Transition Regimes and Security Sector Reforms in Sierra Leone and Liberia
Why are some countries more successful at carrying out postconflict reconstruction programs than are others? Sierra Leone and Liberia have similar histories and suffered wars that were intimately linked. When the wars ended, foreign-backed efforts were undertaken to reform the security sector in each country. These reforms were more successful in Sierra Leone than in Liberia. This article argues that the diverging outcomes are explained by the extent to which postconflict regimes reflected the distribution of power on the ground in the two countries. Sierra Leone’s transition regime better reflected the distribution of power among forces on the ground, which led to a consultative approach to framing the reform program. The input of key local actors in policy formulation has made implementation of these reforms less difficult. In Liberia the transition regime was built on a repudiation of local power realities leading to a nonconsultative approach to reform that has severely compromised the implementation of reforms.