Research Handbooks in International Law series
Edited by Bartram S. Brown
Chapter 17: Dancing in the dark - politics, law and peace in Sierra Leone: a case study
17 Dancing in the dark – politics, law and peace in Sierra Leone: a case study David M. Crane INTRODUCTION It was a hot and humid day in Liberia. Tension electrified the humid and fetid air. At the base of the stairs of an Air Nigeria plane stood the recently defrocked President of Liberia, Charles Ghankay Taylor. He seemed stunned. Pale, trying to maintain his composure, he spoke with halting words, seemingly trying to say something significant at this historic moment in the life of West Africa. At the end of his brief remarks to the media gathered around him, he boldly stated, ‘… and God willing, I’ll be back’. This indicted war criminal then turned and walked up the stairs for a flight to the seaside town of Calabar, Nigeria, escorted by various supporting Presidents from all over Africa. They almost seemed to be shielding him from something that even they could not understand. As the plane lifted off into the rain-laden clouds, the end of a ten-year reign of terror began to unravel. Had the rule of law finally proved to be more powerful than the rule of the gun? No one was sure, but the words Taylor spoke rang clearly in our minds and in the minds of the people of West Africa: ‘I’ll be back.’1 Fast forward almost three years later to a sleepy university town in Ontario. It was a bright clear day. I was the guest of the faculty of law at the University of Western...
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