his tenure as the NTGL leader. The charges stem from a Sirleaf administration investigation that
began in January 2007 in the wake of an Economic Community of West African States
(ECOWAS) audit probe of the NTGL. Bryant has pled innocent to the charges, which were laid
against him in February 2007 and carry a possible 10-year prison sentence. At trial in April 2007,
Bryant unsuccessfully claimed constitutionally derived sovereign immunity from prosecution on
the basis that he was a serving head of state at the time his alleged crimes took place. In August
2007, Liberia’s Supreme Court approved his trial, ruling that he was not eligible for immunity
because the NTGL, over which Bryant presided, was a product of the extra-Constitutional August
2003 peace accord that authorized creation of the NTGL. Previously, in December 2006, the
NTGL finance minister was arrested on similar charges related to the audit.
Natural resource and land concession contract deals drew attention during the NTGL’s tenure
because of their financial significance and potential long-term effects on national development.
U.N. experts and donor governments questioned the propriety of a March 2005 monopsony
diamond concession deal with a previously unknown firm, which was later canceled. Some
observers also questioned the NTGL’s award of offshore oil exploration permits to three relatively
small firms just prior to elections.
The NTGL also signed two major long-term natural resource concession deals. One, with the
Firestone group of companies, extends and amends a previous series of concession agreements,
first signed in 1926, giving Firestone rights to large plantation areas for the cultivation of 53
rubber. The contract was amended, in part, because Firestone contended that it was unable to
exploit its holdings due to fighting over the last decade and a half, and in order to boost foreign
investment in Liberia. The deal gave the Firestone group surface rental and other rights to nearly
200 square miles of active or proposed rubber plantation land for 36 years in exchange for $.50
per acre per year and various investments, tax payments, social and infrastructure development
outputs, and various other commitments. It was extendable for an additional 50 years after
renegotiation. Another deal, with Netherlands-based Mittal Steel Holdings, provided for the
rehabilitation or construction of diverse mining, administrative support, processing, and transport
infrastructure intended to support the extraction and shipment of iron ore from northern Liberia. It
gave Mittal a variety of surface rental, mineral license, iron ore extraction, transport infrastructure
construction, and other rights in exchange for diverse capital investments, totaling about $900
million, and royalty, lump sum, tax, and other payments to the government. The initial term of 25
years was extendable for an additional 25-year term, if certain criteria were met.
52 See Proclamation by the President, To Suspend Entry as Immigrants or Non-immigrants of Persons Engaged in or
Benefitting From Corruption, January 12, 2004.
53 The agreement is between the government of Liberia and Firestone Natural Rubber Company, a U.S. limited liability
firm that is an affiliate of Bridgestone-Firestone North American Tire, and its Liberian subsidiary, Firestone Plantations
Both deals drew criticism from some civil society groups that contended that the NTGL lacked a
legal mandate to negotiate long-term concessions, that such functions could only be carried out
by a duly elected government, and that such deals should be negotiated in a manner more 54
favorable to Liberian economic and other national interests. The contracts were also politically
controversial. The Mittal deal was the subject of rival bids by the large mining firms Global
Infrastructural Holdings Limited (GIHL), BHP Billington and Real Tito, and its ratification was
contested legally and in parliament. Some civil society critics have alleged that the deals were not 55
undertaken in a transparent manner. Mittal denied that charge and maintained that the contract
was won in a “transparent and competitive bid process” and will bring significant foreign 56
investment and infrastructure development to Liberia. The former U.S. Ambassador to Liberia,
John Blaney, reportedly pushed for a deal that would require that a major railroad that was to be
rehabilitated as part of any proposed iron ore investment arrangement would be made into a 57
multi-use railroad, regardless of what firm was awarded mining rights.
The Firestone contract has also drawn attention for other reasons. Some Firestone plantation
workers have complained about poor working conditions and high production quotas. Some
environmental advocacy groups and residents living near Firestone rubber processing facilities
have alleged that chemicals used in latex processing are polluting wells and the water and aquatic
life of the Farmington River, and damaging these resources or preventing their use by local 58
residents. A Firestone spokesperson has denied that “effluent—the by-product that comes out
into the water from our operations” pollutes the Farmington River. A Firestone spokesperson
reportedly stated that Firestone “consistently” samples water from the Farmington River, is in
compliance with relevant Liberian environmental laws, and has developed multiple safe drinking 59
wells areas in its plantation concession area.
54 A coalition of Liberian human rights groups unsuccessfully petitioned the Liberian Supreme Court to halt execution
of the two contracts on such grounds and contended that the deals had been made without public input. The
complainants reportedly may seek to re-file their case after the formation of the new elected government. See Morrison
O.G. Sayon, “Supreme Court Places ‘Stay Order’, Firestone, Mittal Steel Agreements,” The Inquirer (Monrovia),
November 7, 2005; John Walsh, “Supreme Court Issues Stay Order On NTGL; Ja’neh Appears Today,”
FrontPageAfrica, November 7, 2005; George Bardue, “Supreme Court Stops Budget Execution and Summons NTGL
Officials,” The News (Monrovia), November 7, 2005.
55 Ben Garside, “Police probe Mittal Steel’s Liberian Iron Ore Deal,” Metal Bulletin News Alert Service, July 13, 2006.
56 Alphonso Toweh, “Liberia Minister Wants Mittal Iron Ore Deal Revised,” Reuters, September 14, 2005; D. Moses
Wantu, “Mittal Steel Hearing Backfires,” The Analyst (Monrovia), September 6, 2005; Economist Intelligence Unit,
“Liberia: A steel?,” Country Monitor, August 29, 2005; Steve Swindells, “Mittal Steel Defends Pursuit of Liberian Iron
Ore Concession,” June 14, 2005 Metal Bulletin News Alert Service; The Analyst (Monrovia), “Bryant, Mittal Steel
Flout Law,” June 13, 2005; The Analyst (Monrovia), “NTGL Sued in U.S. District Court - Over LIMINCO Bidding,”
June 13, 2005, inter alia.
57 A smaller former mine railroad between Monrovia and Bong County has been rehabilitated by AmLib, a mineral
exploration firm, and put into use as a multi-use transport line. It has reportedly contributed to a several-fold drop in
charcoal prices in Monrovia, and is increasing the supply of other farm products to the capital. Charcoal is the main
cooking fuel in Liberia.
58 Pollutants that reportedly may potentially be released into rivers or streams in the Firestone concession area as a
result of agricultural or rubber processing include chemical residues such as ammonium nitrates, sulfuric acid,
formaldehyde, and pesticides like dieldrin. The Analyst (Monrovia), “EPA Wants Tough Measures Against Firestone,”
April 5, 2005; George Bardue, “Firestone Discharges Waste Without Permit, Management Admits,” The News, March
18, 2005; Gibson W. Jerue, “Threat to Life,” The Analyst (Monrovia), March 14, 2005; and Syrulwa Somah, “Liberia
is At a Brink of Irreversible Environmental/Ecological Impotency,” Liberian Observer, March 21, 2005; and The
Analyst (Monrovia), “Firestone Refutes Allegations, Says It Has Acted In Line With The Laws, But,” March 17, 2005.
59 The Firestone spokesperson reportedly stated that such effluent “is comparable to if not lower than the effluent
standards in other rubber-producing countries such as India Malaysia and Indonesia.” See BBC News, “Liberia Rubber
The Firestone group is the subject of a class action suit brought in California by the International
Labor Rights Fund, an advocacy organization that says its goal is to counter child, forced, and
other abusive labor practices internationally, including through litigation. The suit alleges that
Firestone employs children, practices forced labor, involuntary servitude, and negligent
employment practices. Firestone categorically denies these charges, describing the suit as
“outrageous” and “completely without merit.” It maintains that its operations comply fully with
Liberian laws and asserts that its workers are all adults of legal working age, are union-
represented, are paid well above prevailing wages, and are provided with social services, and that 60
Firestone is bringing much needed investment to Liberia.
In June 2007, a U.S. District Court (Indianapolis Division, Southern District of Indiana) judge
granted Firestone’s motion to dismiss 11 of 12 counts in the case, but denied the motion with
regard to one count, a child labor claim made under international law and the Alien Tort Statute 61
In late April 2007, Firestone production was decreased as a result of a labor strike that reportedly
concerned worker benefits, rivalry over leadership control of the union, and issues related to talks 62
on a collective bargaining agreement. In late 2007, the Liberian Supreme Court reportedly
ratified the election of a new Firestone workers union. Labor activists had long contended that the
previous Firestone union, whose leadership had launched a court case to prevent the new union
from being legally recognized, was a company-controlled entity. Firestone reportedly refused to
recognize the new union prior to its legitimation in court.
Upon taking office, President Sirleaf vowed to review and renegotiate concession contracts
signed by the NTGL to ensure that they were fair, provided Liberia with favorable terms, and did
not cede national financial or other interests to foreign firms, or give such firms undue control
over variables such as future prices or regulatory powers. A renegotiated contract with Arcelor
Mittal (the name of the firm after a 2006 merger) took effect in May 2007. In late 2007, the
Liberian government announced that Arcelor Mittal had agreed to increase its proposed
investment in Liberia from $1 billion to $1.5 billion over ten years or so, and that the firm expects
to ship the first consignment of ore in mid-2009. The government projects that the new contract
will eventually generate as many as 20,000 jobs for Liberians.
Pollution Denied,” May 2, 2007.
60 Femi Oke, “Is Bridgestone/Firestone Exploiting Liberian Workers?,” Inside Africa, CNN International, November
12, 2005; Joe Bavier, “Firestone Lease an Issue in Liberia Election Campaign,” VOA News, September 14, 2005; Gary
Gentile, “Firestone Accused of Using Slave Labor,” Associated Press, November 17, 2005; and Reuters, “Labor Group
Sues Bridgestone on Liberia Plantation,” November 17, 2005, inter alia.
61 See U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, John Roe I, et al., Plaintiffs v.
Bridgestone Corporation, et al., Defendants, Case No. 1:06-cv-0627-DFH-JMS, http://www.insd.uscourts.gov/
62 Reportedly at issue in strike was an internal union split dividing, including between workers supportive of leaders
favorable to accommodation with Firestone and a group seen as sympathetic to the views of the Minister of Labor, a
long time human rights and labor activist. Tim Urquhart, “Strikes Hit Production at Bridgestone’s Liberian Factory,”
Global Insight Daily Analysis, April 30, 2007; James Butty, “Liberia Begins Reviewing Firestone Agreements,” VOA
News, April 5 2007; and information provided by the State Department.
The Liberian government has released a detailed summary comparing the old Mittal contract and 63
the new one. According to Global Witness, a non-governmental organization critic of the
original Mittal contract, improvements in the revised contract include:
• Provisions requiring iron ore prices under the contract to be set by the ore
market, in contrast to the first contract, which gave Mittal the right to set the
price, “thereby giving it control of royalty rates and tax payable, and encouraging
• A limited five-year tax holiday for Mittal, in comparison to an indefinitely
• Liberian national control over two key public infrastructure assets, the port of
Buchanan and the railway to Yekepa (a major iron ore mine site);
• The non-exemption of Mittal from future human rights or environmental laws
passed by Liberia;
• Recognition of the Mittal parent company’s responsibility for liabilities faced by
its operating affiliate in Liberia; and
• Increased balance between the rights of existing property holders and Mittal 64
regarding the latter’s right to expropriate new concession land.
Global Witness, however, continues to criticize what it asserts is the contract’s “precedence over
Liberian law on income tax, royalties and other payments due to government.” It also views in a
negative light a contractual confidentiality clause “which will make it very hard for Liberian
citizens to monitor revenue flows from Mittal and ensure the government uses the money wisely 65
to reduce poverty.” Such a measure would likely be subject to change if Liberia were to comply
with the international Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which Liberia 66
reportedly may seek to join.
