The story of UNMIL [Book]: Widening ownership of the security sector reform process
A key criticism of the security sector reform (SSR) process in Liberia in the period following the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2003 was that it was too narrowly focused on international and government interests, and was not sufficiently inclusive. In order to rectify this, UNMIL supported widening the level of participation in the SSR process. This included ensuring that the National Civil Society SSR Working Group took part in consultations or the drafting of the Liberia National Police and Immigration Service Immigration Acts, as well as in the development of the Government of Liberia Plan for UNMIL Transition.
With UNMIL support, that Working Group organized dialogues across the country, raising people’s awareness of security legislation passed in the last decade and the new mechanisms for civilian complaints and accountability. During the 2017 presidential and general election, also with UNMIL support, five election security dialogues took place across the country, bringing community leaders together with the police and the NEC to address issues of concern. In 2018, the Working Group produced a compendium of all new security related laws.
UNMIL also supported the creation of the SSR Think Tank at the University of Liberia, which promoted public consultations with diverse groups ranging from motorcycle taxi drivers to students, discussing security priorities with the leadership of security agencies and Government ministers. The Think Tank has organized conferences, published e-books and produced regular newsletters, all on developments in SSR. This process has helped to facilitate dialogue between stakeholders who have often in the past been in conflict with security actors, and helped to generate a wider community of expertise. This example of democratization has been vital in building genuine national ownership of security sector reform.