Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Pleads for Support to Liberia’s Security Sector

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New York –  The Permanent Representative of  the Republic of Liberia to the United Nations (UN), His Excellency Ambassador Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr. has made a passionate plea to the United Nations’ Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) to address the remaining  needs in the Security Sector Reform (SSR) process in Liberia. 

During a recent meeting with Ms. Ilene Cohn, Chief of the United Nations Security Sector Reform Unit (SSRU) at the DPKO, Ambassador Kemayah acknowledged the very important and immeasurable role played by the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) in reforming Liberia’s National Security Sector; especially in building and strengthening the capacity of the Liberia National Police (LNP), the Liberia Immigration Service and the Armed Forces of Liberia, as well as working with civil society groups. 

Ambassador Kemayah recalled his personal experience then working in the NGO sector on the implementation of the peace agreement and the Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation, and Reintegration (DDRR) process in Liberia; and also spoke highly of the role played by the current President of the Republic of Liberia, “His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah, a  man of excellent repute; a global icon with passion for development; a green gas and clean energy personality; positively used his stardom and motivated young soldiers to disarm. The United States of America through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the International Community; as well as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union also played a major role. The USAID ‘War Affected Youth Support (WAYS) program’, implemented by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and its collaborating partners provided child and youth ex-combatants with a vocational package, including  literacy/numeracy courses and training on business development and other skills relevant to their communities– agriculture, masonry, construction, tailoring, carpentry, cosmetology, auto mechanics, etc. It also provided cash reward for guns turned in during the process.”

The Liberian envoy then emphasized the importance of building on the gains made by UNMIL and other partners in the Security Sector, and called for the mobilization of the much needed resources and support for the SSR component of Liberia’s Flagship National Development Plan–the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD); including the areas of gender equality and youth empowerment.

According to a dispatch from the Permanent Mission of Liberia to the United Nations,   Ambassador Kemayah explained that the Pro-poor Agenda is a people-centered policy that focuses on giving “power to the people” in the areas of governance, education, health, infrastructure, and agriculture. He further explained that the Government of His Excellency President George Manneh Weah is adopting a multi-faceted approach to advance these priorities through equal distribution of national resources; diversification of the economy; anti-corruption policies; and attracting of  foreign direct investments.

Ambassador Kemayah, however, stressed that while the pro-poor agenda was a people-centered national policy, without the support of the international community, it would be difficult to implement and meet the high expectations of Liberians. ” His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah has a lot of popularity which brings high expectations from the population. The Government of His Excellency President Weah came to power through the most popular mandate of the Liberian people. Hence, the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development will encounter challenges for its implementation without support from the international community. The need for the International Community to assist the Government of Liberia in the mobilization of resources and comprehensive support for the implementation of Liberia’s National Development Plan–the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development cannot be overly emphasized”. 

Ambassador Kemayah then informed Ms. Cohn of the pending visit of the Inspector General of the Liberia National Police, and proposed a meeting between the Liberian Police Chief and the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) to discuss relevant SSR issues; including the possibility of Liberia contributing Police officers to United Nations Peacekeeping operations. Ambassador Kemayah committed to working closely with the DPKO to ensure that men and women in the Liberian National Police have the opportunity to serve in the United Nations Peacekeeping operations around the world. He also committed to supporting the Armed Forces of Liberia in the discharge of its peacekeeping duties in Mali.

For her part, Ms. Cohn described the meeting as an opportunity for continued  engagement with the Permanent Mission of Liberia on SSR related matters. She assured that as part of its mandate, the SSR Unit will continue to work with Liberia in its strive to sustain the peace following the departure of UNMIL. 

Ms. Cohn encouraged Liberia to take advantage of the platforms of the  Group of Friends (GOF) of SSR and the UN Inter-Agency SSR Task Force–the SSR Unit’s key coordination bodies,  to put forward initiatives that the Country would like to undertake in 2019. 

At the same time, Ms. Cohn disclosed that the SSR Unit at the DPKO was interested in sharing Liberia’s lessons with other peacekeeping operations experiencing similar processes; especially on the integration of ex-combatants. 

In response, Ambassador Kemayah informed Ms. Cohn that Sweden as head of the Liberia Configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) and the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Liberia to the United Nations have agreed that the next Peacebuilding Commission meeting on Liberia will take stock of UNMIL’s activities and provide Member-States with lessons on peacekeeping operations on areas of the Action for Peace (A4P) initiative. 

Ambassador Kemayah expressed the view that lessons on performance, transparency, partnership, and accountability could inform the planning of peacekeeping operations in other countries and support DPKO to address core challenges; including the need to ” enhance community-based approaches so that the population can have a greater sense of belonging by owning the processes themselves;  maximize the use of resources during transition; reduce the number of fatalities; prevent cases of sexual exploitation; and tailor its DDRR/SSR support to national contexts and avoid a ‘one size fits all’ approach”. 

Key international and regional partners; including but not limited to the United Nations, International Financial Institutions, African Union, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the World Bank are expected to attend the Peacebuilding Configuration meeting on Liberia at which time the  Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) of the Government of Liberia will be launched at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

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