The re-negotiation of a new contract with Firestone was finished in early 2008, and the agreement
is slated to be submitted to the legislature. According to President Sirleaf, the agreement:
includes aggregate investment on the order of $130 million in replanting, and the
establishment of a rubber wood processing plant. This model agreement subjects Firestone,
for the first time in its eighty-two year history of operations, to the payment of taxes of
general application; to a five year plan of providing better living conditions for workers and 67
employees; and to limited land holdings.
The Sirleaf government also plans to use the new Firestone contract as a model agreement in
separate renegotiations of other rubber and palm oil plantation concession agreements.
63 See “Summary of the Main Changes Brought About by the Review of the Mittal Mineral Development Agreement,”
64 See Global Witness, “Mittal Steel Did the Right Thing—Will Firestone?,” April 4, 2007.
65 See Global Witness, “Mittal Steel Did the Right Thing—Will Firestone?,” April 4, 2007.
66 EITI attempts to foster transparent and accountable governance in resource-rich countries by requiring verification
and full publication of company payments to governments and of government revenues derived from natural resources.
It also seeks to create multi-stakeholder dialogue and monitoring partnerships in developing countries to increase
67 President Sirleaf, 2008 Annual Message to the National Legislature.
The NTGL took some steps to halt corrupt practices. It established a Task Force on Corruption
and a Cash Management Committee and attempted to eliminate bribe-taking in relation to
commodity imports, notably by better managing Monrovia’s port, of which UNMIL took
temporary control in late April 2005. In addition, the National Transitional Legislative Assembly
(NTLA) created a committee to investigate allegations of administrative and financial
irregularities by its leadership, which eventually led to the removal of key NTLA leaders. Some
observers, however, saw the NTGL Task Force as lacking the capacity or political will to achieve
significant results, and some Liberian officials resisted donor and ECOWAS-backed transparency
and audit measures. An African Development Bank loan was reportedly not disbursed in 2005
because Liberia failed to provide required fiscal data, and an ECOWAS-sponsored auditing
mission was opposed by Liberian auditors and certain government officials, who cited concern
over a violation of Liberian sovereignty, despite the publicly-stated support of Chairman Bryant
for the audit. In July 2005, Chairman Bryant suspended two officials over their alleged diversion
of funds paid by the satellite communications firm Inmarsat to several Liberian state entities, and
the NTGL suspended three Bureau of Maritime Affairs officials, including the Commissioner, and 68
Liberia’s International Maritime Organization representative for fraud.
To help the NTGL tackle corruption, the United States sent several Treasury Department experts
to advise the Liberian government in the areas of budget and tax policy, management, and
administration and in central bank operations and fiscal policy and regulation. These U.S. experts
have also assessed Liberia’s financial enforcement (financial crime and corruption) capacity. A
resident U.S. legal advisor and a temporary duty team of prosecution experts have been deployed
to Liberia to assist in building Liberia’s judicial capacity. Similar efforts have continued under the
Concerns over transparency produced a sometimes halting and often highly conditional provision
of pledged aid by donor governments and agencies to NTGL-led Liberia, as well as some
reticence to offer new funding. This negatively affected the scale and pace of resettlement,
reintegration, and socio-economic rehabilitation. Nonetheless, a network of national,
international, U.N., and private development and relief organizations has made considerable
progress in these areas. Most of them participate in an inter-sectoral, U.N.-coordinated initiative,
the Results-Focused Transitional Framework (RFTF). An April 2005 NTGL/U.N./World Bank
assessment of the RFTF found that it has been effective in “addressing short-term, stabilization
priorities,” but that medium- to long-term post-transition institutional and reconstruction
development will require a more robust, coherent, and comprehensive strategy.
68 Liberia’s Solicitor-General, the former human rights lawyer Tiawan Gongloe, reportedly stated that the Liberian
government will seek to extradite from the United States the former Maritime Commissioner, J.D. Slangar, to face
charges of alleged public funds embezzlement. “Accused Former Official to Be Extradited,” UNMIL Media Summary
June 19, 2006 citing the Daily Observer and New Democrat newspapers.
Liberian-donor government relations have improved under President Sirleaf, in large part due to
her strong support for anti-corruption and other economic governance efforts. In late January
2006, she announced a financial audit of the outgoing transitional government, which had
repeatedly been accused of corruption. Sirleaf has also suggested that she may seek a review of 69
other public contracts and concession deals granted by the NTGL. The Liberian government is
also working to reform its key export-earning forestry and diamond sectors.
In early February 2006, Sirleaf adopted the recommendations of the Liberian Forest Concession
Review Committee, an entity comprised of Liberian civil society, government agency, UNMIL,
and donor government representatives. It reviewed the legality and propriety of logging
concession contracts and recommended diverse logging sector reforms. Sirleaf’s action
effectively canceled all existing logging concessions and created a Forestry Reform Monitoring
Committee (FRMC) to regulate future concession contracts. The natural resources and human
rights policy advocacy group Global Witness, which has tracked abuses and corruption in
Liberia’s forestry sector for several years, praised the move. It called, however, for “greater
support” by UNMIL “to the Forestry Development Authority ... to ensure that it is able to operate
in a secure environment” as a prerequisite to the removal of then-current U.N. timber sanctions 70
on Liberia. UNMIL, along with a consortium of donor governments and specialized agencies
known collectively as the Liberia Forest Initiative (LFI), is assisting the Liberian government to 71
implement timber reforms.
The FRMC is tasked with carrying out its functions by applying or establishing the following:
• land-use planning principles;
• a timber production and export chain-of-custody tracking system;
• a market value-based tax system timber tax system defined by “equitable sharing
of the benefits with local communities;”
• revised contract requirements;
69 Katharine Houreld, “Liberian Leader Says to Review Govt Contracts,” Reuters, February 20, 2006.
70 “Global Witness Welcomes President Sirleaf’s Decision to Cancel All Forest Concession Agreements,” February 9,
71 The Liberia Forest Initiative (LFI) began in 2004 as a U.S. government, State Department-led inter-agency and non-
governmental organization effort to provide coordinated assistance to Liberia’s forestry sector. U.S. government
agency participants other than the State Department included the U.S. Forest Service, USAID, and the Treasury
Department. These agencies collaborated with several U.S. and Liberian non-governmental organizations to help lay
the groundwork for technical, legal, and regulatory and other reforms of the sector. LFI was later joined by the World
Bank, the European Commission, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Monetary Fund
(IMF), and the World Conservation Union (IUCN). Information on the LFI is available online. See http://www.fao.org/
• transparent forest concession allocation procedures, based on Liberia’s Public
Procurement and Concession Act of 2005, which allows the suspension of
participants who abet civil disturbances or default on their financial obligations—
a key aim in light of alleged patterns of abuse under the Taylor administration;
• a regulatory and law enforcement regime to counter financial and tax fraud,
human rights abuses, economic sabotage, and violations of labor and other laws
relating to the misuse and mismanagement of forest resources; and
• an environmental impact assessment process.
It was also given the tasks of advising on the implementation of GEMAP goals (see below) as
they pertain to the Liberian Forestry Development Authority; ensuring the full and transparent
participation of communities and civil society in forest management, conducting a full review of 72
the forestry laws and regulations; and recommending legislation to implement forestry reforms.
Sirleaf’s cancellation of prior logging concessions and creation of the FRMC were seen as key
steps prompting the U.N. Security Council to pass Resolution 1689 on June 20, 2006, which
lifted the ban on Liberian timber exports first imposed under Security Council Resolution 1521
(2003). In passing Resolution 1689, the Security Council cited the Sirleaf administration’s
“commitment to transparent management of the country’s forestry resources for the benefit of
Liberians and its reforms in the timber sector.” It warned, however, that it would reinstate the
timber ban if the government does not adopt FRMC-proposed forestry reform legislation. Global
Witness opposed the Security Council’s lifting of sanctions, contending that the Liberian
government lacks full control over forest lands and has not yet adequately reformed the forestry 7374
sector. Some other experts have expressed concerns that echo those of Global Witness. The
U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control is reportedly currently preparing updated
regulations to allow the import of Liberian timber into the United States.
In early October 2006, President Sirleaf signed into law the National Forestry Reform Law of
In doing so, she fulfilled the U.N. Security Council’s criteria for lifting its ban on exports of
Liberia timber. Among other measures, the new law divides Liberia’s forest lands into three
categories: protected areas, areas where community logging and wood processing can be pursued,
and commercial logging concession areas. It also requires that logging firms publicly disclose
their revenues and that 30% of commercial timber concession lease revenues be used to fund
education, healthcare, and other basic community social services. The law reportedly does not,
however, clearly define how revenues for such services are to be divided among beneficiaries,
which may make decision making processes pertaining to that end politically controversial.
Liberia’s Forestry Development Authority is currently formulating a timber concession bidding
process, based on the new forestry law, that is slated to be implemented in early 2007.
72 See Liberia, Forest Sector Reform (Executive Order #1), February 7, 2006, available online at http://www.elaw.org/
73 See Global Witness, “United Nations Security Council Lifts Liberia Timber Sanctions Despite Insufficient Reform of
the Industry [press release],” June 22, 2006, and Global Witness’s Cautiously Optimistic: The Case for Maintaining
Sanctions in Liberia, June 2006.
74 E.g., remarks at “Conflict Timber, Sustainable Management, and the Rule of Law: Forest Sector Reform in Liberia,”
Woodrow Wilson Center panel presentation, June 8, 2006.
Environmental activists are monitoring this process to ensure that it meets the forestry 75
management, conservation, and other goals of the new law.
Liberia’s forests are the home to diverse species of flora and fauna, some rare or endangered.
According to U.N. research findings, in 2000, Liberia’s forests “constitute[d] approximately 45%
of the remaining Upper Guinea Forest, which spans 10 West African States from Guinea to
Cameroon” and were “variously assessed as [occupying] between 31.3% and 50% of the total
territory of Liberia.” Estimates of the contribution of timber exports to Liberia’s foreign exchange
earnings vary. They declined after the imposition of sanctions on such exports in 2003, but U.N.
research findings indicate that for 2002, such earnings totaled “at least $146 million” and could 76
have been as high as “$180 to 200 million.” Although precise data on the value of pre-war
timber revenues vary, such revenues are generally thought to have comprised as much as half of
all export earnings.
Depending on such factors as price, rates of cutting, and relative use of sustainable forestry
practices, future export levels could vary widely from those estimated for 2002, when forestry
concessions were administered by the Taylor regime and harvested by commercial interests with
allegedly close links to the Taylor administration. The Taylor regime was accused of allowing the
use of unsustainable forestry practices and illicitly diverting earnings from the timber sector. It
also allegedly used some timber firms’ transport and trade activities as cover for arms trafficking 77
and turned the security forces of some firms into pro-government militias. In early June 2006,
Guus Kouwenhoven, a Dutch businessman and associate of former President Taylor, was
convicted of using the Oriental Timber Company, in which he reportedly owned a 35% share, to
import small arms to Liberia in violation of a U.N. weapons embargo on Liberia. Kouwenhoven,
who held other business interests in Liberia and was listed on a U.N. travel sanctions list, was 78
acquitted of charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
75 “Liberian Leader to Ratify Forest Concession Pact to Ensure End of Un Timber Ban,” Liberian Star Radio via BBC
Monitoring Africa, October 4, 2006; UN News, “Country Enacts New Forest Policy With UN Help to Ensure Benefits
for All,” October, 5, 2006; IRIN, “Government Lays Foundation for Legal Logging,” December 15, 2006; and
Environmental Law Institute, “Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Signs National Forestry Reform Law of 2006,”
October 5, 2006.
76 See United Nations, Report of the Secretary-General in Pursuance of Paragraph 19 of Resolution 1478 (2003)
Concerning Liberia, S/2003/793, August 5, 2003.
