The head of the Independent National Human Rights Commission (INHRC), Wilfred Gray-Johnson, has said the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) report is timely for Liberia, considering the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) drawdown and the preparation of the country to amend its 1986 Constitution.
R2P is a new international security and human rights measure to address the international community’s failure to prevent and stop genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
It highlights the obligation of states toward their populations and toward all populations at risk of genocide and other mass atrocious crimes.
The report recommends the development of an effective R2P implementation plan by the state in partnership with key stakeholders in order to strengthen national peace by providing resources, as well as creating an enabling environment.
The presentation of the report in Monrovia on Tuesday, was attended by UNMIL representatives, government officials, media personnel and ECOWAS Ambassador to Liberia, Babatunde O. Ajisomo.
Mr. Gray-Johnson said “The release of the report remained cardinal as the nation prepares for the national referendum to amend the constitution as well as prepare for the 2017 legislative and presidential elections. This report will also go a long way to help us strengthen our UNMIL transition plan and security strategy as well as peace building, reconciliation, justice, security and development plans.”
He further stressed that since the adoption of the R2P concept in 2005, some attention has been given by the majority of nation-states and the international community to the prevention of mass atrocities, adding that efforts are also equally being exerted to ensure the end to prolonged and sometimes intractable conflicts.
“This strongly suggests that African countries must not only accede to the R2P concept but must develop the appropriate policy, strategy or framework that are multi-dimensional and will require making use of the early warning strategies, risk assessments and preventive measures to counter existing and potential threats to its security,” he warned.
ECOWAS Ambassador to Liberia, Babatunde O. Ajisomo, remarked that R2P remains a key issue for African nations, adding that since the idea came into existence in 2005 – eleven years ago – nations are yet to identify their positions on protecting citizens.
“What have we done to really protect our citizens? Early last year, the Liberian government in collaboration with the United Nations’ relevant agencies hosted a conference on the responsibilities to protect. Since last year, nothing has been done in moving it forward,” Ambassador Ajisomo observed.
He stressed that the media and relevant agencies in the area of peace building must continue to play an important role, including awareness, increasing information to the people at all levels, and at the same time build a strong relationship with citizens.
He observed that there could only be full protection of the citizens if everyone is on the same page, adding: “It is not just for the ministries but everyone’s responsibility when it comes to protection. As a citizen, you need to ask why the law is not protecting you.”
Ambassador Ajisomo said the West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) is a leading civil society organization that is best suited for promoting peace and security in the southern region, hailing them for the report.
“The relationship has been fruitful. We have done a lot of things in promoting peace in the region. We are setting up the center as an early warning mechanism,” he said.