This one is for the Liberiaphiles

riot08

Yesterday’s vote was marred by violence the day before. It looks like badly-trained and led police are to blame, but we will see.

Many eyes will be on violence in Liberia. Last week colleagues and I put out a note on what our data say about trends in conflict and cooperation in the country. In my travels I neglected to blog. The punchlines:

  1. Violence of all types has been falling over time.
  2. Most people think that the police and military are wasteful and corrupted, but most say they prefer them to the UN peacekeeping forces (of course, we’ll see if they still agree after this week’s events).
  3. Probably the most prevalent conflicts, and the ones that escalate into violence most often, are related to land. But the violent and persistent land conflicts are not the majority — most land conflicts are solved in the system to parties’ satisfaction.
  4. The worrisome news: community cohesion and trust have been worsening. Even though violence has been decreasing, people say they feel less trusting, less respected, and less safe than before. Ethnic relations are no better (and possibly worse) and ethnic majorities is probably the leading correlate of conflict.

Read the full Part 1 of the report. Part 2 (on conflict prediction and early warning) should be available soon.

(Also see the related impact evaluation of a rural peace-building and civic education program.The unexpected finding: the program increased disputes and conflicts, though probably reduced the proportion of violent ones. Be careful when you stir the pot.)

What else to read on Liberia? Recent writings I recommend:

Suggestions from readers on recent publications or articles?