77 See Taylor-Made: The Pivotal Role of Liberia’s Forests and Flag of Convenience in Regional Conflict, Global
Witness and the International Transport Workers Federation, September 2001, inter alia. The environmental activist
Silas Siakor, who ran the Save My Future Foundation (SAMFU) of Liberia from 2000 to 2003, is credited by many
with carrying out then-politically risky documentary work that eventually led to the imposition of U.N. forestry
sanctions on Liberia. Siakor, a 2006 Goldman Environmental Prize winner, now heads the Sustainable Development
Institute (SDI), an NGO that helps to coordinate Liberian civil society participation in national forest sector reform
efforts. See SAMFU, Living Dangerously: An Assessment of Multinationals in Liberia Logging Industry, February 20,
78 See Steve Bloomfield, “Dutch Court Jails Liberian Warlord’s Right-Hand Man,” The Independent, June 8, 2006 and
Toby Sterling, “Dutch Court Convicts Businessman of Violating U.N. Arms Embargo on Liberia,” Associated Press,
June 7, 2006, among others.
On May 4, Liberia was admitted into the Kimberley Process79 following the United Nations
(U.N.) Security Council’s passage on April 27, 2007, of Resolution 1753, which lifted an export 80
ban on Liberian diamonds imposed by the Council in late 2003 (Resolution 1521). In passing
Resolution 1753, the Council also announced its intention to review Liberia’s admission to and 81
general compliance with the Kimberley Process. In May 2007, ten diamond screening and
evaluation offices were opened across Liberia, and in July began to offer mining, selling and
broker licenses. The first post-embargo diamond exports began in September 2007.
In order to meet Kimberley Process certification criteria, the Liberian government had suspended
the issuance of diamond mining licenses, all of which expired at the end of December 2005,
making diamond mining effectively illegal in Liberia pending its accession to the Kimberley
Process. As part of its efforts to implement the Kimberley Process, the government now has a
diamond office in Monrovia and several regional diamond certification offices. Liberia’s
Kimberley Process-related capacity building and a technical training effort have been
substantially aided by the United States. In addition to constructing the Government Diamond
Office and providing it with gemology equipment and office furnishings, U.S. assistance in this
area has included the following:
• Training of Liberian diamond evaluators in South Africa (three staff) and Dubai
• Training of Ministry of Lands, Mines, and Energy staff to manage ten regional
offices and related material and salary assistance, including vehicles, to support
the establishment and future functioning of these posts throughout Liberia;
• Salary support for five diamond evaluators;
• Provision of specialized technical training to multiple ministry staff in the areas
of Stream Sediment Studies, database applications, and GIS and remote imagery;
• Production of a comprehensive geological assessment of Liberia’s diamond
production capacity, and digitization and reproduction of geological maps of
79 The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) is a voluntary international trade regime that regulates the
global trade in rough diamonds in order to prevent the sale of “conflict diamonds,” i.e., rough diamonds used to fund
80 The Kimberley Process decision followed a March 2007 Kimberley Process Review Mission to Liberia that had
concluded that Liberia met the conditions for admission. European Community, “Kimberley Process: Liberia Enters the
Diamond Trade,” (press release IP/07/612) May 4, 2007.
81 The diamond ban had been left in place when the Security Council lifted timber sanctions on Liberia (Resolution
1689) in June 2006. It had last been renewed in December 2006. A diamond embargo was initially imposed on Liberia
in 2001 after the Security Council found that the Taylor government was “actively supporting” the Revolutionary
United Front (RUF), a rebel group then fighting the government of Liberia’s neighbor, Sierra Leone, including by
illicitly trading in Sierra Leonean diamonds. See U.N. Security Council, Resolution 1343, March 7, 2001. The diamond
sanctions under Resolution 1343 were terminated by Security Council Resolution 1521 (December 22, 2003), which
imposed a new ban on diamond exports from Liberia. Resolution 1521 asserted that there existed a “linkage between
the illegal exploitation of natural resources such as diamonds and timber, illicit trade in such resources, and the
proliferation and trafficking of illegal arms as a major source of fueling and exacerbating conflicts, in West Africa,
[and] particularly in Liberia.”
• Provision of software and hardware components of a database for tracking
diamond production and Kimberley Process admission and program compliance;
• Production of 1,000 Kimberley Process rough diamond export certificates.82
Much of this assistance was provided under a $1.44 million FY2005 ESF funding tranche under a
U.S. Geological Survey-implemented contract with the Constella Futures International, a social
development technical assistance firm. The U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control is
reportedly currently preparing updated regulations to allow the import of Liberian rough
diamonds into the United States.
Diamond deposits in Liberia are mostly alluvial, that is, found on or near the surface after having
been deposited by water flows, often far from their point of origin. In January 2006, however, the
firm Diamond Fields International (DFI) Ltd. announced that it had discovered strong indications
of a kimberlite, or pipes of igneous, volcanic, often diamond-bearing material, in Grand Cape 83
County. If the kimberlite is verified as being richly diamondiferous, Liberia’s future production
of diamonds could rise substantially, potentially to the level of neighboring Sierra Leone.
The Sirleaf Administration strongly supports the Governance and Economic Management
Assistance Program (GEMAP), an agreement signed in September 2005 by the NTGL and the
International Contact Group on Liberia (ICGL), an international policy coordinating group of 84
donor and regional governments and multinational institutions. GEMAP provides for contract-
based management of the revenue and expenditure flows of key public sector entities, notably the
main port, airport, and fuel refining firm, among others, in order to strictly enforce central 85
government controls over state revenues and to improve public fiscal capacities. It also supports
diverse economic governance and judicial capacity-building measures aimed at institutionalizing
transparent state management capacity-building goals and reforms. Elements of GEMAP that call
for an external management and financial monitoring role were initially opposed by some in
Liberia as an intrusion on national sovereignty, but donor governments, including the United
States, pushed for strict conditionality for future assistance to Liberia. International financial and
monitoring experts have reportedly assumed duties at the Central Bank of Liberia, where the
international GEMAP expert has co-signing authority, and on the Cash Management Committee,
a Ministry of Finance-led body that manages all government funds. Similar personnel are
expected to fill positions in key ministries, notably the Ministry of Lands, Mines, and Energy and
the Bureau of Budget, and revenue-earning sources, including ports, airports, customs offices, 86
and the forestry sector. GEMAP is overseen by an Economic Governance Steering Committee
82 State Department/Monrovia Embassy, “U.S. Contributions to the Kimberley Process Certification Program,”
Embassy News, [n.d.].
83 See DFI, “Diamond Fields Announces the Discovery of Kimberlite in Liberia and Progress with Gold Exploration,”
January 9, 2006. Several other firms are involved in diamond explorations in various counties of Liberia. DFI is also
involved in gold exploration in Liberia.
84 Online; see http://siteresources.worldbank.org/LIBERIAEXTN/Resources/GEMAP.pdf.
85 Sirleaf administration officials have reported that 2006 first quarter revenues collections are reportedly 34% higher
than those for the same period in 2005 (The Analyst (Monrovia), “Liberia: Govt. is 34 Percent Richer!,” June 8, 2006).
86 See IRIN, “Liberia: Foreign Nationals Step into Government Positions to Combat Graft,” March 3, 2006; IRIN,
“Liberia: Foreign Corruption Spotters Now in Place,” May 24, 2006; and S/2006/159, op. cit., among others.
(EGSC) chaired by President Sirleaf, assisted by representatives of the United States, the
European Union, the African Union, ECOWAS, and the International Monetary, World Bank, and
In October 2006, the Liberian government released a first year status report on GEMAP, and its 87
Economic Governance Steering Committee (EGSC) has issued regular bulletins.
As discussed elsewhere in this report,88 Liberia’s current Congress could potentially play a more
prominent role in governance than have its predecessors, in part because President Sirleaf’s party
does not enjoy a majority in either chamber of the legislature. Many Members are enthusiastic
about their representative role and are determined to assertively exercise the constitutional powers 89
and responsibilities of the legislature. A range of challenges may, however, impede the
realization of such goals. A key impediment is the relative inexperience of many of Liberia’s
legislators. Although a number of Members are professionals with varying private or public sector
experience and a few served previously in the legislature as Members or staff, the vast majority
have never previously held elected office and have no lawmaking or policy-making experience.
In meetings attended by the author in July 2006, many Members expressed a need for instruction
or information regarding the basic functions of being a legislator, the workings of the committee
system, and the legislature’s oversight, appropriations, authorizing, and constituent relations
In many cases, Members are unable to turn to their personal staffs to provide expertise on
legislative functions because, as is common across the public sector in Liberia, many staff lack
appropriate training or job-specific skills. In many instances, the professional work of the
legislature is carried out by university students, reportedly because pay levels are viewed as too
low to attract trained, professional staff. In other cases, staff reportedly lack appropriate skills
because they were hired “based solely on contacts and family relationships,” with little regard to 90
competence or training, “rendering [many offices...]dysfunctional.”
There is also a paucity of institutional resources available to Members. Committee staff are
virtually nonexistent, and the legislature as a whole lacks many of the assets necessary to
independently carry out its principal roles. The two chambers largely lack bill drafting expertise,
and most bills are drafted by the executive branch or by outside organizations. Parliamentary
record keeping capacity is also limited; legislative debates and votes are recorded by hand, in part
due to a lack of audio or stenographic recording equipment. Legislative debates and decisions,
therefore, are reportedly often documented incompletely and sometimes erroneously.
87 The report, bulletins, and other documents are online at http://www.gemapliberia.org/.
88 See section entitled “Governance: Background.”
89 The following account draws from the author’s observations; John Johnson and Robert Nakamura, Liberia
Legislative Needs Assessment, Univ. at Albany, State Univ. of New York for U.N. Development Program-Liberia,
February 2006; parliamentary information by European Commission/Konrad Adenauer Foundation, SUNY; and news
accounts. In July 2006, the author participated in a U.S. government mission to assess the needs and status of the
Liberian legislature; the assessment team met with numerous Members of the Liberian legislature.
90 Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Background information on the National Legislature Senior Staff Workshop, March
The manner in which legislative resources are allocated also appears to curtail the institution’s
potential effectiveness. In comparison to many countries, the size of Liberian Members’ office
staffs is large, and a high proportion of Members’ staffs perform non-legislative services, such as
food preparation, gardening, and driving. Similarly, despite a general lack of resources, the two
chambers of the legislature maintain duplicate services; each, for instance, has its own research
department. These institutional challenges are compounded by a dearth of office space and
equipment. The legislature’s Capitol building, which was looted and suffered decay due to neglect
during the civil war, lacks most basic functional infrastructure elements, such as water and
electricity, though it is currently undergoing an upgrade (see below).
Some Liberians, including some legislators, as well as outside observers are also concerned that
legislators’ lack of knowledge regarding their normative and constitutional roles as
representatives of the public may cause some to seek use their offices for purposes of private
gain, rather than to serve the public. Such concerns were highlighted in October 2006 when, just
prior to the slated start of a U.S.-supported project to rehabilitate the Capitol building (see below),
several Liberia news reports described acts of alleged “looting” of the Capitol building by some
Members and staff of the legislature, who were reported to have removed and appropriated 91
government property for personal use from the Capitol. Similar concerns reportedly arose in
relation to legislative negotiations relating to the recently enacted forestry law reforms. According
to informed observers, during talks prior to the passage of the forestry reforms, some legislators
made remarks suggesting that they viewed a successful outcome of the reform process as being
one in which they personally—as persons representing the public, in contrast to the general
Liberian public itself—would directly benefit from processes at issue, such as the allocation of
forestry concessions or revenues.
A certain amount of on-going public skepticism about government transparency in general may
be attributable to public perceptions formed of the NTGL and of the transitional legislature, the
decision-making conduct of which was often opaque and sometimes allegedly corrupt (see
“Transitional Governance,” above), and to widespread reports of corruption under previous
Liberian governments. Such views may be spurred by on-going investigations of alleged 92
corruption under the NTGL.
In early 2007, House activities were disrupted by the emergence of opposition to the leadership of
House Speaker Edwin Snowe. In mid-January 2007, a majority of House members voted to
remove Snowe as Speaker during a meeting that was not held at the Liberian capitol building.
