|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
4th Meeting (AM)
Peacebuilding Commission Adopts Draft Statement Laying out Terms of Partnership
with Liberian Government to Strengthen Rule of Law, Security-Sector Reform
Lasting Peace ‘Irreversible’, President Johnson Sirleaf Says via Video Link
The Peacebuilding Commission and the Government of Liberia set forth this morning the terms of their partnership to strengthen the rule of law, support security-sector reform and promote national reconciliation as the West African nation sought to consolidate peace and heal the historic rift between indigenous and “American” Liberians.
According to a draft statement of mutual commitments on peacebuilding in Liberia (document PBC/4/LBR/L.1) adopted by the Commission, the Government agreed, among other things, to help the Land Reform Commission carry out its mandate, increase justice-sector spending and establish oversight mechanisms, enact the National Security Sector Reform and Intelligence Act, bolster spending on the national armed forces, police, Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization and Corrections, and increase dialogue with respect to the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s and land issues.
For its part, the Commission — a subsidiary body of the General Assembly and the Security Council — pledged to work for the consolidation of Liberia’s peacebuilding efforts and strengthening of the Government’s capacity gradually to assume the many critical functions currently performed by the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and the United Nations country team. It would do that by, among other things, mobilizing resources and broadening the donor base for peacebuilding priorities, advocating for the honouring of pledges, working with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Makona River Union initiative to build lasting peace in Liberia and the subregion, and advising the Security Council on the three peacebuiding priorities.
Together, the Liberian Government and the Commission agreed to review their statement of mutual commitments every nine months, on the basis of a select few tangible targets to be developed immediately after the Commission’s adoption of the statement. Following that action, several speakers addressed the meeting via video link from Monrovia, the Liberian capital.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf thanked all stakeholders for their “overwhelming enthusiasm and support” for her country since its application to be placed on the Commission’s agenda in May, as well as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Member States for their passion and commitment to ensuring durable peace in Liberia. Since taking office in 2006, the Government had worked to create a peaceful and democratic nation, introduced various policies to build strong governance, and begun to reflect on the root causes of the State’s problems, she said. There remained a need to create institutions, adopt legal frameworks and processes, and implement measures to improve the socio-economic well-being of all Liberians. “Durable, lasting peace is a sine qua non,” she stressed.
The Government had identified six key conflict factors, she said, listing access to justice, the management of land and natural resources, political polarization, the relationship between the State and its citizens, and youth issues, particularly concerning employment. She recalled that in 2008, Liberia had received $15 million through the Peacebuilding Fund after it had submitted a priority plan to address critical peacebuilding gaps. Those funds had been spent on promoting national reconciliation, peace, justice and security, and on strengthening national response capacity. Another $1.7 million had gone into two emergency projects to consider the root cases, or potential areas, of conflict. An internal review in March showed that the funds had led to significant gains in addressing Liberia’s pervasive issues, she said.
Pledging that her country would fulfil its commitments, as set forth in the statement, she called on the international community, including the African Union, to continue supporting its endeavours. The first of five regional security hubs had become operational at the weekend, she said, adding that, they would provide modern infrastructure for security, as well as much-needed access to justice and security for Liberia’s rural population. Once constructed, however, the hubs would have to be sustained far beyond what the Peacebuilding Fund offered, she said, stressing the need for efficient allocation of resources to keep them functioning fully.
She went on to say the priority plan in the draft statement was crucial as it set a monitoring and evaluation framework to measure progress over time. “Lasting peace is irreversible in Liberia,” she said, underscoring the people’s determination to ensure reconciliation over the past and to build a vibrant nation. Peacebuilding, in the context of Liberia, was also about meeting its citizens’ basic human needs, she noted. Creating jobs and opportunities for the youth population remained a major challenge, she said, adding that she was convinced that “with concerted efforts, commitment and dedication, the tasks ahead are surmountable”.
Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein ( Jordan), Chair of the Liberia Configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, said that despite Liberia’s remarkable progress, further support was needed to consolidate peace and enable the country to assume full control of security management, build State institutions based on the rule of law, and facilitate reconciliation over the past. He pledged the Configuration’s support in achieving those aims.
Judy Cheng-Hopkins, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, said Liberia’s addition to the Commission’s agenda had allowed it to do things in a much better manner. Everyone involved was aware of the need to reduce transaction costs and “get the action moving” in order for its work in the country to be truly effective. Liberia must be clear about what it wanted: a focused plan with a quick start. UNMIL was then responsible for “putting the meat” on the initial plan.
She said the Commission had initiated many innovations in adding Liberia to its agenda, including adopting the first-ever statement of mutual commitment and closely aligning it with the priority plan. She also noted the importance of the Commission’s first ever Quick Start Priority Plan for Liberia and the $3 million disbursed today towards jump-starting the process.
Ellen Loj, Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Liberia and Head of UNMIL, said the Commission’s work would help build and sustain peace in the country. The Mission had already forged a strong working relationship with the Commission so as to identify peacebuilding priorities, clearly illustrating that peacekeeping and peacebuilding were two sides of the same coin, as were necessary for sustainable growth and economic development. The opening on Saturday of thefirst of the five regional security hubs demonstrated that the Commission was about action, she said, adding that the challenge now was to maintain the momentum and ensure progress in the coming weeks, months and years.
The Commission will meet again at a time and date to be announced.
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