Liberia: Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace in Practice
Liberia has made remarkable peace gains over the past 14 years. The election of President George Weah in December 2017 marked an important milestone with the peaceful transition from one democratically elected government to another. However, many of the root causes of Liberia’s conflict remain unaddressed. The concentration of power in Monrovia and the imbalance in the provision of public services persist as sources of discontent in the country. Land disputes, corruption, and concession-related tensions continue to be the main triggers of violence.
Signaling its commitment to inclusive and sustainable development and to addressing Liberia’s outstanding peacebuilding priorities, the new government is preparing a National Development Agenda for 2018-2024 that will link peacebuilding priorities to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. This is sustaining peace in practice. As the UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed has noted: “Peace can only be sustained where sustainable development is achieved; and development gains will always be at risk without sustained peace.”
The UN Peacebuilding Commission has led efforts to ensure that international support to Liberia is sustained and coordinated, particularly to avert the “resource cliff” that often occurs when countries transition from conflict and peacekeeping missions draw down. The Peacebuilding Commission’s Liberia configuration, chaired by Sweden, prioritized two issues in 2017: support for the development and implementation of the peacebuilding plan; and support for the transition of the UN peace operation mandate to engagement led by the UN Country Team. The Government of Liberia submitted the peacebuilding plan on 20 March 2017, pursuant to Security Council resolution 2333 (2016).
Peace can only be sustained where sustainable development is achieved; and development gains will always be at risk without sustained peace.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed
The UN system, the World Bank, the European Union, and civil society actors, as well as the Peacebuilding Commission, provided support to the Government as it developed the plan. The Peacebuilding Commission convened meetings in New York to seek inputs to the plan and monitor its implementation, and provided a platform for UN leadership in Liberia to identify with Member States financing and expertise gaps expected following the departure of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). Going forward, the National Development Agenda of the new Government is expected to incorporate the peacebuilding plan, and will form the basis for future engagement between the Government and the international community, including the Peacebuilding Commission.
In support of Liberia’s peacebuilding priorities, the UN Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) invested $14 million from 2017 to 2019, funding eight projects around four themes:
- Women’s empowerment: the PBF is supporting the strengthening of gender taskforces in the military and police, supporting women peace huts, as local dispute resolution venues, at the community level and funding women filmmakers to depict the role of women in the Liberia peace process.
- Youth political engagement: the PBF supported a large-scale effort to involve youth in the 2017 elections, contributing to a peaceful environment during the contested election.
- Justice and human rights: the PBF is supporting the implementation of Liberia’s community policing policy, and providing support for the ongoing presence of OHCHR, which will continue to build national human rights monitoring capacity after UNMIL’s closure.
- Peaceful management of concession-related conflicts: the PBF, in close collaboration with concession companies (also providing financial contributions), is bringing local government, affected communities, civil society and companies together to discuss and resolve land conflicts.
In the past decade, PBF helped to set up a joint steering committee of representatives from government institutions, donors, civil society and the UN system to promote inclusive decision-making and monitor implementation of peacebuilding policy and programming.
SUPPORT TO LMPTF
One of the principal funding mechanisms for the UN’s continued support to Liberia will be the Liberia Multi Partner Trust Fund (LMPTF). Co-chaired by the Government, and the UN, the LMPTF will be a countrylevel, pooled fund, aimed at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and sustaining peace through coordinated action and by reducing the fragmentation and duplication of development assistance. The LMPTF will also serve as a platform for the Government to engage development agencies and organizations on priorities and the allocation of resources to ensure they are directed where they are needed most. The Peacebuilding Fund stands ready, in partnership with other donors, to extend its support to the Multi-Partner Trust Fund in 2018.
ABOUT THE PBF
The UN Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) is the organization’s financial instrument of first resort to sustain peace in countries or situations at risk or affected by violent conflict. The PBF may invest with UN entities, governments, regional organizations, multilateral banks, national multi-donor trust funds or civil society organizations. From 2006 to 2017, the PBF has allocated $772 million to 41 recipient countries. Since inception, 58 member states contributed to the Fund, 33 in the present 2017-2019 Business Plan. The PBF works across pillars and supports integrated UN responses to fill critical gaps; respond quickly and with flexibility to political opportunities; and catalyze processes and resources in a risk-tolerant fashion.