Liberia: 1989-1997 Civil War, Post-War Developments, and U.S. Relations

CRS Report for Congress
Liberia: 1989-1997 Civil War, Post-War
Developments, and U.S. Relations
Updated December 31, 2003
Nicolas Cook
Analyst in African Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division

Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress

Liberia: 1989-1997 Civil War, Post-War Developments,
and U.S. Relations
This report covers Liberia’s first civil conflict (1989-1997), post-war
developments until roughly 2001, and the history of U.S.-Liberian relations and U.S.
policy toward Liberia. Subsequent, more recent events are covered in CRS Report
RL32243, Liberia: Transition to Peace.
The modern Liberian state was founded by “Americo-Liberians,” black freemen
and former slaves from the Americas who settled in Liberia beginning in 1821. State
structure and society in contemporary Liberia reflect a blending of indigenous and
Americo-Liberian cultural and political influences, but the latter historically
exercised extensive control over Liberia’s economy and central government.
Americo-Liberian rule persisted until December 1989, when after nearly a decade
under the corrupt rule of Samuel K. Doe, who seized power in a 1980 coup, Liberia
plunged into civil war. Factional conflict raged for 7 years, despite the signing of
multiple peace agreements, the presence of U.N. observers, and the deployment of
a regional intervention force dispatched by the Economic Community of West
African States. The conflict caused between 150,000 and 200,000 deaths, and
displaced much of the population. The warring factions committed numerous
atrocities and forcibly enlisted thousands of children as fighters. Throughout the
conflict, Congress and successive administrations provided humanitarian assistance
for the Liberian people. The United States had been Liberia’s leading pre-war trading
partner and a major aid donor. A peace process, initiated in mid-1996, resulted in the
July 19, 1997 election of former faction leader Charles Taylor as president of Liberia.
As the new government began the tasks of reconstruction and reconciliation,
Liberia appeared to have entered a period of normalcy. The killing and harassment
of prominent opposition leaders and the new administration’s closure of a newspaper
and radio stations, however, raised widespread doubts about its commitment to good
governance and support for basic human rights. Such incidents prompted strong
expressions of U.S. and international concern, but reports of human rights abuses,
corruption, and lack of democratic progress under the Taylor administration
persisted, as did criticism of it. International concern, particularly in 1999 and
subsequently, increasingly centered on the Taylor government’s on-going military
assistance to the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels fighting neighboring
Sierra Leone’s government. This aid, which Taylor denied providing, notably
involved the exchange of military aid for diamonds from Sierra Leone and prolonged
its conflict. To counter these actions, the U.S. and other governments supported a
series of U.N. Security Council resolutions aimed at ending the trade in “conflict
diamonds” and sanctioning the Taylor government. The United States also pursued
unilateral sanctioning the Taylor government.
Eventually, poor political and human rights conditions and residual civil war
resentments and rivalries gave rise to series of limited armed incursions into Liberia
by anti-Taylor dissidents in 1999, who continued their efforts in the following year,
giving rise to a broad and sustained armed insurgency that eventually developed into
a second full-scale civil war (covered in CRS Report RL32243, as noted above).

General Background...............................................1
Americo-Liberian Rule.....................................1
Doe Regime..............................................2
Civil War, 1989-1997..............................................3
Growth of Factions............................................3
ECOMOG ...................................................3
Conflict Resolution Process......................................4
1996: Conflict, Cease-fire, and Disarmament....................5
Role of ECOWAS.........................................5
Disarmament and the Transition to Peace...........................6
ECOWAS and Election Planning.............................6
The 1997 Elections and the Taylor Presidency...................7
Relations with ECOMOG...................................8
Post-War Transitional Period.........................................9
The Humanitarian Situation..................................9
Social Reintegration.......................................10
Liberia under Taylor..........................................11
Economy ...............................................11
Governance .............................................12
Political Conditions under Taylor............................13
Security Affairs..........................................14
Human Rights...........................................15
Press Restrictions.........................................16
U.S.-Liberian Relations............................................17
Background: Historical U.S.-Liberian Ties.........................17
American Colonization Society..............................17
Firestone ................................................18
League of Nations Inquiry..................................18
World War II............................................18
Cold War...............................................19
1970s ..................................................19
Bilateral Ties under the Reagan Administration.................20
Civil War, 1989-1997.....................................21
UNOMIL ...............................................23
Post-War Period..........................................23
Recent U.S. Policy............................................24
Bilateral Relations, 2000-2003..............................24
List of Tables
Table 1. U.S. Assistance to Liberia: FY1990- FY2001...................22
Table 2. U.S. Support for ECOMOG in Liberia, 1991-1998...............23
Table 3. U.S. Support for UNOMIL .................................23

Liberia: 1989-1997 Civil War, Post-War
Developments, and U.S. Relations
General Background
Liberia in BriefIn 1821, groups of African
Americans established colonial
Size: 43,000 sq. mi. Slightly larger than Tennesseesettlements in Liberia, a small
Population: 3.22 million (2003 est.)West African country, with the
Population growth rate: 1.67% (2003)assistance of the American
Gross National Income (GNI): $.49 billion (2002)Colonization Society (ACS). In
GNI per Capita: $150 (2002)1847, the legislature of the
External Debt: $2.8 billion (2003)
Major Exports: Timber, rubber, iron ore, diamonds,settler colony declared the
cocoa, coffeeterritory an independent, free
Languages: English 20% (official), 28 indigenousrepublic — the first on the
languages/dialectsAfrican continent. The
Key Ethnic Groups: Indigenous ethnic groups, 95%legislature named the new
(Bassa, Bella, Dei, Gbandi, Gio, Gola, Grebo, Kissi,
Kpelle, Krahn, Kru, Loma, Mandingo, Mano, Mende,country Liberia and elected as
Vai); Americo-Liberians 2.5% (descendants of U.S.its first president Joseph Jenkins
freed slaves and freemen); and Congo People 2.5%Roberts.
(descendants of Caribbean ex-slaves).
Religions: 40% indigenous beliefs, 40%Until 1980, Liberia, which
Christian/Christian-indigenous beliefs, Muslim 20%.
Literacy: Male, 73.3%; Female, 41.6% (2003) modeled its constitution after
Under-5 Mortality rate: 235 deaths/1,000 live birthsthat of the United States,
(2001).remained independent and
Life Expectancy, years at birth: 48.15 (2003)stable, but conflict over political
HIV-positive adults (percent of population): 9%
(2001).power and economic resources
Sources: CIA World Factbook 2001; USAID; World Bankbetween descendants of settlers
Development Indicators;; United Nations.and indigenous groups was
present from the birth of the
republic. Liberian state and
society reflect a blending of the
cultural and political influences
of both populations. The indigenous population is comprised of 16 main ethnic
groups who speak 27 languages or distinct dialects. Americo-Liberians, who include
the descendants of African-American settlers from the United States and “Congos,”
those descended from Caribbean freed slaves and captives rescued from illegal slave
ships interdicted at sea, make up about 5% of the population. Also resident in Liberia
are small numbers of foreign-born Liberians, primarily of Middle Eastern and
European descent, and non-Liberian African immigrants.
Americo-Liberian Rule. A small, Americo-Liberian-dominated elite
historically exercised strong control over Liberian politics and economic life, often

at the cost of the indigenous population. The former group traditionally predominated
in the urban, modern economy, while about 80% of the latter group engaged
primarily in subsistence agriculture and petty trade and generally experienced lower
standards of living. Such unequal social relations were an effect both of Liberia’s
American settlement history, and of Africa’s colonial era more generally. In the late
19th century, European colonial powers increased the political and territorial extent
of their rule across Africa, commonly moving gradually inland from coastal
commercial settlements or military bases. This pattern of occupation was increasingly
formalized after 1885, when European governments met and mutually agreed that
any colonizing state would have to “effectively occupy” and map out African regions
over which it claimed sovereignty.1 In accordance with this model of rule, and during
the same period, the Americo-Liberian elite began to impose a system of centralized
administrative rule, taxation, and codified law over the small, decentralized
indigenous confederations and independent clan or village-based societies of
Liberia’s interior, often employing military force (covered further below).
Doe Regime. Americo-Liberian rule came to an abrupt end in 1980, when a
groups of low-ranking military officers led by 28-year old Master Sergeant Samuel
K. Doe staged a violent military coup, toppling the government of William Tolbert.
Doe and his associates formed a ruling body called the People’s Redemption Council
(PRC). During the coup, President Tolbert was murdered, and the PRC later had
opponents executed. Americo-Liberian politicians and former Tolbert administration
officials were especially targeted for violent actions of reprisal, notable among which
was the public execution on a Monrovia beach of a group of Tolbert’s ministers at
the order of a PRC tribunal. Doe’s government was the first to be headed by a
Liberian of indigenous ethnic descent. The PRC initially received broad support for
advocating socio-economic advancement for all indigenous Liberians and a radical
political reform agenda. Doe and the PRC ruled by decree until 1984, when a new
constitution was passed by referendum, leading to elections in 1985. Doe won the
poll, which was widely believed to have been fraudulent. Increasingly, Doe’s security
forces coercively repressed political party rivals and journalists. Coup attempts in
1985 and 1988 by military leaders with bases of support in Nimba County, populated
mainly by the Gio and Mano ethnic groups, led to violent reprisals by the Doe
administration against these populations. By 1989, Doe’s government had become
infamous for its economic mismanagement and venality, brutality, and ethnic bias,
primarily in favor of the Krahn and Mandingo ethnic groups. His administration
bankrupted Liberia, eventually alienated the United States — which had long been
a strong supporter and close ally of Liberia, and supported Doe during the first half
of his tenure — and embittered Liberians from outside his ethnic support base,
causing widespread opposition to his rule.

