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Abstract

Over a decade removed from devastating civil wars in Liberia (2003) and Sierra Leone (2002), both states have unsurprisingly placed a strong emphasis on post-conflict economic development. Despite a streak of impressive GDP growth in both states, a host of underlying structural deficiencies are readily apparent. Long-term natural resource reliance subjects both economies to the boom and bust cycle of global commodity markets while simultaneously encouraging rent-seeking behavior. More specifically, Liberia’s growing iron ore sector and Sierra Leone’s diamond exports have generated pockets of wealth, though the profits have not trickled down to the public at-large. The purpose of this paper is two-fold. I first explore how two very similar countries have approached post-conflict development. Secondly, I analyze the opportunities and obstacles to sustainable economic develop-ment in both states. The preliminary evidence presented in this paper suggests that Liberia’s pursuit of good governance policies through the Governance and Economic Management Assistance Pro-gram (GEMAP) places it in a relatively better position to attract both foreign direct investment and bilateral aid in the coming years. Conversely, Sierra Leone’s unwillingness to seriously combat institu-tional corruption will likely serve as an impediment to stable economic development. While develop-ment in both states could very well be mitigated by a host of exogenous factors (environmental catas-trophe, conflict-spillover, disease), this paper advances the argument that good governance and eco-nomic diversification must remain top priorities.

Author Bio

Adam Howe holds a B.A. in Political Science from Wheeling Jesuit University and an M.A. in Social and Public Policy from Duquesne University. Mr. Howe is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Political Science at the Department of Politics and International Relations, Florida International University. His research interests include ethnicity and identity politics, conflict resolution, and post-conflict development.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

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