Progress in Liberia must be inclusive to ensure lasting peace – UN envoy

25 March 2013

All Liberians must be part of their country’s progress to ensure lasting peace, a United Nations envoy said today, praising the West African nation for its advances since the end of its civil war two decades ago and stressing the role of people’s participation in the security transition process.

“Liberia has shown the world its commitment to lasting peace – and the world has shown its commitment to peace in Liberia,” the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Karin Landgren, told the Security Council.

“The resilience Liberians have demonstrated and their commitment to moving the country forward is inspiring, and bodes well for the hard work that still lies ahead.”

Liberia’s civil war lasted 14 years before it ended in 2003. Some 150,000 people, mostly civilians, were killed during the war, and some 750,000 became either internally displaced or fled the country amidst the violence and instability.

Since the war ended, the UN has had a peacekeeping presence in the country to bolster a ceasefire agreement and help restore the rule of law and democratic processes, as well as facilitate humanitarian assistance. The security transition in which the Government will progressively take over UNMIL’s responsibilities began in October, marking a new phase for the country.

Ms. Landgren said that while Liberia has made great strides, there are still various areas that need to be addressed.

“Lasting peace will require fairness and inclusion for all Liberians in their country’s progress. It is more important than ever, as UNMIL draws down, to move swiftly to address the historic – and current – cleavages that are so widely acknowledged,” she said.

In her briefing to the Council, Ms. Landgren said UNMIL is currently supporting the country on a number of critical initiatives, including the conduct of a participatory process to reform the Constitution, the electoral reform process to ensure the independence of the National Elections Commission, carrying out public consultations on land rights policies, and launching the country’s first Justice and Security Hub to ensure better access to justice services for Liberians.

Ms. Landgren said that while there have been efforts to improve accountability, issues of corruption and tensions between branches of the Government remain at the forefront of political life. These issues affect the country’s long-term stability, and Ms. Landgren noted that they particularly affect the area of natural resource management, where concessions, abuse and allegations of corruption are a potential catalyst for conflict.

Investing in the development of Liberia’s justice and security sectors is therefore essential, she said, adding that the UN and all of Liberia’s partners will continue to stand by and support the democratic aspirations of Liberians.

As part of its transition process, UNMIL also announced today the deployment of a new Nepalese Formed Police Unit (FPU) comprised of some 120 officers to support peace and stability.

The FPUs are an armed component of UNMIL’s police personnel, and they conduct joint patrols with the Liberia National Police, providing rapid response capabilities for crowd control and demonstrations, protecting Government facilities and providing security at prisons.

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