1 On this period, see Thomas Pakenham, The Scramble for Africa, 1876-1912, 1st U.S. ed.,
New York: Random House, 1991; and John M. MacKenzie, The Partition of Africa,

1880-1900 and European Imperialism in the Nineteenth Century, New York: Methuen,

1983, inter alia.

Civil War, 1989-1997
On December 24, 1989, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), led by
Charles Taylor, crossed into Liberia from Cote d’Ivoire, sparking a conflict that
mushroomed into a seven year civil war. Taylor, then 51 years old, had studied
economics in the United States, and had been active in the U.S. Liberian community
until his return to Liberia shortly after the 1980 military coup. Taylor fled to the
United States in 1983 to escape a criminal probe by Liberian authorities in relation
to his reported embezzlement of nearly $1 million while serving as a deputy minister
in the Doe government. In response to a Liberian government request for his
extradition, he was arrested in May 1984 in Massachusetts. In September 1985,
however, Taylor escaped from prison, along with four convicted felons, while his
deportation hearing proceedings were pending.
Growth of Factions
The hostilities initiated by the NPFL spawned other armed factions. Doe was
captured and murdered in September 1990 by the Independent NPFL, an NPFL
breakaway faction led by a battle commander called Prince Johnson. A video of
Doe’s brutal execution subsequently circulated widely in Liberia. An ethnically-
mixed group of NPFL opponents, led by a group of predominantly Krahn former
officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), called the Liberian United Defense
Force, emerged in 1991. It later formed an alliance with a small Mandingo-dominated
group, giving birth to the United Liberation Movement of Liberia (ULIMO). In 1993
ULIMO split, giving birth to ULIMO-K, a Mandingo-dominated faction led by Alhaji
Kromah, a former Ministry of Information official, and ULIMO-J, a Krahn-
dominated group led by Roosevelt Johnson, a former Ministry of Finance official.
The two factions engaged in periodically heavy fighting against one another. Other
key factions included politician George Boley’s Liberia Peace Council (LPC), and
the remnants of the AFL, led by General Hezekiah Bowen. Several smaller factions
— including the Bong Defense Front; the Lofa Defense Force, which itself split into
pro-and anti-NPFL elements; and the Central Revolutionary Council (CRC-NPFL),
a breakaway faction of the NPFL — were also active in the conflict. The factions
tended to be unstable; combatants and their leaders were known to change sides
according to shifting local security conditions, changing tactical and political
alliances, financial inducements, and opportunities to loot or trade.
In August 1990, the 16-member Economic Community of West African States
(ECOWAS) agreed, though not unanimously, to deploy a joint military intervention
force, the Economic Community Monitoring Group (ECOMOG), and place it under
Nigerian leadership. The mission later included troops from non-ECOWAS
countries, including Uganda and Tanzania. ECOMOG’s objectives were to impose
a cease-fire; help Liberians establish an interim government until elections could be
held; stop the killing of innocent civilians; and ensure the safe evacuation of foreign
nationals. ECOMOG also sought to prevent the conflict from spreading into
neighboring states, which share a complex history of state, economic, and ethno-
linguistic social relations with Liberia.

Once in Liberia, the Nigeria-dominated ECOMOG force adopted a strategy of
attempting to defeat Taylor’s NPFL, seen by some observers as the most dangerous
and recalcitrant of the factions. ECOMOG was plagued by a host of problems,
including political differences between the member nations of ECOWAS; lack of
operational resources and related difficulties; allegations of corruption concerning
some ECOMOG forces, particularly certain Nigerian elements; and the formation of
unofficial and covert political and economic alliances with the armed Liberian
factions. ECOMOG was, however, able to stabilize Monrovia from 1990 through
1995, while Taylor’s forces, headquartered in the north-central town of Gbarnga
(baa-n-ga), and the LPC controlled much of the central and south-eastern
Conflict Resolution Process
Beginning in November 1990, the factions signed numerous cease-fire and
demobilization agreements that focused on creating a transition to civilian rule, but
none was effective until 1995. The factions refused to disarm and vied for influence
in transitional coalitions, violent conflict erupted anew, and scheduled elections were
canceled because of continued fighting. 2
On September 22, 1993, the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council established
the U.N. Observer Mission in Liberia (UNOMIL). It later deployed 368 military
observers and associated civilian personnel in early 1994 to monitor implementation
of the abortive Cotonou Peace Agreement, prior to elections originally planned for
February/March 1994. Renewed armed hostilities, however, broke out in May 1994
and continued, becoming especially intense in July and August. ECOMOG, and later
UNOMIL, members were captured and held hostage by some factions. By mid-1994,
the humanitarian situation had become disastrous, with 1.8 million Liberians in need
of humanitarian assistance. Conditions continued to deteriorate, but humanitarian
agencies were unable to reach many in need due to hostilities and general insecurity.
Factional leaders agreed in September 1994 to the Akosombo Agreement, a
supplement to the Cotonou agreement, named after the Ghanaian town where it was
signed, but the security situation in Liberia remained poor. In October 1994, in the
face of ECOMOG funding shortfalls and a lack of will by the Liberian combatants
to honor agreements to end the war, the Security Council reduced to about 90 the
number of UNOMIL observers. It extended UNOMIL’s mandate, however, and
subsequently extended it several times until September 1997.
In December 1994, the factions and other parties signed the Accra Agreement,
a supplement to the Akosombo Agreement, but disagreements ensued and fighting

2 Key agreements included the Bamako Cease-fire Agreement (November 1990); the
Yamassoukro Accord (October 1991); the Cotonou Agreement (July 1993); the Akosombo
Agreement (September 1994); Accra Agreement (a.k.a. Akosombo II, December 1994); the
Abuja Accord (August 1995); and Abuja II (August 1996). Most of these agreements set
cease-fire conditions and provided for the establishment of transitional power structures. In
some cases, they spawned ancillary working agreements. Factions and political parties also
formed informal alliances and agreements.

continued. Various conflict resolution efforts led to the ratification in August 1995
of a peace agreement known as the Abuja Accord, after the Nigerian capital where
it was signed by seven faction leaders and civilian representatives. The agreement
followed several months of concerted ECOWAS conflict negotiation efforts led by
Ghana and Nigeria. The main point of contention had been the composition of the
proposed transitional government, the Council of State. On August 31, however,
three civilian representatives and the three main rebel leaders — Taylor, Kromah, and
Boley — were sworn in. ULIMO-J leader Roosevelt Johnson was given the defense
portfolio. The Council, chaired by Wilton Sankawulo, a professor, was tasked with
implementing the cease-fire agreement, demobilizing all combatants, and holding
presidential elections in August/September 1996.
1996: Conflict, Cease-fire, and Disarmament. A great deal of optimism
followed the August 1995 Abuja Accord, and the humanitarian situation improved
moderately, but several skirmishes occurred in its wake, leading to heavy fighting in
late 1995. Sustained fighting broke out again in early April 1996, after the Council
of State attempted to arrest faction leader Roosevelt Johnson, who was also minister
of rural development, on murder charges. For seven weeks, fighting — mainly
between Taylor’s NPFL and Johnson’s ULIMO-J and allied factions — raged in
Monrovia. Fighters from both factions looted homes, businesses, government offices,
and international aid organizations. Tens of thousands of Liberians fled their homes
to escape the fighting, and as many as 20,000 sought refuge in the U.S. embassy’s
Greystone compound. U.S. military helicopters evacuated 2,400 Americans and other
foreign nationals to Freetown, Sierra Leone.
On April 29, after holding talks in Ghana, then-U.S. Assistant Secretary for
African Affairs George Moose traveled to Monrovia in an attempt to persuade the
militia leaders to attend a planned May 8 summit meeting of West African states in
Accra, Ghana to discuss salvaging the Abuja Accord, but his attempts to contact
Taylor and Kromah were unsuccessful. The following day, after shots were directed
at the U.S. embassy, U.S. Marine guards returned fire, killing three gunmen. One day
later, a U.S. amphibious battle group, consisting of four U.S. Navy warships carrying
2,200 marines, arrived in Monrovia harbor to discourage a possible attack on the
Role of ECOWAS. On May 16, 1996, a member of Liberia’s Council of State,
George Boley, stated that the Council had not met to determine whether it should
arrest Krahn leader Roosevelt Johnson — the event which had touched off two
months of fighting and looting. Boley, a Johnson ally, argued that the move was a
“ploy” designed by Taylor and Kromah to eliminate Johnson as a political force.
ECOMOG began to re-assert control over parts of Monrovia in mid-May, and a
fragile peace was restored in Liberia when, on May 26, the factions agreed to a
cease-fire. Following the cease-fire accord, ECOMOG increased its deployment of
troops throughout Monrovia, and forces loyal to Taylor’s NPFL and Kromah’s
ULIMO-K withdrew from the city.
By early August 1996, most Liberian refugees had left the American embassy
compound. On August 17th, an ECOWAS committee met to discuss the situation in
Liberia, and agreed to extend the 1995 Abuja Accord to June 15, 1997. The group
also called for the disarmament of militia members by January 1997, to be followed

by elections in late May 1997, and strongly urged its members and other countries not
to supply arms to Liberian fighters. Perhaps its most practical and effective action —
and a significant indication of regional resolve to end the chaos in neighboring
Liberia — was to warn faction leaders that if they interfered with the peace
implementation process they would face personal sanctions and possible trial as war
At the August ECOWAS meeting, Liberia’s Council of State also made
significant progress. It not only achieved a reconciliation, but also determined to
restore Council member Roosevelt Johnson to a ministerial post (the Transportation
portfolio), and unanimously elected Ruth Sando Perry, a former senator, as Council
president. Ms. Perry was sworn in on September 3, thus becoming the African
continent’s first female head of state. In addition, humanitarian organizations were
able to renew delivery of limited assistance in various regions of the country.
UNOMIL’s mandate was extended twice, in March and June, 1997. On August
30, the U.N. Security Council agreed to extend by three months its observer mission
in Liberia, and accepted Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali’s proposal to raise the
number of observers by 24; there were just 10 in the country at the time.
Inter-factional violence, however, followed the peace agreement reached in August.
On October 31, gunmen tried but failed to assassinate Charles Taylor, but during the
attempt, three of Taylor’s chief aides were killed. Public insecurity remained
widespread; in several incidents, traders and other civilians were murdered while
Disarmament and the Transition to Peace
Despite continued violent incidents, on November 22, 1996 the factions began
turning over their weapons to UNOMIL and ECOMOG peacekeepers. Food,
clothing, and scholarships were offered as incentives to fighters to disarm. It was
widely suspected that the various factions had buried weapons caches for later use,
but the disarmament eventually brought in a significant number of weapons. During
the official disarmament period of November 22, 1996 to February 9, 1997, over
41,000 fighters, including over 4,000 child combatants, reportedly disarmed; over

