The story of UNMIL [Book]: UNMIL interacts with the Legislature on critical bills
The House of Representatives and the Senate are responsible for passing laws and reforms in Liberia. Throughout 2017, the UNMIL Political Affairs Section facilitated the SRSG and DSRSGs’ regular engagement with members of the Legislature on key legislation including the Land Rights, Local Government, Code of Conduct and Domestic Violence bills, among others. This included meetings with members of the relevant committees in order to share information and perspectives and seek solutions to delays in the passage of bills. Between 2015 and 2017, UNMIL leadership engagement contributed to the passage of key legislation including the Liberia National Police Act, the Liberia Immigration Service Act and Firearms and Ammunition Control Act of Liberia.
As electoral activities began in early 2017 with parties’ conventions and the declaration of candidatures, the debate on the applicability of a code of conduct law for public officials who wished to contest in the forthcoming elections took on major proportions. UNMIL Political Affairs officers provided analysis and context, and facilitated the SRSG to engage with key interlocutors including the Legislature’s leadership, as well as the Ministry of Justice and political parties, to discuss fair application of the code of conduct.
The SRSG intervened in disputes involving members of the Legislature to ensure smooth conduct of the electoral process and to assist in the resolution of disputes between the different branches of Government.
On 20 July 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that two vice presidential candidates, who seemed to be disqualified from running due to the code of conduct law, would be allowed to compete, thus setting a precedent for several other candidates. In response, the House of Representatives issued a petition for impeachment against three Supreme Court justices. UNMIL Political Affairs officers offered technical support to the mediation activities of the SRSG and Mission leadership. Numerous discussions were held with the Legislature and Judiciary, sometimes in the form of shuttle diplomacy, until the matter was amicably resolved.