The story of UNMIL [Book]: UNMIL cooperates with regional organizations
Regional organizations, including the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), have historically played a significant role in maintaining peace and security in Liberia. UNMIL’s Political Affairs Section maintained a strong relationship with these organizations. During 2017, the SRSG and Mission leadership met regularly with ECOWAS and AU counterparts to prepare for Liberia’s elections. Several joint initiatives and press statements highlighted the collaborative relationship that helped to ensure a peaceful electoral process.
The Political Affairs Section also assisted in setting up the Government-led National Political Forum, which led to the signing by 20 political parties of the “Farmington River Declaration” on 4 June 2017 in the margins of the ECOWAS Summit. The parties committed themselves to holding peaceful elections and seeking judicial resolution of any disputes. It was a major milestone for UNMIL, the AU and ECOWAS, but mostly for the political parties and the Liberian citizenry.
Prior to the beginning of the campaign period, the Political Affairs Section drafted a press statement, issued jointly by the AU, ECOWAS and UNMIL, which called upon all actors to refrain from making “provocative statements that can incite violence.” UNMIL Radio broadcast consistent messaging to the political parties on the necessity to remain committed to the Farmington River Declaration. The Political Affairs Section also helped, with those partners, to resolve the Legislature’s impeachment attempts against three Supreme Court justices, whom five legislators had accused of bias in clearing for nomination two vice presidential candidates whom the National Elections Commission (NEC) had rejected.
Following the first round of voting, a second a press statement jointly issued by UNMIL, AU and ECOWAS called for patience as the results were pending, and advised parties to address concerns to the NEC before going to the media. On 10 November, the three organizations again called for calm, upholding of the rule of law, and expeditious adjudication of election disputes.
The Section then assisted UNMIL leadership in collaboration with the AU and ECOWAS to bring together youth representatives of political parties in a series of meetings, after which they agreed to strengthen their peaceful participation in the electoral process.