United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL)

18 November 2003 - 19 February 2004
Military personnel

Following a coup d’état in Liberia in 1980, Samuel Doe came to power, and his government became increasingly brutal and authoritarian. Opposition to Doe grew, evidenced by the countless real or intended coups. In December 1989, a group of rebels led by Charles Taylor invaded Liberia and took over the country.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) feared regional destabilisation and sent in a military force, the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG). ECOMOG quickly became entangled in a violent partisan war in which countless lives were lost and in which child soldiers were used on a grand scale.

Civil war after 7 years of a Taylor presidency

In 1993, the warring parties signed the Cotonou treaty which, after some delay, resulted in the election of Taylor as president in 1997. However, the widespread violation of human rights, intimidation of the opposition and the failure to reform the security apparatus undermined the process of national reconciliation, leading to the resumption of the civil war in 2000. The warring parties signed a new peace agreement on 18 August 2003. The civil war had by then cost the lives of almost 150.000 people.

Establishment of a peace force

The Security Council decided on 19 September 2003, at the request of the former warring parties, to establish a peace force, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). The stabilisation force helped Liberia’s transitional government and other parties to implement the peace accord, monitor observance of the ceasefire and establish government authority throughout the country.