Impactful UN Representation -Foreign Minister-Designate’s Footprints at UN

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Someone has noted, perhaps rightfully so, that public service is about tangibles that are a product of hard work, creativity and diligence spread over a short period of time. This seemingly fits Liberia’s newly nominated Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dee-Maxell Saah Kemayah. Before his appointment recently, His Excellency Kemayah served at the world stage as Liberia’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative to the United Nations and all of its Organs. He took assignment at the end of 2018, meaning he barely served in the capacity for two years. But looking back as to what he achieved is something to behold and wow. The Analyst takes a cursory view of a few of those achievements of the erudite Liberian diplomat—achievements which in many observers’ view brought pride and respect to Liberia’s flag which he flew so gallantly and visibly during the short period.

As the Liberian Senate has already set a date for confirmation hearing of Foreign Minister-Designate Dee-Maxell Saah Kemayah, it is expected critics of both Government and himself would lift volleys of missiles in opposition. It is not known what the basis of the noise may be, and how calls for possible rejection of his confirmation may contrast with what he has achieved in the last two years that he served as the country’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative to the United Nations and all of its Organs.

Normally, the Senate of most democracies would care about the question, “what value and legacy from previous assignments do you bring to the new job?” Many followers of the Minister-Designate think if that question would be the ground for his confirmation, it would all be like a walk in the park owing to what they say he achieved at the United Nations, and during the short time of his service.

It is said that when he hit the ground in New York in September 2018, as he is called by his admirers, did so running.

As his arrival at the UN coincided with the first time President George Manneh Weah would appear at the United Nations not only to speak in the full view of the world but also to build international contacts on the world stage, the newly assigned UN Ambassador successfully took on the onerous responsibility to pave the way.

The freshmen but versatile diplomat ensured the President and his delegation’s successful participation in activities of the High-Level Week of the Seventy-third Session of the United Nations General Assembly (73rd UNGA).

The President’s United Nation’s first appearance left goodies the country is still reaping.

In less than a month, the Liberian UN Permanent Representative was elected as Chair of the United Nations Special Political and Decolonization, Fourth Committee for the Seventy-third Session of the United Nations General—an assignment he used to successfully make and champion the case for the Republic of Liberia to be elected as Chair of the United Nations Special Political and Decolonization Fourth Committee for the Seventy-third Session of the United Nations General Assembly (73rd UNGA). He declared Liberia’s Candidature, and sought/lobbied for the endorsement of the African Group of Fifty-four Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives to the October 4, 2018 United Nations in New York.

All that took place before and during its meeting on September 20, 2018; before and following the presentation of his Letters of Credence to United Nations Secretary-General, His Excellency Mr. António Guterres. His Excellency Ambassador Kemayah was subsequently endorsed by the African Group of Fiftyfour Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives to the United Nations in New York as Candidate for the Chairmanship of the United Nations Special Political and Decolonization Fourth Committee for the Seventy-third Session of the United Nations General Assembly (73rd UNGA) in New York.

Between October 4, 2018 and October 3, 2019, he served as Chair of the United Nations Special Political and Decolonization Fourth Committee for the Seventy-third Session of the United Nations General Assembly (73rd UNGA).

By October 23, 2018, less than a month in office, Diplomat Kemayah arranged and ensured deposit of ‘Submission’ with the United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, United States of America for a claim of the extension of the Continental Shelf of the Republic of Liberia beyond the Two Hundred (200) nautical mile limits.

The Republic of Liberia had been trying to get the aforementioned ‘Submission’ done with the United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, United States of America since more than Ten (10) Years prior to Amb. Kemayah’s successful deposit of Liberia’s claim.

Even before the new year, the Liberian Permanent UN Ambassador began sponsoring or co-sponsoring Resolutions. On December 12, 2018, the Republic of Liberia through him co-sponsored the United Nations General Assembly Resolution, titled A/73/L.48: International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on December 12, 2018 during the Seventy-third Session of the United Nations General Assembly (73rd UNGA).

Then on December 14, 2018, the Republic of Liberia Co-Sponsored the United Nations General Assembly Resolution titled, “A/73/L.18: International Cooperation on Humanitarian Assistance in the Field of Natural Disasters, from Relief to Development,” which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on December 14, 2018 during the Seventy-third Session of the United Nations General Assembly (73rd UNGA).

