Saturday, January 8, 2011

Liberia needs to do more to cut resources that could fuel conflicts, UN panel warns

Source: UN News Centre

Liberia, a country once torn asunder by civil war, has made some progress in seeking to cut off the illegal supply of diamonds, timber and other natural resources that have been used to finance wars in West Africa, but more needs to be done, according to a United Nations panel.

“Progress in Liberia is slow in relation to concrete action on addressing many Kimberley Process review visit recommendations,” the Security Council Panel of Experts on Liberia says in its latest report, referring to the process to certify diamonds as coming from conflict-free sources in order to cut off the supply of so-called “blood diamonds” – gems illegally mined or traded to finance wars.

Such diamonds have been a major factor in unrest in Africa, and a tool that former Liberian president Charles Taylor, currently facing trial for war crimes before an international court, is alleged to have used in the decade and a half when civil wars ravaged his own country and neighbouring Sierra Leone.

The Panel, set up in 2007 to monitor compliance with sanctions imposed in connection with the civil war, calls on Liberia to improve its internal controls system and develop “a production footprint and export footprint” to cut off the potential infiltration of diamonds from strife-torn Côte d’Ivoire into its own exports.

On forestry and other land resources, it notes that while the Government has passed legislation to improve management through more open and competitive bidding, transparency requirements and improved benefit-sharing, illicit extraction continues around the country.

“While Liberia has made a number of advances in terms of legal requirements, significant challenges hinder the potential for the country’s natural resources to contribute to peace, security and development in the long term,” it says, citing non-payment of fees from some concessions, non-competitive allocation of large concessions, corruption, and lack of Government capacity to monitor concessions in relation to the scope of the agreements being allocated.

It calls on the Government to redouble its efforts to build its capacity to monitor concession agreements and on international donors to provide “highly desirable” assistance.

The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) should continue to help the Government establish authority over natural resources, and this should “involve continued assessment of hotspots and potential problem areas, especially given the potential for links between high-value resources, drugs and weapons (even if this is not currently happening on an organized crime level) both in Liberia and the region,” it adds.

On weapons, the Panel cites minor arms embargo violations, but warns that the proliferation of locally manufactured guns and pistols is becoming a major concern. The absence of a harmonized regional legal and regulatory framework is problematic, and it recommends that no further change to the embargo be considered until a strong regulation framework is in place.

The Security Council should also bring to the attention of neighbouring Guinea the presence and movement of small arms into Liberia and remind it of its obligations to stop this.

Finally, the Panel reports that Liberia has made no further progress in implementing an assets freeze on various individuals. Last month, for the fourth consecutive year, the Council demanded that the Government “make all necessary efforts to fulfil its obligations” to freeze Mr. Taylor’s assets.

Extending the Panel’s mandate for another year, the Council noted “with serious concern the lack of progress” in implementing a 2004 resolution demanding that all assets of Mr. Taylor, family members and associates be frozen to prevent them from obstructing the restoration of peace in Liberia and the region.

Mr. Taylor is on trial on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity before the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) in The Hague, the Netherlands. He left his country amid violent conflict in 2003, and UNMIL has since then helped the country return to peace through democratic elections.

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Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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