The Hybridization of Peacekeeping: The United Nations Mission to Liberia Revisited

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Tamba M’bayo, Hope College

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During the Liberian civil war (1989-2003), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) deployed the ECOWAS Monitoring Observer Group (ECOMOG) to Liberia. This attempt at regional peacekeeping marked the first incidence when the United Nations (UN) entered into a peacekeeping partnership with a regional organization—in this case ECOWAS. Despite the limited success of the combined ECOMOG/UN mission, the “hybrid” model of peacekeeping has since become the norm around the world, in Africa in particular. Profuse scholarship is available on this approach, but further study is required due to the continual evolution of peacekeeping. With this in mind, it is necessary to re-visit previous hybrid efforts in light of more recent examples such as the recent UN interventions in Côte d’Ivoire and Sudan that pose new challenges worthy of serious attention. The UN/ECOMOG partnership in Liberia provides an excellent reference point for such an investigation. This paper re-visits the actions of ECOMOG and the UN in Liberia. It draws on an extensive collection of Liberian newspapers and memoirs to examine the achievements and failures of the intervention. It uses primary source material from UN archives as well as secondary sources to explore the fragile relationship between ECOMOG and the UN mission to Liberia. Many of the challenges associated with the hybrid model are addressed. This sets the stage to place the case of Liberia in the broader context of recent peacekeeping missions. Stressing the necessity of adopting a case-by-case approach, the paper suggests a hybrid model for peacekeeping missions in Africa—one that empowers regional and sub-regional organizations to take the lead in peacekeeping on the continent.


This research was supported by a Jacob E. Nyenhuis grant

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