9,500 weapons and 1.2 million pieces of ammunition were also surrendered.

As the disarmament process proceeded, the ECOMOG force, previously
dominated by Nigeria, was reinforced and broadened, when in early 1997 other
countries committed additional troops. In February, the United States undertook
Operation Assured Lift; the U.S. military mission transported 1,160 ECOMOG
troops and equipment to Liberia. U.S. transport aircraft, based in Germany, ferried
Malian, Ivorian, and Ghanaian peacekeepers from their home countries to Monrovia.
This logistical assistance was intended as a signal of U.S. support for the peace
process. European donor members of the U.S.-led International Contact Group on
Liberia provided transport defrayment costs and equipment for the effort. The
ECOMOG force was again increased in April, with the arrival of troops from Niger,
Burkina Faso, and Benin.
ECOWAS and Election Planning. ECOWAS foreign ministers met in
February 1997 to assess the status of disarmament, and determined that the effort had

largely succeeded and that the elections should take place, as planned, on May 30.
Large weapons caches were discovered in March and April, however, and some
human rights groups expressed skepticism about the relative success of the
demobilization process. They urged that elections not be held until ECOMOG and
other actors could guarantee a free and fair vote, through such actions as continuing
the disarmament effort, encouraging refugees to return, and ensuring safe polling
places. On April 14, Liberia’s Roman Catholic bishops also called for a
postponement, arguing that more time was needed for voter repatriation, registration,
and education.
A special ECOWAS summit, held in Abuja in mid-May 1997, decided to
postpone Liberia’s elections until July 19, with the new government to be installed
on August 2. In early July, 12 out of Liberia’s 13 political parties — Charles Taylor’s
party was the sole holdout — urged that the vote be delayed further. ECOWAS did
not agree. Because ECOMOG had pledged to remain in Liberia for six months after
the elections, Nigeria and other countries were anxious for elections to be held as
early as possible.3 The United States and other western donor states also wanted the
Liberian elections to proceed as scheduled. Liberia’s independent election
commission denied the plea for a postponement.
The 1997 Elections and the Taylor Presidency. Charles Taylor was
among the first declared candidates for the presidency. In early May, Taylor publicly
launched the campaign of his National Patriotic Party (NPP), formed following the
dissolution of the NPFL in January 1997, in defiance of an independent election
commission ban on electioneering and before any of the other candidates had begun
to campaign. He argued that the country needed a “strong leader.” He drew much
rural support, but the urban Monrovia electorate divided its support among the eleven
other candidates. Multiple candidates, including three former warlords and several
former cabinet ministers under the toppled Doe government, contested the election.
The main challenger to Taylor, however, was Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, a
Harvard-educated former U.N. executive and businesswoman.
Charles Taylor was proclaimed the winner of the July 19 poll, with 75.3% of the
vote. By most accounts, the election — the country’s first in 12 years — was
peaceful, and voter registration and turnout rates were high. Between 700,000 and
750,000 Liberians registered to vote — a substantial figure, given that many people
had fled the country or were displaced internally. Election day turnout was estimated
at nearly 90%. Roughly 500 international electoral observers were on hand, including
330 from the U.N., groups from the European Union (EU) and the Organization of
African Unity (OAU), and a team led by former President Jimmy Carter. Initially,
candidate Johnson-Sirleaf complained of fraud and other irregularities, but
international election monitors did not concur with her claims. Mr. Carter and
spokesmen for EU, U.N., and OAU observers all characterized the vote as generally

3 This position was underlined by ECOMOG’s need to dispatch some of its 13,000-strong
force in Liberia to Sierra Leone, in order to contend with a May 25 putsch that toppled the
elected government in neighboring Sierra Leone. ECOMOG strongly opposed the coup, both
politically and militarily, particularly in light of the existence of political-military relations
between the Liberian factions, notably Taylor’s NPFL, and armed actors in Sierra Leone.

free, fair, and peaceful. Johnson- Sirleaf, who had termed the results “statistically
impossible,” later said she would present “a strong and constructive opposition.”
Taylor won his substantial electoral victory despite his well-known role in
launching the civil war and fomenting bloodshed in Liberia over the preceding 7
years. Several possible reasons have been offered for this ostensibly counter-intuitive
outcome. Taylor, described as a charismatic figure, had the biggest campaign war
chest; controlled extensive media resources, including the country’s only radio
station; and was the best organized contender. Taylor’s campaign workers also
reportedly enticed Liberian refugees resident in neighboring Ivory Coast to cross into
Liberia to cast their votes for him in exchange for food and money, and transportation
to polling stations was reportedly provided by vehicles owned by Taylor. Many
Liberians reportedly believed that a vote for Taylor was a vote for peace and stability;
many feared that Taylor, as head of the largest armed faction, might continue to fight
for power if he was not elected. Liberians reportedly explained their choice with the
slogan that referred to Taylor: “You kill my pa, you kill my ma, I will vote for you.”
Many also agreed with Taylor’s claim that Liberia needed a “strong leader,”
particularly given events in neighboring Sierra Leone, which had also faced civil war
throughout the 1990s, after its elected president was deposed in May 1997 by a group
of disaffected junior officers.
In light of his past conduct, the prospect of a Taylor presidency was disturbing
to many Liberians and foreign observers; some argued that Taylor’s leadership might
undermine external assistance and investment. The possibility of renewed violence
also concerned some observers. Taylor had made many enemies during the conflict,
and although many fighters had been demobilized, the ECOWAS peacekeeping
force, known as ECOMOG, continued to discover large arms caches well after the
disarmament deadline.
Relations with ECOMOG. The Taylor government’s post-war relationship
with ECOMOG, the ECOWAS intervention force, was uneasy and sometimes tense.
The Taylor government initially claimed that it wanted ECOMOG to remain in
Liberia to ensure security, but serious disputes occurred over ECOMOG’s
post-conflict role. ECOMOG’s effort to counter the 1997 coup in Sierra Leone was
a major source of friction between ECOWAS and Taylor. When Sierra Leonean junta
leader Johnny Paul Koroma attempted to flee Sierra Leone in February 1998,
ECOMOG aircraft forced his helicopter to land in Liberia. Taylor objected to the
action, labeling it a violation of Liberian sovereignty. Shortly thereafter, an
ECOMOG jet fighter made several low passes over Monrovia, and Liberia recalled
its ambassador to Nigeria in protest, but Taylor later reportedly consulted with other
Liberian leaders and decided not to pursue the issue. In mid-March 1998, however,
several Nigerian journalists and a defense official, en route home from Sierra Leone,
were arrested in Monrovia on drug charges and released only after ECOMOG
intervened. In early May 1998, ECOMOG announced it had captured dozens of
Liberians fighting for the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a group of rebels then
fighting the government of Sierra Leone.4 Taylor, however, disavowed any Liberian

