by Ruth Murambadoro, Zimbabwe

Although Liberia is a founding member of the United Nations and African Union (former Organization for African Union), it has not been spared from the risk of  destabilizing global peace and security. Its capacity to invest in global peace and security were eroded in 1980 through a military coup which overthrew the American-Liberian leadership henceforth igniting a long trail of political and economic instability. The country has suffered from two successive civil wars resulting to deaths of over 250 000 civilians and hundreds of thousands displaced.

Though a peace deal was signed in 2003 shifting the political atmosphere to democratic ruling and consequently the successful election of the first black female head of state in Africa President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2005 and re-election in 2011, the country still has a long way to go to ensure that 85% of its population currently living below the international poverty line attains a sustainable livelihood. Ambassador Jacques Paul Klein was privileged to serve as Special Representative and Coordinator of United Nations Operations in Liberia from 2003-2005.

During his term of service he facilitated the post-conflict transitions and gathered a lot experience on conflict management. Among the many lessens he gained is that external facilitation should never take for granted all the dynamics of a conflict (i.e internal and external). He went  further to mention that one must live next door to someone for a great amount of time in order to develop a deep sense of how pathological hatred develops among societies. The worst mistake of any intervention procedure is importing ideas to another state because they are mainly good at delivering a short-term solution to the dispute whereas a homegrown approach although it takes longer to bring the desired results, it gives the locals more room to resolve their problems using familiar mechanisms. Therefore any conflict management mechanism should be flexible and acknowledge that conflict is inevitable in any real society because humans do not always share the same interests.