Local Rules?! The Practices of Conflict Resolution by the United Nations in Liberia

The first part of this paper outlines the theoretical framework. Conflict resolution is regarded as culture specific. In consequence, culture acts as an enabler for local conflict resolution. With culture embedded in a practical approach to conflict resolution, this paper discusses local as well as international concepts for conflict resolution. It will further be shown that UN peace operations have taken a local turn on the policy level. However, this turn is not without limitations. The second part of the paper deals empirically with Liberia’s conflict formation and practices of conflict resolution. It analyses the country’s violent state building history and assesses post-war conflict resolution systems. Following an overview of Liberian perceptions of justice as well as customary practices of conflict resolution and their limitations, the paper outlines the UN operation in Liberia and analyses two decisively different UN approaches to conflict resolution by UNMIL Civil Affairs and by UNMIL Rule of Law. Besides extensive desk research, 17 semi structured interviews with UN, government and NGO officials were conducted in July/August 2014 in Ghana and Liberia.