4 See CRS Report RL31062, Sierra Leone: Transition to Peace.

government ties to the RUF and called for all Liberian combatants in Sierra Leone
to return home.
In October 1998, Liberia closed its western border with conflict-beset Sierra
Leone after dispatching 1,000 troops to the area. The deployment was sharply
criticized by ECOMOG’s commander, General Malu. Taylor was dismissive of such
concerns, asserting that Liberia’s constitution granted his government authority to
deploy military force to protect the country’s borders. As the Sierra Leone conflict
heated up, ECOMOG began to move its troops into Sierra Leone. Relations between
ECOMOG and the Taylor government remained rocky; ECOMOG leaders accused
Taylor of supporting the RUF militarily. Most ECOMOG troops had been withdrawn
from Liberia by late 1998, but a small force remained in Liberia in 1999. In July
1999, remaining ECOMOG troops supervised the destruction of weapons turned in
during the disarmament process, which ended in late 1999. In October 1999,
ECOMOG began a rapid withdrawal of its remaining 1,000 troops, marking the end
of ECOMOG’s presence in Liberia.
Post-War Transitional Period
President Taylor’s first cabinet included family members and a former rival
warlord. To get the nation’s finances on track, his government announced that it
would reintroduce the U.S. dollar as the country’s currency; submitted a stop-gap
budget; and met with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and
the African Development Bank to develop a sound economic program, to which the
EU also pledged support. The new government also sought support from diverse
foreign governments.
Notwithstanding concerns about stability after the election, there were many
signs of progress and normalcy in Liberia. In August 1997, ECOMOG lifted a
shipping embargo imposed in 1993, restoring an important source of revenue to the
country. Seaports and airports reopened, providing communication and goods
transportation links with the outside world. At the end of the month, UNOMIL
personnel began to depart, but the U.N. maintained a presence in Liberia. In
December 1997, it established the U.N. Peace-building Support Office in Liberia
(UNOL) to assist in the consolidation of peace, national recovery and reconstruction,
and the creation of democratic structures.
The Humanitarian Situation. The civil war claimed a high toll on
non-combatants. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) estimated
that during the war at least 740,000 of Liberia’s pre-war 2.5 million inhabitants
became refugees, that 1.2 million became internally displaced persons (IDPs), and
that between 150,000 and 200,000 persons — and possibly as many as 300,000 —
were killed or maimed as a direct result of the civil war. The war drastically reduced
rural food production and cut off international trade, causing hunger and widespread
malnutrition. It was not until ECOMOG occupied Monrovia in mid-1990 that foreign
humanitarian assistance was able to reach the population. In 1994, the food situation
in rural areas again deteriorated. Fighting forced farmers to leave fields unharvested,
and humanitarian relief agencies abandoned many areas, following the looting of

their supplies and other disruptions. In 1996, fighting in Monrovia again resulted in
the theft and destruction of non-governmental organizations’ (NGO) supplies and
equipment. During the war, countless human rights abuses and atrocities were
committed against civilians, often along ethnic lines, and many children were used
as fighters by most of the factions. Although large-scale combat ended in early 1997,
widespread suffering continued; for months, relief organizations discovered pockets
of starving people. Thousands of non-combatants, including many severely
malnourished children, emerged from the forests, where they fled to avoid being
caught up in the factional violence. Hundreds of people are believed to have perished
for lack of food and medicine.
The suffering did not go unnoticed. In an April 1998 meeting in Paris,
international donors agreed to resume aid to Liberia, and NGOs raised awareness of,
and funds for, Liberia. In September, Liberia was listed among countries that might
qualify for debt relief under the International Monetary Fund (IMF)/World Bank
Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative,5 and Liberia received tens of
millions of dollars of foreign assistance after its electoral transition to peace. In
March 1999, the U.N. Development Program provided Liberia $3.4 million for
housing construction and a credit program for small business owners. Liberia
remained highly indebted, however. In its Budget Justification for fiscal year 2001,
USAID estimated Liberia’s foreign debt at $2.5 billion and domestic debt at $124
million, and the country remained in arrears to the OAU (later superseded by the
African Union, or AU) and to the U.N. by about $10 million. In March 2000, Reuters
reported that Liberia was one of eight OAU member debtor states sanctioned by the
OAU; the governments of such countries may neither vote nor attend meetings until
membership dues in arrears are paid. For the same reason, Liberia lost its voting
rights in the U.N. General Assembly; its voting rights remained suspended as of late


Social Reintegration. The reintegration into society of former combatants,
displaced people, and refugees proved to be a daunting task. By year 2000, at least
280,000 refugees had re-entered the country, and some 75,000 internally displaced
persons had returned to their homes. Many Liberians, however, remained reluctant
to return home, fearing ethnically based political violence. For some, conditions in
foreign refugee camps remain preferable to those in Liberia, and many never returned
home; at least 244,000 remained refugees in the West African sub-region in 2001,
four years after the war.
The process of reintegrating ex-combatants into society following disarmament
and demobilization also faced difficulties. On at least three separate occasions in May
1998, former soldiers staged violent demonstrations, demanding back pay and
pension benefits, an issue that had been complicated by the issuance of falsified

5 On debt reduction, HIPC, and development, see CRS Report RL30449, Debt and
Developing in Poor Countries: Rethinking Policy Responses; CRS Report RL30214, Debt
Reduction: Initiatives for the Most Heavily Indebted Poor Countries; IMF, Debt Relief
Under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, Factsheet, September 2003,
[]; and World Bank, HIPC,
[ h t t p : / / www.wor l dba nk.or g/ hi pc / ] .

demobilization certificates. Ex-combatants also briefly took hostage several dozen
government officials, all members of Taylor’s National Patriotic Party, to highlight
their assertion that the government had disbursed only a fraction of a $3 million
Taiwanese grant for demobilized troops. Taylor responded by stating that his
government was working on a program that would benefit all ex-combatants,
regardless of their former affiliation, that would include vocational training and
rehabilitation for the disabled. Veterans, however, again demonstrated in August,
1999. Internally displaced persons (IDP) in Liberia called for assistance help; in April

1999, IDPs demonstrated for government resettlement support.

Liberia under Taylor
Economy. There were some early signs of incipient positive economic
progress and growth in Liberia. Production and trade gradually increased, though
moderately, and the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) reported an
overall improvement in the food situation as the country entered a post-conflict
transition period.
Despite some improvements, much of the economy remained troubled, and early
progress did not yield long-term or robust economic growth. Rebuilding of
demolished infrastructure was extremely limited, and public utilities (plumbing,
sewage, and electricity) remained severely lacking, as did improvements in the
provision of basic education and health care services. Civil servant salaries were
often months in arrears. Key development challenges for Liberian development
identified by USAID in its Budget Justification for fiscal year 2001 included high6
formal sector unemployment and illiteracy rates, with both rates in the range of 80%;
low revenue and productivity bases; substantial destruction of public and private
institutions and facilities; negligible public utility services; massive corruption; low
rates of access to primary health care; a 4.5% national HIV/AIDS infection rate,
which was rising; and an annual population growth rate of 3.3% — a rate high
enough to outweigh improvements in living standards.
Many publicly announced government plans to undertake economic and
governance reforms did not materialize, and international policy experts and other
observers grew increasingly concerned over a general lack of public sector
transparency. Reports of sizable discrepancies between government budgets,
revenues, and actual expenditures became increasingly common. Many government
agencies received funding irregularly, and agency staffs often went unpaid for months
at a time. In some instances, state agencies were able to operate only because of
periodic patronage “donations” by members of the Taylor administration, or by
foreign donations. Few state revenues were directed toward investment in public
goods and services. Most public infrastructure remained severely degraded, and the
provision of social services became sporadic, if such services were available at all.
Under Taylor, much of Liberia’s formal sector economy came to be dominated
by commercial enterprises controlled by a relatively small group of politically
powerful elites, often in association with international, grey-market business

6 Other sources report significantly lower illiteracy rates.

operators. Liberia’s domestic manufacturing and industrial production capacity
remained marginal and unable to supply local demand, which necessitated the
importation of most manufactured consumer products. Many imported goods,
however, were sold at a high premium over their import costs. Fuel imports, for
instance, were brokered by a single firm on behalf of the of Liberian government;
fuel was then sold to the public by a cartel of domestic distributers and retailers.
Other commodities that were subject to total or partial monopolistic marketing
practices and controlled pricing structures included rice and car imports, cement and
beer sales and production, printing, and cocoa and coffee exports. Politically
powerful elites also dominated the banking, fisheries, textile and construction, and
communications industries.
Taylor reportedly held direct, personal shares in a number of private firms, but
he was also said to have received off-the-books payments from private firms in
exchange for business licenses and concession rights, as well as earnings cuts.7 In
particular, numerous reports suggest that members of the Taylor administration
controlled and diverted for their own uses significant amounts of revenue from the
export of timber, which many observers alleged was routinely harvested in an
environmentally destructive and unsustainable manner. State revenues earned from
the “flags of convenience” merchant marine fleet fees and other operations of the
U.S.-based Liberian International Ship & Corporate Registry comprised a second key
source of revenues subject to alleged diversion by the Taylor administration. In a
number of cases, revenue streams from the timber exports and the ship registry
reportedly funded arms purchases, and were increasingly used by the Taylor
government to fund its military activities.8
Governance. Liberia is constitutionally a republic, and its government
structure and constitution are modeled on that of the United States and on
Anglo-American common law, although local indigenous customary law is widely
used in rural areas. Despite the existence of constitutional checks and balances
between the branches of government, control of political and administrative power
has historically been dominated by a strong, centralized presidency. Under Taylor,
concentrated executive power grew. State institutions that constitutionally or legally

7 When Taylor entered exile in 2003, numerous press reports described how he had
controlled Liberia’s economy — a goal that he continued to attempt to pursue. See, for
instance, Edward Harris, “Ousted Liberian Leader Controlled a Financial Empire - and Isn’t
Giving it Up, Diplomats Say,” Associated Press, September 7, 2003; Tim Weiner “Liberian
Ex-Leader Stole $3 Million as He Left, U.N. Aide Says,” New York Times, September 6,
2003; Terence Sesay, “UN’s Liberia Envoy Says Taylor Stole 3 Million Dollars Meant for
Soldiers,” Agence France Presse, September 5, 2003; and Emily Wax, “In Exile, Taylor
Exerts Control,” Washington Post, September 17, 2003.
8 See, inter alia, Report of the Panel of Experts, cited above, in United Nations Security
Council document S/2003/498, April 24, 2003, and a series of earlier U.N. Liberia sanctions
monitoring reports; and multiple Global Witness reports, particularly Taylor-Made, The
Pivotal Role of Liberia’s Forests in Regional Conflict, September 2001; ——, The Usual
Suspects: Liberia’s Weapons and Mercenaries in Côte d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone; Why it’s
Still Possible, How it Works and How to Break the Trend, March 2003; and ——, Logging
Off: How the Liberian Timber Industry Fuels Liberia’s Humanitarian Disaster and
Threatens Sierra Leone, September 2002.