The vote to remove him stemmed from reports that Snowe had held meetings with Taiwanese
91 Although some legislators later explained that they had removed personal property prior to the rehabilitation project,
press reports suggested that what was removed in many cases included physical fixtures, such as doors and windows,
and publicly funded office equipment and furnishings.
92 An audit of the NTGL performed by ECOWAS reportedly “points to a lot of criminal activities, criminal charges,
malpractices, inefficiencies, [and ] corruption of former officials in the Gyude Bryant administration, including
chairman Bryant himself,” according to the current information minister, Lawrence Bropleh. Bropleh’s comments came
in the wake of the detainment of two former NTGL officials, finance minister Lusinee Kamara and his deputy, Tugbeh
Doe, in a $9 million public funds corruption probe. See James Butty, “Liberia - Government Says Former Leader
Could Face Charges,” VOA News, December 5, 2006; The Analyst, “Police Clutches Lusinee Kamara, Tugbeh Doe,”
December 5, 2006; and Jonathan Paye-Layleh, “Liberia Charges Former Finance Minister with Stealing from
Government,” Associated Press, December 4, 2006, among others.
officials in 2005 allegedly aimed at discussing the re-establishment of ties with Taiwan, and 93
Snowe’s subsequent introduction of a House resolution relating to mainland China. Some
parliamentarians asserted that Snowe’s actions might threaten Liberia’s relationship with China
and that they intruded on the executive branch’s prerogative to set foreign diplomacy. Other
allegations related to Snowe’s alleged violation of House travel rules by including a Lebanese
businessman in a House delegation to Doha, Qatar. Those seeking his ouster claimed that Snowe
was unfit to serve as speaker.
Snowe fought his ouster attempt by arguing that the vote against him was illegitimate because it
did not take place in the Capitol, which is in disrepair and is undergoing renovations. Proponents
of his ouster cited that fact as the reason that the vote was held off Capitol grounds. Snowe also
accused his opponents of receiving bribes from the executive branch in exchange for seeking his
ouster. Such charges were denied by legislators and the presidency. Snowe subsequently appealed
to the Supreme Court, asserting that the vote to remove him was unconstitutional. The Court
ruled in his favor, but some of his opponents argued that the Court’s interpretation was erroneous
and should be ignored, while others argued that the court’s ruling should be followed and that
Snowe should be removed under alternate legal procedures. The ruling, however, spurred the
legislature to split into two rival bodies that each claimed legitimate authority. This rift continued
until mid-February, when Snowe resigned in the face of the boycott by many members of House 94
sessions held under his leadership.
A new speaker, Alex J. Tyler of the Liberia Action Party, was elected House speaker in early April
2007. Tyler pledged to pursue a collaborative manner of leadership, including in House relations
with the executive branch, with which Snowe reportedly had a confrontational relationship. He
also stated that he would take up pending legislative business in order to reverse the House’s
reputation for relative inaction.
To help overcome the challenges faced by the legislature, the United States is supporting a $1.8
million USAID project to rehabilitate the Capitol and is providing legislative capacity-building
assistance under a USAID-backed contracting coordination mechanism known as the Consortium
for Elections Political Process Strengthening (CEPPS). Under CEPPS, the U.S. democracy-
building organizations the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican
Institute (IRI) are undertaking assistance programs designed, in part, to help develop the capacity
of the Liberian legislature. A third CEPPS participant, IFES (the elections technical assistance
and democracy-building organization formerly known as the International Foundation for
Election Systems) also pursues limited programs related to similar goals.
The NDI program centers on helping to bolster Members’ constituent relations skills,
strengthening the ability of committees to conduct open public meetings, improving legislative
staff legislative drafting and reporting skills, coaching legislators, and rebuilding the legislature’s
research service. NDI has also been conducting assessments of constituent needs and views and
93 Liberia’s diplomatic relations with Taiwan during the Taylor presidency were terminated after the NTGL took power
and recognized mainland China. The Sirleaf administration has continued to maintain ties with China.
94 Snowe is also the subject of a probe into allegations that he misappropriated about $1 million from the Liberia
Petroleum Refinery Company (LPRC) during his tenure as LPRC managing director during the tenure of the
the views of legislators, in part through questionnaires and in part through town hall-style
meetings. IRI’s program helps political parties to build their organizational and financial
mobilization capacities, in part through the provision of a resource center that gives parties access
to computers, photocopiers, reference materials, and other resources, and through political party
trainings. It helps parties to develop party policy positions and messages and the ability to project
such messages through communication and outreach strategies. It also fosters an effort aimed at
promoting inter-party dialogue, known as the Inter-Party Consultative Committee, and sponsors
civic advocacy skills-building workshops. Other IRI activities include focus group research and
exit polling. IFES is pursuing a variety of civic education programs that, in part, bolster
constituent interaction with legislators. Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Foundation is also
implementing a European Union-funded legislative strengthening program. The UNDP is tasked
with coordinating the delivery of such donor assistance.
In addition to appropriating funds to assist Liberia, Congress is taking a direct role in supporting
governance capacity-building in Liberia. In July 2006, following a visit by a congressional
delegation and a parliamentary assessment by a House Democracy Assistance Commission
(HDAC) staff team, Liberia was selected to participate in a multi-year HDAC partnership. HDAC
partnerships provide “technical assistance to the parliaments of newly democratic countries on a
peer-to-peer basis, with Members of Congress working with Members of Parliament and 95
congressional staff working with their parliamentary counterparts.”
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor is defending himself against an 11-count war crimes
indictment first brought against him in 2003 by the Prosecutor of the Sierra Leone-based Special 96
Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL). The indictment against Taylor alleges that he violated
international and Sierra Leonean law by actively aiding and abetting activities in furtherance of
the armed insurgency against the government of Sierra Leone by the Revolutionary United Front
(RUF), a now defunct Sierra Leonean rebel group.
Taylor’s trial is being conducted by the SCSL in the Hague, the Netherlands, where under a 97
special agreement the SCSL is using the premises of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
95 HDAC fact sheet, November 2006.
96 The original indictment, dated March 3, 2003, approved on March 7, 2003, and unsealed on June 4, 2003 during
Liberian peace talks in Ghana, charged Taylor with 17 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other
serious violations of international humanitarian law. The indictment was amended on March 16, 2006, to 11 counts to
“ensure a more focused trial,” according to a statement by the prosecutor. The SCSL Prosecutor’s indictment is online
97 The trial was transferred to the Hague from the SCSL premises in Freetown, Sierra Leone for reasons of security and
to prevent possible instability in Sierra Leone and Liberia arising from the trial. Trial documents and recordings are
available at the SCSL website: http://www.sc-sl.org/taylor.html. A non-governmental group has also created a Taylor
The trial had previously been slated to begin in April 2007, opened in early June 2007, but
proceedings were delayed after Taylor boycotted his trial and later fired his initial defense team. A
new defense team was hired. It successfully requested increased funding for his legal defense and
in mid-August 2007 won a postponement of Taylor’s trial on the basis that the team must be
allowed adequate time to review extensive evidence that has been submitted in the case. The trial
resumed on January 7, 2008. The prosecution is expected to call upon the testimony of up to 144
witnesses to prove its allegation that Taylor directly aided and abetted diverse crimes allegedly
committed in Sierra Leone by a former rebel group, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF).
Taylor was taken into the custody of the SCSL following his arrest on March 29, 2006, at a
border checkpoint in the northern Nigerian state of Borno, as he tried to cross by road into
Cameroon. He was apprehended by Nigerian security forces after fleeing the southern Nigerian
city of Calabar, where he had lived with an entourage of aides and family members beginning in
August 2003, when he was given asylum by Nigeria’s government. He reportedly fled on March
27, two days after Nigeria’s government announced that Liberia was “free” to take Taylor “into
its custody,” while not specifying how that end could or would be achieved, or moving to arrest
him. After his capture, Taylor was extradited to Liberia in a Nigerian presidential jet. He was then
immediately flown by UNMIL helicopter to the premises of the SCSL in Freetown, the capital of
Sierra Leone, where he was taken into SCSL custody. On April 3 he was arraigned and pled not st
guilty, though he qualified his plea by questioning the SCSL’s “jurisdiction over me, as the 21 98
President of the Republic of Liberia.”
In June 2006, Taylor was transferred from the headquarters of the SCSL, in Freetown, Sierra
Leone, to the prison premises of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague, the
Netherlands. The ICC, with the agreement of the Dutch government, agreed to allow the SCSL to 99
use ICC facilities in order to conduct the Taylor trial. Dutch authorities agreed to allow Taylor to 100
be tried on Dutch soil after Britain offered to imprison Taylor if he is convicted. The SCSL will
trial tracking website: http://charlestaylortrial.org.
98 The arraignment hearing judge, however, reminded Taylor that the SCSL Appeals Chamber had in May 2004
decided that heads of state could be prosecuted before the SCSL. It had ruled in response to a motion by an attorney,
acting on behalf of then-president Taylor, who requested that the court quash Taylor’s indictment on the grounds that
the court lacked jurisdiction to indict Taylor because he was a head of state at the time he was indicted. At Taylor’s
April arraignment, a court-appointed defense attorney for Taylor also requested that he be tried in Sierra Leone, to
facilitate the logistics of bringing defense witnesses resident in the sub-region before the SCSL and to prevent their
possible denial of visas to travel to a venue held in Europe. See IRIN, “Transcript of Charles Taylor’s Plea on First
Court Appearance,” April 4, 2006.
99 On the day that Taylor was taken into SCSL custody, the SCSL made a request to the Dutch government and to the
ICC asking that the SCSL be permitted to use the Hague premises of the ICC while hearing Taylor’s trial. See SCSL
Press and Public Affairs Office, “Special Court President Requests Charles Taylor be Tried in The Hague,” March 30,
2006. The U.N. Security Council subsequently endorsed an agreement later reached between the Dutch government
and the SCSL, after a memorandum of understanding was agreed between the SCSL and the ICC.
100 The Netherlands agreed to accept Taylor’s transfer onto its territory on the condition that, prior to the transfer,
provisions be put in place to ensure that Taylor depart Dutch soil following his trial. It is not clear where Taylor might
go if he is acquitted, but Dutch authorities will not, at present, permit him to remain in the Netherlands after he is tried.
Britain’s offer to imprison Taylor is subject to approval by its parliament, but prior to its proffer, the UK government
reportedly consulted the political opposition, which agreed to support the proposal. Sweden’s parliament had earlier
passed legislation, “specifically because of the Charles Taylor case,” that amended Swedish laws to enable it to
imprison an SCSL convict. The Swedish government, however, had not formally offered to imprison Taylor if he were
retain legal and institutional control over the Taylor case but will use the physical premises of the
ICC in the Hague, the Netherlands, to conduct his trial and related hearings. Taylor’s transfer to
the Netherlands was made for reasons of security and to prevent potential instability in Sierra 101
Leone and Liberia, where his trial could prove politically controversial and emotive. The
decision to transfer him to the Hague remains a topic of debate.
