The Informal Realities of Peacebuilding - Military Networks and Former Mid-Level Commanders in Post-War Liberia

 
Researchers Mats Utas , Anders Themnér (formerly Nilsson) and Ilmari Käihkö
 
Contact Illmari Käihkö: Ilmari.kaihko@pcr.uu.se ,+46 (0)18 471 57 39.

Contrary to popular belief the DDR-process in Liberia has largely failed to destroy the command structures of armed groups, as informal ties continue to thrive between former mid-level commanders (ex-MiLCs) and their old subordinates. Does the resilience of such networks constitute challenges to democratization and institution-building? How can warlords and politicians employ them to engage in warfare and crime? What roles have ex-MiLCs in the exploitation of natural resources? What roles have they in the setup of vigilante groups? Ex-MiLCs are not just a threat to peaceful post-war society, but can equally be sources of social stabilization. Which roles have ex-MiLCs taken, or been given, in the post-war society that strengthens civilian modes of life? And how are they in such roles able to assist their former soldiers to secure livelihoods beyond structures of violence and criminality.

The purpose of the project is therefore to develop strategies for how to prevent ex-MiLCs from using their old networks to engage in illicit activities. To this end, the study will conduct in-depth, semi-structured interviews with ex-MiLCs and fighters in Liberia. The hope is that this will generate new insights into how we can address the threat posed by informal military structures. This project was initiated during the spring of 2011 and is funded by UFORSK/Sida.