Children's Rights: Accra Peace Agreement

ARTICLE XXXI: VULNERABLE GROUPS

1. (a) The NTGL shall accord particular attention to the issue of the rehabilitation of vulnerable groups or war victims (children, women, the elderly and the disabled) within Liberia, who have been severely affected by the conflict in Liberia.

(b) With the support of the International Community, the NTGL shall design and implement a program for the rehabilitation of such war victims.

2. (a) The NTGL shall, in addition, accord special attention to the issue of child combatants.

(b) It shall, accordingly, mobilize resources with the assistance of the International Community, especially in cooperation with the Office of the U.N. Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict, UNICEF, the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and other relevant agencies, to address their special demobilization and re-integration needs.

3. The NTGL, in formulating and implementing programs for national rehabilitation, reconstruction and development, for the moral, social and physical reconstruction of Liberia in the post-conflict period, shall ensure that the needs and potentials of the war victims are taken into account and that gender balance is maintained in apportioning responsibilities for program implementation.

Implementation History

2003

Minimum Implementation

Liberia's three major armed factions (MODEL, LURD, and Government of Liberia forces) used an estimated 15,000 child soldiers during the civil war. Children soldiers participated in the same DDRR program as other combatants. However, instead of vocational training and a safety-net allowance of $300, former child combatants received stipends, uniforms, books, and other incentives to return to school.1 While child combatants would go through the same initial cantonment process as other combatants, they would remain there only 72 hours and then be lodged in interim care centers run by UNICEF and various NGOs. Children combatants were allowed to spend up to three months in their interim care centers after going through the demobilization process, during which period they received medical aid, counseling, reading lessons, and help locating their families.2

  • 1. "Liberia; UNMIL Outlines Plan for Combatants," Africa News, November 17, 2003.
  • 2. "Secretary General's Report to the UN Security Council," United Nations (S/2003/1175), December 15, 2003.
2004

Minimum Implementation

Children combatants participated in the same demobilization programs as adults before spending time in separate interim care centers. By the end of 2004, a total of 8,547 boys and 2,477 girls had been demobilized.3 While the intended stay in the care centers for these children was 12 weeks, many of them were concerned for their safety and the problems associated with reintegration. Even with the assistance of their families many refused to leave the care centers.4

Several reintegration programs were designed to fit children's specific needs. One of these, the Women and Children's Rehabilitation and Reintegration Program, channeled approximately $15M through civil service organizations to provide educational opportunities and psychological support in addition to addressing substance abuse, HIV/AIDS/STDs, gender-based violence, and other problems arising out of the experience of many former combatants. The Youth Reintegration Training and Education for Peace program focused on not only providing formal education but also equipping youths with conflict management and other psychological skills.5 Outside of the DDRR process, UNICEF launched a Back-to-School campaign that helped put 800,000 children and 20,000 teachers back in schools. UNICEF's major contributions to the campaign were educational supplies, teacher training, safe water, and sanitation supplies. Part of the return-to-school program included an accelerated learning program that condensed six years of primary education into a three-year span.6 According to the Secretary General’s report, additional organizations ran smaller reintegration and education/vocational training programs.

  • 3. "Secretary General's Report to the UN Security Council," United Nations (S/2003/1175), December 15, 2003.
  • 4. "Liberia; Child Soldiers Too Scared to Go Home - Relief Agencies," Africa News, June 8, 2004.
  • 5. "Liberia; US Earmarks $50m for Comprehensive Plan in Liberia," Africa News, March 26, 2004.
  • 6. "Liberia; UNICEF Helps Liberia's Child Warriors Return to Home and School," Africa News, August 30, 2004.
2005

Intermediate Implementation

With the assistance of UNICEF, by March, 98% of the 10,963 former child combatants had been demobilized and disarmed and reunited with their families. Many were still undergoing reintegration programs after being reunited.7 According to the Secretary General’s report, UNICEF continued to contribute materials to schools and teachers to revitalize the education system.

  • 7. "Secretary General's Report to the UN Security Council," United Nations (S/2005/177), March 17, 2005.
2006

Intermediate Implementation

The skills-based reintegration programs for the children associated with armed conflict began graduating participants in March 2006. This portion of the reintegration program was intended to provide skills training to 5,000 of the children formerly associated with the conflict.8 Meanwhile, UNICEF and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) helped rebuild 13 government-run schools throughout the country.9 UNICEF also continued to provide supplies for schools in Liberia.

  • 8. "Liberia; 116 Children Graduate From Skills Training Programme," Africa News, March 2, 2006.
  • 9. "Liberia; UNOPS & UNICEF Rebuild Schools in Four Counties," Africa News, May 18, 2006.
2007

Intermediate Implementation

UNICEF continued to coordinate the reintegration programs for child ex-combatants. By March, 9,704 of an estimated 11,000 child beneficiaries had completed reintegration programs.10 The reintegration program was terminated in 2007.

  • 10. "Secretary General's Report to the UN Security Council," United Nations (S/2007/151), March 15, 2007.
2008

Intermediate Implementation

Children's reintegration programs were implemented by 2007.  

2009

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2010

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2011

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2012

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.