The decision to transfer the trial to a venue outside of Sierra Leone or the continent of Africa 102
stimulated debate over the over the implications for justice of the transfer. Some have
contended that Taylor’s trial should have been conducted in the country where his alleged crimes
took place. Such an outcome, in this view, would demonstrate—both to victims and perpetrators
of international human rights and laws of war violations in Sierra Leone and the surrounding sub-
region—that accountability for such actions can be achieved in the same social and geographic
contexts in which they were committed. Similarly, some have argued that the didactic and
symbolic value for the region of a local public trial would be greater than one conducted abroad,
in part because it would allow more direct and proximate access to the court proceedings by the
local population. Some observers have worried that because many Sierra Leonean journalists lack
the ability to cover the trial directly due to cost or other factors, Sierra Leoneans would be
deprived of a key channel of information and analysis accessible to them in the local patois (Krio,
an English-based Creole) and responsive to local concerns. Sierra Leoneans lack widespread
access to television and print media, particularly western media sources that are more likely to
have the resources to cover a trial in the Hague. Other factors cited in favor of holding a trial
locally have included concerns about the logistical, legal, financial, and bureaucratic barriers that
an overseas venue might pose for witness participation in the trial, as well as for its general 103
organization and staging. Such concerns continue, and may potentially imperil the reputation of 104
the SCSL as a novel, cost-effective international judicial model.
convicted, though it had reportedly considered doing do. See Netherlands Min. of For. Affairs, “War Crimes Suspect
Charles Taylor Arrives in the Netherlands,” June 20, 2006; UK Foreign Office, “Beckett: Charles Taylor Could Serve
Prison Sentence in the UK,” June 15, 2006; David Clarke, “Britain to Jail Liberia’s Taylor If Convicted, Reuters, June
15, 2006; IRIN, “Sierra Leone: Taylor Prison Location Holding Up Trial,” May 4, 2006. IRIN, “Liberia-Sierra Leone:
Taylor Trial Could Go to Europe,” March 30, 2006; BBC, “Sweden Considers Taylor Detention,” April 6, 2006;
Michelle Faul, “International Community Determined to Move Former Liberian President’s Trial to The Hague,”
Associated Press, April 4, 2006; and Karl Ritter, “Sweden, Austria Considering Request to Imprison Charles Taylor
after Trial,” Associated Press, April 5, 2006, among others.
101 Once the decision to transfer Taylor out of Sierra Leone had been made, the SCSL Prosecutor stated that the transfer
of the Taylor trial to the Hague was “the only option” because the courts of the International Criminal Tribunal for the
Former Yugoslavia or the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)—two institutional venues to which the
transfer of the Taylor case was reportedly considered—are “too full.” The ICTR is based in Arusha, Tanzania. The
Prosecutor also stated that President Sirleaf had requested that Taylor’s case be heard outside of Sierra Leone and the
local Mano River sub-region. See SCSL, Office of the Prosecutor, “The Prosecutor’s Meeting with Civil Society of
Sierra Leone: The Prosecutor’s Statement,” April 12, 2006, as well as U.N. Security Council resolution 1688
(S/RES/1688, June 16, 2006).
102 Human Rights Watch (HRW) has reviewed many of the arguments for and against transferring Taylor’s case to the
Hague and has made a number of related recommendations. See HRW, Trying Charles Taylor in The Hague: Making
Justice Accessible to Those Most Affected, HRW Briefing No. 2, June 2006, as well as Howard Lesser, “In Sierra
Leone, Mixed Reaction to Taylor’s Trial Transfer,” VOA, June 21, 2006, among other press analyses of the transfer.
103 The potentially higher costs of conducting a trial in the Netherlands may pose a particularly significant funding
challenge to the SCSL. See IRIN, “Sierra Leone: New War Crimes Court President Pleads for Extra Funds,” May 25,
104 Marlise Simons, “Liberian Ex-Leader’s War Crimes Trial Is Stalled,” New York Times, August 25, 2007.
Others have supported the transfer on the basis that any factor that might spark political unrest or
conflict—such as Taylor’s trial—should be avoided, given the relatively fragile and recent
transition to peace in Liberia and Sierra Leone, both of which have extended histories of political
instability. In this view, moving the trial to the Hague has decreased the chance that political
controversy prompted by Taylor’s trial may lead to local unrest, and has undercut his ability to
directly appeal to or rally potentially armed followers, should he attempt to use the trial as a
political platform. Some have also maintained that holding the trial in a distant location would
help Sierra Leoneans and Liberians overcome the legacies of war. A local trial, according to this
point of view, might present too immediate and visceral a reminder of the wartime suffering that
many in these two countries have only recently overcome. Sierra Leoneans, this line of reasoning
emphasized, are weary of war and its effects and want to “move past” their experiences of
wartime brutality and focus on peace and socio-economic reconstruction.
Taylor’s SCSL case and extradition have been delicate matters for President Sirleaf, because her
government was not party to his asylum deal or indictment, but was charged with resolving issues
arising from them. Prior to his transfer to the court, some observers had raised concerns over the
hypothetical possibility that the stability of Sirleaf’s government might be undermined if Sirleaf
were to alienate or anger supporters of former President Taylor, particularly given that he won the
presidency with 75.3% of the vote in 1997, and because he is a former warlord whose factional
fighters had a reputation for brutality. Prior to her mid-March 2006 visit to the United States,
Sirleaf had stated that her administration would eventually seek the repatriation of former
president Charles Taylor from Nigeria or his transfer to the SCSL under certain conditions. These
included consultations with and the assent of “regional leaders who managed the process of
leading to his exile;” accommodation for certain unspecified timing considerations; and a transfer
process that would “not undermine the security” of Liberia. She also reportedly said that she did
not view it as an immediate priority. She specifically stated that any solution would require the
concurrence of the European Union, the African Union, and West African leaders, with whom she
met during a regional pre-inauguration consulting tour, in part intended to address “certain
national and regional sensitivities.” Notwithstanding these actions, in March 2006 her
government formally requested Taylor’s extradition from Nigeria, prompting the sequence of
events leading to Taylor’s capture.
In mid-July 2007, the Sirleaf Administration submitted a bill to the national legislature that would
have allowed it to seize and seek international cooperation in “tracking, freezing and confiscating
the funds, properties and assets” allegedly misappropriated and/or controlled by Taylor and 105
certain of his relatives and associates. The bill was considered controversial because Taylor has
not been convicted of any crimes in Liberia or by the SCSL. In September 2007, the legislature 106
rejected the bill on ground that it would unconstitutionally deny due process rights. The
105 The assets of such persons is subject to a U.N. assets freeze imposed in 2004 under U.N. Security Council
Resolution 1532. For information and documents pertaining to the assets seizure and related matters and a list of
affected individuals, see the website of the U.N. Liberia sanctions committee: http://www.un.org/sc/committees/1521/
106 BBC News, “Liberia ‘to Seize Taylor Assets’,” July 2007; and Jonathan Paye-Layleh, “Liberian lawmakers reject
bill to freeze Taylor’s assets,” Associated Press, September 23, 2007, inter alia. See also the May 2007 report by the
Security Council Panel of Experts on Liberia (S/2007/340, published June 7, 2007) and Following Taylor’s Money, op
government has pledged to attempt to continue to pursue efforts to effect such seizures, and may
amend and resubmit the bill.
The United States strongly supports the SCSL’s mandate to try those responsible for war crimes
in Sierra Leone. The court is also seen by some as providing an alternative institutional model to
the International Criminal Court and is viewed as a smaller, leaner organization compared to the
more administratively extensive and costly international criminal tribunals for the former
Yugoslavia and Rwanda, though questions have recently been raised about its cost-107
Table 2. U.S. Assistance for the Special Court for Sierra Leone
Account Amount Fiscal Years by Appropriation and Obligation
DFA 3 “No-year” funds de-obligated from prior year funds (Funds provided in
ESF 2 FY2000 (Provided in FY2001)
ESF 5 FY2002 (Provided in FY2002)
ESF 10 FY2003 ($5 million provided in FY2003 and $5 million in FY2004)
K Fund 2 FY2005 (Provided in FY2005)
ESF 13a FY2006 ($13 provided in FY2006)
ESF 13b FY2007 funding
ESF 12.5 FY2008 funding
Total through 60.5
Source: State Department. K Fund: Emergencies in the Diplomatic and Consular Service; DFA: Development
Fund for Africa; ESF: Economic Support Fund.
a. P.L. 109-102, which contained appropriations for FY2006 foreign operations, stated that $13 million
“should” be provided to the SCSL. According to the State Department, $13 million was in fact provided to
the SCSL in FY2006.
b. The $13 million figure is composed of $3 million in FY2007 supplemental ESF account funds provided under
P.L. 110-28 (formerly H.R. 2206/Obey) and $10 million in ESF appropriations provided under P.L. 110-5
(formerly H.J.Res. 20/Obey). The P.L. 110-5 portion is based on allocations at the sub-account level agreed
following consultations between the Administration and the Congressional budget committees that ended in
mid-August 2007. The $10 million ESF appropriation provided under P.L. 110-5 is drawn from the FY2007
ESF allocation for Sierra Leone, according to a State Department official consulted by CRS. For further
information, see CRS Report RL33900, FY2007 Supplemental Appropriations for Defense, Foreign Affairs, and
Other Purposes, coordinated by Stephen Daggett.
There has been occasional friction between the Administration and the SCSL with regard to the
effect that certain of the court’s actions have had on political events and U.S. policy goals in West
Africa. Some State Department officials in private, for instance, questioned the political prudence
or timing of certain actions taken by former SCSL Prosecutor, David Crane, such as his unsealing
107 Simons, “Liberian Ex-Leader’s War Crimes Trial is Stalled,” op cit.
of the indictment against Taylor at a critical juncture during Liberian peace talks held in Ghana in
June 2003. Some critics also faulted the Administration for not pushing harder to obtain the
extradition of Taylor from Nigeria after the latter provided him with asylum in August 2003. In
and such criticisms declined.
There have been some calls for a special court to try crimes committed during Liberia’s civil 108
wars. Many Liberians who suffered the death of loved ones or personal attacks and other 109
crimes, and some have expressed a desire to see those who committed such deeds punished.
Some observers have suggested, however, that President Sirleaf does not, in general, support
prosecuting those who committed war time atrocities during the 1989-2003 civil wars because
such tribunals might reignite old antagonisms and conflict. Such sentiments may be held by many
Liberians, in part due to personal or familial linkages to parties involved in the conflict, and due
to concerns similar to those cited in favor of moving the Taylor trial to the Hague. Some have
argued that the current legislature might not support the creation of a tribunal because some of its
members might be targets of subsequent prosecutions. The creation of a tribunal could face legal
barriers, as well as political ones. Some peace agreements covering Liberia first civil war contain
amnesty provisions for war-time crimes. There is no apparent legal barrier to one that might cover
Liberia’s second civil war, however. The 2003 Comprehensive Peace Agreement provided for a
“recommendation for general amnesty to all persons and parties engaged or involved in military
activities during the Liberian civil conflict that is the subject of this Agreement” but did not
explicitly provide for one. It did, however, endeavor to “address issues of impunity, as well as an
opportunity for both the victims and perpetrators of human rights violations to share their
experiences” by providing for the creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
While no war crimes tribunal special tribunal has been established, in late February 2006, Sirleaf
inaugurated the Liberian TRC, which the transitional legislature created in 2005. She also
pledged to support and strengthen the TRC, which has a mandate to investigate crimes and human 110
rights abuses committed from 1979 until 2003. The TRC formally began operations in early
June 2006, but did not begin to collect testimony until October 2006 and had to halt operations
about a month later due to financial shortfalls. In mid-2007, after having undertaken a fund-
raising effort, it launched a multi-month project to collect testimony from the significant Liberian
108 See, for instance, Amnesty International, Liberia: Time for Truth, Justice and Reparation for Liberia’s Victims,
109 See Catherine Maddux, “Hague Trial Could Mean Justice for More West African War Victims,” VOA News, April
10, 2006 and IRIN, “Liberia: Youths Petition for War Crimes Court,” April 11, 2006; Jeremy I. Levitt and J. Peter
Pham, “Liberia Must Confront its Past If It Wants a Brighter Future,” The Baltimore Sun, December 8, 2005; IRIN,
“Liberia: Post-war justice stirs division,” July 6, 2006; and Sebo Daniels, “Liberia: War Crime Advocate Arrested,”
The Inquirer (Monrovia), February 14, 2007.
110 The TRC website http://www.trcofliberia.org contains documents about the mandate and current activities of the
community living in the United States, in part supported by Northwestern University’s Center for
Human Rights Law and the Minnesota-based Advocates for Human Rights. In October 2007, it
re-launched field hearings in Liberia after receiving assistance from the U.N. Development
Program and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), among other donors. In
FY2006, USAID provided $.5 million in support to the TRC.
