Too Little, Too Late? International Oversight of Contract Negotiations in Post-conflict Liberia

International actors involved in transitional post-conflict situations often focus their attention on the reconstruction of a state’s political apparatus. Even where control of natural resources is central to the conflict, there tends to be less consideration of resource governance issues in transitional periods. This article examines one particular aspect of resource governance – the negotiation and signing of foreign investment contracts – in the context of post-conflict, pre-election Liberia. The investment contract process was mishandled by the transitional Liberian government. Although local interests resisted external oversight, international actors could and should have done more, in the interest of all Liberians, to proffer contract negotiation expertise and to prevent the transitional government from locking the state into unsatisfactory deals on major resource assets. International actors did address the contract issue and external oversight of economic governance more generally during Liberia’s formal transitional period, but ultimately their interventions amounted to too little and they came too late.

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