Monrovia (May 20, 2012). Senior Liberian civil society leaders of Liberia met with the United Nations Security Council Delegation that visited Liberia during the weekend. Co-leaders, Her Excellency Susan Rice, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations and His Excellency Ambassador Mohammed Loulichki, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Morocco to the United Nations led the UN Security Council Delegation. While in Liberia, the delegation met with Liberian Government officials including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who officially welcomed the delegation and briefed them on the affairs of State. A State Dinner was held for the delegation on Saturday, May 19, 2012 at the Monrovia City Hall.
The visit to Liberia is part of a broader regional visit that includes Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone. According to the United Nations Mission in Liberia, (UNMIL), the Delegation is in the region to consult with various Government officials, civil society leaders and various stakeholders on issues of governance, arms trade and reconciliation.
During the meeting with Liberian civil society actors, the following issues were raised as areas of concern:
Governance: Civil society leaders spoke about the persistence of corruption in the country and the fact that it appears to be insurmountable. They indicated that if left unchecked, it would increase the disparity between those in government and the general public, most of whom are barely eking out an existence. In addition, this phenomenon would create social tension, not unlike the pre-war years. They acknowledged the significant gains the country has made in the last seven years, but maintained that a vigilant and empowered civil society is needed to ensure that these gains are irreversible.
A major area of concern underlined by the civil society leaders present at the meeting was natural resource management. The CSO leaders called attention to the various concessions agreements already entered into by the Government and the fact that some of the concessionaires, including Acellor Mittal, Buchannan Renewable and Sime Darby were not honoring their social corporate responsibilities as contained in these agreements. The CSOs underscored that with massive poverty in the country, compounded by a high rate of unemployment and a restive youth population, these issues should be addressed as a matter of urgency.
Arms Trade: According to CSOs, the Liberian border post is extremely porous resulting in the movement of arms and mercenaries across the borders of the various countries, especially between Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire. They called for increased actions to be taken to ensure adequate protection of the various borders. In addition, calls were made for efforts to be undertaken to ease the mounting tension between Liberia security forces and those of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
According to the CSOs, issues of arms flow and trade in the region need to be addressed, especially in light of the demise of the Libyan regime and the situation in Mali.
Reconciliation: While leaders of the group welcomed the verdict of former Liberia President Charles Taylor by the Special Court In Sierra Leone for crimes committed in that country, they felt that no one has yet been held accountable for similar crimes committed in Liberia during the Liberian war years. According to them, this issue needs to be addressed as it is contributing, if not entrenching, the culture of impunity in Liberia. They pointed out that several leading Liberian politicians, mentioned in the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), continue to evade justice and are in positions of authority that allow them to prevent any possibility of accounting for crimes that were committed in the country during the war years. Accordingly reconciliation is undermined and the victims pleas for justice unattended.