At least 10 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), which are partnering in the enhancement of democracy and good governance not only in the Mano River Union (MRU) basin but also the sub-region of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), on Saturday, August 22, 2020, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), in Monrovia.
In the MOU, the group, styled: “CSO Partners for Democracy & Good Governance” pointed out that its membership has been inspired by their shared desire for strategic collaboration through advocacy to foster national and regional peace and security consolidation, and concomitantly promote democratic governance, adherence to, and respect for the rule of law as well as regional integration and development.
The ten- count MOU, read at a news briefing by the Founder/ President of the Better Foundation (BFF), Augustine Arkoi, further asserted that based on their common interests and synergies in various thematic areas including human rights, social protection, democracy and good governance, gender equality, women empowerment, youth development and the rights of children among others, they will collaboratively strive in addressing these pertinent issues in Liberia and other MRU/ECOWAS member countries and beyond.
Strongly believing that a “United Force” is a “Force for Good”, the CSO partners named other areas of collaboration as providing collective support for each other while endeavoring to, at all time, gauge citizens’ perceptions of, and attempt to improve confidence and trust in their respective governments through CSOs-Government dialogues regionally and sub-regionally.
Signatories to the MOU include Better Future Foundation (BFF), a non-state actor and advocate for ECOWAS regional integration with founding mission of initiating programs and activities aimed at promoting sustainable peace, socio-economic, educational and international cultural understanding and cooperation; Foundation for International Dignity (FIND), a pro-democracy and human rights organization; Harvest International (HI), a local NGO committed to promoting education, community, youth and human resource development and food security.
Other signatories to the MOU are New African Research & Development Agency (NARDA), a consortium of Liberian NGOs which are engaged in the provision of health, education, agriculture, social and community development services; Press Union of Liberia (PUL), an umbrella organization of Liberian media professionals and institutions, advocates for press freedom and the protection of journalists. PUL is also a
vibrant pro-democracy group that champions media matters and issues affecting democratic governance, social justice and human rights; Rural Human Rights Activists Program (RHRAP), a human rights and peace organization, which is dedicated to promoting peace and human rights in rural communities of Liberia; Rights and Rice Foundation (RRF), a non-governmental organization with the overall aim of working for social justice and economic empowerment in the Liberian society;
Regional Watch for Human Rights ((RWHR), formerly Liberia Watch for Human Rights), a civil society organization which is dedicated to promoting and protecting human rights in all regions of the globe.
The MOU also included Women Beyond Borders (WBB), a women’s leadership and socio-economic development program of BFF aimed at empowering, networking and promoting grassroots women participation in nation-building and has over 6,000 membership; Youth Beyond Barriers (YBB), a youth empowerment and development program of BFF with the core objectives of breaking barriers, strengthening relationships and promoting development, and has over 600 members around the country.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, BFF President, Augustine Arkoi, who lauded the member CSOs said their primary objective is to promote regional and sub-regional peace and security, as well as good governance and democratic pluralism.
The CSO Partners, he said, will shortly reach out to diplomatic missions, ECOWAS, MRU, African Union (AU), European Union (EU), Embassy of Sweden, French Embassy, and other members of the International Community, seeking their urgent intervention in addressing a list of cardinal concerns that have the potential to undermine the peace, security, stability and development of not only the MRU basin but also the ECOWAS region.
According to the CSO Partners, the MRU/ECOWAS regions currently face fragility as it relates to peace and security, healthcare, food security, and the consolidation of democracy, and as such, the urgent need for concerted efforts and simultaneous actions by pro-democracy and human rights groups and other stakeholders aimed addressing such problems cannot be overemphasized.