Under his representation, Liberia co-sponsored many other Resolutions. They included: Strengthening of Successfully Co-led, partnered, & participated in a Ten (10) – day Medical Outreach to Liberia; in collaboration with Two (2) United States based Health Organizations: Operation International, and Marcy Health Services (Established, & being run by Two (2) Liberians – Ms. Saiyai Hanson & Ms. Evelyn Jones). The Medical Outreach successfully performed One Hundred and Two (102) assorted Surgical Cases (e.g. Gynecology /Obstetrics, ENT, Severe Burns/Plastic Surgeries, etc.); and provided health education at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital; in collaboration with Dr. Jerry Brown, General Administrator of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital and his Team; and donated a small consignment of educational and sporting supplies and shoes, clothes and food items; including rice, oil, milk and snacks to a small number of organizations catering to orphans and vulnerable children in the Republic of Liberia. The Twenty-three (23) man United States based Medical Outreach Team Co-led by Dr. Sanjay Lalla, a Plastic Surgeon; and His Excellency Ambassador Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr. paid a courtesy call on His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia at his Office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His Excellency President WEAH graciously hosted an Appreciation and Farewell Luncheon for the Medical Outreach Team on Sunday, June 22, 2019. Through the support of His Excellency Minister Findley, Ambassador Kemayah, Ms. Saiyai Hanson and Ms. Evelyn Jones; the Permanent Mission of Liberia to the United Nations; in collaboration with Marcy Health Services hosted a Welcome Dinner in honor of the Twenty-three (23) man United States based Medical Outreach Team.Separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965, May 22, 2019 which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on May 22, 2019, and the United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/73/L.84: Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legal Consequences of the Separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965 was proffered and Co-Sponsored by the African Group of 54 Member States at the United Nations in New York pursuant to the Position and guidance of the African Union.

Ambassador Kemayah made history when he was elected Vice Chair of the Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for a Two-Year Term (June 2019-June 2021).

Still in other achievements, the Liberian UN Permanent Representative successfully co-led, partnered, & participated in a 10-day Medical Outreach to Liberia, in collaboration with two United States based Health Organizations: Operation International, and Marcy Health Services (Established, & being run by Two (2) Liberians – Ms. Saiyai Hanson & Ms. Evelyn Jones).

The Medical Outreach successfully performed 102 assorted Surgical Cases (e.g. Gynecology /Obstetrics, ENT, Severe Burns/Plastic Surgeries, etc.); and provided health education at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital; in collaboration with Dr. Jerry Brown, General Administrator of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital and his Team; and donated a small consignment of educational and sporting supplies and shoes, clothes and food items; including rice, oil, milk and snacks to a small number of organizations catering to orphans and vulnerable children in the Republic of Liberia.

The 23-man United States based Medical Outreach Team Co-led by Dr. Sanjay Lalla, a Plastic Surgeon; and His Excellency Ambassador Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr. paid a courtesy call on His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia at his Office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His Excellency President WEAH graciously hosted an Appreciation and Farewell Luncheon for the Medical Outreach Team on Sunday, June 22, 2019.

Through the support of His Excellency Minister Findley, Ambassador Kemayah, Ms. Saiyai Hanson and Ms. Evelyn Jones; the Permanent Mission of Liberia to the United Nations; in collaboration with Marcy Health Services hosted a Welcome Dinner in honor of the Twenty-three (23) man United States based Medical Outreach Team.

Amongst other things, he signed the first-ever Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)/Formal Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Liberia and the United Nations, formalizing for the First time, the participation of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) via the Liberian Contingent (105 Troop) as an integral part of the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA); and for the first time formally/officially acknowledging, and declaring the Republic of Liberia as a United Nations Official Peacekeeping/Troop Contributing Country.

Under Amb. Kemayah’s diplomatic leadership, Liberia enjoyed the approval of several UNDP projects for Liberia. They include Approval of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Country Programme Document for Liberia at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, United States of America by UNDP’s Executive Board for the period 2020-2024. The endorsement of the Country Programme Document for Liberia on behalf of the Government of Liberia at UNDP’s Executive Board Meeting at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, United States of America.