were meant to provide accountability and independent checks on the executive
branch — including the judiciary, legislature, the National Human Rights
Commission, and the National Reconciliation and Reunification Commission —
wielded little effective authority. Courts were reportedly liable to executive branch
influence, corrupt practices, and operational inefficiencies related to a lack of
The legislature under Taylor was dominated by his National Patriotic Party,
which held 49 of the 64 seats in the House of Representatives, and 21 of the 26
Senate seats. The legislature exercised little practical independence from the
executive, although legislators were generally free to voice their sometimes strongly
expressed views. In part, some opposition leaders and other critics allege, the
legislature’s weaknesses were a result of Mr. Taylor and his political allies’ effective
control of the majority of state revenue collections and expenditures, and its influence
over or significant ownership interest in many major commercial operations. In this
view, both NPP and opposition legislators, many local government leaders and their
networks of supporters, including civil servants, joined or were coopted by the Taylor
administration in exchange for civil service jobs, salaries, the use of vehicles and
other state resources, and the expenditure of state resources in their constituencies.
Similarly, businessmen relied on connections to key government figures to ensure
their freedom to run commercial operations, and obtain natural resource extraction
concessions, tax breaks and related advantages.
The Taylor administration exercised political authority through its control of
public policy formation and implementation. While legal processes were nominally
practiced, they were often subject to irregularities. Legislative and budget proposals
were regularly promulgated, for instance, but often remained unratified or subject to
other legal ambiguities and ad hoc presidential actions. The Strategic Commodities
Act of 2001, for instance, was reportedly passed in 2001 and later ratified, but
Liberian officials stated in late 2001 that it had not been signed into law. Despite
uncertainties over the legal status of the Act — which granted the Executive sole
power and negotiation rights over all commercial contracts or agreements related to
the extraction of Liberia’s natural resources — observers say that Taylor’s backing
of the Act had the de facto effect of putting it into practice.
Political Conditions under Taylor. Taylor was widely reported to have
harbored deep suspicions and fears of diverse plots against him by foreign
governments, and Liberian political opponents and rivals. He periodically voiced
public statements warning of and against such alleged machinations, which in some
cases gave birth to sometimes extended political contretemps. Taylor also exhibited
autocratic, sometimes seemingly arbitrary, behavior that some observers saw as
verging on megalomaniacal, particularly given Taylor’s penchant for speaking of9
himself in the third person. Many observers, however, also described Taylor as well-
read, articulate and persuasive, and possessed of a charismatic personality.

9 In May 1999, for instance, he reportedly summarily fired a large number of his cabinet
ministers who failed to participate in 3 days of prayer and fasting, although most were
reinstated the next day.

Some plots alleged by Taylor or his representatives seemed credible, particularly
in light of several armed clashes between his supporters and members of former
factions, and a series of raids in Lofa county in 1999 that in 2000 gave birth to the
rebellion that ultimately toppled him in 2003 (see CRS report RS21525, Liberia:
Transition to Peace). Others seemed far fetched, nevertheless led to the arrest of
perceived opponents of Taylor, and several alleged political murders.10 Because of
such incidents, many opposition politicians and clan chiefs fled Liberia to live in
exile, despite Taylor’s public extension of invitations to them to return to Liberia,
accompanied by verbal assurances of their personal safety.
Security Affairs. Despite moderate post-war social and political progress, the
security situation remained troubled, both with respect to institutional developments
and with respect to public security and human rights.
Post-war national reconciliation was hampered by the new government’s failure,
according to its critics, to create an ethnically broad, politically inclusive, and smaller
Liberian military, as required under the Abuja Accords. This failure was a source of
considerable friction between the Taylor government and ECOMOG, which had been
mandated with helping Liberia to undertake such post-conflict military reforms.
While Taylor engaged ECOMOG on this issue, he apparently viewed ECOMOG
primarily as a source of training expertise, rather than of organizational and policy
reform advice, and did not see the objectives associated with Liberia’s peace process
as paramount. Taylor, citing sovereign self-defense concerns and lack of funds,
delayed such restructuring. Instead, Taylor replaced personnel who left the army
through attrition and mandated retirements with former NPFL fighters and other
loyalists. Following persistent criticism, in late 2000 a commission with a mandate
to downsize and restructure the army was reportedly created and allocated about
$100,000, but no further reforms resulted. Taylor also ensured that the national
military did not pose a threat to his leadership, while simultaneously attempting to
ensure that it remained loyal. Army troops exercised less authority than several other
state security services (see below), and were ill paid and given fewer resources.
Taylor maintained a substantial personal and state security apparatus, which
increasingly faced accusations of human rights abuses and corrupt, often violent11
behavior. Formal military and security forces under Taylor included the Armed
Forces of Liberia (AFL); the Liberia National Police (LNP), which focused on
internal security; the Special Operations Division (SOD), a nominal LNP
paramilitary unit closely controlled by Taylor; the Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU),
formerly called the Antiterrorist Brigade (ATB), an elite unit composed of former
NPFL fighters and foreign mercenaries; the Special Security Service (SSS), an
executive protective force; the Executive Mansion Special Security Unit (SSU); the

10 In August 2000, a pro-Taylor newspaper reported that the Liberian government had
become aware of an American plot to destabilize Liberia and assassinate Charles Taylor, an
accusation refuted by then-U.S. Ambassador Bismarck Myrick as “false and baseless.” On
several occasions, human rights activists and journalists were jailed for various plots or
other alleged offenses against Taylor.
11 See annual U.S. State Department human rights reports on Liberia and various reports by
the International Crisis Group and by Global Witness, inter alia.

National Bureau of Investigation (NBI); and the National Security Agency (NSA).
These forces were bolstered by diverse special units and irregular militias, such as the
Navy Rangers; Delta Force; Navy; Wild Geese; Man Moving Man Dropping;
remnants of the Lofa Defense Force, a civil war faction; Demus Force; Jungle Lions;
the Small Boys Unit; and Special Operation Strike Force. In addition, various
government entities, and state-owned and firms, notably those controlling large
timber concessions, also maintained armed security services. Both regular and
irregular security units, which often included former members of Taylor’s defunct
NPFL, frequently operated autonomously and engaged in looting and extortion; many
had serious human rights abuse records, notably in rural areas. Such units
collaborated closely, sometimes effectively merging, particularly as armed opposition
to Taylor grew in 2000 and subsequently.
Human Rights. President Taylor signed the country’s first human rights bill
and named former foe Alhaji Kromah head of a national reconciliation commission,
but some critics contended that the government made few moves to identify and
punish war crime perpetrators. Several events also raised questions about Taylor’s
commitment to human rights.12
In late 1997, authorities discovered in Gbarnga the remains of prominent
opposition leader Samuel Dokie, a former Taylor ally, who left the NPFL in 1994 and
later became associated with Johnson-Sirleaf’s Unity Party. Dokie had been tortured
and murdered, along with family members and a bodyguard. Three members of the
SSS were arrested in the case, but were acquitted for lack of evidence in a February
1998 trial. Four other suspects reportedly fled the country. The United States and the
EU publicly condemned the Dokie murders and the manner in which a subsequent
murder trial was conducted.
In February 1998, the former faction leader, ethnic Krahn, and then-cabinet
minister Roosevelt Johnson criticized Taylor, asserting that he had been building an
army comprised entirely of heavily armed former NPFL fighters. One month later,
three of Johnson’s bodyguards were allegedly detained and flogged by members of
Taylor’s Special Security Service in what Johnson characterized as an attempted
assassination attempt against himself. Johnson made similar claims in August. In
September 1998, in a replay of an April 1996 confrontation that had touched off
weeks of violence in Monrovia, Liberian government forces sought to arrest Johnson
in his guarded compound. A gunfight resulted, causing hundreds of Monrovians to
flee their homes. Johnson fled to the American embassy, outside of which gun
fighting again erupted. He and his two sons then slipped unbidden through the open
embassy gate, while Liberian security forces continued to fire at him, killing four
Johnson supporters and wounding two U.S. embassy staff. Due to the high level of
violence exhibited by the militiamen, U.S. diplomats refused to release Johnson into
Liberian government custody, and a six-day standoff ensued. The Reverend Jesse
Jackson accepted a request to attempt to negotiating a settlement. Nearly a week
later, a Liberian government spokesman, though still demanding that Johnson be
turned over to stand trial for crimes including murder, rape, treason, and kidnaping,

12 Agence France-Presse, “Diplomats Concerned over Human Rights Violations in Liberia,”
January 5, 1998.

stated that Monrovia would not prevent the United States from flying Johnson out of
Liberia. Many aid workers left during the fighting, and thousands of ethnic Krahn
fled to Côte d’Ivoire, reversing the prior flow of refugees returning to Liberia.
The United States closed its embassy after the incident and demanded an
investigation of the shooting, an apology, and a guarantee of the mission’s security
from the Taylor government. After an initial refusal, the Liberian government offered
an official apology on November 14, and the embassy reopened. Johnson later
claimed that hundreds of people were massacred during the gun battle at his home.
The Taylor government countered that “no more than 50 or 60” had died. During the
raid on the Johnson compound, Liberian forces took into custody dozens of ethnic
Krahn. In April, after the lengthy trial for treason of 32 individuals, 13 people were
sentenced to 10 years in prison. Washington and other foreign governments closely
monitored the trial. In December, Johnson was added to the list of those guilty of
treason, and he and several other faction leaders were tried in absentia. During a
November 1998 visit to Monrovia, then-U.S. Deputy Assistant of State for African
Affairs Vicki Huddleston, stated that a “transition to democracy requires human
rights, rule of law, and this is lacking in Liberia...”13 Huddleston’s comment reflected
many similar observations by diverse international and Liberian observers.
Press Restrictions. Taylor and his supporters periodically voiced concern
over media coverage of the Taylor administration, particularly regarding coverage of
alleged human rights abuses by state agents, and journalists were subjected to
intimidation by state security agents.14 In January 1998, the government announced,
without an immediate explanation, that it was closing the independent newspaper
Heritage, which had published articles critical of Liberia’s relations with ECOMOG.
The office of the newspaper’s printing contractor was also raided, and the publisher
was accused of supporting coup plotters. Also in January 1998, the government
closed Star Radio, a USAID-supported station also supported by several European
governments and, on January 14, briefly shut down Radio Monrovia, which carried
the Voice of America. The government attributed the Star Radio shutdown to a
dispute with the station over a fine levied for the unauthorized transferral of
frequencies. Many saw these events as undermining Liberia’s progress toward
democracy; in January, a coalition of diplomats in Monrovia issued a statement
expressing concern over human rights violations.
In mid-March 2000, the Liberian government shut down Radio Veritas, operated
by the Catholic church, and Star Radio, citing, a “security threat created by agents
provocateurs using the news media to abuse the unprecedented freedom of speech
and press now prevailing in the country,” according to the U.S. Department of State.

