The war in Liberia began in 1989, when a former government official, Charles Taylor, launched an insurgency against government security forces. By August 1990, the Liberian armed forces had largely been defeated and Taylor’s troops were besieging the capital, Monrovia.1 In August 1990, governments in the region agreed to deploy the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) in an effort to contain the crisis.2 They were later supported by UN observers, however the fighting continued until, after more than a dozen failed attempts to forge a peace, the 1996 Abuja II Agreement succeeded in halting the fighting.3 The following year, elections were held, resulting in a resounding victory for Taylor, whose forces controlled most of the country.4 Although much of Liberia enjoyed some semblance of peace following the election, fighting continued in parts of the country throughout the period and in 2001, the country descended into war once again.
In June 2003, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the International Contact Group on Liberia (which included the African Union, ECOWAS, World Bank, and UN along with a range of national governments) hosted negotiations in Accra, Ghana. Following his indictment by the Special Court in Sierra Leone, Taylor fled back to his stronghold in Monrovia.5 Representatives of the Government of Liberia remained, however, and the talks continued.6 A wide range of civil society actors, such as the Mano River Women Peace Network, the Women in Peacebuilding Program, the Liberian Bar Association, and the Inter-Religious Council for Liberia, took part in the 76-day process at Accra and ultimately helped to shape the post-conflict transition.7 By June 2003, an array of armed groups had pushed Taylor’s forces back to Monrovia. Taylor relinquished power on 11 August, fleeing to Nigeria. Within a week, what remained of his administration negotiated an end to the conflict during negotiations hosted by ECOWAS in Ghana, culminating on 18 August with the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement.8 In addition to ending the conflict, the Agreement created the framework for a two-year transitional government which was tasked with administering the country until nationwide elections could be held in October 2005. Over 200,000 people (approximately ten percent of the entire Liberian population) were killed during the war.9