Indeed, on July 1, the Liberian Government was proud to formally resume full security responsibilities for our country. Scarred by a protracted war and seared by a long history of mistrust, it should be understood why some Liberians have not been as enthusiastic and optimistic as others about the security transition. However, together, we will continue to work for a future of peace, security and shared prosperity, which we know ultimately rest in our own hands.
We thank Mr. Farid Zarif, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for his Statement. Similarly, we thank the representative of the Peace Building Commission, for the Statement delivered on behalf of the Commission.
The Liberian Government appreciates the continued engagements of the Commission, remains committed to the Statement of Mutual Commitments on Peacebuilding in Liberia, and urges international support for its successful implementation.
The Liberian Government wishes also to reassure this Council, and the broader international community, of its renewed commitment to take every measure necessary to safeguard its peace, security and stability. We are keenly aware of the invaluable linkages we share, in this regard, with our sub-region, and will therefore continue to act to ensure the security and stability of our neighbors. These responsibilities we embrace with unrelenting dedication.
This is why, although the forecasted growth of our economy has been largely weakened by the devastation of Ebola and the precipitous decline in the prices of our main exports, we have continued to prioritize and provide, within the limits of our means, support to the relevant security institutions, challenging them to work together, and with various communities, in ensuring the continued peace and security of the country.
Toward this end, amongst other security measures, the Liberia National Police and the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization continue to recruit, train and deploy into many parts of the country. A reforming judicial system intended to improve access and public confidence is also being extended to other parts of the country.
As we progress with the rebuilding of our nation, grateful, as always, for the support of our partners, we know that the resolve of the government and the resilience of the Liberian people are indispensable to continue along our decided path of consolidating our peace. The government has continued to demonstrate the political will, and the Liberian people continue to be highly motivated in this regard.
However, the current economic downturn has the effect of undermining our ability to fully implement some of the programs which could further advance our efforts toward these objectives. These include accelerating the pace of the security sector reforms, as well as advancing programs of reconciliation, decentralization, youth employment, and local government reforms.
In response to the dire economic constraints, we continue to adopt a number of austerity measures while intensifying our fight against corruption to curb waste and abuse, ensure transparency and accountability, as well as identify and re-allocate our meager resources toward continuing the reforms and implementing the needed programs.
In October of 2017, Liberia will conduct Legislative and Presidential elections. A successful election – one which is seen to be free, fair and credible by Liberians and the international community – will be critical to consolidating Liberia’s peace and democratic transformation. The Liberian Government understands the significance of these elections and is determined to deliver a process and an outcome that are inclusive, participatory, credible, free and fair. We also urge your support for these critical undertakings.
Currently, there are 23 registered political parties, each of which is a member of the Inter-Party Consultative Committee, a growing forum of political parties committed to work with the National Elections Commission, and other relevant stakeholders, to continuously explore avenues of cooperation and problem-solving in furtherance of maintaining a conducive and peaceful atmosphere before, during and after the elections.
Meanwhile, a speedy resolution can be expected to the ongoing impasse in the Lower House of the Legislature so that much-needed legislative focus and attention can be returned to the passage of a number of crucially enabling legislations affecting the elections and our overall peace consolidation efforts. Two of these include the possibility of a referendum on proposed changes to the Constitution, as well as a redefinition of land ownership and associated rights which, for the first time, will guarantee indigenous families and communities, their rights to lands on which they have always lived– rights that extend beyond those of squatters.
Today, notwithstanding the growing pains, Liberia is safe and stable. The country is progressively changing. From a past of war, we are working for peace; from fear, we are experiencing freedom; and from hopelessness, we are becoming hopeful.
Difficult as it often is, we are finding the strength to come to terms with, and are committed to working to avoid, the tragedies of our dark past. We are determined to embrace the promise of a brighter future of togetherness.
Let there be no doubt: We are grappling with numerous anxieties and complexities to deepen a culture of democratic governance and change. This is made even more challenging by strains on available human and institutional capacities.
Yet, we are hopeful - increasingly and reassuringly at peace with ourselves, and with our neighbors; unwavering in determination, and blessed with a resilient spirit to rise even when we were predicted to fall.
In obvious recognition of Liberia's rising, for the first time since the formation of our sub-regional organization, ECOWAS recently honored the Liberian Government and people with the current Chairmanship of its Authority of Heads of States and Governments. So, also, has the Mano River Union conferred its current Chairmanship upon our nation.
And yes, we stand in need of your understanding and support, as well as the understanding and support of our international partners, especially as we strive to recreate our society into one that is freer, more just, more equitable, more tolerant, more accountable, and more democratic; an emerging society which respects differences in gender, religion, tribe and political association, and yet avails opportunities to all without discrimination.
No doubt, we have a long road to travel. But, as a people, we are determined to get there.
Madam President, Excellences,
I thank you for your kind attention.