Maxwell Adjei


In 2003, Liberia’s President Charles Taylor signed an agreement with two rebel parties to bring an end to the country’s fourteen-year civil war. Prior to that, the war had resulted in the death of 250,000 people and the displacement of more than a million. While the signing of the agreement and the subsequent resignation of Mr. Taylor received much of the attention in the local and international media, it is the extremely successful nonviolent campaign by the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace (WLMAP) that deserves critical attention and analysis. So far, not much has been done in terms of research to analyze WLMAP’s campaign within a nonviolent action framework. Generally, researchers have sought to highlight the contributions WLMAP made to the Liberian peace process by focusing primarily on their role in peacebuilding[1]. Consequently, an important and specific aspect of WLMAP’s activities—their strategic nonviolent struggle—tends to be overlooked in the discussions. To address this limitation, this paper applies Ackerman and Kruegler’s (1994) twelve principles of strategic nonviolent conflict as a conceptual framework to analyze WLMAP’s strategic nonviolent campaign. The paper also draws attention to some of the unique and important contributions women make to nonviolent movements.

[1] While peacebuilding and nonviolent action are similar and share a common goal of pursuing ‘just peace’ through peaceful means, there are some notable differences between their approaches—and areas of emphasis—when it comes to conflict transformation. For instance, while peacebuilding may prioritize the use of conventional methods such as dialogue and negotiations to mitigate tensions and/or conflicts between adversaries with unequal power relations, nonviolent action may draw on nonconventional methods such as protests and strikes to seek balance in the power relations between such adversaries before any negotiations begin (Dudouet, 2017; Schock, 2005).

In focusing on their nonviolent struggle, this paper pays particular attention to the WLMAP’s effective use of non-routine and extra-institutional strategies to empower a marginalized group of women to spearhead political change in their country.

Author Biography

[1] Maxwell Adjei is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science (Conflict Analysis and Management) at Kent State University. His doctoral research examines the use of national infrastructures for peace (NI4Ps) to promote peacebuilding and prevent violent conflicts in highly fractionalized and/or fragile countries. Specifically, he is studying how Ghana’s national peace infrastructure, National Peace Council (NPC), has contributed to the country’s peace and stability. Beyond his dissertation, Maxwell’s research interests include nonviolent resistance, gender equality, international organizations (IOs), and social enterprise.