Publication Date

Spring 5-29-2014

Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Jeff Unsicker

Abstract

Since its founding by former U.S. slaves 167 years ago, Liberia has been plagued by poverty, corruption, and bad governance. Leadership has changed hands through murder and most recently, from 1989-2003, the country was in a state of civil war. A peace accord, transitional government, national elections, and other developments have provided some hope for the future. However, corruption is still pervasive and a positive future cannot be realized if there is not significant progress in improving governance through citizen participation, transparency, and accountability. The realization of corruption-free institutions is only achieved through tougher and rigorous anticorruption approaches demonstrated by dedicated policy makers.

This paper examines the history of Liberia’s governance, with special attention to the post-conflict era. As a Policy Advocacy course-linked capstone, it incorporates insights from the author’s personal experience as a Liberian working both with civil society organizations and in government and, most recently, as an intern in the World Bank.

Research carried out in the latter capacity informs a discussion of changes in governance policies and policy implementation–both in Liberia and elsewhere in Africa. Many of these, such as Liberia’s Governance Economic Management Assistance Program, begun in 2005, have been funded largely by the World Bank, USAID, and other international donors. This paper identifies positive outcomes of those initiatives, but also their failure to address the scope of the problems, the challenge that donor-driven efforts pose to national sovereignty, and the need to more fully engage Liberian citizens and civil society in bringing about change.

On the other hand, Liberia is also faced with numerous and complex challenges such as a low capacity, a lack of nationalism, and a lack of political will that have the ability to jeopardize existing anticorruption efforts made by government and donor organizations as they strive to make Liberia a corruption free society. These challenges are capable of posing major setbacks to current anticorruption efforts already being made. Hence, it is incumbent upon the government, civil society, and the donor community to forge joint efforts aimed at tackling public corruption.

In this paper, I have outlined some of the major causes that have led to bad governance in Liberia and identified positive approaches to alleviate the ailing conditions of Liberian society. In this context, I researched text books, anticorruption policy papers, attended discussions, and interviewed governance and anticorruption specialists on ways to address corruption in fragile societies such as Liberia.

Disciplines

African Studies | Inequality and Stratification | International and Area Studies | Peace and Conflict Studies | Politics and Social Change

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