African Journal of
Political Science and International Relations

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Pol. Sci. Int. Relat.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0832
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJPSIR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 382

Full Length Research Paper

Liberia'S TRC: The road to rule of law or a dead end?

Julie A. Keil
  • Julie A. Keil
  • Saginaw Valley State University, (989) 964-2126 United States.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 27 January 2017
  •  Accepted: 05 July 2017
  •  Published: 31 August 2017


After two civil wars Liberia’s warring sides signed a peace agreement in 2003 providing for, among other things, the creation of a truth and reconciliation commission (TRC) to help it on the path to reconciliation. After public hearings in all fifteen counties in Liberia and extensive input from Liberians out of the country, Liberia’s TRC concluded its proceedings in 2009 with recommendations for improvement of the rule of law by prosecution of war crimes and human rights abuses and lustration of many smaller offenders, including the current president of Liberia. This paper reviews the efforts of the Liberian TRC to improve the rule of law against the backdrop of the bigger question of whether TRCS assist states in making that transition or make it more difficult. Field research from 2011 in Liberia as well as various surveys of Liberian opinion as indexes relating to corruption and rule of law are utilized along with the TRC report and recommendations. This paper concludes that although Liberia has made some improvements in the rule of law since 2003, the TRC has not been instrumental in bringing about an improvement, partially due to a lack of political will in Liberia but also due to its failure to bring about a change in the conflict between the Americo-Liberian elites in Liberia and the indigenous population that led to the civil war and to the lack of accountability caused by the failure to follow the recommendations of the TRC.

Key words:  Truth and reconciliation commissions, rule of law, civil wars, Liberia, transitional justice.