In mid-September 2006, President Taylor’s Boston-born son, Roy M. Belfast Jr. (AKA Charles
McArthur Emmanuel and Charles “Chuckie” Taylor, Jr.) pled guilty to a federal passport fraud
relating to his submission of false data regarding his father’s identity. He had been arrested at
Miami International Airport by U.S. customs agents while attempting to enter the United States
from Trinidad on March 30, 2006, one day after his father was apprehended in Nigeria.
Belfast, who reportedly has an extensive U.S. juvenile criminal record, was sentenced in
December 7, 2006, to 11 months in prison for the fraud. Hours later, he pled not guilty to a
separate indictment brought against him by a U.S. federal Grand Jury. It charged Belfast with
torture, conspiracy to torture, and of using a firearm during an act of violent crime while serving
as the head of the Liberian Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU) during his father’s presidency. The ATU
was a state security unit staffed primarily by members of Taylor’s former civil war faction.
Belfast is reportedly the first person ever to have been charged under a statute that allows U.S.
courts to hear criminal cases involving acts of torture committed abroad by any person present in
the United States. The initial charges against Belfast in his capacity as an ATU official related to
the alleged 2002 torture of one person, but after his indictment other self-identified victims
publicly accused him of having committed similar crimes against them. He was later charged 111
with torturing at least five Liberians. Belfast was indicted after the advocacy group Human
Rights Watch (HRW) urged that the United States investigate him “for torture and war crimes.” 112
HRW submitted a dossier to the Justice Department in support of its allegations against Belfast.
In early July 2007, a U.S. Southern District of Florida judge denied a defense motion to dismiss
the case. A trial in the case, originally scheduled for January 8, 2008, is slated to take place in
early April 2008. Like former President Taylor and many of his associates, Belfast is subject to a
U.S. asset freeze under Executive Order 13348 (July 22, 2004) and to a United Nations travel
ban. These measures were originally imposed to halt support by the Taylor government for the
Revolutionary Front of Sierra Leone (see “Taylor Case,” above). Some press reports suggest 113
Belfast may have abetted such activities.
111 Department of Justice (DOJ), “Roy Belfast Jr. AKA Chuckie Taylor Indicted on Torture Charges/First-Ever Torture
Charges,” December 6, 2006; and R. Jeffrey Smith, “Anti-Torture Statute Used to Indict Son of Liberia’s Ex-Leader,”
Washington Post, December 7, 2006; and IRIN, “Liberia: Speaking Out About Taylor’s Son,” December 13, 2006; Jay
Weaver, “Liberian ex-official faces more torture charges,” Miami Herald, September 7, 2007; and DOJ, “Chuckie
Taylor Charged with Additional Acts of Torture in Superseding Indictment,” September 6, 2007, inter alia.
112 Curt Anderson, “Son of Ex-Liberian President Admits Passport Fraud,” Associated Press, September 15, 2006;
verbal communication from U.S. Attorney’s office, November 28, 2006 and Dept. of Justice press release, Sept 15,
2006; Curt Anderson, “Activists Want Charles Taylor’s Son Tried for War Crimes, Torture,” Associated Press, August
6, 2006; HRW, “U.S.: Investigate Taylor’s Son for Torture, War Crimes,” May 26, 2006; and James Rupert, “Diamond
Hunters Fuel Africa’s Brutal Wars; In Sierra Leone, Mining Firms Trade Weapons and Money for Access to Gems,”
Washington Post, October 16, 1999, among others.
113 See U.S. Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), Liberia Sanctions, http://www.treas.gov/offices/
enforcement/ofac/programs/liberia/liberia.shtml and U.N., Security Council Committee Established Pursuant to
Resolution 1521 (2003) Concerning Liberia, http://www.un.org/Docs/sc/committees/Liberia3Template.htm.
The United States has voiced support for President Sirleaf’s government since she took office.
U.S. First Lady Laura Bush and Secretary of State Rice, among other prominent U.S. guests,
attended President Sirleaf’s inauguration. Their presence, Sirleaf stated in her inaugural speech,
“manifests a renewal and strengthening of the long-standing historic special relations which bind
our two countries and peoples.” She also stated that it “reflects a new partnership with the United
States based on shared values” and that Liberians are “confident that we can continue to count on
the assistance of the United States [...] in the urgent task of rebuilding of our nation.” President 114
Bush awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom to Sirleaf in November 2007.
President Sirleaf has made several official visits to the United States, most recently in February
Washington D.C. She made another such visit in March 2006, during which she addressed a 116
joint session of Congress on March 15 and met with President Bush on March 21. She
reportedly closely consulted with U.S. officials regarding her priorities for Liberia and the status
of Charles Taylor. During a pre-inaugural December 2005 trip to the United States, Sirleaf also 117
met with key U.S. and international financial institution officials.
Congress has long monitored developments in Liberia and provided support for the country’s th
development, notably during Liberia’s on-going post-2003 post-war rebuilding process. The 110
Congress provided further appropriations for such purposes when it passed P.L. 110-5 (H.J.Res.
funding for FY2007 foreign operations. The Congress also provided $48.95 million in
supplementary FY2007 funding for Liberia under P.L. 110-28 (H.R. 2206/U.S. Troop Readiness, 119
Veterans’ Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007).
114 She was cited for her efforts as the first elected female African president to “heal a country torn apart by conflict”
and “to expand freedom and improve the lives of people in Liberia and across Africa.” White House, “Citations
Recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom,” November 5, 2007.
115 Secretary Condoleezza Rice, Statement at Liberia Partners’ Forum, Washington, DC, February 13, 2007.
116 Congressional Record (House), pp. H996-H998, March 15, 2006.
117 Reed Kramer, “Showered With Enthusiasm, Liberia’s President-Elect Receives High-Level Reception in
Washington,” AllAfrica.com, December 11, 2005, inter alia. During a March 20 appearance with Sirleaf, World Bank
President Paul Wolfowitz reportedly announced that the World Bank would provide $25 million for a road-building
fund for Liberia and stated that he was seeking debt forgiveness for Liberia by the World Bank, the IMF, and the
African Development Bank. See VOA, “World Bank Commits $25 Million to Liberian Infrastructure Fund,” March 21,
118 Funding breakouts are specified in Table 3, below. Specific allocations for some accounts were not finalized until
August 2007, and funding for some accounts, such as food aid, is allocated from centralized accounts in response to
changing needs, and is subject to change.
119 The enrolled version (that passed by both the House and Senate prior to transmission to the President) of H.R. 1591
(Obey), U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act of 2007,
would have appropriated $48 million in additional supplemental FY2007 funding for Liberia, but the bill was vetoed by
President Bush. The Senate version of H.R. 1591 was S. 965 (Byrd), U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Care, Katrina
Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007. H.R. 2206 (Obey), the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’
Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007 was introduced after the veto of H.R. 1591,
passed by both chambers, and enacted into law as P.L. 110-28. The FY2007 funding that it provides for Liberia is
In its joint explanatory statement for P.L. 110-161 (H.R. 2764/Consolidated Appropriations Act,
2008), the Congress allocated $125.35 million in FY2008 Liberia funding for Liberia. This
amount is in addition to whatever may eventually be allocated for Liberia from central
appropriation accounts under the law. The joint explanatory statement for P.L. 110-161 also
recommends that USAID provide support for Marquette University to support the Les Aspin
Center to train Liberian government and civil society leaders. It also restricts some types of
assistance, under certain conditions, for countries in which SCSL indictees are credibly alleged to
be living, unless such countries are certified by the Secretary of State as cooperating with the
SCSL, including by transferring such indictees to the court. H.Rept. 110-197, which accompanied
H.R. 2764, recommended that USAID consider a project to rebuild JFK Women’s Hospital in
Liberia. It also expressed concern about the lack of functional legal structures and the
inaccessibility of justice in Liberia, and directed the State Department and USAID to develop
policies and programs to promote and strengthen the rule of law in Liberia. It recommended that
USAID work with the Liberian government to establish a legal information services program for
indigent persons, and support other Liberian efforts to provide legal assistance. It also stated that
it expects U.S. assistance programs to advance human rights, including with regard to the
activities of the judiciary, justice ministry, police, traditional leaders, and communities
experiencing high levels of rights violations. It also recommended U.S. support for American Bar
Association programs in Liberia aimed at supporting legal reform efforts and the rule of law.
S.Rept. 110-128, which accompanied H.R. 2764, allocated $104.1 million for the construction of
a new U.S. embassy chancery in Monrovia.
Two Liberia-related amendments to H.R. 2764 were passed by voice vote during floor
consideration of the bill prior to House passage of the measure. These included the following.
• H.Amdt. 361 (Jackson-Lee), which provided for an additional $5 million in
Development Assistance funding for Liberia, bringing the DA total to $35
• H.Amdt. 366 to H.R. 2764 (Gwen Moore), which removed Liberia from a list of
countries for which special notification be sent to Congress prior to the obligation 120
or expenditure of assistance for such designated countries is required.
Other Liberia-related bills introduced in the 110th Congress include the following.
• H.R. 1941 (Kennedy), Liberian Refugee Immigration Protection Act of 2007;
• H.R. 1591 (Obey);
provided, by reference, under H.Rept. 110-107, the conference report that accompanied H.R. 1591. It provides $40
million in regional Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) funding to support security sector reform in Liberia; $3 million in
Economic Support Fund (ESF) aid for the Special Court for Sierra Leone; $5 million in regional Nonproliferation,
Anti-Terrorism, Demining and Related (NADR) Programs for the protection of the Liberian President. It also
authorizes the U.S. Treasury to use FY2007 appropriated Bilateral Economic Assistance to aid Liberia in retiring its
international financial institution debt arrears. FY2007 appropriations are discussed in the notes to Table 3, below.
120 Such requirements have existed for U.S. assistance to Liberia for over 15 years. Similar requirements have been
imposed on aid to certain other countries, such as Serbia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, and Cambodia, though for
sometimes differing periods. According to State Department and USAID officials, such requirements impose inter- and
intra-agency reporting, program review, and legal assessment requirements that in some cases may substantially slow
the disbursement of reconstruction assistance to Liberia. See also Robert L. Johnson, “Liberia’s Moment of
Opportunity,” [Op-Ed], Washington Post, May 14, 2007.
• H.R. 2206 (Obey);
• H.R. 2764 (Lowey), Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related
Programs Appropriations Act, 2008;
• H.R. 3123 (Kennedy), To extend the designation of Liberia under section 244 of
the Immigration and Nationality Act so that Liberians can continue to be eligible
for temporary protected status under that section;
• S. 396 (Dorgan), A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to treat
controlled foreign corporations in tax havens as domestic corporations;
• S. 554 (Dorgan), Act For Our Kids;
• S. 656 (Reed), Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 2007;
• S. 965 (Byrd);
• S. 1508 (Dorgan), Clean Energy Production Tax Incentives Act of 2007; and
• S. 1903 (Reed), A bill to extend the temporary protected status designation of
Liberia under section 244 of the Immigration and Nationality Act so that
Liberians can continue to be eligible for such status through September 30, 2008.
H.R. 1941 and S. 656 would provide permanent residency status to certain Liberian nationals who
were granted or were eligible for immigration temporary protected status (TPS), while H.R. 3123
and S. 1903 would have extended the status of persons eligible for TPS. On July 30, the House
passed H.R. 3123, which was received in the Senate on August 3. On September 12, 2007,
President Bush, citing the continued fragility of “the political and economic situation in Liberia,”
directed that eligible Liberians resident in the United States and subject to a loss of Temporary
Protected Status (TPS) as of October 1, 2007 be granted Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for 121
18 months, until March 31, 2009. He also directed that such grantees be allowed to work in the
United States. His action fulfilled a basic underlying aim of the TPS-related bills discussed above.
The Liberia-related provisions of S. 396, S. 554, and S. 1508 would designate Liberia as a “tax-
haven country,” allowing the Internal Revenue Code to treat certain foreign corporations created
or organized under Liberian law as U.S. domestic corporations for tax purposes.
Liberia-related activities by the 110th Congress have built on those pursued by the 109th Congress.
