Buying Peace with Diamonds? Power Sharing and the Civil War in Sierra Leone

Conference paper

Binningsbø, Helga Malmin & Kendra Dupuy (2008) Buying Peace with Diamonds? Power Sharing and the Civil War in Sierra Leone, presented at 49th Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, 26–29 March.

To end the civil war in Sierra Leone the government and the Revolutionary United Front signed a peace agreement allotting former rebels four ministries in a 18 member cabinet, as well as making former rebel leader Sankoh chairman of the Commission for the Management of Strategic Resources. In recent years we have seen a number of such ‘power-sharing’ agreements among war-shattered states, for example in Burundi, Rwanda and Sudan. Based on the perception that all parties shall participate in postconflict decision making, former rebels are included in government. Despite atrocities and brutal violence during war, combatants are not only included in future political institutions, but also exempted from facing charges for this violence. Albeit normatively dubious, these power sharing agreements are viewed as the only feasible way to stop war killings. A fragile peace is ‘bought’ by giving rebels and wrongdoers from all parties, power. This paper looks at the peace negotiations and signed agreements aimed at terminating the Sierra Leonean civil war. From the Abidjan Accord in November 1996 through the 1999 Lomé Agreement, the RUF rebels gained substantial concessions and promises of power. The final agreement gave them access to cabinet posts, amnesty and control over diamond resources. Still, the RUF chose to violate the Lomé Agreement. However, power sharing was among the most important issues during negotiations, and the agreement initiated developments that eventually led to peace. Thus, power sharing contributed indirectly to terminate the civil war in Sierra Leone.

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