Author: United Nations Development Programme Liberia
Site of publication: UNDP
Type of publication: Report
Date of publication: 2022
GEARING UP FOR ELECTIONS 2023
The UNDP Liberia Electoral Support Project (LESP) with support from Sweden and Ireland continued providing critical electoral assistance to the Government of Liberia to consolidate the country’s democracy, peace, and stability. The LESP, launched in 2020, provided its fourth consecutive cycle of electoral assistance since the end of the devastating civil war.
Liberia has come a long way in conducting elections as evidenced by the National Elections Commission’s (NEC) conduct of Special Senatorial Elections in 2020. Based on the UN Needs Assessment Mission Report (2019), LESP takes a governance approach to elections, supporting inclusiveness, transparency, and peaceful elections through assistance to the NEC and electoral stakeholders. Strong focus is placed on the capacity strengthening of electoral actors to foster self-reliance and national ownership of the electoral and democratic processes.
Under the umbrella of ‘programming for peace’, LESP supported the collaborative development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) between the Security Forces of Liberia and the media to strengthen the electoral security and peaceful conduct of elections.
Countering Violence against Women in Elections and Politics
The concerted advocacy effort also campaigned for the prevention of violence against women in elections and politics (VAWIE-P) targeting political parties, lawmakers, government ministries and civil society organizations resulting in 29 out of 33 registered political parties signing a VAWiE-P Protocol. A VAWiE-P curriculum derived from a UNDP-UN Women Programming Guide on Preventing Violence Against Women in Elections was developed and ten (10) Liberian trainers from NEC and civil society were trained on the Guide.
UNDP supported NEC in establishing Gender and Elections Coordination Groups countrywide to improve the dissemination of information to women and other vulnerable groups and trained the 120 (55w/65m) members to equip them with knowledge on electoral processes in order to convey the correct information to targeted voters.
BIG STRIDES TOWARDS FISCAL DECENTRALIZATION
In 2022, the country recorded remarkable progress towards making fiscal decentralization a reality with the adoption of key legislative and regulatory frameworks namely, the passage and presidential assent to the Revenue Sharing Law in July 2022, and the amendment to the Public Finance Management Law, which awaits Presidential assent.
Liberia has come a long way in conducting elections as evidenced by the National Elections Commission’s (NEC) conduct of Special Senatorial Elections in 2020. Based on the UN Needs Assessment Mission Report (2019), LESP takes a governance approach to elections, supporting inclusiveness, transparency, and peaceful elections through assistance to the NEC and electoral stakeholders. Strong focus is placed on the capacity strengthening of electoral actors to foster self-reliance and national ownership of the electoral and democratic processes
Partnerships with civil society organizations – Integrity Watch Liberia and Rural Human Rights Activists Program, also contributed to the legislative successes. These organizations conducted several strategic meetings with legislative committees, organized talk shows on community radio, and produced jingles on the expected benefits of revenue sharing.
A GLIMPSE INTO THE TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION PALAVA HUT HEARINGS
In 2022, the programme successfully conducted Palava Hut hearings in three communities – Sanoyea Town, Gbonota and Gbonyea, in Sanoyea District, Bong County, hearing 52 cases and amicably resolving all but one case in which the alleged perpetrator denied the accusations. This brought the number of cases resolved by Palava Hearings to date to 328, involving 289 perpetrators and 327 victims.
The programme also supported the construction of four memorials on mass graves and massacre sites in Behn Town, Grand Bassa County; Bloe Town, River Cess County; Bopolu City, Gbarpolu County; and Kpotomai, Lofa County to memorialize victims of the Liberian civil war. The memorials are meant to remind present and future generations of the devastation of war and help bring healing and closure to families and communities of victims of the war.