There was also the approval of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Country Programme Document for Liberia at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, United States of America by UNFPA’s Executive Board for the period; 2020-2024, and the endorsement of the Country Programme Document for Liberia on behalf of the Government of Liberia at UNFPA’s Executive Board Meeting at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, United States of America.

He also facilitated the approval of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Country Programme Document for Liberia at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, United States of America by UNICEF’s Executive Board; for the period; 2020-2024. Endorsed the Country Programme Document for Liberia on behalf of the Government of Liberia at UNICEF’s Executive Board Meeting at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, United States of America.

Dee-Maxwell also fought for and obtain the election of the Republic of Liberia’s election as a Member of the United Nations Committee for Programme and Coordination at the 36th Plenary meeting of the United Nations General Assembly during the Seventy-fourth Session of the United Nations General Assembly (74th UNGA) in New York for a Tenure of three years, beginning January 1, 2020 and ending on December 31, 2022.

He also served as Chairman of the African Group of Fifty-four (54) Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives to the United Nations in New York for the month of December 2019. The African Group constitutes approximately 28% of United Nations Member States; the largest regional group by number 54 of Member States at the United Nations.

During his tenure, Amb. Kemayah Served on behalf of Africa as Vice Chair of the Bureau of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the United Nations. The Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization was established by the United Nations General Assembly at its 29th Session in 1974 to consider specific proposals that Governments might make, with a view to enhancing the ability of the United Nations to achieve its purposes; as well as other suggestions for the more effective functioning of the United Nations that might not require amendments to the Charter.

He also co-organized, co-sponsored & co-hosted a “Building Back Better Education for Adolescent Girls after COVID-19” International Virtual Event at the United Nations in New York along with H.E. Ms. Geraldine Byrne Nason and H.E. Ms. Pennelope Beckles, Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives of Ireland and Trinidad and Tobago as co-Organizers, co-Sponsors & co-Hosts respectively.

H.E. Ms. Mary Robinson, Former President of Ireland and Current Chair of the United Nations Elders, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director, UN Women, Ms. Alice Albright, Chief Executive Officer, Global Partnership for Education, Ms. Mariam Adam, Malala Fund Student Activist and Mr. Youssou N’Dour, Artist and Champion for Global Partnership for Education served as Panelists for the “Building Back Better Education for Adolescent Girls after COVID-19” International Event.

In addition to being a co-organizer, co-Sponsor and co-Host, His Excellency Ambassador Kemayah developed and delivered a presentation on “Lessons learned from the Ebola Crisis in the Republic of Liberia and key considerations in Building Back Better Education for Adolescent Girls after COVID-19”.

Over 274 High-Level distinguished personalities from around the world, including a host of Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives to the United Nations, Diplomatic Missions and Civil Society Organizations amongst others joined and participated in the Virtual International event: “Building Back Better Education For Adolescent Girls After COVID-19”.

Furthermore, as a result of the Amb. Kemayah’s able representation at the UN, the Republic of Liberia was on June 17, 2020 overwhelmingly elected by the United Nations General Assembly as a Member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for a Three-year term, beginning January 1, 2021 and ending on December 31, 2023 during the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (74th UNGA) in New York.

The last time the Republic of Liberia served as a member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) was nearly 30 years ago, and the last day of the service of the Republic of Liberia on the Council (ECOSOC) was on December 31, 1990.

Again, he was appointed as a member of the United Nations Advisory Committee for the United Nations Secretary-General’s Food Systems Summit 2021.

Ambassador Kemayah, along with the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Morocco to the United Nations, are the 2 representing the Continent of Africa on the United Nations Advisory Committee for the United Nations Secretary-General’s Food Systems Summit 2021; pursuant to the endorsement of the African Group of 54 Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives to the United Nations.

Under his stewardship, the Republic of Liberia was an integral part of and Endorsed the Joint Statement; titled: Joint Statement on the Impact of COVID-19 on Sport, Physical Activity and Well-being and its effects on Social Development, which was submitted to the United Nations Secretary-General on June 22, 2020.

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