13 Reuters, “Liberia’s Sirleaf Says She Named in Treason Charge,” November 4, 1998;
Panafrican News Agency, “Washington Unimpressed with Rule of Law in Liberia,”
November 4, 1998.
14 See, for instance, Agence France-Presse, “Journalists Might Have to Die, Warns Liberian
Security Force: Claim,”December 12, 1997; Reuters, “Detained Liberia Reporter Says
Police Tortured Him,” December 25, 1997; Reuters, “Liberia Drops Treason Charge Against
Journalist,” December 29, 1997; and Tim Sullivan, “Liberian Warlord Becomes President
and Keeps Some Old Habits,” Associated Press, February 15, 1998

The stations had aired listener comments critical of the Taylor government. The
closure was protested by the U.S. government, Amnesty International, and Liberian
journalists. Radio Veritas was later allowed to resume broadcasting, provided it limit
itself to religious programs, a restriction rejected by Archbishop Michael Kpakala
Francis (recipient of the 1999 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award). On July 20,
2000, the government ordered Star Radio, which had been off the air since the March
closure, to dismantle its equipment.
U.S.-Liberian Relations
Background: Historical U.S.-Liberian Ties
American Colonization Society. The United States has a lengthy historical
relationship with Liberia dating from 1821, when groups of African Americans
established settlements in Liberia with the assistance of the American Colonization
Society (ACS). The ACS was formed in 1816 by a diverse group of white
abolitionists; supporters of slavery; opponents of racial integration and the growth of
a population of free blacks in the United States; and clergy who wanted to spread
Christianity to Africa. The ACS sought to settle in Africa persons of African descent
from the New World, both freeborn and freed slaves, as an alternative to their
emancipation and assimilation in the United States. Some historians have suggested
that the ACS was essentially a racist organization.
African American settlers became known as Americo-Liberians, while persons
from the Caribbean and slaves liberated from slave ships and resettled in Liberia
became known as Congos. In 1842, Joseph Jenkins Roberts, a settler from the U.S.
state of Virginia who had served as sheriff and lieutenant governor of the colony,
became its first non-white governor. In 1847, following a settler referendum, the
colony’s legislature declared the territory an independent, free republic, the first on
the African continent. Naming the new country Liberia, it elected Roberts as its first
president. Liberia modeled its constitution after that of the United States, named the
capital of Liberia, Monrovia, after the fifth U.S. President, and chose a flag similar
to that of the United States.
After the creation of the republic, a two-party political system developed in
which the sole participants were Americo-Liberians, who held a near monopoly on
political and economic power in Liberia until 1980. In the latter half of the 1800s
and early 1900s, the republic’s government gradually extended its authority over the
indigenous ethnic groups, confederations, and small clan or village-based societies
of Liberia’s interior. Such efforts sought to expand the areas under the government’s
control and impose over such territory a system of centralized administrative rule,
taxation, and codified law. These efforts were pursued by the establishment of a
system of “indirect rule” as well as the imposition of direct central governance, often
underpinned by the use of military force. Under indirect rule, the central government
sought to co-opt indigenous political structures by entering into alliances with
confederations of indigenous groups. It created a system of decentralized authority
presided over by nominally “traditional” local chiefs who were, however, elected or
appointed by the government. Such actions sought to impose central government

rule, suppress indigenous uprisings and external interference in Liberia, and collect
taxes, but generated indigenous grievances, causing several small wars between the
government and indigenous polities. To deal with such rebellions, the Liberian
Frontier Force (LFF) was formed in 1908. The force was irregularly paid, ill-trained
and often unpaid, and it engaged in looting and violent predations against the
indigenous population. The LFF was at first commanded by British officers, who
recruited many Sierra Leoneans into its ranks and later, beginning in 1912, by U.S.
soldiers. This action continued a pattern of U.S. support for the Liberian government,
which included periodic interventions on its behalf in response to political
disagreements and armed conflicts between it and the indigenous population. Such
undertakings both bolstered Americo-Liberian rule and discouraged external,
particularly French, colonial designs on the small country, contributing to Liberia’s
continuing independence during a period when all other African countries, except for
Ethiopia, became subject to European colonialism.
Firestone. In 1926, the U.S. Firestone company, in the face of high rubber
prices spurred by the growing demands of the auto industry and the predominance of
British interests in global rubber production, signed contracts with the Liberian
government — with the assistance of the U.S. State Department — that gave the firm
a 99-year lease concession to create a one million-acre rubber plantation. The deal,
which involved the take-over of a small 99-acre British-operated rubber plantation
and the extension of credit by Firestone to the Liberian government, led to the
creation of the world’s largest rubber plantation.
League of Nations Inquiry. Liberian-U.S. relations underwent strains in the
late 1920s and early 1930s. A League of Nations inquiry found that the Liberian
government, in many cases through the use of coercion carried out by the LFF, was
forcing indigenous Liberians to engage indentured and forced labor in support of
public works projects, and on plantations in what later became Equatorial Guinea.
The United States criticized the Liberian government, and called for a commission
of inquiry and the implementation of reforms to end such labor abuses.
World War II. U.S.-Liberian relations deepened as a result of World War II and
the continuing commercial linkages represented by the Firestone rubber plantation.
Pan Am Airlines began service in 1941 to Liberia to and from Lake Piso, with flights15
of “Clippers” — planes that took off and landed on water. During World War II.,
Pan Am’s presence in Liberia centered on the provision of services in support of U.S.
military operations.
Following the signing of the Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation Agreement
between the United States and Liberia in 1938, Robertsfield International Airport
(RIA) was constructed in 1942. RIA, which long had one of Africa’s longest
runways, served as a U.S. military cargo relay point and refueling station, as well as
a transportation hub for the rubber plantation. It was used to support U.S. military
campaigns in North Africa and the Far East. A force of about 5000 predominantly
African-American medical personnel, engineering and combat troops, and air crews

15 Pan Am serviced Liberia from 1942 to 1987, when air service was canceled because of
low profitability.

were based in Liberia to support these operations, as well as to carry out U.S. Army
Air Corps anti-submarine sea plane patrols along the Liberian coast. During the war,
Liberia adopted the US dollar as its official currency. After the United States entered
World War II, it signed a bilateral accord with Liberia, called the Defense Areas
Agreement, that permitted U.S. construction, operation, and control of bases in
Liberia, and defense of these and other U.S. interests there. Between 1942 and 1947,
the Freeport of Monrovia, designed as a major shipping transfer, storage, and duty-
free processing zone, was constructed under U.S. Lend-Lease Administration
Cold War. Liberia was among the African countries with the closest ties to the
United States in the 1950s through the mid-1970s, in part because of Liberian support
for U.S. objectives related to the Cold War during that period. Several defense
cooperation pacts were signed in the 1950s, and the U.S. Peace Corps was present
in Liberia from 1962 to 1990; during that period, 4,281 volunteers served in Liberia.
The Voice of America began construction of facilities in Liberia in 1961, and began
broadcasting from Liberia in December 1962 to all of Africa, southern Europe, and
elsewhere. It maintained transmitter and repeater installations there until 1990, when
the main site was over-run by combatants in the fighting, and was subsequently
looted and stripped of its assets.
1970s. In April, 1973, the United States and Liberia signed an agreement
allowing the construction in Liberia of one of several Omega Navigational Stations
that made up a global network of beacons that emitted signals for ship and aircraft
guidance. The facility also served as a back-up system for guidance of U.S. nuclear
submarines. The system was installed in the mid-1970s.
A brief period of U.S.-Liberian tensions characterized the mid to late-1970s,
during the administration of William R. Tolbert, who came to power in 1971, after
the death of his autocratic predecessor, William Tubman. Tolbert promoted Africa-
centric cultural values and Pan-Africanist political views, and sought to increase
popular participation in government, end indigenous-Americo-Liberian divisions, and
ameliorate poverty. His administration negotiated better terms for Liberia with multi-
national firms, including Firestone; sought closer relations with the Soviet bloc and
non-aligned movement; and refused U.S. access to Robertsfield International Airport
for a U.S. Rapid Deployment Force, a small, mobile contingency force. These and
other policies, such as his cutting of ties with Israel, alienated the United States.
Tolbert also promoted populist economic policies, such as the lowering of the
price of rice and ending a monopoly on rice imports. As the 1970s progressed, a
global recession in the wake of the petroleum crisis grew deeper, commodity prices
for Liberia’s primary exports dropped, and his policies faced increasing difficulties.
Tolbert’s promises of reform had produced rising economic expectations, but these
were not met, and popular disillusion with his administration grew. Unemployment
rose, and Tolbert’s administration was increasingly beset by nepotism and corruption.
His policies also faced political opposition; they were viewed as too radical by the
powerful elite establishment, and too cautious by radical student-led reformers. In
1979, popular opposition to Tolbert crystalized when the government proposed
marketing and production reforms that would have caused an increase in the price of
rice. The proposed policy — and the perception that businesses associated with the

