Liberia: Pathways From War to Peace
By Mohamedu F. Jones
August 8, 2003
· Political commitment of the various conflicting factions to abide by the agreements to end hostilities.
· International capacity to enforce peace.
· Defining a new security framework for sustaining the peace.
· Elaborating a generally acceptable, inclusive and transparent system of post-conflict governance.
· Designing and implementing a wide range of post-conflict recovery measures: economic. social, political, infrastructure, societal.
These elements complement each other and are organically inter-related.
II. Post-conflict governance: successor authority
Under Article 50 of the Constitution, the term of the current incumbent President of Liberia ends on January 19, 2004 (the third working Monday of the year). It does not end on the day that the current office holder was inaugurated, notwithstanding that the calendar six years is reached on that day. The 1997 elections were held extra-constitutionally, which also meant that it was held on a date other than that which is appointed by the Constitution. Following the inauguration, the Constitution was proclaimed by the Legislature to be in full force and effect, which act automatically means that the term of constitutional office holders do not end until the day appointed for their successors .to assume office. However, any constitutional official may resign before his or her term is over.
The question of a successor authority is a fundamental issue that Liberians must resolve as part of the peace process. There are multiple models that may be employed in respect to instituting a successor administration. Related to this question is the matter of legitimacy of the successor authority, which needs to be taken into account.
A. Strict constitutional compliance
This model envisages strict compliance with Articles 63 and 64, the provisions for filling vacancies in the offices of President and Vice President of Liberia, created by reason of death, resignation, impeachment or incapacity. Even under this model, a person not currently in government may constitutionally assume the office of the presidency.
B. Hybrid: blending constitutional and extra-constitutional
D. Civil administration
Liberia will require the mobilization of significant development resources and technical assistance, including non-Liberian personnel, to:
· Restore economically critical infrastructure;
· Support essential health and education services;
· Expand economic opportunities; and
· Improve the efficiency and accountability of government.
III. Extraordinary successor authority
A. United Nations Trusteeship or Receivership
In Kosovo and East Timor, the UN peacekeeping mission is "multidimensional." In these two countries, the United Nations peacekeepers temporarily took over the functions of governing.
In September of 1999, East Timores voted for independence. Since they could not be independent overnight. The international community came to the conclusion that East Timor would be run for a temporary, transitional period, by the United Nations. This was unprecedented. Under the plan, the United Nations and the peacekeeping force would provide an administration, judges, tax experts, all the expertise necessary to run a country, in addition to security.
Although the United Nations did not use the word “receivership,” East Timor presents the closest illustration to a receivership. This was clearly a situation where the country needed international support, and the international community recognized that providing such support is part of the peace building process.
United Nations Trusteeship was the system of UN control for territories that were not self-governing. It replaced the mandates of the League of Nations. United Nations Trusteeship is provided for under chapters 12 and 13 of the Charter of the United Nations. Major goals of the System were to promote the advancement of the inhabitants of Trust Territories and their progressive development towards self-government or independence. The trust territory was actually administered by a United Nations member state, and called the “Administering Authority.”
The aims of the Trusteeship System have been fulfilled to such an extent that all Trust Territories have attained self-government or independence, either as separate States or by joining neighboring independent countries. The Trusteeship Council suspended operation on 1 November 1994, with the independence of Palau, the last remaining United Nations trust territory, on 1 October 1994. By a resolution adopted on 25 May 1994, the Council amended its rules of procedure to drop the obligation to meet annually and agreed to meet as occasion required -- by its decision or the decision of its President, or at the request of a majority of its members or the General Assembly or the Security Council.
3. The Case of Liberia
It is unclear and without precedence, how the United Nations could lawfully become the successor authority in Liberia and assume governance of the country under either the notions of trusteeship or receivership. Even if a legal means could be found, it is also unclear whether the United Nations system could or would want to assume the responsibilities associated with such a role or the implications attendant to it.
IV. Post-Conflict Elections
The question of determining when elections are to be held is another major issue facing Liberians. Some of the options are: (a) setting a calendar date certain or (b) outlining conditions precedent that must prevail for elections to be held or (c) utilizing a combination of calendar date and conditions precedent standard. The calendar and conditions combination standard require specific conditions to be obtained by designated dates. If the conditions exist, the next step is taken. If the conditions are not met, the calendar is adjusted accordingly.
Another integral function of elections to be considered is its management. Competent electoral administration is fundamental to the transition process. There is a multiplicity of options. One option is the United Nations as elections administrator.
Forms of Assistance
There are two main categories of United Nations electoral assistance: (i) standard electoral assistance activities, and (ii) major electoral missions that are normally conducted within the context of comprehensive peacekeeping operations.
Major electoral missions require a mandate from the General Assembly or the Security Council and are considered exceptional activities of the Organization. Such missions are normally a central element of comprehensive peacekeeping operations that include an electoral component. To date, the United Nations has provided the following types of electoral assistance in the context of major missions:
Organization and conduct of an electoral process: If the United Nations is mandated to organize and conduct an election or referendum, the Organization assumes the role normally fulfilled by national electoral authorities. This mandate requires the establishment of a system of laws, procedures and administrative measures necessary for the holding of free and fair elections, as well as the actual administration of the electoral process, e.g. the establishment of a legal framework, the registration of voters, and the proper conduct of elections in accordance with international norms. Due to the cost, scope, and lead-time required, among other factors, this type of assistance operation is unlikely to be undertaken except in special post-conflict situations characterized by insufficient national institutional capacity to organize elections.
Post conflict intervention measures in Liberia
Intervention measures in post- conflict Liberia would need to focus on the following: