‘Haven of Peace’ -Weah Describes Liberia at UNGA, Says No Political Prisoner

Over a hundred countries from around the world have been sharing their national development efforts, as well as their viewpoints on global events and developments, at the 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) this September. Amongst them is Liberia whose President, George Manneh Weah, seized the opportunity to make his country’s case—something he did more forcefully and elaborately. Amongst issues highlighted by the Liberian leader was the country’s political and human rights environment which described as safe and tranquil, a sort of “haven of peace” where there are no political prisoners under his leadership in the last five years. The President also called on the United Nations to be more accountable, more inclusive, and more transparent toward sustaining its cardinal ideals and objectives. The Analyst reports.

President George Manneh Weah has said that after many years of civil upheaval, democracy in Liberia continues to grow from strength to strengthdescribing the country as a stronghold of peace and a safe haven for democracy.

He also vowed to ensure that his Government remains unwaveringly committed to enabling democratic environment towards the conduct of peaceful, free, fairtransparent, and inclusive elections in 223.

He recalled actions his administration has taken in the last few years to build and strengthen democratic institutions, such as the press and the Liberian Judiciary.

Delivering his 5th oration at the 77th United Nations General Assembly taking place in New York, United States of America on Thursday, September 22, 2022, President Weah told the world body about the democratic consolidation taking place under his leadership, including enacting new legislations that empower the media, while eradicating those that have tended to suppress free speech.

“Since the beginning of my administration to date,there is no political prisoner in Liberia,” President Weah asserted rather proudly.

“In the run-up to the 2023 elections,” he said, “it is incumbent upon all prospective candidates to avoid the incitement of violence, and any other behavior that could deprive the Liberian people of the peaceful space that they need to freely exercise their franchise, and freely express their political will in choosing their leaders.” 

He added, “We must let the people decide, and then we must respect their decision.  That is indeed the true essence of democracy.

President Weah told the global community in his speech that at regional conferences of the Mano River Union and ECOWAS, which have been called to discuss efforts to restore democracy in a few trouble spots in our West African region, Liberia has constantly and consistently pleaded for a strict adherence to constitutional term limits, and for a return to democratic civilian rule in cases of military takeovers.

President Weah used the occasion to also highlight the many challenges the global community is being faced with, saying that even as the world is recovering from the scourge of COVID-19, it continues to face the challenges of the war in Ukraine, climate change and its devastating effects on our environment. 

Just as the Ukrainian people are enduring the harsh impact of this unwarranted military incursion, so the rest of the world is feeling the harsh consequences of economic downturn caused by disruptions in global supply chains, food insecurity, and rising prices of basic goods and service,” he asserted in the nearly 15 minute speech.

He said the theme of this year’s Assembly, which is “A Watershed Moment: Transformative Solutions to Interlocking Challenges”, is both appropriate and meaningful. 

“It not only reminds us about the current state of our world, and provides us the space to reflect on the multiple challenges that confront us today,” he noted, adding: “They include the health and socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the devastating effects of climate change, environmental concerns, poverty reduction, food insecurity, and gender inequality.”

He noted that the challenges confronting the world today will require immediate collective global actions with the United Nations at the center of the search for solutions, stressing the need to pay special considerations to developing countries in line with the Doha Program of Action for Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2022-2031.

President Weah also told the UNGA that Liberia is committed to protect the planet, to promote peace, prevent conflicts, ensure sustainable financing and boost partnerships.

President said the commitment is reflected in the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development, the national development plan of his government crafted in 2018 which according to him embodies the expression of the country’s shared determination to achieve peace, prosperity, national developmentaddress extreme povertyinequalities, regional disparities, infrastructure deficits, climate change, and equitable distribution of Liberia’s national wealth.

Giving some positive updates on developments back home, President Weah told the world body: “Given Liberia’s youthful populationof more than sixty (60%) percentmy Government initiated a youth rehabilitation and empowerment program – the Socio-Economic Empowerment of Disadvantaged Youth Project between 2019 and 2021, with the subsequent launch of a 13-Million United States Dollars National Fund Drive for the rehabilitation and empowerment of at-risk youth in Liberia. We remain of the firm conviction that, when empowered, our youth can be a positive force for good.”

President Weah also took some time to address the issue of gender equality which is one of the major thematic areas of international and said  as Liberia’s Feminist-in-Chief, women empowerment and the promotion of gender equality remain key priorities of his Governmentadding thatWomen do not only comprise almost half of the country’s population, but they also play important roles at all levels of our society and must be given equally deserved attention, support, and a place at the leadership and governance tables in our society.

“To this end, we have developed the legal framework; including the ratification of regional and international instruments to address gender inequalities which are being carried out as a result of socio-cultural perceptions, practices, and stereotypes that support male dominance and the subordination of women.

He said: “I would like to inform you that my Government, together with UN partners, is implementing the EU Spotlight Initiative to end violence and harmful traditional practices against women and girls, and promote their sexual and reproductive health and rights.

“Furthermore, the Government of Liberia is currently implementing a 50-Million United States Dollars ECOWAS-funded project to enhance the capacity of female entrepreneurs.”

On climate change and sustainable development, President Weah said his Government continues to take actions through the formulation of new policy frameworks and strategic interventions to address the impacts of climate change and protect the environment. He said Liberia commits to achieving a target of 64 percent reduction in carbon emission below business-as-usual by 2030.

“We anticipate that the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Egypt (COP 27), will provide the opportunity to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change,” Dr. Weah urged the UNGA.

“Sustainable development can take place only in a peaceful and secure environment. In fulfillment of our commitment to the maintenance of regional and global peace and security, Liberia takes pride as a troop-contributing country, with Liberian troops and other security apparatus serving in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), and the United Nations Interim Security Forces for Abyei (UNISFA),”President Weah stated further.

The Liberian Chief Executive also gave an impressive scorecard of his administration on fiscal management and combat against corruption, stating that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) appraisal of the ongoing program it has with Liberia is very positive and shows that inflation rates have been significantly reduced. “There are now better prospects for economic growth compared to previous years – in spite of the negative effects of Covid-19. 

He told the UNGA that “our efforts at instituting new policy measures to fight graft were also particularly commended in the report, along with our adherence to prudent fiscal management”.

The Chief Executive also touched on trending international issues said the world must advance the common good of humanity, the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals, then international cooperation must be given primacy, and the principle of solidarity must have its rightful place.

“We have the platform to generate the transformative solutions we seek. The world is watching, our people are watching; and we must now seize the moment; confront the challenges and collectively endeavor to lift the poor from poverty and hunger, sickness and disease, and ensure progress, development and prosperity for all 

He said: “At the same time, we must protect our planet, guarantee and maintain global peace, security, and stability.

President Weah called on the leadership of the UN General Assembly to pursue efforts that make the United Nations more efficient, more effective, more inclusive, more accountable, and more suited for the purpose.

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