Liberia (S/PV.7145)

Thursday, March 20, 2014
Report Analysis: 

Briefing by SRSG and Head of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) Ms. Karin Landgren and Chair of the Liberian country configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission Mr. Staffan Tillander on the situation in Liberia dated 20 March 2014 (S/PV.7145) Introducing the recent Report of the Secretary-General, S/2014/123, Ms. Landgren painted a relatively stable political and security environment, with her comments focused on public dissatisfaction with national authorities and institutions; legislative elections scheduled for October; the constitutional review process; implementation of the government’s decentralization policy; some progress on national reconciliation; anti-corruption efforts; security sector reform; the weak criminal justice system; regional developments including the recent closure of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone; and UNMIL’s approaching completion of the second phase of its three-phase drawdown.  Mr. Tillander then reinforced the need for greater progress in security sector reform, the reform of the judiciary and corrections, and national reconciliation initiatives.  He also touched upon land-dispute resolution, efforts to fight corruption, and the importance of civil society especially on gender issues.

Both the SRSG and the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission make strong references to women’s participation in the areas of political life, national reconciliation and building a sustainable peace in Liberia.  SRSG Landren notes that one-third of those registered to vote in upcoming legislative elections are women, and that the Senate recently approved an amendment to the election law that encourages parties to include at least 30 percent women in their governing structures and candidate lists (although this falls short of an obligation and still requires the concurrence of the House of Representatives).  Chair Tillander points to the need to ensure women’s participation in national reconciliation efforts, and acknowledges the key role women can play in promoting peace and reconciliation.  He also highlights that the Peacebuilding Fund has increased its allocation for gender-related activities in Liberia, and therefore that the Government and partners have every reason to step up efforts to ensure that women can play the necessary role in building sustainable peace in Liberia.

Despite improved references to women’s participation in Liberia, there is no mention of women’s protection in this briefing.  Therefore, the SRSG and Peacebuilding Chair miss the opportunity to highlight widespread sexual- and gender-based violence in Liberia, and the urgent need to reform the security sector and criminal justice system to appropriately prevent and respond to violence against women and girls.

This briefing responds in part to the most recent MAP on the situation in Liberia (September 2013), in terms of the emphasis placed on women’s participation and the importance of an active civil society.  However, most of the recommendations are not heeded, as there is no attention given to sexual- and gender-based violence including sexual exploitation and abuse, nor is there any mention of reintegration support to women and girls formerly associated with fighting forces or providing access to relief and recovery for survivors of gender-based violence.

This briefing is a great improvement from the previous meeting, S/PV.7029, in terms of its emphasis on women’s participation in public life, but its disappointing lack of attention to sexual- and gender-based violence move it a step backwards on women’s protection efforts.

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