Building Civilian Police Capacity: Post-Conflict Liberia, 2003-2011

As Liberia began to emerge from civil war in 2003, the warring sides agreed to overhaul the discredited national police service. In the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in Accra, Ghana, the parties designated the United Nations as the lead body in rebuilding and reforming Liberia’s civilian police capacity. In a joint effort between Liberian and U.N. police, led initially by U.N. Police Commissioner Mark Kroeker and Liberian Inspector General Chris Massaquoi, reformers vetted and trained a new police service of more than 4,000 officers, established specialized units to combat gender-based violence and high-risk threats, improved internal accountability mechanisms, and began to reverse the sordid reputation for unlawful killings and rape the police had earned during Liberia’s civil war. This case offers insights into the development of the Liberia National Police, one of the successes in post-war Liberia and an uncommon example of successful post-war police reform.

Jonathan (Yoni) Friedman drafted this case study on the basis of interviews conducted in Monrovia, Liberia, during June and July 2011, and on the basis of interviews conducted by Arthur Boutellis in Monrovia in May 2008 and text prepared by Christine MacAulay.  Case published September 2011. A separate case study, “Building an Inclusive, Responsive National Police Service: Gender-Sensitive Reform in Liberia, 2005-2011” describes efforts to increase gender diversity and respond to high rates of sexual and gender-based violence in Liberia.

Associated Interview(s):  Bruce Baker, Ibrahim Idris, Joseph Kekula, Mark Kroeker, Robert Perito, Paavani Reddy, Aaron Weah, Peter F. Zaizay

UN Policies
training curriculum
rural policing
rank restructuring
pre-deployment training
oversight agency
local police training
internal management
Donor Relations
disciplinary system
complaint collection
community policing
Focus Area(s)
Accountable Policing
Critical Tasks
Community policing
Internal accountability
Core Challenge
Principal-agent problem (delegation)
Country of Reform
Case Studies
Jonathan (Yoni) Friedman and Christine MacAulay