The story of UNMIL [Book]: UNMIL paves the way for ECOWAS Radio

3 Apr 2018

The story of UNMIL [Book]: UNMIL paves the way for ECOWAS Radio

As UNMIL entered the last phase of its lifespan, the use of programmatic funding became a means of achieving the Mission’s mandated tasks, complementing the work of peacekeeping personnel in activities that should help sustain the peace. The Mission will use such funding to ensure that its popular UNMIL Radio will continue to inform and engage Liberians, and audiences beyond.

The High-Level Panel on Peacekeeping Operations (HIPPO) report of 2015 recognized that many capacity-building activities - such as training, construction and project support - could help a mission achieve its mandate more quickly than by relying upon staff members alone. Such funds could also be used to help countries adjust to the departure of a mission.

Programmatic activities have been crucial for UNMIL to ensure a responsible drawdown, taking into account anticipated gaps in services that the Mission had been delivering to the Liberian population. UNMIL would spend over US$3 million for 2016-7 and US$6 million for 2017-8 on programmatic funding projects in reconciliation and social cohesion, conflict prevention, land management, human rights and justice, gender, sexual and gender-based violence, engagement with high-risk youth, and support to media and regional cooperation.

UNMIL is using programmatic funds to facilitate the transition of UNMIL Radio to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which had intended to start a regional broadcaster since a year-2000 Summit. UN Security Council resolution 2333 also requests that UNMIL, as part of its withdrawal from Liberia, transfer UNMIL Radio to an independent entity.

The US$305,000 radio transition project will help Liberians to address the root causes of conflict and build trust between Liberians and their institutions. The station has also been mandated to dispel misinformation, combat violence and extremism in the region, and broadcast programming on peace and security.

The funds should mean the transfer of UNMIL Radio to ECOWAS will be seamless without any interruption in broadcasting, maintaining popular station’s “brand” and credibility. The project
makes use of support by regional experts such as the Media Foundation for West Africa, and enables the transfer of skills and experience to ECOWAS in managing the radio operations.

On 30 March 2018, UNMIL Radio will officially transform into ECOWAS Radio, which will gradually scale back up to broadcasting 24 hours per day, seven days per week. ECOWAS Radio intends
to broadcast programmes eventually to the entire sub-region in English, French, Portuguese, Arabic, and indigenous languages.

The transition of a UN radio station to a regional entity is a first, and it is critical that UNMIL Radio’s successor retains the impartiality and credibility which has made such a difference to
the lives of Liberians.