Congress has continued to monitor and to provide funding for the activities of the SCSL and, in
particular, the progress of the war crimes case against former President Taylor. Congress’s focus
on Liberia has also centered on aiding Liberia’s efforts to consolidate its post-war governance and
economic rebuilding processes. Issues that may also draw particular congressional attention
include the following.
• Efforts to rehabilitate schools, clinics, roads and other public facilities;
• Progress under the GEMAP transparency initiative;
121 For background, see the discussion of TPS and DED under the introductory “Recent Key Developments” section of
• Progress of U.S.-backed security sector restructuring, and possible expansions of
related assistance, e.g., for the creation of a quick reaction gendarme unit;
increased mobility capacity building for the police and military; and maritime
waters and land border monitoring and interdiction capacity building.
• Consideration of potential continued support for UNMIL and the pace of its
projected draw-down; and
• U.S. decision-making on debt relief for Liberia and the status of future Brooke 122
Amendment restrictions on Liberia.
In February 2006, the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International th
Operations of the House Committee on International Relations (109 Congress) held a hearing on th
Liberia entitled The Impact of Liberia’s Election on West Africa. The 109 Congress and its
immediate two predecessors closely monitored the status of Charles Taylor, beginning with his
resignation in 2003. With a few exceptions, these Congresses have consistently strongly th
supported the SCSL and the implementation of its mandate. The 109 Congress passed laws (P.L.
and in May 2005, the House and Senate passed H.Con.Res. 127 (Royce), which urges the same 123
outcome. P.L. 109-102, the FY2006 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, reaffirmed
congressional support for the court. It imposed FY2006 obligation restrictions on some types of
assistance under certain conditions for countries in which SCSL indictees “are credibly alleged to
be living” unless such countries cooperate with the SCSL, including by transferring such
indictees to the court. It specifically would have barred assistance to Nigeria unless the President
were to have reported to the Committees on Appropriations on steps taken in FY2003 through
FY2005 to obtain Nigeria’s cooperation in surrendering Taylor to the SCSL and a strategy and
time line for achieving that purpose. It further required that the United States support efforts
within the U.N. Security Council to obtain the transfer of SCSL indictees into the custody of the
court. H.Amdt. 480 (Watson) to H.R. 2601, the FY2006-FY2007 foreign relations authorization
act, also would have required the Administration to seek the expeditious transfer of Taylor to the
SCSL for trial.
Recent Congresses have provided substantial support for Liberia’s rebuilding and peace building
processes; U.S. assistance is summarized in Table 3. An Administration Economic Support Fund
(ESF) FY2006 budget request for $75 million for Liberia was not included in P.L. 109-102
(formerly H.R. 3057 [Kolbe], the FY2006 foreign operations appropriations bill, which mandates
special congressional notification for the expenditure of funds used to assist Liberia). Additional
FY2006 ESF funding for Liberia was, however, provided under P.L. 109-234 (passed as H.R.
4939 [Jerry Lewis]), the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global
War on Terror, and Hurricane Recovery, 2006. It appropriated $63.8 million in assistance for
122 These restrict certain kinds of assistance to Liberia owing to its arrears on national debt repayments to the United
States. See USAID, Audit of USAID/Liberia’s Compliance with the Brooke Amendment and Sections 620(q) and 617 of
the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, (Audit Report No. 7-669-02-001-P), March 7, 2002, provides background on the
123 The European Parliament passed a similar resolution in February 2005.
Liberia, in the form of $50 million in ESF and $13.8 million in Migration and Refugee Assistance 124
Other congressional interest in Liberia in the 109th Congress focused on Liberia-related
immigration and debt issues, and several other matters. H.R. 257 (Jackson-Lee), H.R. 2092
(Jackson-Lee), H.R. 3450 (Patrick Kennedy), and S. 656 (Reed) would have given permanent
U.S. residence status to qualified Liberians resident in the United States, among other measures,
as would have S.Amdt. 452 (Reed) to H.R. 1268 (Jerry Lewis). H.R. 1130 (Waters) would have
enacted various measures intended to reduce the national debts of certain poor countries,
including Liberia, and have encouraged their governments to fund social services. Two
concurrent resolutions, H.Con.Res. 327 (Eddie Bernice Johnson) and H.Con.Res. 313 (Payne),
would have commended Liberia for successfully conducting elections and congratulated
President Sirleaf for her electoral victory. S. 779 (Dorgan), A Bill to Amend the Internal Revenue
Code of 1986 to Treat Controlled Foreign Corporations Established in Tax Havens as Domestic
Corporations, would have designated Liberia as a “tax-haven country,” allowing the Internal
Revenue Code to treat certain foreign corporations created or organized under Liberian law as
U.S. domestic corporations for tax purposes.
U.S. assistance to Liberia, which is discussed periodically throughout this report, seeks to
accomplish the following.
• Strengthen and help rebuild Liberia’s government structures and processes, and
bolster the rule of law;
• Prevent destabilizing factors, such as political and social exclusion and
competition over resources, from again leading to a re-emergence of violent
• Help Liberia to rebuild its economy and create sustainable, long term, trade and
market-driven economic growth.
USAID supports a mix of quick impact to medium-term programs that focus on establishing the
social and economic conditions necessary to engender community reintegration, economic
124 The ESF funds were initially added after the House Appropriations Committee adopted by voice vote an amendment
offered by Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr., to provide $50 million in Economic Support Fund (ESF) assistance for
Liberia. The vote took place during a March 8, 2006, House Appropriations Committee markup hearing on President
Bush’s FY2006 Emergency Supplemental request for other humanitarian assistance. The committee recommended that
of the ESF funds, $30 million be used for emergency employment activities to strengthen security and build roads; $10
million be used to establish an electricity grid; and $10 million be used for demobilization and reintegration of ex-
combatants. The House passed H.R. 4939, as amended, on March 16. On April 5, the Senate Committee on
Appropriations reported an amendment to H.R. 4939 in the nature of a substitute (see S.Rept. 109-230) that maintained
the same levels of assistance for Liberia as the House-passed bill. No further funds for Liberia were added to H.R. 4939
during Senate floor consideration of the bill, which was passed by the Senate on May 4 with non-Liberia-related
amendments. On the same day, the Senate insisted on its amendment and asked for a conference with the House. The
conference committee maintained the $63.8 million funding level for Liberia. State/PRM later allocated some
additional supplemental MRA funds to Liberia.
growth, and rebuilding of infrastructure—including reconstruction of electric and water provision
infrastructure, and rehabilitation of schools, clinics, roads and other public facilities. USAID also
supports efforts to prevent and manage community conflicts, which are common in post-conflict
contexts. Key USAID goals are to build capacity and provide other support to boost basic
economic and income-earning activities, notably through enhancements to the agricultural sector
and through and sustainable management of natural resources. It also supports efforts to increase
access to basic education and health services.
The United States, through USAID, the State Department, and in cooperation other U.S.
government agencies, also sponsors projects to increase participatory governance, public sector
transparency and accountability (notably under GEMAP; see above), adherence to the rule of law,
including the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and greater civil society capacity to monitor
and reform government activities. Economic Support Funds are used to support wide-ranging
program activities in such areas as fiscal and forestry policy reform and implementation efforts,
parastatal privatization, private sector micro-lending, trade and investment reform, ex-combatant
reintegration, and judicial and rule of law programs, among other activities.
The United States is also supporting President Sirleaf’s market-based economic growth agenda in
a variety of other ways. In late February 2006, the U.S. Trade Representative announced that
President Bush had reinstated duty-free Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade benefits
for Liberia. USTR said that the action was intended to provide “strong support to recently elected
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s efforts to increase employment, diversify exports, and stabilize
society.” It was made, according to the USTR, because Sirleaf had repealed a decree prohibiting
strikes and invited the International Labor Organization (ILO) to help Liberia to conform with 125
ILO obligations, thus making “improving worker rights a high priority.” On January 1, 2007,
Liberia became eligible to receive U.S. trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity 126
Act (AGOA). In February 2007, Liberia and the United States signed a bilateral Trade and
Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). Its aim is to bolster bilateral economic cooperation,
primarily by creating a U.S.-Liberia Council on Trade and Investment charged with monitoring
bilateral trade and investment developments and opportunities, related policy problems, and 127
identifying and working to remove impediments to bilateral investment.
In February 2007, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) announced that it would
provide a $400,000 grant to the Liberian Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy to fund a technical
and economic feasibility study of the rebuilding and expansion of the Mount Coffee Hydropower
Station. The station, once a key national source of electricity, was destroyed during the first civil 128
war. USTDA had first announced plans to support such a study in mid-May 2006. This
125 USTR, “U.S. Reinstates Trade Preference Benefits for Liberia,” February 22, 2006.
126 See CRS Report RL31772, U.S. Trade and Investment Relationship with Sub-Saharan Africa: The African Growth
and Opportunity Act and Beyond, by Danielle Langton.
127 Trade and Investment Framework Agreement between the United States of America and the Republic of Liberia,
February 15, 2007, http://www.ustr.gov/Trade_Agreements/TIFA/Section_Index.html.
128 USTDA, “USTDA Supports Development of the Power Sector in Liberia During President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s
Visit,” February 15, 2007; and USTDA, Pipeline [Bi-Weekly E-Mail Update], May 12, 2006.
announcement had been preceded by a February 2006 announcement by the U.S. Export-Import
Bank (Ex-Im) stating that it had renewed its Short-Term Insurance Pilot Program for Africa
(STIPP) for three years beginning March 31, 2006, and that Liberia had been added to the 129
program. Similarly, in March 2006, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) had
announced that “following the election of President Ellen John Sirleaf and the conclusion of its
long civil war,” it had “reopened its programs in Liberia for the first time since 1990” as part of 130
an effort of “[r]eaffirming U.S. government support for Liberia.”
OPIC is now involved in a public-private commercial and investment business development
lending project, the Liberia Enterprise Development Fund (LEDF), together with the RLJ
Companies of Black Entertainment Television founder Robert L. Johnson, CHF International, and
the U.S. African Development Foundation (ADF). The purpose of LEDF is to create a projected
$30 million loan portfolio aimed at supporting small businesses in Liberia. OPIC has committed
to provide $20 million in debt financing to LEDF, and Mr. Johnson and the ADF have committed,
respectively, to provide $3 million and $1 million annually over three years. CHF International 131
will administer the program in Liberia. OPIC also co-sponsored a Liberia Private Sector
Investment Forum in February 2007.
Another effort aimed at fostering bilateral ties, including commercial ones, was the February 132
In mid-February, 2007, the United States, other governments, and several multilateral
organizations co-hosted the Liberia Partners’ Forum, a meeting between the Liberian government 133
and Liberia’s public sector creditors and bilateral assistance donors in Washington, D.C. The
aim of the event, which followed a similar one held in July 2006, was to review Liberia’s
achievements and challenges in the areas of economic governance, fiscal policy implementation,
general economic development, and related matters. During the meeting, Bush Administration
officials announced their intention to cancel $391 million in debt owed by Liberia to the United
States, both under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative and in cooperation with
129 See Export-Import Bank, “EX-IM Bank Renews, Expands Africa Short-Term Insurance Initiative,” February 10,
2006. The STIPP helps businesses in eligible countries buy U.S.-made goods and services by insuring short-term
export credit transactions involving various payment terms in countries where Ex-Im Bank is otherwise not open.
130 OPIC, “OPIC Reopens Programs In Liberia,” March 21, 2006. OPIC provides political risk insurance and financing
aimed at helping U.S. businesses invest in emerging markets and developing nations.
131 See CHF International, “Liberia Economic Development Fund Launched by CHF, RLJ, OPIC & ADF,” February
14, 2007, http://www.chfhq.org/content/general/detail/4614.
132 Its purpose is to “significantly modernize U.S.-Liberia aviation relations by allowing airlines from the two countries
to make commercial decisions with minimal government intervention” and “provide for open routes, capacity,
frequencies, designations, and pricing, as well as cooperative marketing arrangements, including code-sharing.” See
State Dept., “U.S. Signs Open Skies Aviation Agreement with Liberia” [Media Note], February 16, 2007; and—,
“Open Skies Agreement Highlights,” June 1, 2006.
