The Deputy Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Liberia, has called on concessionaires to support Multi-Stakeholder Platforms (MSPs) as the first line of conflict mediation and conflict prevention entry point, a release has said.
According to the release, Violet Baffour made the comments in a key-note address delivered at the opening of the third annual conference of the National Multi-Stakeholder Platform in Gompa City, Nimba County. The conference was held on Monday, September 30-Tuesday, October 1, 2019.
The event, organized by the Bureau of Concession (NBC), was supported by UNDP with funding from the Peace-Building Fund (PBF).
The theme was “Strengthening Conflict Prevention via the establishment of Multi- Stakeholder Platforms and improved Alternative Livelihood for Sustained Peace,” with the motto, “Together We Can Make It.”
Ms. Baffour said such effort by concessionaires will foster more peaceful co-existence between the MSPs, concessionaires and that of the affected communities, and will further ensure that trust and confidence are built.
“The legitimization of the MSPs is cardinal, as part of the sustainability plan, which will allow concessionaires to do legal businesses or request the services of the MSPs,” Baffour said.
The establishment of MSPs by the Bureau of Concession with support from UNDP through Assessed Funding Contributions, came as a result of numerous complaints from citizens in concession areas of being deprived of benefits contained in concession agreements, which eventually sparked conflict.
They were established in an effort to mitigate conflicts between concessionaires and affected people living in these communities. This is a way of identifying and dealing with potential conflicts before they reach a breaking point.
Since the establishment of the MSPs, there has been relative calm in concession areas.
The NBC, along with its partners, has trained these MSPs in conflict management and resolution so that they can serve as mediators between the concession companies and the communities.
Representatives of concession companies participating in the conference have all emphasized dialogue and peace as the way forward in creating an enabling environment for all, especially those in affected communities.
“When there is no peace, we are all losers,” they said.
Meanwhile, the Director-General of the National Bureau of Concession, Gregory Coleman, has committed the NBC to continue working with communities in concession areas, to maintain peace, while at the same time engaging partners to support the sustainability of the project with a focus on the livelihood component.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has been very instrumental in running with this component, while UN Women has dealt with the gender aspect by establishing peace huts, which have attracted more women to be involved in decision- making processes.
The conference brought together over 750 delegates from eight Multi-Stakeholders Platforms around six concession companies in seven of the 15 counties.
Each of the eight MSPs is comprised of 20 members -10 men and 10 women – representing each community, including their leadership.
The conference was also attended by government officials, local leaderships as well, as the civil society actors and the security apparatus.