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Access to Justice in Liberia

Liberia is Africa's oldest republic. The Republic of Liberia was declared in 1847 by freed American slaves who settled land on the west coast of Africa inhabited by indigenous tribes. For more than a century, the country was relatively stable under the single-party rule of the settler elites, but in 1980 the government was overthrown by a violent military coup led by indigenous noncommissioned officers. In 1989 the country descended into a brutal civil war and economic chaos that abated briefly from 1995-1999. A Comprehensive Peace Agreement was finally reached in 2003 that saw the exile of then President Charles Taylor and established a transitional government that laid the groundwork for elections in 2005. In January 2006, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was inaugurated as Africa's first elected female head of state.

Our Goal

A critical element of Liberia's reconstruction is to re-establish the rule of law. The country's 2008 Poverty Reduction Strategy (PDF) emphasizes the need to strengthen and enhance the effectiveness and integrity of legal and judicial institutions, stating that:

The justice system currently suffers from chronic capacity constraints. The lack of human, material, and financial resources has severely hampered the administration and delivery of justice. In order for justice to be served, those who administer justice must be properly trained, equipped, and resourced.

Since 2006, building on its long history of engagement in Liberia, The Carter Center has been implementing an access to justice project in Liberia in response to these critical needs and invitations by the government.  

Our work is based on constructive partnerships with government, civil society, and international partners and focuses on the following areas:

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"An often overlooked yet critical element to achieving this aim [of post-conflict reconstruction] is the prioritization of the restructuring and empowerment of community-based justice mechanisms that have been damaged or discredited by the war." — President Carter

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