The United Nations Security Council last week issued a statement urging President George Weah to make an “Expanded effort” to address the root causes of conflict in the country and promote reconciliation, land, and constitutional reforms.
The statement also called for the extension of basic social services across the country and promotion of justice, security and peace-building. There are two reasons to consider why those issues highlighted by the UN Security Council should be taken seriously.
First and foremost, the United Nations with the help of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), was responsible for bringing peace to this country and spent billions of dollars to do so. While in Liberia, the United Nations studied the Liberian society and identified problems that caused and fueled the war that devastated this country for 14 years.
Secondly, the UN, having stayed in Liberia for 13 years, realized that those issues pointed out — justice, constitutional and land reforms; reconciliation, women and youth participation in peace-building and security — remain unresolved issues that must be addressed.
If these issues are not addressed, it is possible that we will revert to our bloody past. Let us see why it is important to give attention to suggestions put forth by the UN Security Council. Access to justice, for instance, is something lacking here as the US State Department’s Human Rights reports had on many occasions alluded to.
Justices and judges have been accused over time for receiving bribes and the Supreme Court itself had suspended some judges for such acts. Several countries including the United States, Great Britain and the Netherlands are pursuing justice on behalf of Liberia by arresting and sentencing war criminals like Jungle Jabbah and Gus Kouwenhoven; yet Liberians themselves are paying a blind eye to justice and offering warlords elective and other lucrative public positions that perpetuate the powermongers and stifle peace, reconciliation and national development.
A responsible government coming to power after a civil war is expected to be attentive to reconciliation to get people of the country together, but this was not the case with the past government. The recommendations of the Truth & Reconciliation (TRC) were shelved such that, up to date, war victims are still grieving as they see perpetrators around them going about their business freely and without let or hindrance.
In fact, the problem is escalating as division is emerging in counties including Bong and Nimba over under-representation and social marginalization. Tribal feud is also intensifying between the Krus and the Sapos in the south-east. Land conflict has exacerbated to the extent that legal battles are on the increase as a result of unscrupulous individuals selling a parcel of land to more than one person, for instance.
Youth unemployment, a poor education system, gender-based violence and rape, amongst others, continue to confront our social coexistence thereby undermining our peace. These social issues inherited from the war and unscrupulous people serving in government are to be taken seriously if the peace of this country is to be sustained in the absence of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
The country does not have a well-grounded security structure in place as the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) is yet to reach its desired full strength. We also have the Liberia National Police (LNP) whose members have been recorded in human rights reports for rampant corruption.
We at the Daily Observer are pained by these existing realities that have the propensity to undermine the peace of this land. We follow the UN Security Council with a plea to the President to address these issues for the stability of our mother land.