133 Items reviewed included the status of peace consolidation, Liberia’s transition to democracy, and the rule of law;
public financial management, civil service, and anti-corruption reforms; the status of public financial management
reform efforts, including with respect to budgeting, revenue administration, and auditing and procurement;
requirements for clearing local and national public debt; private sector-driven economic revitalization and job creation,
and the status of basic services and infrastructure provision; and planning and international backing for reconstruction
and development, including the status of Liberia’s international financial institution-backed Interim Poverty Reduction
other donors, such as the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and the International
Monetary Fund. They noted that the Administration’s FY2008 budget request to Congress
includes a request for about $9 million to cover the first stage of this process. In addition, the
Treasury Department stated that “the Administration is prepared to ... set aside $15 million to
contribute to forgiving Liberia’s debt to the African Development Bank” and “redirect more than
$150 million in funds held by the IMF as a contribution to forgiving Liberia’s debt to the IMF, in 134
consultation with Congress.”
Levels of U.S. assistance to Liberia, FY2004-FY2007 and the Administration’s request for 135136
FY2008, appear in Table 3. Under the Administration’s FY2008 request, which reflects
concepts adopted under the Administration’s recent reform of the U.S. foreign assistance
framework, Liberia is classified as a Rebuilding Country, that is, one “in or emerging from and
rebuilding after internal or external conflict.”
Post-conflict rebuilding processes often involve the integration of general socio-economic
development goals with those that tied to the maintenance of internal security, political institution
building, and other post-war state reconstruction objectives. In making its FY2008 request, the
Administration took such considerations into account and did not request Development
Assistance (DA) funds. Instead, it made a significantly larger Economic Support Fund (ESF)
request than would be typical for a developing country, in part because ESF funds can be used for
developmental purposes but are more flexible and can be used for a range of other or cross-
sectoral purposes. In passing P.L. 110-161, however, the Congress included funds in the DA
account that the Administration had requested in the form of ESF funds.
134 Secretary Condoleezza Rice, “Liberia Partners’ Forum” [statement], Washington, DC, February 13, 2007; and U.S.
Treasury, “Treasury Working with Congress to Relieve Liberia’s Debt Burden,” press release HP-262, February 14,
2007. An International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff team recently concluded an assessment visit to Liberia. The team
observed that from 2008 to 2012 the economy, “buoyed by the expected revival of mining, forestry and agricultural
sectors,” was projected to grow over 11% per year, that inflation was low, and that the government had achieved most
of benchmarks under an IMF staff-monitored program (SMP), including a growth in revenues that have surpassed SMP
“targets by a significant margin.” The Fund is seen as likely to submit a report supportive of potential multilateral debt
relief for Liberia. Implementation of Liberia’s Governance and Economic Management Assistance Program (GEMAP),
discussed below, reportedly has played an important role in causing creditors to view Liberia’s prospects for debt relief
in a positive light. See IMF, “Statement by IMF Mission to Liberia on Progress Under the Staff Monitored Program,”
Press Release 07/74, April 16, 2007.
135 Jendayi E. Frazer, Assistant Secretary of State for Africa in the State Department and Lloyd Pierson, former
Assistant Administrator for Africa for USAID described current U.S. policy and assistance strategies in detail before
the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations, Committee on International
Relations in a February 2006 hearing entitled The Impact of Liberia’s Election on West Africa; see House Serial No.
136 The Administrations FY2008Liberia country request can be found on pages 226-229 of the Administration’s
Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations - Fiscal Year 2008, online at http://www.state.gov/f/
Table 3. U.S. Assistance to Liberia, FY2004-FY2008
($ millions; actual, estimate, supplemental, or request levels; errors due to rounding)a
FY2006 FY2007 FY2007 FY2008 FY2008
Accountb FY2004 Actual FY2005 Actual FY2006 Actual Actual Regular Supp.e Request Approp.f
CSH 2.82 3.97 2.87 - 8.50 - 10.8 -
DA - 6.85 23.73 30.50 - 30
ESF - 24.8 42.72 50 30 3 73.545 43.55
DHRF (Special ESF) - .05 - - - - - -
Self-Help Fund - .07 - - - - - -
FMF - 2.98 1.98 - 1.52 - 1 -
iki/CRS-RL33185GHAI - .70 .70 .70 -
g/wIDFA-Supplementalg 200 - - - - - - -
s.orIDFAg .04 9.71 3.71 - 1.60 .95
leakINL 0 5 0.99 1 - 4.13 -
://wikiIMET 0 0 .13 - .24 0.3
httpNADR-SALW 0.16 - .22 - 0 5 0 -
PKO - 25 20 12.75 40 16.8 51.8
P.L. 480, Title IIg 21.53 22.55 26.97 - 7 - - -
TIh 3.072 2.58 6.39 5.60
MRAg 27.89 28.19 17.3 14.35 22.5 - - -
Sub-Total: 255.51 132.45 147.71 64.35 121.91 48.95 106.58 125.35
Bilateral and Emerg.
UNMIL/CIPAi 290.34 235.42 71.81 - 168.05 - 110.19 -
Totals - All Funding 545.85 367.87 219.52 64.35 289.96 48.95 216.77 125.35
Sources: State Department, Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations [CBJ] and the International Affairs (Function 150) Budget Request, for FY2008 and previous
fiscal years, and information from USAID/OFDA, State/PRM, State/OGAC, and State/Political-Military Affairs officials.
a. Data current as of January 9, 2007.
b. See Appendix for account names.
c. FY2006 supplemental appropriation under P.L. 109-234. The Administration requested $13.8 in MRA funds for Liberia but did not request the $50 million in ESF
support that the law provided. PRM allocated The purposes for which the ESF appropriation were used are listed on page 125 of the FY2008 CBJ. Regular and
supplemental FY2006 bilateral and emergency aid totals $208.35 million; that assistance plus CIPA funding for FY2006 totals $280.77 million.
d. FY2007 table entries reflect funding levels provided for under P.L. 110-5 (H.J.Res. 20/Revised Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2007), except for PKO,
UNMIL/CIPA, GHAI, MRA, P.L. 480-Title II, and TI, for which relevant program administering agencies provided FY2007 estimates to CRS. Specific aid levels for
FY2007 were finalized in August 2007 following the completion of a process of consultation between the State Department and USAID and the Committees on
Appropriations, as provided for under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended. The $13.25 million in FY2007 PKO funds consists of $12.75 million allocated to
Liberia and $.50 million from the Africa regional PKO account.
e. Supplementary FY2007 funds provided to assist Liberia under H.R. 2206 (Obey), the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability
Appropriations Act, 2007, which President Bush signed into law on May 25, 2007. $40 million in regional Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) funds are intended to
support security sector reform in Liberia; $3 million in Economic Support Fund (ESF) are for support of the Special Court for Sierra Leone; and $5 million in regional
Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining and Related (NADR) Programs are provided “for the protection of the Liberian President.” The act authorization for the
U.S. Treasury to use FY2007 appropriated Bilateral Economic Assistance to aid Liberia in retiring its international financial institution debt arrears. Similar funding
would have been provided under H.R. 1591 would have provided such funding, but the bill was vetoed by President Bush. For further information, see CRS Report
iki/CRS-RL33185RL33900, FY2007 Supplemental Appropriations for Defense, Foreign Affairs, and Other Purposes, coordinated by Stephen Daggett.
g/wf. Appropriations specifically designated for Liberia under P.L. 110-161. Additional assistance for Liberia is likely to be drawn from central account appropriations made
s.orunder P.L. 110-161, from which country-specific allocations will be decided under a consultative process between the Administration and appropriations committees.
leakg. Funding under some accounts, such as IDFA, MRA, and P.L. 480, Title II often rises during a given fiscal year because these accounts are appropriated in a global lump
://wikisum and allocated throughout the year in response to emergent needs. Therefore no country-specific request is included for FY2008 and FY2007 levels for these accounts may differ substantially from those in FY2006; see note B, above.
httph. TI entries for FY2004, FY2005, and FY2006 reflect levels reported in USAID’s Budget Justification to the Congress FY2007 and the Administration’s combined
Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations for FY2008. The FY2007 estimate reflects data received by CRS from a USAID Office of Transition Initiatives
(OTI) official on April 23, 2007. Internal OTI data reflect annual funding levels that differ from those reported in the Budget Justifications listed above. OTI reports the
following actual TI funding levels for Liberia: FY2004: $4.067 million; FY2005: $2.15 million; and FY2006 $7.57 million.
i. CIPA entries for FY2004 and FY2005 reflect levels reported in the State Department’s Budget in Brief. Entries for FY2007 and FY2007 reflect information received by
CRS from the International Organizations Bureau of the State Department. The FY2008 request level reflects the State Department’s FY2008 budget request.
Figure 1. Map of Liberia
Source: Map Resources. Adapted by CRS.
ADF: U.S. African Development Foundation
AFL: Armed Forces of Liberia
AGOA: African Growth and Opportunity Act
CDC: Congress for Democratic Change, Liberian political party
CIPA: Contributions for International Peacekeeping Account
CIVPOL: Civilian police
COTOL: Coalition for Transformation of Liberia; Liberian political party
CSH: Child Survival and Health Program Fund
DA: Development Assistance Account
DSCA: Defense Security Cooperation Agency
DHRF: Democracy and Human Rights Fund
ECOMIL: ECOWAS Mission in Liberia
ECOWAS: Economic Community of West African States
ESF: Economic Support Fund
Ex-Im: U.S. Export-Import Bank
FMF: Foreign Military Financing Account
GHAI: Global HIV/AIDS Initiative
GEMAP: Governance and Economic Management Assistance Program
GIHL: Global Infrastructural Holdings Limited
GSP: Generalized System of Preferences
ICC: International Criminal Court
ILO: International Labor Organization
HIPC: Heavily Indebted Poor Countries
HRDF: Human Rights and Democracy Fund (HRDF); ESF allocation of Bureau of
Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, State Dept.
ICGL: International Contact Group on Liberia
IDFA: International Disaster & Famine Assistance Account
IDP: Internally displaced person
IFES: Elections technical assistance organization formerly known as the International
Foundation for Election Systems
IMET: Int. Military Education and Training
INL: International Narcotics Control & Law Enforcement
IRI : International Republican Institute
LEDF: Liberia Enterprise Development Fund
LP: Liberty Party, Liberian political party
MRA: Migration and Refugee Assistance
NADR-SALW: Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining and Related Projects-Small Arms and
NDI : National Democratic Institute
NEC: National Elections Commission (of Liberia)
NGO: Non-governmental organization
NTGL: National Transitional Government of Liberia
NTLA: National Transitional Legislative Assembly
OFDA: USAID Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance
OGAC: U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator
OPIC: Overseas Private Investment Corporation
P.L. : Public Law
P.L. 480, Title II: Humanitarian food aid
PKO: Regional Peacekeeping Account
PRM: Population, Refugees & Migration Bureau, State Department
RFTF: Results-Focused Transitional Framework
RUF: Revolutionary United Front; defunct armed Sierra Leonean rebel group
SCSL: Special Court for Sierra Leone
SDN: Specially Designated National
Special Self-Help: Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Fund; minor ESF funding stream allocated by U.S.
Ambassadors as recommended by local embassy-level committee for special
programs of local concern.
SSS: Special Security Service (of Liberia)
STIPP: Ex-Im Short-Term Insurance Pilot Program for Africa
TI: Transition Initiatives Account
TIFA: Trade and Investment Framework Agreement
U.N.: United Nations
UNAMSIL: U.N. Mission in Sierra Leone
UNICEF: U.N. Children’s Fund
UNMIL: U.N. Mission in Liberia
UP: Unity Party; Liberian political party
USAID: U.S. Agency for International Development
USTDA: U.S. Trade and Development Agency
USTR: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
Specialist in African Affairs