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Beyond Plunder: Toward Democratic Governance in Liberia

Amos Sawyer
Beyond Plunder: Toward Democratic Governance in Liberia
ISBN: 978-1-58826-384-1
ISBN: 978-1-62637-099-9
2005/243 pages/LC: 2005010746

"Beyond Plunder is masterfully written. In it, academics and policy makers will find a refreshing, alternative explanation for Liberia's civil war and the continuing crisis on the continent."—William E. Allen, International Journal of African Historical Studies

"Amos Sawyer tells an absorbing story of the recent political tragedy in Liberia—and adds both a personal and a theoretical dimension that draw out the special significance of the story not only for Liberia, but for similar crises throughout Africa."—William Murphy, Northwestern University


Can a stable political order be established in Liberia in the aftermath of the collapse of governance and a horrendous period of pillage and carnage? Amos Sawyer argues that the task can indeed be accomplished—but only in the context of new constitutional arrangements and governing institutions that differ markedly from those of the past.

Sawyer draws deeply on his experience as head of state as he explores new ways of establishing constitutional foundations for democratic governance. Though he focuses on Liberia (and to some extent Sierra Leone and Guinea), his work speaks profoundly to the many other parts of Africa where the governing systems established at independence have broken down with often tragic consequences.


Amos Sawyer (1945-2022) served as  president of Liberia in 1990-1994. Among his subsequent posts in the academic sphere, he was codirector and research scholar at the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University. Later, he was chair of Liberia's Governance Reform Commission. He was awarded the Gusi Peace Prize in 2011.


  • Liberia's Path to the Present.
  • The Legacy of Predation and Violence.
  • Foundations for a New Order.
  • Rethinking Governance.
  • A Framework for Democratic Self-Governance.
  • Creating a Context of Peace and Security.
  • From Theory to Practice.
  • Rethinking Citizenship and Education for Democracy.
  • Toward a New Beginning for Liberia.
No rights in Liberia.