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Research Report

The Netherlands and Liberia: Dutch Policies and Interventions with respect to the Liberian Civil War

Klaas van Walraven
Copyright Date: Nov. 1, 1999
Published by: Clingendael Institute
Pages: 102
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Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. 11-17)

    This case-study is part of the ‘Conflict Policy Research Project’, which the Conflict Research Unit of the Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’ has executed at the request of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Conflict Policy Research Project aims at identifying and elaborating options for policies and instruments with which the Ministry could improve on the signalling of and intervention in (potential or actual) violent conflicts in Third World countries. Similarly, it should identify ways and means with which the Ministry could enhance its activities to ameliorate post-conflict situations. In order to generate suggestions for such an improvement...

  2. (pp. 19-36)

    While there is no space to provide an extensive analysis of the civil war, some cursory notes are necessary in order to set Dutch policy interventions in the proper context. The history of Liberia as a political entity began during the first half of the nineteenth century with the settlement of a couple of thousand of freed black slaves from North America.¹ In this they were aided, or forced, by the ‘American Colonization Society’, an institution run by white Americans who saw ‘repatriation’ as a way to solve what was perceived as the problem of freed blacks living as a...

  3. (pp. 37-47)

    In essence the Liberian civil war was about marginalization – not only of Liberians themselves but also in terms of third parties willing to mediate a proper settlement. Thus the former colonial power, the United States, declined to intervene in 1990 beyond the evacuation of US nationals.¹ With the end of the Cold War Liberia had lost its former strategic significance in the eyes of the Americans. Moreover, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait took place more or less at the same time as the first high watermark in the Liberian conflict (August 1990), thus focusing Western attention firmly on the Middle...

  4. (pp. 49-81)

    The Dutch government showed an interest in the developments that unfolded in Liberia throughout the entire civil war. It also became actively involved in the various efforts of the international community to try and contribute towards a settlement and attenuate the negative effects of the conflict for the population. This constituted, superficially and prima facie, an implementation of Dutch foreign policy objectives as formulated in the post-Cold War era and laid down in various policy statements and speeches. Principal among these are two policy papers from 1990 and 1993¹ and a speech by the Minister for Development Cooperation, Jan Pronk,...

  5. (pp. 83-85)

    Did the Netherlands help in ending the war? One can answer this positively, as its financial and material assistance contributed to the process of disarmament, the organization of elections and the repatriation of refugees. In accordance with foreign policy documents it did, indeed, show an active interest in Liberia throughout the civil war. The government took several initiatives to help the stricken population, working itself up to the position of the third largest donor to Liberia, and the structure of its aid programmes showed a rough understanding of the dynamics of the conflict.

    One could, of course, question the rationale...