Brumskine Outlines Conditions For Peace

By Morrison O.G. Sayon

The political leader of the main opposition Liberty Party (LP), Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine, has called on Liberians to remember the predominance of good governance in peace-building.

Speaking yesterday at the World Peace Day Program of the Center for Peace Education in Liberia, Cllr. Brumskine reminded the citizens that to build and maintain peace, it is not enough to construct police stations, train more police and/or improve budgetary allotment to the security sector.

Cllr. Brumskine added that while those are critical to maintaining the peace, peace-building is likely to fail if it is detached from the broader political strategies of Reconciliation, Reform, Recovery, and Rebuilding.

“We emphasize that we must create the right political space in order for key peace-building interventions to gain traction. We must also strengthen our justice system throughout the country and ensure that there is equal protection under the law for all of our citizens, as guaranteed by the Constitution of Liberia,” Brumskine who has contested for the Liberian Presidency twice intimated.

He noted that building and preserving peace are important for all adding, “We have learned from our national experience of the grave consequences of conflict on a nation and its people. Our national experience, therefore, compels us not only to celebrate peace today, but also to remind us of the need to incorporate into our national political arrangement, continuous dialogue, inclusive government, fair distribution of the nation’s resources, access to education for all children, readily available healthcare, and merit-based employment opportunities.

Cllr. Brumskine said these are things that will positively impact the lives of the people and sustain the peace.

“We believe that if we align security, development, and governance into a coherent and integrated strategy, then building and sustaining the peace would become more than an event that we celebrate; they will be a journey that we all take together. The United Nations and our development partners have assisted us in laying the foundation, upon which we must now proceed; we must take ownership of the peace process, and move it forward in sustainable and transformative ways,” he stated.

Speaking further, the Liberian lawyer-turned politician noted, “All Liberians should have a shared commitment to ensure enduring peace in our country; never again allowing a breach of our national peace. So the Liberty Party and I will continue to be a voice for dialogue, understanding, and tolerance among all Liberians, irrespective of religion, ethnic background, political persuasion, or social class. For, in the final analysis, we are yoked together for as long as we inhabit this small country called Liberia. We breathe the same air; we all cherish our children’s future; and we all bleed, hurt, and die.”

He said peace does not exist in a vacuum noting, “It struggles to exist where there is abject poverty; an unfair distribution of the nation’s resources; where preventable diseases become debilitating, resulting into death; and where one cannot exercise his or her God-given rights because he or she lacks the basic education that would inform each of what his or her rights are.”

He said,“ Liberia has to deal with the issues of poverty, relative greater underdevelopment in some regions of the country, absence of roads, especially during this time of the year, such that large segments of the population are disconnected from the rest of the country, lack of access to education for all of our children, non-existence of employment and business opportunities for many Liberians, and pitiable or no healthcare.”

Among other things, he said, “We will also have to tackle more effectively the insidious tax known as corruption, by which the poor is deprived by the wealthy of basic social infrastructure, and ensure that every Liberian has a shot at being the best that he or she can be,” Brumskine pointed out.

WORLD PEACE DAY ADDRESS (Delivered at the World Peace Day Program of Center for Peace Education in Liberia)

by Charles Walker Brumskine

Salutations!

I am honored, and would like to thank the Center for Peace Education for having selected me as your guest speaker for Liberia’s celebration of the International Day of Peace, also known as World Peace Day.

The logo of the International Day of Peace carries the white dove, similar to that of the Liberty Party, which makes me feel an even more significant part of this occasion.

In 2013, for the first time, this day was dedicated by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to Peace Education, the key preventive means to reduce war sustainably. And it is noteworthy that the Center for Peace Education, a non-governmental organization, has committed itself to developing “a comprehensive peace building program in Liberia by teaching mediation and conflict resolution as a means of achieving harmony and a better life for future generations.” For this I commend you.

World Peace Day is observed annually on September 21. Although this day is dedicated to world peace, events of World Peace Day are sometimes used in a narrow sense to recognize the absence of war and violence in a given situation or in a specific country, such as might be occasioned by a temporary ceasefire in a combat zone for humanitarian aid access, or what may appear to be permanent cessation of hostilities, but without the basics for sustaining the peace.

To inaugurate World Peace Day, the United Nations Peace Bell is rung at UN Headquarters, as “a reminder of the human cost of war.” We, Liberians, have known our unequal share of the human cost of war. So today, as we join millions around the world in celebrating World Peace Day, I call upon every Liberian to realize that peace is not simply the absence of war, and that lasting peace will be ensured by the reconciliation of our people, and the establishment of a political environment that will continue to foster peace in our country—a political environment created by the election of national and local leaders who have demonstrated the wherewithal, and who have the capacity to maintain peace and ensure stability in our country.

Liberians cannot continue to see wrong and call it right, and treat that which is right as if it were wrong!

