UNMIL DSRSG calls for quick passage of Liberia Land Rights Act

14 Mar 2017

UNMIL DSRSG calls for quick passage of Liberia Land Rights Act

The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General (DSRSG) for Peace Consolidation, Yacoub El Hillo today called on Liberia to expedite passage of the Land Rights Act.

“There is risk of returning to conflict if Liberia does not address certain critical issues.  Chief among them is land.” said the DSRSG at the launch of Land Rights for Liberia Project today in Monrovia.

Liberia land rights and land tenure status is undergoing revision.  A draft Land Rights Act, developed in 2014, is under review in the national legislature. Stakeholders believe that the passage of the Land Rights Act will contribute to consolidation of peace and democracy and provide opportunities for economic growth.

“This gathering comes at a time when the government and the international community are finalizing a peacebuilding plan that has been called for by the United Nations Security Council. The plan calls on legislation to enact the Land Rights Bill that has been under consideration for some time, and which is seen as a cornerstone for opening up the country to many solutions on land issues.” said DSRSG El Hillo.

The project, supported by the European Union (EU) aims to promote and protect community land rights. It focuses on raising awareness and undertaking advocacy on the Liberia Land Rights Act, and after passage, supporting communities to self-identify, manage their land in line with the new law and provide legal assistance when needed.

According to EU Representative, Alberto Menghini who reiterated the significance of clarity on land ownership in Liberia, "Land is probably the number one driver to conflict at this point in Liberia, with disputes over ownership between communities and between counties.  A clear situation where ownership and tenure is clearly defined and recognised is in the interest of everyone.”

“Land, especially customary, is very crucial because it’s linked to economic, political and every area of livelihood. We must therefore do everything to promote it.” said Ambassador Babatunde Olanrewaju Ajisomo, Special Representative of the President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to Liberia. “We have to raise advocacy so that parliament will take the necessary initiative to pass and faithfully implement the act.” he said.