Swedish statement at the UN Security Council Briefing on Liberia
National statement delivered by Ambassador Irina Schoulgin-Nyoni on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on Liberia, 19 April 2018, New York.
Thank you, Mr President,
Let me begin by thanking Assistant-Secretary-General, Alexander Zuev, and Mr Chid Liberty for their briefings today, which capture both the distance that Liberia has travelled since the civil war and the possibilities for the future.
Let me also, at the outset, commend the United Nations Mission in Liberia for its efforts in support of the people of Liberia as they moved from the ashes of war to rebuild their country. It is worth taking a moment to appreciate that UNMIL is a mission that has successfully delivered on its mandate. It did so by building trust with the government and with the people of Liberia. The well planned transition phase by UNMIL is indicative of the professionalism of the mission and will ensure that the United Nations continues to support the country going forward. I commend Special Representative Zarif for his leadership and good offices. We also pay tribute to the peacekeepers and civilian personnel who have lost their lives while promoting peace, stability and development in Liberia.
I must admit that it does feel special to participate in this, the last, Security Council meeting on UNMIL, having served as the only Swedish diplomat in Monrovia during the transition period in 2004 and 2005. Then, the presence of UNMIL was new, and had just started to bring hope of an end to the violence.
At the same time, I know that Ambassador Skoog would have liked to be present to add his personal impressions to his briefing as the PBC Liberia Configuration Chair; however, as you will be aware he is in Sweden making the final preparations for the Council's visit over the weekend. So, instead, I hope you will allow me to convey the ambassador's impressions and thoughts from his recent trip.
Firstly, the transition from UNMIL to the UN Country Team illustrates how far Liberia has come. The security situation in the country is stable. The elections put the Liberian constitutional framework to the test. The use of legal means to address grievances following the polls underscores the progress made in the rule of law over the last 13 years.
The election also demonstrated the strong desire of Liberians to maintain peace and to actively engage in strengthening democracy in the country. During his time in Liberia, Ambassador Skoog was particularly impressed and heartened by the youth of Liberia and their commitment to peace and the democratic process. Liberia's youth are a vital resource for the country, which the new government must harness and nurture. This next generation of Liberians has high expectations and will hold the government to account.
The election process however also reminded us of the complexity and fragility of the situation in Liberia. As I said in the briefing, many of the root causes of the conflict remain. Tackling these issues is a prerequisite for an inclusive and equitable society. Continued reforms and the passing of pending legislation, for example on land rights, local government, and domestic violence, are of paramount importance in this regard.
As we have said many times before, there can be no peace without development and no development without peace – and neither without respect for human rights. Taken together, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustaining Peace resolutions form a powerful framework for building peaceful, prosperous, inclusive and sustainable societies. The Sustainable Development Goals represent the indispensable building blocks for resilience, to support peaceful democratic transition and to reduce the risk of violent conflict.
Liberia's rich natural resources mean that the government has the opportunity to provide the revitalization to the economy that the country so desperately needs. However, to harness this potential and to build trust, natural resources will need to be managed in an open and transparent way, assuring long-term gains for all of the people of Liberia.
During his visit, Ambassador Skoog was honored to participate in the Liberia Moment Conference.
The conference, which was also attended by the Deputy Secretary-General, the President of Liberia, UN leadership and youth representatives, amongst others, marked the starting point for an in-depth consultation process by the government on the design of the new national development plan. It also marked a farewell to UNMIL.
Following his meeting with the president, Ambassador Skoog noted that the new government was both committed and engaged, and already taking the lead in identifying the country's challenges and formulating priorities for the future. The president's pro-poor agenda and commitment to anti-corruption is promising. We are looking forward to seeing how these commitments will be translated into action that delivers tangible improvements in the lives of Liberians, not least the rural areas.
It is imperative that the new government takes forward residual tasks in the peacebuilding plan and the Statement of Mutual Commitments as part of the new national development plan. This is a point that was reiterated by Ambassador Skoog throughout his visit.
Finally, as we celebrate the successes we must remain conscious of the challenges ahead. There is a real risk that the government will not be able to meet the high expectations for clear and quick results in people's lives. The president underlined to Ambassador Skoog the continued need for partnerships and support. Therefore, it is essential that international attention on Liberia does not wane.
There will continue to be a need for a strong and coherent UN presence in the country going forward, with the capacity to support the government on conflict prevention and addressing the root causes of conflict. Ensuring political capacity and sustaining the good offices that have been so crucial in Liberia will continue to be important, as will support to the Resident Coordinator's Office. As we have seen during the election, ECOWAS will also have an important role to play in support of the country.
The international community must also ensure continued and predictable resources for sustaining peace in Liberia. The planned Multi Partner Trust Fund, managed by the Resident Coordinator, in cooperation with the government, could be an excellent vehicle for coordinated and predictable support in combination with the catalytic support of the Peacebuilding Fund.
The transition does not end when the peacekeepers leave, but Liberia should not fear being left to face the challenges of future alone. We, the partners of Liberia, are committed to sustaining the peace in Liberia. As Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission's Liberia Configuration, we will continue to play our part.