By: Wremongar Joe, II
A group of key civil society actors working on reconciliation and Peacebuilding have launched a report on efforts aimed at achieving national reconciliation and social cohesion in Liberia.
The National Reconciliation working group’s report was released Thursday at a local hotel in Monrovia. The report comes with the central ideal of what the organizers called “Building an Indigenous Kinjah to Support National Ownership, Leadership, and Sustainability of Reconciliation and Social Cohesion”.
It is an outcome of a two day national conference on reconciliation and social cohesion which was convened between the 13th and 14th of March 2020 with a wide range of local and national stakeholders as well as international observers who critically dialoged and debated to find key factors contributing to or undermining national reconciliation and social cohesion.
The report launched under the theme “Rethinking Reconciliation and Social Cohesion in Liberia” seeks effort to contribute to the overall process of post-conflict reconstruction and development (PCRD).
The Liberia Institute for Policy Studies and Research at the University of Liberia, in collaboration with a consortium of civil society organizations, consisting of Bread for the World Liberia Civil Peace Service (CPS); Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (CSPPS); and Development Partners (DPs) are the driving forces behind the report.
Among several things the reports recommends that critical dialogue is an important way of promoting national reconciliation and social cohesion as opposed to the current state of politics of warfare which has engulfed the country.
Macroeconomic stability and growth according to the report should be promoted to enhance national reconciliation and social cohesion, where civil society, the government and development partners alike must encourage and ensure trans-generational dialogue especially amongst the young people to facilitate youth empowerment and participation in national decision making.
The report also recommends that women empowerment and participation should be fostered to increase and strengthen their fullest decision-making capacity with national reconciliation and social cohesion should been embedded in political dialogue, local culture and experiences and overarching national development.
University of Liberia President Dr. Julius Sawolo Nelson who delivered the keynote address said reconciliation was at the heart of nation building and couldn’t be overemphasized by any citizen.
“Those of us from the academic community” the President of the University of Liberia declared “are ready to join efforts aimed at achieving national reconciliation and social cohesion.
Dr. Nelson committed further “we will give it a new birth to reconcile all our people and achieve social cohesion”.
The chairman of the Liberian Senate committee on Internal Affairs, Reconciliation & Governance, J. Gblehbo Brown of Maryland county, speaking on behalf of the senate said since Liberia signed the Accra Comprehensive Peace Accord, the country is still talking and discussing reconciliation.
“It appears that Liberians do not know what to do with the TRC Report. We are stuck to where we are” Senator Brown said.
He believes to have genuine reconciliation and sustained peace Liberia must establish the root cause of years of war noting that Liberians have been divided from the foundation of the country.
Senator Brown called for holistic approach in seeking reconciliation as according to him “war crimes court alone cannot bring us peace”
Also speaking at the ceremony, Liberia’s Peacebuilding Office Executive Director Edward Mulbah, who proxy for the Minister of Internal Affairs Varney Sirleaf said the government of Liberia is fully committed to all the various processes of peace and reconciliation..
According to Mulbah, lasting peace and reconciliation efforts must come with the principle of peace truth telling, forgiveness or mercy and most importantly, the principle of Justice must be up held because in the absence of justice, there can be no peace.
Said Mulbah: “Reconciliation cannot be achieved through itemized projects. It must be achieved through policies and programs”.
The executive Director of the Liberia Peacebuilding Office also called for coordination with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and announced that President George Weah has instructed the Ministry of Internal Affairs to organize a major diaspora engagement on peace and reconciliation.