Liberia’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr., is encouraging the United Nations to approach peacekeeping and the management of transition in ways and manner that will respond to the changing security environment and current global realities.
Expressing the concern recently when he interacted with former Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Liberia, Alan Doss, Ambassador Kemayah observed that peacekeeping globally is becoming increasingly challenging, especially with increasing threats of terrorism, which has taken a new shape and form, as well the use of chemical weapons.
Said Ambassador Kemayah: “There are countless number of factors to blame for the huge challenges to peacekeeping; among which are: the growing threats from terrorism and diverse armed groups with different objectives; the inability to establish or properly tackle the root causes of conflicts in a given situation; the inability to mobilize or garner adequate resources – logistics, and personnel-related deployment, especially in a timely manner; and the improper coordination among nations contributing troops and other resources; just to name a few. Of these challenges, the inability to garner the adequate resources in terms of personnel and logistics is the most critical, as the provision of these will certainly set the basis for the success of a peace mission.”
Ambassador Kemayah expressed pleasure that, despite the enormous challenges posed to peacekeeping, the United Nations can still pride itself for the steady progress in maintaining world peace and made specific reference to successful peacekeeping missions in Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire.
In the case of Liberia, Ambassador Kemayah asserted that the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2333 was timely and appropriate and played a critical role in facilitating a smooth transition process from a peacekeeping presence to a United Nations Country Team.
Ambassador Kemayah furthered that the intervention of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission, took a further step in aiding the efforts of the Liberian Government and the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) in developing a Peacebuilding plan for Liberia, a major requirement of UN Resolution 2333; and further established and strengthened a Resident Coordinator’s Office (RCO), which is very functional in Liberia. “As a result of these achievements, Liberia has been able to demonstrate resilience to challenges. We have had seventeen (17) years of uninterrupted peace, and have held three (3) peaceful and democratic Presidential and Legislative elections, 2005, 2011, and the most recent 2017, which brought to power President George Manneh Weah . As a country, we also take pride; being considered a model country for successful transitions, from peacekeeping to peacebuilding, and also; from conflict to building resilience and lasting peace.” Ambassador Kemayah emphasized.
In spite of the successes, Ambassador Kemayah cautioned that “more needs to be done to further consolidate the gains made; as well as address current economic challenges, so as to strengthen the resilience, and ensure the sustenance of peace, security, and democracy in Liberia.”
Reflecting on lessons learned during the transition process in Liberia, Ambassador Kemayah advised that before a Peacekeeping Mission is deployed, the root causes of a conflict should be fully diagnosed and understood, as well as the socio-cultural and political practices of a country.
In the case of transition, the Liberian Envoy advised that the economic status of a country should also be assessed in order to take appropriate measures; sharing that during the period of the transition in Liberia, prices of major export commodities of Liberia had declined on the global market, a situation that the Government was not adequately prepared for, thus further strangulating the economy of Liberia. Ambassador Kemayah also stressed the importance of having in place the right leadership and the appropriate funding mechanisms during transition processes; coupled with a strong political will, as existed in the case of Liberia; because sustaining peace strongly demands, effective, responsible and accountable management, buttressed by the right capacities and resources.
A dispatch from the Permanent Mission of Liberia to the United Nations quotes Ambassador Kemayah as citing national ownership, and full participation of all stakeholders – women and youth, Government leaders, civil society, as other important factors to ensuring a smooth and successful transitioning process.
Ambassador Kemayah: “Any peacekeeping Mission should have a clear mandate and strategy; and the appropriate resources; including personnel, logistics, and finances should be mobilized before deployment; Political will of a country will be pivotal to ensure success of the Mission; attention should be given to political events, capacity and infrastructure gaps, and plans should be made in advance on how to fill such gaps, particularly in the case of a drawdown; investing in a partnership between the government, U.N. peacekeepers, and other bilateral donors, is key – as well as forging partnership with regional and sub-regional actors and bodies; peace missions should work concomitantly with key structures – security apparatus, justice system, etc. of a given country during their execution of their mission leading up to phasing out – not necessarily nearing the end of the mission; and lastly, Peace mission should take a more holistic approach – dealing with socio-political, economic and developmental issues, involving all the parties.”
Ambassador Kemayah was speaking at an International Peace Institute (IPI) Speaker Series in New York, showcasing a book authored by Alan Doss, former Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) for Liberia—A Peacekeeper in Africa: Learning from UN Interventions in Other People’s War”. The International Peace Institute (IPI) is an independent, international not-for-profit think tank dedicated to managing risk and building resilience to promote peace, security, and sustainable development.
On behalf of His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah, the Government and People of Liberia, Ambassador Kemayah used the occasion to recall the pivotal role played by the United Nations and the International Community in Liberia’s transition from conflict to peacebuilding and thanked them for the invaluable sacrifice of lives and financial and material resources; and assured that Liberia strongly supports the United Nations Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping Initiative, which aims to address most of the concerns of peacekeeping.
Speaking earlier, former Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) Alan Doss said he wrote the book ‘A Peacekeeper in Africa’ to share his experiences about peacekeeping in Africa and the role of multilateralism, and proffer recommendations to enhance United Nations peacekeeping Missions, making them fit for purpose.
‘A Peacekeeper in Africa’ highlights Mr. Doss’s experience heading peacekeeping missions in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote D’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of Congo, three of which are largely success stories– transitioning from peacekeeping to peacebuilding with democratically elected governments.