Article from ROAPE Volume 26 Number 81
Eliciting Compliance from Warlords: ECOWAS/Liberia
This article examines the strategies initiated by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to elicit compliance with its disarmament policies from belligerents in Liberia's 1989-96 civil conflict. I propose to tackle the task within a linked and holistic four-fold approach. First, I situate ECOWAS's intervention in Liberia from 1990 to 1997 within the changing context of international perceptions of multilateral organisation involvement in civil wars. ECOWAS's intervention had different diplomatic phases. The first phase under the Standing Mediation Committee lasted from May 1990-June 1991, The Committee of Five Process from June 1991-August 1992, and the Committee of Nine Process from September 1993-July 1997. Second, I analyse the background for the collapse and the dynamics which fuelled the war in Liberia. Third, I make an empirical analysis of ECOWAS's strategies to elicit compliance from faction groups. I conclude by discussing the impact and lessons of ECOWAS's strategies in Liberia. My argument is that ECOWAS's capability to elicit compliance from faction groups as opposed to state actors was limited partly because ECOWAS was not geared towards dealing with these new kinds of actors, that the nature of international relations does not have ‘room’ to consider the interests and demands presented by such actors, and that the normal forms of sanctions and ‘corrective’ measures applied against states in interstate relations are not always effective when applied to faction groups.