The Lessons of Liberia

At the United Nations last week, US Secretary of State Colin Powell and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan stood together to urge swift and substantial financial support for Liberia, which is poised on a knife's edge between the possibility of recovery and a new descent into violence. The response was gratifying, with the European Union fully backing the effort to rebuild that shattered nation. Nearly a hundred countries participated in the meeting, promising Liberia more than $500 million in reconstruction aid.

Many observers saw this display of unanimity as a conspicuous contrast to the deep divisions in the world community that surrounded the war in Iraq. But in many ways it is Iraq that was anomalous. The international consensus about the urgent need to pacify and rebuild Liberia - with UN leadership guided by a united Security Council - is in line with global responses to peace accords in many other national and regional conflicts, from East Timor, Cambodia, and Mozambique to Liberia's neighbors Sierra Leone and Cote d'Ivoire.

But despite global agreement on the need to seize these moments, we too often find ourselves scrambling after the fact, in ad hoc fashion, to convene willing donors and organize teams of experts and logisticians to deliver urgently needed aid. Even in the best of cases, as we have seen with Liberia, where a peace accord was signed in August, this takes a perilously long time. Before the next Liberia comes along, we the world needs to find a way to provide resources for peacemaking much, much sooner.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To access our archive, please log in or register now and read two articles from our archive every month for free. For unlimited access to our archive, as well as to the unrivaled analysis of PS On Point, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/dqnjwFb;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.