ECOWAS celebrates Human Rights Day – 2018
16 January 2018, Monrovia – The United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and Head of UNMIL, Farid Zarif, co-chaired the 2nd official celebration of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Human Rights Day.
This day is also celebrated across the West African sub-region under the international theme "Right to Education." In Liberia, a national theme was chosen "Right to Education, a must for all Liberians." SRSG Zarif praised the government of Liberia to have organized this day with a very strategic theme for the time being and stated that “education is the most impacting and essential right of a human being; without this right being made effective, the exercise of all other rights are being undermined.”
This event was significant for President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as she delivered her last official address as a sitting President before the sub-regional body and commended all the progress in education achieved during her mandate. In her speech, she counted “from 2005 to 2015 the government has constructed a little over two hundred and seventy schools across the country, renovated and expanded several other school facilities, in recognition of the needs for skills, opened and renovated four regional teacher training institutes, constructed and opened sixty community colleges and one technical college, as well as expanded and renovated the Monrovia Vocational Teacher Training Institute and as well as the Booker Washington Institution”.
President Sirleaf took the opportunity to call for the new government to continue to accelerate the opportunities for education. President Sirleaf's keynote address was followed by the statement from her successor, President-elect George M. Weah. “I am humble and honored to be part of this historic event and want to use this occasion to reaffirm Liberia’s commitment to the 2020 goal for promoting education and a human rights obligation, “said President-elect Weah.
The ECOWAS Human Rights Day was also attended by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Liberia; Minister of Education; the President of the Network of National Human Rights Institutions in West Africa; the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Atty. Bartholomew B. Colley; the Acting Chairperson of the INCHR, among others.