A pivotal moment in the history of Liberia came recently when the United Nations mission successfully completed its mandate of supporting the West African nation in the transition to peace and democracy after about 15 years.
United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed lauded the accomplishments of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), which helped to disarm more than 100,000 combatants, and protected millions of civilians, rebuild the police, the security services and other institutions; facilitated the provision of humanitarian aid; and supported the development of national capacity to promote and protect human rights.”
She, however, acknowledged, “Peace will not last without sustainable development; and development gains will be at risk without sustained peace.
Many Liberians are still waiting for the anticipated dividends of peace. Some of the root causes of conflict remain to be addressed, including poverty, youth unemployment, illiteracy and lack of infrastructure. We need to give Liberians back their dignity, dreams and faith in a better future.”
While paying special tribute to the 202 peacekeepers that lost their lives in pursuit of peace in Liberia, she said: “Today, we remember their sacrifice.”
The event was held at Monrovia’s Executive Pavilion and was attended by top government officials, representatives of civil society, members of the diplomatic community, and UN officials.
Liberian President, George Weah said, “UN has positively impacted the lives of Liberians as well as every fabric of the Liberian Society since its arrival in 2003.” He acknowledged the hope the United Nations has given Liberians saying, “Liberia has to protect and sustain the peace”. He expressed his commitment towards ensuring it happens.
Other dignitaries at the event were the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Ms. Bintou Keita; Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas; Assistant Secretary-General for Peace-building Support, Mr. Oscar Fernandez-Taranco and Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations and Chair of the Peacebuilding commission configuration for Liberia, Ambassador Olof Skoog and Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMIL, Mr. Farid Zarif.
To spur women’s empowerment, the mission was the first to have an all-female contingent thanks to India’s deployment of a formed police unit (FPU) from 2007 until 2016. The Indian policewomen served as role models for Liberia’s women and girls, triggering a fourfold increase in the number of Liberian women applying to become police officers.