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ECPR 50th Anniversary Fund

Rebuilding Masculinity? The Transformation of Military Masculinity in Liberia During SSR

Conflict Resolution
Hendrik Quest
Universität Tübingen
Hendrik Quest
Universität Tübingen

Generally, SSR in Liberia is regarded as rather successful, especially the reform of the Liberian National Police (LNP) and the rebuilding of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL). During the civil war, both of these institutions have been infamous for their involvement in human rights abuses, such as torture or sexual violence and, relatedly, for displaying a masculinity that is centered on violent practices. This paper seeks to answer the question to what extent SSR transformed this violence-centered masculinity within the LNP and AFL toward a military masculinity that is based on other virtues than violence. Building on extensive field research in Monrovia, we can observe that indeed there has been a transformation of military masculinity within the Liberian security sector. Based on a careful analysis of the processes of SSR, this paper argues that the success of SSR and the changed ways of constructing military masculinity are related to each other. Adding to that, the research has identified two Liberia-specific preconditions for both, successful SSR and the transformation of violence-centered masculinities; namely the general fatigue of war and the role of the women’s peace movement. By pointing to these issues the paper does not only contribute to our knowledge concerning SSR in Liberia, but also shows that SSR has the potential to transform violence-centered masculinities. This allows for the conclusion that including a gender perspective will contribute positively to successful SSR by enhancing the sustainability of reforms.
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