The ‘Basket Case’ and the ‘Poster Child’: Explaining the End of Civil Conflicts in Liberia and Mozambique


Moran, Mary H., and M. Anne Pitcher. 2004. “The ‘Basket Case’ and the ‘Poster Child’: Explaining the End of Civil Conflicts in Liberia and Mozambique.” Third World Quarterly 25 (3): 501-19.

Authors: Mary H. Moran, M. Anne Pitcher


Through a comparison of protracted domestic conflicts in Liberia and Mozambique this paper evaluates several standard explanations regarding the roles of leaders, third parties and domestic social forces in resolving or continuing civil wars in Africa. The paper finds that no single account of how peace is achieved is sufficient to explain the continuance of violence in Liberia and the successful attainment of peace in Mozambique. Rather, an explanation that can accommodate the divergent outcomes of conflict in the two countries must combine insights from elite, structuralist and agency-based approaches. Furthermore, the paper addresses the ways in which the construction of social organisations, particularly women's groups, during wartime affects the direction of donor funding and the shape of reconstruction efforts after the peace is signed. We illustrate our argument by examining the efforts of leaders, third parties and local actors, particularly women, to perpetuate violence or to bring about peace in Liberia and Mozambique, and the gendered contexts in which donor aid is distributed in the postwar period.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Gender, Women, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Regions: Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa Countries: Liberia, Mozambique

Year: 2004

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