Turning Spoilers into Statesmen: Third Party Strategies for Sustainable Peace in West Africa

Project Leader

Desirée Nilsson, Associate Professor

Project Period

2008–2013 (the project was planned in 2007 with a planning grant from Sida/SAREC)

Project Participants

Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs, Assistant Professor

Project Description 

The purpose of this project is to address the following research question: Why do some warring parties, following a peace agreement in a civil war, act as spoilers and resort to arms, while others turn into statesmen and remain committed to peace? This critical question is addressed through a two-folded research process. First, an analytical framework is developed based on previous research. Second, case studies of three peace processes in West Africa; Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Coté d’Ivoire, are conducted and field research is carried out.

This project seeks to contribute to research and policy making on this topic by (1) identifying under what conditions warring parties choose peace over violence and (2) proposing appropriate third party strategies in preventing and managing spoiler violence so as to strengthen the process towards sustainable peace.

The local collaborating partners are the Kofi Annan Institute for Conflict Transformation at the University of Liberia, and Centre for Development and Security Analysis (CEDSA) in Sierra Leone. 

Related Publications and Working Papers  

Nilsson, Desirée and Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs. 2013. Different Paths of Reconstruction: Military Reform in Post-war Sierra Leone and Liberia, International Peacekeeping 20(1):2-16. 

Nilsson, Desirée and Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs. 2011. "Revisiting an Elusive Concept: A Review of the Debate on Spoilers in Peace Processes", International Studies Review 13(4):606–626.

Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs. 2010. “Bringing the Good, the Bad and the Ugly into the Peace Fold: The Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces after the Lomé Peace Agreement.” Paper presented at the conference New Armies from Old: Integrating Competing Military forces After Civil Wars, 31 August–1 September at the US Army War College in Carlise, Pennsylvania.

Nilsson, Desirée. 2009. “Crafting a Secure Peace: Evaluating the Liberia Comprehensive Peace Accord”, Uppsala & New York: Uppsala University & the Mediation Support Unit, Department of Political Affairs, the United Nations.

Nilsson, Desirée and Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs. 2005. “Breaking the Cycle of Violence: Promises and Pitfalls of the Liberian Peace Process”, Civil Wars 7(4):396–414.

Nilsson, Desirée and Mimmi Söderberg. 2003. "På väg mot fred i Liberia?" (Towards Peace in Liberia?), Utrikespolitiska Institutet, Stockholm.

Nilsson, Desirée, 2003. Liberia - The Eye of the Storm: A Review of the Literature on Internally Displaced, Refugees and Returnees, Studies on Emergencies and Disaster Relief, Nordiska afrikainstitutet, Uppsala.

Main Financial Support

Sida/SAREC (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency).

Useful links

University of Liberia