ACCORD examines Liberia’s justice and security sector reform

Like many other countries ravaged by war, Liberia has experienced challenges with developing and maintaining effective security and justice systems since the end of the 14-year civil war. The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) recently published a Policy & Practice Brief (PPB) which analyses the justice and security sector in the West African country. Co-authored by ACCORD’s Abu Sherif and Independent Researcher Dr Grace Maina, the PPB titled ‘Enhancing security and justice in Liberia: The regional hub model’ analyses the efforts of the Government of Liberia and members of the international community post-war to ensure sustainable peacebuilding and security sector reform in Liberia.

In 2011, the government and other stakeholders in Liberia identified justice and security as major priorities necessary for enhancing sustainable peacebuilding and citizens’ access to quality and responsive services. The regional hub model was proposed as an effective way of addressing justice and security challenges in Liberia. The objective of the hubs is to promote a coordinated and decentralised national justice and security system. Building and implementation of the regional justice and security hubs across the country began in early 2012. Liberia’s Peacebuilding Priority Plan (PPP) provides for the construction and development of five regional hubs in the five security sub-divisions of the country. Funding for this intervention is drawn from the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund (PBF), as the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) winds down its operations.

The authors also explore the main reasons that have necessitated the construction of these hubs. For the past nine years, Liberia’s security has been predominantly dependent on the presence of UNMIL, and most recently, private security providers. The PPB examines the gaps in security and justice sector capacity and the country’s ability and readiness to provide justice and security through implementation of the regional hub model in the absence of external players such as UNMIL. It interrogates the merits of the approach and explores some of the challenges that could undermine the effectiveness of this well-intentioned initiative.

This brief was developed based on research and information obtained from discussions and recommendations shared at a training workshop, convened as part of ACCORD’s African Peacebuilding Coordination Programme (APCP) in Monrovia, Liberia from 2 to 5 April 2012, which focused on justice and security sector reform in Liberia. Following the inauguration of the first regional hub in Gbarnga, Liberia in February 2013, this brief provides a timely account of the regional hub model, as well as recommendations for various stakeholders involved in the justice and security sector in Liberia. It also seeks to support research and enhance understanding and reflection around the policy approaches adopted by major stakeholders involved in Liberia’s peacebuilding process.