UNITED NATIONS POPULATION INFORMATION NETWORK (POPIN)
UN Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs,
with support from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)

94-09-12: Statement of Liberia, H.E.Mr. Philip Gadegbeku

ISO: LBR

 

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The electronic preparation of this document has been done by the

Population Information Network(POPIN) of the United Nations Population

Division in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme

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 AS WRITTEN





     MR. CHAIRMAN

     HONORABLE DELEGATES,



     I bring you fraternal greetings from the Liberian National

Transitional Government and the people of Liberia. I wish to express my

thanks and appreciation to you, Mr. Chairman, the Organizers of this all

important Conference, the President and people of Egypt for the warm

reception and hospitality accorded the Liberian delegation since our

arrival here. Our presence here in spite of the many problems at home

speaks of the importance we attach to this conference.



     Mr. Chairman, this presentation is threefold: first I will give

you a picture of political development at home as it relates to the

peace process. Secondly, I will acquaint the conference on the steps

taken thus far by the Liberian Government to implement population

policies and family planning programs; finally, I will address myself to

a number of issues contained in the Draft Program of Action.



     One of the cardinal principles of the International Conference on

Population and Development is the emphasis placed on human beings as the

focus for sustainable development. However, the civil war, which has

engulfed our country during the past four years subjected us to untold

suffering and misery, while many more persons continue to die. The

warring factions have shown no regard for the people's right to liberty

and security. It is estimated that the four years of war has led to the

loss of over 150,000 lives.



     Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it will be recalled that in an

attempt to bring peace to the devastated country of Liberia, the Cotonou

Accord was signed on July 25, 1993 between the Interim Government of

National Unity (IGNU) and the two warring factions, United Liberation

Movement of Democracy in Liberia (ULIMO) and the National Patriot Front

of Liberia (NPFL). This Accord called for the establishment of a

government of inclusion.



     Accordingly, the five-man Council of State and the 37-member

Transitional Legislative Assembly (TLA) were inducted into office on

March 7, 1994. Presently, the Liberian National Transitional Government

(LNTG) is now fully constituted and functioning, with the three parties

to the Accord represented in all three branches of the government as

well as on the Ad-Hoc Elections Commission in consonance with the

Cotonou Accord.



     Even though such a government has been formed, the LNTG is far

behind in the discharge of its mandate due to the uncooperative attitude

of the warring factions. For example, it is encountering problems

facilitating disarmament; furthermore, some of these warring factions

that are signatories to the Accord are laying down preconditions for

disarmament which are not in the accord. In view of these obstacles, the

LNTG is facing difficulties in repatriating and resettling Liberian

refugees and internally displaced persons; it is also facing

difficulties in extending authorities in the counties.



     In view of the intransigence of the warring factions, the unarmed

civilians have decided to convene a conference to review the situation

and come up with a new course of action to help put an en; to the

carnage in Liberia. Such a conference is being attended by all interest

groups, political parties, Liberians in general and the international

community. The conference, slated to last from August 24 - September 3,

1994, is being held against the background of the following factors:



      1. The commitment of Liberians themselves to see an end to this

     nightmare;



      2. Donor fatigue which is resulting due to the fact that

     resources are being spent with the involvement of the

     international community and the stalemate still continues; and



      3. our brothers and sisters of the West African Peace Monitoring

     Group (ECOMOG) continue to make sacrifices. Countries in the sub-

     region with their own internal problems continue to utilize their

     meager resources and their call for Liberians to strongly support

     these efforts by taking the lead in this conflict resolution to

     avoid the possibility of ECOMOG pulling out.



     In spite of all the problems confronting the Liberian National

Transitional Government occasioned by the continuing fighting in the

country, and the lack of financial resources, serious attempts have been

made aimed at implementing and supporting population programs. The first

major population-related activity undertaken by government was the

reconstitution of the National Population Commission in 1991, along with

the Secretariat and Technical Committee. The commission has earlier

facilitated the development of a policy geared towards the achievement

of population goals and objectives. That policy which represented a

national consensus of a broad spectrum of the population was approved

along with an act amending the new executive law to create a National

Population Commission within the Executive Branch of Government in July

1988. The main thrust of the policy remains the lowering of death and

population growth rates through the provision of primary health care,

family planning and other voluntary fertility regulation methods that

are in consonance with the attainment of the socioeconomic development

goals of the nation.



     Ladies and gentlemen, in preparation for this conference, Liberia

participated in the Third African Population Conference held in Dakar,

Senega, in December 1992, at which time the Dakar/Ngor Declaration on

Population, Family and Sustainable Development was adopted. The

declaration, among other things assessed the achievements, constraints

and implications of population policies, the impact of the economic

crisis and structural adjustment programs on family survival strategies

and on the ability of African governments to make satisfactory progress

in population policy formulation and implementation.



     At the national level, Liberia undertook a number of activities.

These are:



      1. The establishment of the National Committee to serve as focal

     point for the conference preparatory activities in 1992;



      2. The establishment of a local consultancy group to draft the

     national population report. The report was prepared and submitted

     in September, 1993;



      3. In keeping with the National Population Policy, the Liberian

     Government has taken the necessary steps aimed at the

     establishment of a Women Affairs Coordination Unit which will

     provide the framework that integrates women and children matters

     including all gender issues into the development process.

     Meanwhile, efforts are being made by government to establish a

     Bureau of Women Affairs which shall advance women's rights,

     including patterns of fertility behavior; and



      4. A National Sensitization Symposium was held on August 17, 1994

     to sensitize the populace about the forthcoming ICPD, its goals

     and objectives and to solicit national consensus on some critical

     issues in the draft program on action which are pending for final

     debate at this conference.



     Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, my

delegation is happy to report that at the close of the one-day

sensitization symposium the participants resolved that the Draft Program

of Action is comprehensive and forward looking. Based on our national

development policies and population programs such languages as

reproductive right, sexual and reproductive health and family planning,

gender equality, equity and empowerment of women are in line with our

national population and development policies.



     Therefore my delegation supports the retainment of such languages

and related phrases where they have been conspicuously bracketed for

final resolution at this conference. However, my delegation



     wishes to categorically reaffirm that Liberia prohibits the

promotion of abortion as a contraceptive method of family planning.



     Furthermore, we want to particularly emphasize that specific

measures be devised and adopted for education of girls.



     Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, as

Liberia gradually moves from emergency programs to those of

developmental nature for the population, there is a greater need to

address issues of sustainable development, psycho-social readjustment

and comprehensive awareness campaign to redirect the thinking of the

traumatic minds of war-torn Liberian youth through well planned

counselling and readjustment programs.



     In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, we would like to state that in view

of the prevailing status in implementing population policy and programs,

particularly in the face of inadequate human, financial and physical

resources as well as the difficulties in overcoming the structural

rigidity of externally imposed dependent economic system, priorities

have to be set so as to highlight the most achievable goals of the

population and socio-economic development plan.



     The continued support of UNFPA, UNDP, UNICEF, WHO, USAID, and the

international donor community during this critical period in Liberia is

most crucial.





     I thank you.



COUNTRY STATEMENT

REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA 1994


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