Liberia - EP 1

Duration: 19-Nov-1992 to 07-Mar-2001

Following significant violations of the 1990 Bamako ceasefire agreement, failure to implement the 1991 Yamoussoukro IV Accord (which called for DDR and the creation of a government of national unity), and an assault on ECOWAS (ECOMOG) peacekeepers by the NPFL, a comprehensive arms embargo was imposed on all parties (except ECOMOG). UNSCR 788 (19 November 1992) explicitly endorsed the role of ECOMOG to cease hostilities and enforce the terms of the peace accords.

The Cotonou Accord (25 July 1993) and the Abuja Accord (19 August 1995) produced temporary ceasefires and power sharing arrangements, but broke down. Factional fighting resumed and spread to Monrovia in April 1996. On 17 August 1996 Nigeria brokered a supplement to the Abuja Accords bringing an end to what many term the first Liberian civil war. A new transitional government was established and elections were held the following year. Taylor won a landslide victory in the July 1997 elections (some contend due to widespread belief that he would resume war, if not elected).

Taylor's government was challenged by insurgent rebel groups and simultaneously began active support of rebel groups in neighboring countries (particularly the RUF in Sierra Leone). In April 1999 the second Liberian civil war began, as Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) attacked the Taylor government from neighboring Guinea.

United Nations Security Council resolutions in this period included UNSCR 788 (19 November 1992), which imposed a comprehensive arms embargo, UNSCR 985 (13 April 1995), which created a Sanctions Committee, and UNSCR 1071 (30 August 1996), which supported enhanced role for ECOMOG.

Note: the UNSC took no action and remained silent following the election of Charles Taylor in 1997 until the beginning of Episode 2.


Coerce all parties to the conflict to abide by the Yamoussoukro Accord ceasefire, hold elections.


Constrain all parties to the conflict.


Signal support for peace enforcement (i.e. the various peace Accords and the role of ECOMOG) (UNSCR 788).


Arms imports embargo on all parties to the conflict.

No individual sanctions imposed.

Potential scope of impact


UN sanctions can have some non-discriminating impact on the general population, since they include arms embargoes, diplomatic sanctions, and/or restrictions on the conduct of particular activities or the export of specific commodities.

Sanctions Committee created over 2 years after sanctions imposition. No sanctions monitoring mechanism in place. Enforcement authorities specified.



Policy outcome

The implementation of a ceasefire was not achieved until 1996, a transitional government was established and elections were held in 1997, but the armed conflict (both by domestic opponents against Taylor after the election, and by Taylor in support of the RUF in Sierra Leone) continued thereafter.

Sanctions contribution

Changes on the ground were more important than sanctions (Taylor was winning militarily and consolidated his authority with the election); ECOWAS took the lead in managing the conflict (peace process and peacekeeping).



Policy outcome

The ability of different Liberian parties to the conflict to continue fighting was not significantly constrained.

Sanctions contribution

ECOMOG was a major presence within Liberia, other countries (Guinea) intervened in the conflict, and weapons were widely available throughout the region.



Policy outcome

Support for peace enforcement (the various Accords and the role of ECOMOG) was clearly articulated in the initial UNSCRs (for the first half of the episode), but stigmatization was diffused to all parties, Taylor was partially legitimated by the elections, and the silence after 1997 election sent an unclear signal in the second half of the episode.

Sanctions contribution

The presence of the arms embargo was less important than UNSC support for ECOMOG and the peace accords (and its silence following their implementation).



Increase in human rights violations, humanitarian consequences, reduction of local institutional capacity.



  • Imposes arms imports embargo to Liberia and specifies an exemption for ECOWAS.



  • Establishes Sanctions Committee and specifies its mandate [not under Chapter VII].