The story of UNMIL [Book]: 2017 elections and the rule of law
The fruits of 14 years of support to Liberia by the UN and the international community have had a significant impact on Liberians. Liberian institutions were in the forefront of organizing the entire 2017 election. All election-related disputes, ranging from the application of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, through contestations of decisions made by the National Elections Commission (NEC) on the eligibility of certain candidates, to the outcome of both elections, were all settled through the established dispute resolution framework.
Of particular significance was the long, drawn-out legal battle by the Unity Party and the Liberty Party over the NEC’s declaration of a run-off between the two front runners, Senator George Weah and Vice President Joseph Boakai. The hearing and adjudication of this dispute involved a multiplicity of legal and political activities that delayed its resolution. Liberians, however, did not question their institutions’ capacity to satisfactorily resolve the disputes before them. The people remained calm, though anxious, until the Supreme Court decision was announced. The NEC, with support from international partners, adhered to the ruling, and convened the run-off election almost six weeks after it was initially intended to take place.
The good offices engagement and technical advice and assistance by the UN, ECOWAS, the African Union and other members of the international community cannot be discounted.
However, Liberians and their institutions must get the most credit for the peace and stability that exists even after a keenly contested election. Their conduct has sent a clear message to the global
community that the rule of law is gaining roots in Liberia, and that although nascent, national institutions are demonstrating their desire and capacity to discharge their mandates according to law. All is not yet well with the rule of law in Liberia: as in all other jurisdictions, this continues to be an evolutionary process that will develop over time.