Angelika Weber, MA

Profile

After having completed a nursing degree, Angelika earned a teaching degree (1. and 2. Staatsexamen) at Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen Nürnberg in 1992 and 1995 and then taught in different schools in Nürnberg, Germany, in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Basel. Besides teaching, she is involved in health and school projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2013, she enrolled in the master's programme African Studies at the University of Basel and graduated in 2016.

MA Thesis: "Accountability and Justice for Economic Crimes?"

What standards and criteria were used to establish accountability and justice for economic crimes in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission after the civil war in Liberia?

Abstract

During the past two decades, “transitional justice” has gained more importance in dealing with political changes and transitions from a state of civil war to peace, from oppression to more democratic societies. The Truth and Reconciliation Commissions are one of the tools, within the framework of transitional justice, used in order to achieve some degree of accountability and justice for victims of war crimes, gross humanitarian rights violations and atrocities. By acknowledging egregious crimes and, following that, avoiding impunity, the aim of reconciliation and, eventually, healing shall be not necessarily achieved, but at least approached for societies and individuals in transitional situations.

Liberia’s civil war started in 1989 and it involved several rebel groups, among them the NPFL of Charles Taylor, who was later convicted by the ICC at The Hague. All kinds of atrocities were committed during the war, causing huge suffering for Liberia’s population. A locally staffed Truth and Reconciliation Commission attempted to deal with the legacy of this war, after the cease-fire in 2003 and free elections in 2006. The Final Report of the TRC Liberia was used as a primary source in this research.

In general, the work of the TRC Liberia did not receive much official echo or appreciation, as did, for example, the TRC South Africa. But a particularity of the TRC Liberia is the inclusion of economic crimes in it’s dealing with the conflict setting of the civil war. The fact that war requires money, rebels need to purchase weapons to flight, the question of natural resources to fuel ongoing conflicts tends to be overlooked in the political perspectives of peace processes.

The conclusion of this thesis shows that the perception and impact of the TRC Liberia differs nationally and internationally. Despite its weak methodology, the Final Report of the TRC Liberia could achieve a public truth. Despite insufficient impact and insufficient implementation of recommendations, this local endeavour created a basis for a public debate. By including economic crimes into this holistic approach, it brought hybridity and transparency into the debate.

Liberia did not return to war after its cease-fire in 2003, despite many sceptical opinions. It can be seen as a model to end conflicts and deals with its legacy by using this holistic approach – as imperfect as it was and as much as there remains to be done. Some ongoing conflicts in Africa and elsewhere are fuelled by natural resources and economic crimes in its wider sense. The contribution of this research is to emphasize the importance of the TRC Liberia and it’s working towards peace, accountability, and justice and to show a “model peace process” in a nutshell that can serve as an example in similar contexts.