SRSG Concerned About Exploitation Of Liberia’s Resources

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and coordinator of UN Operations in Liberia, Karin Landgren has reported to the United Nations that the country still has several challenges  even though it is sufficiently stable to provide an environment conducive to the critical reforms the government is undertaking.

Terming her observation as “many potential drivers of conflict” that remain to be addressed in the country, Ms. Landgren named land and the exploitation of Liberia’s abundant natural resources as the cornerstones of Liberia’s economic development, but that they also can be powerful sources of conflict.

She said therefore government and its many other partners should acknowledge the need for transparent and responsible management of concession agreements, particularly, when it concerns those who should be benefiting from development.

Briefing the United Nations Security Council recently, she also outlined the lack of adequate consultation with affected communities as an issue that needs attention, noting, “It will be important to institutionalize mechanisms for consistent dialogue between concessions and communities.”

The UN envoy said, “Corruption in general remains a very significant handicap, impeding the functioning of national institutions, public confidence in those institutions, and the pace of economic growth.”

Ms. Karin Landgren, lauded Liberia’s commitments in maintaining peace, while underlining the need for the country to progress on critical reform processes and steadily strengthen its justice and security sectors in preparation to take on increasing security responsibilities. SRSG Landgren among other things highlighted the important role of the Constitutional Review Committee in leading a comprehensive, inclusive and participatory review process with intensive civic education efforts about to start under a tight timeline.

The SRSG also reported on the implementation of the three-phased military drawdown endorsed by the Security Council last September and stated that following the first phase of drawdown, UNMIL no longer maintains a fixed military presence in four of Liberia’s counties, and the Mission is expected to vacate a further three counties by April 2014.

The UN boss in Liberia emphasized that more demands on the government are expected as this transition progresses and that the phased approach has permitted the government and UNMIL to develop close routine and effective mechanisms; however, greater efforts need to be made to strengthen security institutions for a successful transition.

“The Liberian security forces have not been able to scale up their presence and operational effectiveness to assume the increased security responsibilities, and they remain severely constrained by weak mobility, resources, and administration,” she intimated.

She underlined that Liberia’s security is intertwined with its neighbours and that strengthening regional approaches remains imperative to security as well as to development and that the country should remain on course, thereby pledging support for the Government, development partners and civil society.