governing elite would benefit from a rise rice prices — engendered protests, and riots
and looting of food ensued. The government responded by arresting radical student
leaders and suppressing opposition to its policies.
Bilateral Ties under the Reagan Administration. In April 1980, Tolbert
was toppled and killed in a violent military coup led by Master Sergeant Samuel K.
Doe (see above). Despite this undemocratic beginning, U.S.-Liberian ties warmed
during the first half of the 1980s, in large part due to Liberia’s support of U.S. foreign
policy goals, but also because of long standing U.S.-Liberian historical ties and the
various strategic communications and other facilities that the United States had
constructed in Liberia. In August, 1982 President Reagan met with Doe at the White
House and paid tribute to 120 years of U.S.-Liberian diplomatic relations, praising
the two countries’ “special friendship,” “firm bond,” and “long history of
cooperation,” which he said would be “further strengthened.”16 In the years that
followed, Liberia initiated relations with Israel, causing the Libyan government to
freeze ties with Liberia, and Liberia to expel Libyan representatives. Doe also
expelled the Soviet ambassador to Liberia. In 1983, Liberia and the United States
signed the bilateral Defense Facilities Agreement, which permitted U.S. access rights
to RIA on very short notice. These developments were accompanied by a rapid
increase in U.S. assistance and cooperation. From 1980 to 1985, according to the
New York Times, Liberia was the largest sub-Saharan Africa per-capita recipient of
U.S. aid.17 A U.S. diplomatic communications facility that processed U.S.
communications and radio traffic between U.S. diplomatic and intelligence posts in
Africa and the United States operated in Liberia. 18 In 1985, Doe won a rigged19
election, but his victory was not viewed critically by the U.S. administration.
The trend toward greater U.S. cooperation with Liberia subsequently waned.
The end of the Cold War and U.S. disillusionment with increasing corruption and
dictatorial tendencies under Doe during the latter half of his regime, in the mid to
late-1980s, led to a gradual decline in U.S. assistance, and a trend toward decreasing
U.S. engagement with Liberia. In 1985, following U.S. remarks critical of the Doe
government’s human rights record, Doe began to open lines of communication with
Libya, where he traveled in 1988. In 1985, U.S. assistance to Liberia reached its
highest annual level, $69.1 million. In 1986 and 1987, the United States suspended

16 Public Papers of the Presidents, “Meeting With Samuel K. Doe, Head of State of
Liberia,” Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, August 17, 1982.
17 James Brooke, “Mission to Liberia Evidently Fails,” New York Times, December 5,


18 Nancee Oku Bright, Liberia: America’s Stepchild, transcript of PBS documentary,
October 10, 2002.
19 Herman Cohen, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, 1989 — 1993, has
stated that “[Doe] should have lost, but he rigged the election. But at that time all West
African elections were rigged. It was a very normal thing to do, for the government to win
the election even though they had less than the majority of the vote. So it did not trouble us
at all.” See Oku Bright, Liberia: America’s Stepchild. See also David B. Ottaway, “Shultz
Sees Liberian Doe, Cites `Genuine Progress’,” Washington Post, January 15, 1987, inter

bilateral aid to Liberia following Liberia’s failure to make credit payments due to the
International Monetary Fund, which also halted assistance to Liberia.20
Civil War, 1989-1997. As Liberia’s civil war burgeoned after its inception in
December 1989, many Liberians, hoping for a U.S. intervention, were dismayed that
the United States did not intercede. Americans were soon evacuated from Liberia and
hopes for a U.S. peacekeeping force were dashed. Former Assistant Secretary of State
for Africa Herman Cohen has written that he and other State Department and other
agency Africa specialists supported significant U.S. engagement in Liberia to protect
U.S. facilities and pursue a resolution of the conflict, in addition to evacuating U.S.
citizens from the country. Higher-level decision makers, however, did not share these
goals and saw little need for a U.S. role in Liberia, according to Cohen.21
Following the deterioration of socio-economic and political conditions under
Doe and the subsequent civil conflict, which resulted in a waning of the U.S. official
presence in Liberia, some policy makers began to view Liberia as simply one more
country in a continent that they saw as generally peripheral to U.S. interests. From
this perspective, Liberia was worthy of no special U.S. attention or engagement, and
a basic position of non-interference in Liberian internal affairs was an appropriate
guiding principle for U.S. policy. Others believed that the historically close
relationship between the United States and Liberia obligated the former to take
special responsibility in answering Liberia’s humanitarian and developmental needs,
helping to promote a democratic system, and working to stop human rights abuses.
Some criticized the U.S. response to the Liberian conflict as inadequate, believing
that it would have been appropriate for the United States to have sent in troops at
various stages of the conflict to help restore order and protect civilians. They pointed
to Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo as recent examples of successful humanitarian
interventions, and asked why similar levels of assistance were not appropriate for an
African country with historic U.S. ties.
As the conflict continued, U.S. involvement in Liberia centered on ensuring the
delivery of emergency humanitarian assistance to the Liberian people, providing
technical and logistical support to the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG), and
supporting ECOWAS and U.N. mediational efforts to end the war. From FY1991 to
FY2003, no military aid was provided to Liberia; U.S. assistance consisted
predominantly of food aid and relatively small U.S. Agency for International22
Development (USAID) loans and grants.

20 See Ottaway, “Shultz Sees Liberian...”
21 Herman Cohen, “Liberia: A Bold Plan Hijacked,” Intervening in Africa: Superpower
Peacemaking in a Troubled Continent, 2000; and Oku Bright, “Liberia...”
22 Historical data on U.S. assistance to Liberia is available online from the USAID
publication Overseas Loans and Grants, Obligations and Loan Authorizations July 1, 1945
- September 30, 2001. An online version of this resource, U.S. Overseas Loans & Grants
Online [Greenbook], is available. See [].

Table 1. U.S. Assistance to Liberia: FY1990- FY2001
($ millions)
Year DA ESF FFP IM ET Peace Other Annua l
Co rps Economic To t a l
Assist a n c e
1990 0 0 14.5 0 .4 1.9 0 .2 17
1991 0 0 43.5 0 0 0 43.5
1992 0 1 .3 35.4 0 0 0 36.7
1993 0 0 50.6 0 0 0 50.6
1994 3.7 0 56.4 0 0 0 60.1
1995 0 0 51.6 0 0 0 51.6
1996 2.3 0 55.7 0 0 0 57.9
1997 12.5 1 .7 23.1 0 0 0 37.3
1998 10.8 1 .4 30.3 0 0 0 42.5
1999 7.1 0 .5 16.8 0 0 0 24.5
2000 8.9 0 4.2 0 0 0 13.1
2001 5.7 0 4 0 0 0 9.7
Totals by514.9386.
F unct io n
Abbreviations: DA: Development Assistance (USAID grants); ESF: Economic Support Fund; FFP:
Food for Peace — P.L.480 Title II - Food Aid and Section 416 Program; IMET=International Military
Education and Training.
Data Source: U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Overseas Loans & Grants Online
[a.k.a. Greenbook], []. Data as of December 19, 2003.
Note: For background on U.S. assistance to Africa, see CRS Issue Brief IB95052, Africa: U.S.
Foreign Assistance Issues. USAID’s Greenbook is among the most comprehensive sources of
historical data on U.S. foreign assistance. It provides data on assistance by functional category, as
obligated during a given year. Calculations of annual assistance figures from other sources, such as
data on annual appropriations or recent actual expenditures in agencies’ annual budget requests, may
differ from the figures listed above.
In strife-torn Monrovia in 1996, USAID delivered water to Liberian refugees
sheltering in the U.S. embassy’s Greystone compound and sought to bring food into
the city by helicopter. USAID coordinated its relief efforts with multi-lateral
government agencies and NGOs. As peace gradually took hold in 1997, U.S. policy-
making attention shifted toward the need for its further consolidation, particularly
through support for transitional security maintenance and electoral assistance. In June
1997 the House International Relations Subcommittee on Africa held a hearing
entitled The Liberian Election: A New Hope?, during which U.S. Special Envoy to
Liberia Howard Jeter reviewed recent developments in Liberia. He emphasized the
centrality in U.S. policy toward Liberia of U.S. political, financial, and technical
support for ECOMOG, beginning in mid-1996. He also expressed strong U.S.
support for ECOWAS’ effort to ensure “free, fair and credible elections in Liberia,”
and reviewed an agenda for then-forthcoming U.S. electoral assistance for Liberia.

