Foreign relations of Liberia
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Liberian foreign relations were traditionally stable and cordial throughout much of the 19th and 20th centuries. During the 1990s, Charles Taylor's presidency and the First and Second Liberian Civil Wars underscored Liberian relations with the Western world, the People's Republic of China, and its neighboring countries in Western Africa.
Stabilization in the 21st century brought a return to cordial relations with neighboring countries and much of the Western world. Liberia holds diplomatic relations with many western nations, as well as Libya, Cuba, and the People's Republic of China.
Sierra Leone and Guinea
The First Liberian Civil War, instigated by Charles Taylor and the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) on December 24, 1989, eventually spread to neighboring Sierra Leone in 1991 when dissidents of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), led by Foday Sankoh, began using Liberia as a staging ground for NPFL backed military assaults on border towns in Sierra Leone.
By 1992, 120,000 people had fled from Sierra Leone to Guinea due to the RUF's practice of targeting civilians. In 2001, Liberian forces along with the RUF began attacking and burning refugee camps and Guinean villages along the border. In an inflammatory speech the Guinean president Lansana Conté, blamed the refugees for the border destabilization and alleged that the vast majority of refugees were rebels.
He called for the Guinean population to defend its nation. This call precipitated attacks, beatings, rapes, and abductions of refugees by Guinean police and military forces. This reversal of Guinea's previously open policy towards refugees, further escalated the refugee crisis as refugees attempted to cross back through RUF territory. By 2002, the United Nations estimated that three million people, or one in five people of the Mano River Union countries, were displaced.
In 1960, Liberia and Ethiopia brought litigation against apartheid South Africa in the International Court of Justice to end its illegal occupation of Namibia. As part of Liberia's support for Namibia's liberation struggle, many Namibian students received Liberian passports which helped them study abroad.
As of July 2008, a total of 5,900 Namibia Defence Force troops had been rotated through Liberia as part of the United Nations Mission in Liberia. Namibia maintained a battalion of about 800 personnel in Grand Cape Mount county for several years, for most of the period part of UNMIL Sector 2, headquartered at Tubmanburg. In May 2005, Namibian troops were accused of sexual exploitation of young girls and women; three Namibian soldiers were sent home from the force after a United Nations investigation found them guilty of "engaging in sexual activity with civilians", which is against United Nations rules for peacekeepers.
U.S. relations with Liberia date back to 1819 when the US Congress appropriated $100,000 for the establishment of Liberia. After official US recognition of Liberia in 1862, the two nations shared very close ties until strains in the 1970s due to Liberia's establishment of diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries.
During the 1980s, the United States forged especially close ties with Liberia as part of a Cold War effort to suppress socialist and Marxist movements in Africa. Liberia received between $500 million and $1.3 billion during the 1980s from the United States government.
The rise of Charles Taylor's government, the Liberian Civil War, regional instability and human rights abuses interrupted the previously close relations between Liberia and the United States. The United States cut direct financial and military aid to the Liberian government, withdrew Peace Corps operations, imposed a travel ban on senior Liberian Government officials, and frequently criticized Charles Taylor's government. Due to intense pressure from the international community and the United States, Charles Taylor resigned his office on August 11, 2003.
The resignation and exile of Charles Taylor in 2003 brought changes in diplomatic ties between the United States and Liberia. The United States proposed a United Nations Security Council draft resolution to authorize the deployment of a multi-national stabilization force, and 200 marines as well as warships were sent to Monrovia's airport to support the peace-keeping effort. The United States committed $1.16 billion to Liberia between 2004 and 2006. In 2009, A 17.5 million dollar contract to support elections was offered to Liberia with International Foundation for Electoral Systems as the conduit. This money is meant to support the Presidential election of 2011 and the General Election of 2014.
The UK was amongst the first countries to recognise the new republic. After the visit to the UK in 1848 of President Roberts, Queen Victoria put the Royal Navy ship HMS Amazon at the disposal of him and his family, for his return journey to Liberia.
In 1961, Queen Elizabeth II made a state visit to Liberia, arriving at Monrovia on the HMY Britannia. President Tubman made a gift of two Pygmy hippopotamus, which arrived by cargo ship in 1962 and were sent to Whipsnade Zoo.
In 1962, President Tubman and his wife visited the UK.
People's Republic of China
Relations between the People's Republic of China (PRC) and Liberia have been broken and reestablished several times since February 17, 1977, when diplomatic relations between the PRC and Liberia were first formed. The PRC broke off relations with Liberia on October 10, 1989 in response to Liberia's recognition of the Republic of China (Taiwan).
Taiwan had offered $200 million in aid to Liberia for education and infrastructure in exchange for this recognition. The PRC reestablished relations with Liberia on August 10, 1993 and opened an embassy in Monrovia, making Liberia one of the few nations with established diplomatic ties to both the PRC and ROC. In 1997, Charles Taylor's government proclaimed to recognize "two Chinas" and the PRC subsequently severed diplomatic relations.
Liberia dropped diplomatic relations with the ROC on October 12, 2003 and reestablished ties with the People's Republic of China. This move was seen largely as a result of the PRC's lobbying in the UN and plans to deploy a peacekeeping force in Liberia.
Indian-Liberian relations have traditionally been strong and cordial with Liberia's full-fledged support for India’s stand on Kashmir and India’s aspiration for permanent membership on the United Nations Security Council. In recent years, both nations have developed close and extensive cooperation in trade, military and strategic fields.
Amidst India's growing role in Liberia, the Liberian Minister of Mines and Energy, Dr. Eugene Shannon visited India in October 2005 to participate in the Confederation of Indian Industry-Africa Conclave. In 2008, the President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was invited to visit India. Major items of Indian exports include engineering goods, pharmaceuticals, two wheelers, transportation equipment, steel and plastic products. Major items of imports are gold, diamonds, timber and metal scrap. Following lifting of United Nations sanctions, timber concessions have been awarded to Indian firms. Overall, Indian investments in Liberia have been increased from US$450 million in 2005 to an estimated $2 billion in 2009.
Liberia and Russia resumed bilateral relations in March 2010 and cited a recent exploration of mine by a Russian company as a sign of future trade relations.
Liberia is a founding member of the United Nations (see Permanent Representative of Liberia to the United Nations) and its specialized agencies and is a member of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Development Bank (ADB), Mano River Union (MRU) and the Non-Aligned Movement. Liberia is also a member of the International Criminal Court with a Bilateral Immunity Agreement of protection for the US-military (as covered under Article 98).
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