A glance at key indicators—in terms of growth forecast and stable elections—will project Sierra Leone as a political settlement model for a post-conflict state. Sierra Leone has been an important laboratory for UN and international donors’ interventions and thinking. However, efforts by the international donor community to decentralise power to the margins, both geographically and demographically, have failed. Instead, this focus on the institutions of governance has allowed the same elite to maintain power.
Sierra Leone today shares similar socio-economic and political conditions with the Sierra Leone before the outbreak of the civil war. A detailed analysis of the country’s socio-economic trends, its political institutions and the logic and dynamics of violence show a disturbing picture. While the international community considered that an exit strategy was feasible, the political settlement remains an experiment in that it is detached from everyday life and livelihood concerns of Sierra Leoneans and reveals the structural violence behind this process.