Table 2. U.S. Support for ECOMOG in Liberia, 1991-1998
($ millions, fiscal years)
Account 1991 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998
PKO (a)3.86.836.695.7122.844
ESF (b) 13108.61.5
Drawdown (c)1015
To t a ls 13.8 19.83 7.69 5.7 35.6 1 .5 2.844
Source: State Department, “Multi-Year Assistance for ECOMOG Peacekeeping Operations,”
information sheet.
a. PKO: Peacekeeping Operations Account
b. ESF: Economic Support Fund
c. Drawdown: Provision of equipment from U.S. Defense Department stockpiles, sometimes using
existing government service contracts or agencies.
UNOMIL. Another important facet of U.S. policy toward Liberia during the war
was its support for the United Nations Observer Mission in Liberia (UNOMIL, which
existed from September 1993 to September 1997). UNOMIL was charged with
monitoring compliance with cease-fire agreements and a ban on arms shipments to
Liberia, and the cantonment, disarmament and demobilization of combatants;
observing and verifying the election process; training ECOMOG engineers in land
mine clearance; and assisting in the coordination of humanitarian aid.
Table 3. U.S. Support for UNOMIL
($ Millions)
1994 1995 1996 1997
12.25 4 6 6
Source: Budget of the United States, various years.
Post-War Period. Following Taylor’s election in 1997, the U.S. government
sought to establish a dialogue with Liberia on key bilateral issues, particularly the
observation of human rights and the strengthening of democracy and economic
development in Liberia.
In 1998, the Carter Center began implementation of a USAID-funded
democracy and governance program that sought to strengthen civil society, enhance
the capacities of non-governmental organizations and the independent media, and23
institutionalize respect for human rights and government accountability. Beginning

23 The Carter Center, a private, nonpartisan organization, run by former President Jimmy

in 1991, the Carter Center participated in mediation efforts that sought to end the
war. In 1992, it established an office in Monrovia, which initiated human rights
protection programs, assisted diverse Liberia non-governmental organizations, and
worked to create a democratic electoral process. The Center’s office, which closed
in April 1996 due to fighting, had re-opened in April 1997, as the war drew to a
close, and as preparations for elections commenced.
Initial optimism for political and economic rebuilding and reconciliation gave
way to pessimism about Liberia’s prospects. Monrovia’s war-devastated public
infrastructure remained largely unrepaired, and the Taylor government showed few
signs of investing in public goods. Its poor human rights record and reported support
of the RUF, which the United States repeatedly condemned, undercut prospects for
improved bilateral relations between the Taylor Administration and the United
States. As political and economic conditions in Liberia under Taylor gradually
degenerated, U.S. policy makers’ views of the Taylor Administration became
increasingly negative and critical. U.S. assistance levels reflected such concerns; in
1997, as prospects for post-conflict rebuilding improved, U.S. assistance increased
substantially, though at a moderate level by global comparison, but then steadily
decreased. See Table 1, U.S. Assistance to Liberia: FY1990 - FY2001.
In late June 1999, the United States temporarily closed six embassies in Africa
— including the U.S. mission in Monrovia, which reopened several days later — due
to possible threats from Islamic militants. Britain did likewise for four of its
embassies in Africa during the same period. Shortly thereafter, the then-newly re-
established Liberian Anti-terrorist Unit (ATU) was deployed near the U.S. embassy
in Monrovia, despite U.S. assertions that the embassy situation was secure and that24
the situation did “not warrant” the ATU deployment.
Recent U.S. Policy
Bilateral Relations, 2000-2003. As bilateral relations deteriorated in
response to developments in Liberia that conflicted with stated U.S. policy goals
toward Liberia, a strategic dilemma facing U.S. policy makers was whether to engage
Liberia diplomatically and provide it with assistance in order to encourage socio-
economic and political improvements or to pursue a more hard-line policy of regime25
isolation and containment, and to withhold development assistance. The first option
held the potential to engender governance and economic reforms and decrease human
suffering, but held the potential to reward the Taylor government with increased
legitimacy, and offset the impact of punitive or proscriptive sanctions against it. The

23 (...continued)
Carter and his wife, Rosslyn, engages in conflict prevention and resolution,
democracy-building, and health-related initiatives world-wide.
24 U.S. State Department, Noon Briefing, June 25, 1999; Attes Johnson, “Liberia Deploys
Anti-terror Unit near Us Embassy,” Reuters, July 1, 1999; PANA, “Liberia Deploys Troops
at Us Embassy,” June 30, 1999; and Radio Liberia International, Monrovia, “’Anti-Terrorist
Unit’ Deployed to Improve Security,” via BBC Monitoring Africa - Political, June 30, 1999.
25 Basic U.S. policy goals toward Liberia are articulated in the annual budget requests of the
State Department and USAID.

second option held the potential to curtail the Taylor government’s regionally
destabilizing activities, but also to prompt it to take a defensive posture, lash out at
perceived domestic opponents and reformers, and reduce U.S. leverage with the
regime. Beginning under the Clinton Administration, and later under the Bush
Administration, U.S. policy toward Liberia appeared to join aspects of both options,
but increasingly emphasized the latter.
The Clinton Administration threatened to take punitive actions against the
Taylor government in response to Liberian intervention in Sierra Leone’s civil war,
which also resulted in congressional calls for tough, activist U.S. policy measures to
counter such alleged actions. In a May 12, 2000 opinion editorial in the Washington
Post, for instance, Senator Judd Gregg stated that “Taylor and his criminal gang must
go; every feasible effort ought to be made to undermine his rule.”26 On October 10,
2000, then-President Clinton issued a proclamation denying entry into the United
States of persons assisting or profiting from the armed activities of the RUF rebels
then fighting the government of Sierra Leone. In a related statement, he declared that
the restrictions were to apply immediately to President Taylor, senior members of the
Liberian government, and their supporters and families. He stated that the action
represented an explicit sanction against the Liberian government for its failure to end
its trafficking in arms and illicit diamonds with the RUF, thus fueling the Sierra
Leonean conflict.27 As a precaution against possible “anti-American sentiment in
Liberia” as a result of the travel ban, the U.S. State Department ordered
non-emergency embassy staff in Monrovia to depart Liberia, and issued a general
travel advisory for Liberia.28 The Liberian government responded with a reciprocal
visa ban prohibiting U.S. officials and family members from traveling to Liberia.
Relations continued to deteriorate. In mid-October 2000, Taylor reportedly
accused the U.S. government of conducting covert intelligence activities to
undermine his rule by funding development projects through the Ambassador’s
Special Self-Help Fund. He also accused the United States of undermining Liberia’s
economic development by failing to fund infrastructure projects, an assertion that he
had voiced in the past.29 On November 2, 2000, the State Department issued a travel
advisory against travel in Liberia, particularly in the northwest border region, due to
rebel activity in the area. It also terminated an earlier ordered departure of
non-emergency U.S. embassy staff from Liberia, but prohibited family members from
accompanying U.S. government employees in Liberia. In early November 2000, the
Carter Center announced the closure of its Monrovia field office, stating in a letter
to the Liberian government that “prevailing conditions and the actions of your

26 Judd Gregg, “A Graveyard Peace,” Op-Ed, Washington Post, May 9, 2000.
27 U.S. State Department, “Clinton Proclamation Regarding Sierra Leone,” October 11,

2000, Washington; White House Office of the Press Secretary, “Statement by the President,”

October 11, 2000.
28 U.S. State Department, Noon Briefing, October 11, 2000.
29 The News (Monrovia), “Taylor Accuses US of Sabotage,” via All Africa, October 16,
2000; The News (Monrovia), “American Ambassador Speaks Out On Aid Issue,” via
AllAfrica, October 23, 2000; and Tom Kamara, “Living with Paranoia,” The Perspective,
October 25, 2000.

government have made it increasingly difficult for the Center and others to be
effective in supporting democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.”30
U.S. policy makers in the Bush Administration, and some members of Congress,
continued to view the Taylor regime critically. During a March 14, 2001 hearing of
the House International Relations Committee Subcommittee on Africa, subcommittee
members and witnesses criticized the Taylor government harshly, calling his
government a regional menace and source of destabilization, an abuser of human
rights, and anti-democratic.31
Under the Bush Administration, the United States continued to back U.N.
sanctions against the Taylor government, support the maintenance of congruent U.S.
bilateral sanctions, and provide humanitarian and civil society capacity-building
assistance to Liberia. Several inter-Liberian conflict resolution and political party
consultative forums received U.S. assistance or were addressed by U.S. officials. In
FY2001, the Guinean military received U.S. training intended, in part, to counter
Liberian-sponsored regional destabilization by improving Guinea’s territorial defense
and humanitarian relief/refugee protection capabilities. The United States was a key
founding member of the International Contact Group on Liberia, a coalition of donor
and West African regional governments formed in September 2002 by key donor and
regional states to coordinate a comprehensive, regionally-focused resolution to the
recently concluded, second civil war that burgeoned beginning in 2000.32

30 Carter Center, “Carter Center Shuts Down Liberia Operation,”November 7, 2000.
31 House of Representatives, U.S. Congress, Confronting Liberia [hearing], Subcommittee
on Africa, Committee on International Relations, 107th Congress, 1st Session, March 14,


32 More recent events in Liberia and U.S-Liberian relations are covered in CRS Report
RS21525, Liberia: Transition to Peace.

Gu in ea
S ierra Vo i n j a m a
Lo f a
Cote d'IvoireSanniquellie
Gra n dCape Bong Nim ba
Tu bman burg GbarngaMo un t Bo mi
Robe rt s port Margibi
Ka k a t aMo nt s e r ra do Gran d
Buc ha nan Riverc ess Jid e
River CessSinoLiberia
National CapitalCounty Seat
Secondary CityAirport
GreenvilleGrandInternational Border
KruMarylandCounty BorderRoad
Grand CessRailroadRiver
Har per Ca pe25 500 75 km
Atlantic OceanPalmas50025mi
Adapted by CRS from Magellan Geographix.