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Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue on peacebuilding in Liberia

By: Kruah Thompson

The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue has concluded a day-long acquaintance and peacebuilding dialogue that focuses on mediation and peacemaking processes.

The dialogue is in support of the Centre’s operational work to improve international efforts toward securing and sustaining peace across Liberia.

It was conducted at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection at the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Ministerial Complex, Oldest Congo Town in Monrovia.

Currently, the Centre is rolling out a project funded by the UN Peace Building Fund on Consolidating National, Regional and Local Reconciliation and Social Cohesion Opportunities in six (6) of Liberia’s Fifteen (15) counties, namely; Grand Gedeh, Lofa, Montserado, Nimba, Rivercess, and Sinoe counties.

Country Representative Madam Elaebi Monique Bowman-Ere said that the Peace Dividends in Liberia project when implemented, will bridge local and national reconciliation efforts by ensuring that communities’ voices guide the policy level progress. 

She stated that the day-long workshop brought together civil society organizations that are engaged in social cohesion and reconciliation initiatives, while discussions were held around progress thus far and capacity needs.

Madam Bowman-Ere outlined three (3) thematic areas the project is angled on, including supporting local dialogues for coexistence and conflict resolution; bridging local and national reconciliation efforts by enhancing the capacity of local CSOs, ensuring their ability to effectively advocate for their communities and capacity building to ensure CSOs confidence in them to enhance their demand for accountability, stronger local conflict resolution skills to foster unity, and increased collaboration and cooperation.

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Delivering a special remark, Lead Facilitator Ambassador Babatunde Ajisomo, extended greetings on behalf of Executive Director David Harland, who he referred to as the inspiration for the project.

 Ambassador Ajisomo also extended greetings on behalf of HD Centre Regional Director for Africa Dr. Babatunde Afolabi.  He said Dr. Afolabi’s love for Liberia is unprecedented – judging from the fact he did his Master’s and Ph.D. in Liberia and his passionate involvement with projects here.

The Ambassador lauded UNDP for funding the project and clarified that the project had a year delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.

 He also appreciated the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection for the development of the Anti-Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Roadmap, the Revised Action Plan, the Domestic Violence Act, and other useful policy documents. 

“These are important policy documents legislations which HD Centre want the implementation to be strengthened – the major problem we have is implementation, we have all the policy documents but we are not implementing them either due to lack of funding or lack of political will or proper coordination.” Amb. Ajisomo noted.

Amb. Ajisomo: “the focus of HD Centre is to help in coordinating strategies, implementing strategies that will be impactful to the good people of Liberia especially in the Six (6) counties that we have identified even though this is the initial stage, but as more resources come in, we will definitely expand our scope beyond the six counties.”

He told participants that earlier on they held a meeting with the High-level UN – Peace Building delegation from New York, USA, and the delegation’s focus is on gender equality, women empowerment, and women’s participation in politics.

The Ambassador ended by reminding stakeholders of the significance of having women at decisions making table.

Mr. James Mulbah, who proxy for UNDP Country Resident Representative Stephen Rodrigues told participants that social cohesion and peace building is even more important now as Liberia prepares for 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections.

“I urge all of us to be freed, speak freely, say the challenges that you have, say the progress you are making so that we can build on those things and address the challenges.” Mr. Mulbah noted.

He highlighted the significant role played by women in restoring Liberia’s peace during the civil unrest and that UNDP is excited to support said project that will further consolidate peace and reconciliation in the Republic.

In closing, Deputy Minister for Gender, Madam Alice Johnson Howard expressed delight that HD Centre is implementing such an indispensable project, especially at the verge of elections. Minister Howard pleaded with participants to not take for granted, the current peace being enjoyed but rather engage the process with all honesty and passion as consolidating peace is not just beneficiary to international partners but to every Liberian.

She pledged her Ministry’s unflinching support and cooperation in every implementing stage of the project. Editing by Jonathan Browne

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