Peacebuilders, my young friends, and fellow Liberians, we may have as many programs, as we can in celebration of World Peace Day, engage as many orators and speakers, as may lend their voices; the truth of the matter, however, is that we remain at risk until we consolidate our efforts toward addressing the issues that would make a difference in the life of every Liberian.

We may join others around the world and release a billion white doves, and ring the United Nations Peace Bell until we are deafened by the sound; but hear this: for every child on the street peddling chewing gums and candies, when he or she should be in school; for every mother that dies in childbirth because her village remains without rudimentary health facility; for every father, who embarrassingly is unable to provide for his family, because there is no employment opportunity or he has not been helped to shift from subsistence to commercial farming, or to start a business; for elderly Liberians, for whom their twilight years have become years of pain and suffering, because we have not found the way to grandfather them into the social welfare system, there is no peace for them!

Yes, symbolism is great, especially in politics. But it is time that Liberia moves away from the dimension of politics that concerns itself with only getting elected, to the breadth of politics that addresses the issues that would enhance the welfare of the total human being.

Peace does not exist in a vacuum; it struggles to exist where there is abject poverty; an unfair distribution of the nation’s resources; where preventable diseases become debilitating, resulting into death; and where one cannot exercise his or her God-given rights because he or she lacks the basic education that would inform each of what his or her rights are.

Liberia, therefore, has to deal with the issues of poverty, relative greater underdevelopment in some regions of the country—absence of roads, especially during this time of the year, such that large segments of the population are disconnected from the rest of the country, lack of access to education for all of our children, non-existence of employment and business opportunities for many Liberians, and pitiable or no healthcare. We will also have to tackle more effectively the insidious tax known as corruption, by which the poor is deprived by the wealthy of basic social infrastructure, and ensure that every Liberian has a shot at being the best that he or she can be.

The future of peace and stability of our country also hangs on whether we invest enough in opportunities for our youth, enabling them to play a meaningful role in shaping their future. Our country has a large generation of adolescents, but they are a generation that stands less educated than their parents; an unfortunate consequence of our civil war. These young people have hopes and dreams, knocking on doors to be opened to them so that they may produce a demographic dividend for Liberia, as never before. On the other hand, if they are left unemployed and idle, their pent-up energy could be disruptive for the nation. We should know that we neglect the young people at the peril of our national peace.

If our nation is to take hold of the theme of your celebration, “Moving forward with peace and leaving Ebola behind,” Liberia will have to embrace the broader definition of health, which focuses government programs on the true causes of ill health such as poverty, poor nutrition, inadequate housing, and unsafe drinking water, among others. This approach to health results in a global as well as an individual outcome. I was, therefore, pleased to have read in one of the local dailies that President Sirleaf has submitted to the Legislature a Bill for restructuring the Ministry of Health for the purpose of making the “Ministry more responsive in providing affordable and better quality health care.”

Building and preserving peace is important for all. We have learned from our national experience of the grave consequences of conflict on a nation and its people. Our national experience, therefore, compels us not only to celebrate peace today, but also to remind us of the need to incorporate into our national political arrangement, continuous dialogue, inclusive government, fair distribution of the nation’s resources, access to education for all children, readily available healthcare, and merit-based employment opportunities. Those are things that will positively impact the lives of the people and sustain the peace.

We must further remember the predominance of good governance in peace-building. To build and maintain peace, it is not enough to construct police stations, train more police and/or improve budgetary allotment to the security sector. While those are critical to maintaining the peace, peace-building is likely to fail if it is detached from the broader political strategies of Reconciliation, Reform, Recovery, and Rebuilding. We emphasize that we must create the right political space in order for key peace-building interventions to gain traction. We must also strengthen our justice system throughout the country and ensure that there is equal protection under the law for all of our citizens, as guaranteed by the Constitution of Liberia.

We believe that if we align security, development, and governance into a coherent and integrated strategy, then building and sustaining the peace would become more than an event that we celebrate; they will be a journey that we all take together. The United Nations and our development partners have assisted us in laying the foundation, upon which we must now proceed; we must take ownership of the peace process, and move it forward in sustainable and transformative ways.

All Liberians should have a shared commitment to ensure enduring peace in our country; never again allowing a breach of our national peace. So the Liberty Party and I will continue to be a voice for dialogue, understanding, and tolerance among all Liberians, irrespective of religion, ethnic background, political persuasion, or social class. For, in the final analysis, we are yoked together for as long as we inhabit this small country called Liberia. We breathe the same air; we all cherish our children’s future; and we all bleed, hurt, and die.

Therefore, I would like to challenge all Liberians, whether you are in this audience, listening to me by radio, or watching this program on TV, to join me in extending a hand to someone who any of us may have offended, intentionally or inadvertently, and say, “my friend, nu-mah yah (kindly pardon my transgression); let us start anew and build a peaceful relationship.”

Peacebuilders, my young friends, and fellow Liberians, let us together shout aloud the inscription on the side of the United Nations Peace Bell, “Long live absolute world peace.” And we may add, long live absolute peace in Liberia.

I thank you!

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