Conflict analysis of Liberia’s civil wars (1989-2003)




conflict, civil war, conflict actors, conflict context, conflict dynamics, Liberia


The given article presents the results of scientific research of a number of civil wars in Liberia from 1989 to 2003. The historiographical background is reviewed and the main scientific approaches to the analysis of civil war events are presented by the author. The author analyzes the historical background and prerequisites for the emergence of armed confrontation. In particular, the complex of reasons of historical and political nature, among which stands out: the artificial political traditions, introduced in the nineteenth century by the immigrants from the United States, the weakness of democratic institutions and the Liberian community as a whole. Appealing to the peculiarities of political development in the second half of the twentieth century, the author presents the confrontation between the various ethnic groups of Liberia. It is noted that the key factors of the unstability of the political system were: authoritarian management methods, high level of corruption, extremely low level of education, inefficient economy.
It is also emphasized that the policy of President William Tubman (1944-1971) was aimed at destroying the traditional socio-economic structure of the indigenous population. During William Tubman's presidency, discriminatory approaches and policies for replacing key posts were widely used exclusively by the American-Liberian elite. The "open door" policy for US capital, begun in the 1920s, has become even more significant by President William Tolbert, who has continued the policy of the predecessor.
In the late 1970s, the economic situation in the country began to deteriorate, and rising food prices have led to a series of mutiny throughout the country.
The peak of civil disobedience has become mass strikes, which led to the coup d'état of 1980. During the events of 1980, the regime of President William Tolbert was abolished. The authorities in the country went to one of the leaders of the ethnic group of Kran - Samuel Dow, who executed the president and the entire administrative elite. The second half of the 1980s was the time of transit of power and the replacement of key positions by representatives of the Kranes.
It was in events that tied to the formation of a new alliance of political forces represented by numerous representatives of the indigenous population, creating the greatest contradictions of the regime, which later added external actors - Sierra Leone and the United States. The complex of contradictions formed in the country and the interests of the participants of the conflict are visualized in two matrices, which reflect the author's concept of understanding the driving forces and the origins of a series of civil wars in Liberia.

Author Biography

Messash Kassaye Woldetsadik, Addis Ababa University

PhD Student in Peace and Security,

Institute for Peace and  Security Studies (IPSS)


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How to Cite

Woldetsadik, M. K. (2019). Conflict analysis of Liberia’s civil wars (1989-2003). Skhid, (6(158), 63–68.



World History