Families of victims will converge at the memorial sites on Decoration Day, the second Wednesday of March each year – a day in Liberia dedicated to the decoration of the graves of departed relatives to remember their loved ones.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
It is estimated that about 80 per cent of the people of Liberia trust and use traditional institutions and mechanisms to resolve disputes rather than the formal court system. Many parts of the country remain cut off, or far removed from the formal justice system leaving them no alternatives but to seek justice through traditional justice systems.
In 2022, the country recorded remarkable progress towards making fiscal decentralization a reality with the adoption of key legislative and regulatory frameworks namely, the passage and presidential assent to the Revenue Sharing Law in July 2022, and the amendment to the Public Finance Management Law, which awaits Presidential assent
A new BCR law that will establish a Liberia Corrections Service (LCS) that will be semiautonomous from the Ministry of Justice. It will also command a budget of its own and can mobilize its own resources. This is expected to transform and enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the institution.
COMMUNITY-DRIVEN ADVOCACY AGAINST GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE
In 2018, the Government of Liberia, the European Union and the United Nations launched the Spotlight Initiative to address all forms of violence against women and girls; to eliminate harmful practices through transformative and evidence-based approaches that address unequal power relations between men and women; and to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The Rule of Law program further supported the establishment of Justice and Confidence Centres (JCCs) to provide psychosocial support and alternative dispute resolution (ADR), and conduct community awareness and education on GBV and human rights in six counties – Bong, Gbarpolu, Grand Bassa, Margibi, Nimba and Sinoe.
LEVERAGING INNOVATION AND PARTNERSHIPS TO FIGHT CORRUPTION
Corruption continues to be a challenge for Liberia, with the country scoring a historic low of 26 out of 100 in the 2022 Corruption Perception Index, representing a backslide of 11 points since 2016. The year 2022 was characterized by developments that highlighted the significant task ahead for the country in curbing corruption.
These included the sanctioning of three top government officials for corruption and human rights abuses by the U.S. Government; the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission recommending prosecution of several high-ranking government officials following investigations; and findings of “systemic fraud and misappropriation by the staff of the Ministry of Health” of grants provided by the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria, where 91% of the expenditures reviewed were found to be “noncompliant, or other types of wrongdoing”.
It is estimated that about 80 per cent of the people of Liberia trust and use traditional institutions and mechanisms to resolve disputes rather than the formal court system. Many parts of the country remain cut off, or far removed from the formal justice system leaving them no alternatives but to seek justice through traditional justice systems
Liberia’s coastal zones are adversely affected by climate change in several ways. Rising global temperatures are projected to cause sea level rises of 20–30 cm by 2040 while strong ocean winds are expected to increase the frequency of high-intensity coastal storms. The country’s daily rainfall is projected to increase by between 9 and 18% by 2041, with the wet season rainfall increasing by 1–2% while the dry season rainfall will decrease by between 4 and 13% by 2040.
These changes together with non-climatic factors such as sand mining, agricultural expansion, unsustainable fishing, and pollution are compromising the resilience of the country’s coastal ecosystems and communities. Coastal flooding and erosion in the past decade have destroyed and/or submerged more than 670 homes, roads, and fish landing sites, and counting. Other effects are saltwater intrusion into groundwater supplies, waterlogging, and sedimentation of freshwater resources.
Increasing Access to Clean Energy
UNDP Liberia is supporting the Government of Liberia to mobilize some US$35m from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to provide clean solar energy to more than 300 rural healthcare facilities to improve access to health nationally. The envisioned project follows the successful pilot of the Solar for Health (S4H) project in 2020. Twelve (12) health facilities were provided solar power to operationalize their critical sections including operating theaters, laboratories, and maternal and neonatal services.
PEOPLE FOR 2030
In June 2019, UNDP launched a new human resource strategy, People for 2030, to progressively transform UNDP’s culture and capacity to deliver more and better results enabling the organization to successfully implement its Strategic Plan (2022-2025), which envisions working with countries to expand people’s choices for a fairer, sustainable future, and build the world envisioned by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Below find how UNDP Liberia is implementing the People for 2030 strategy.