Home > Features > 2015·Beijing Forum on Human Rights > Papers(Abstract) > Sub Topic 2 >

Augustine KONNEH Right to Peace: Important Connotation of Human Rights-The Case of Liberia
September 21,2015   By:chinahumanrights.org
Right to Peace: Important Connotation of Human Rights-The Case of Liberia
Augustine KONNEH
Liberia

The purpose of this paper is to present a concise explanation on how the momentum for the right to peace evolved in Liberia and the implications for human rights. The context of this explanation is derived from the main theme of the Forum by showing the antecedents of global wars and the evolution of peace emanating from the founding of the United Nations. The roles of Liberia and China are highlighted. Peace and development are antithetical to war. The reason is straightforward: war causes destruction to life and property, diminishes basic freedoms and liberties, and often imposes the will of the winners over the losers. This basic lesson was learned in World War 1 and World War 11, as well as civil wars in many states, including Liberia. Based on this proposition, this paper reviews the history of wars on the global stage, and shows how the machinations of dictators and warring factions can devise and prolong war. A system of regimentation and suppression, often termed Fascism, based on aggressive nationalism and often racism is a common thread of global as well as civil wars. Using Liberia as a special case, I argue that it was only when the players in the Liberian civil war realized that the right to peace could overcome violence that they were able to attain peace and development. But the slow pace of the peace process created a price: the lack of peace revered and undermined development and human rights in all its ramifications: political, economic, social, and human security.
 
This paper discusses the evolution of the momentum for the right to peace globally and in Liberia. It argues that the violation of human rights through an oppressive system often led to war which was counterproductive to peace and development.
 
After analyzing world history, especially the causes of World War II and the founding of the United Nations and its human rights foundations, the paper discusses the reasons for the slow momentum of the right to peace in Liberia. The militaristic tendencies of Liberian warlords during the civil war chiefly promoted their interests. The power struggle that ensued was catalytic in slowing the impetus for peace.
 
When the leaders and followers realized that there was no alternative to their winners take all objectives, peace became plausible through the signing of Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement whose main objective was to lay the human rights basis of interim power sharing followed by national presidential and legislative elections.
 
The outcome of this process has been two democratic national elections since 2005, and ten years of peace and developmental processes, that were interrupted by the Ebola crisis in the country in 2014. How can Liberia now sustain the peace that it has gained? I suggest the following: that the Government should ensure the implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan at national and local levels.
 
Genuine peace-building and reconciliation in Liberia must usher in a new beginning on the part of all Liberians. This should be facilitated by public acknowledgement and accounting for individual and collective responsibilities, with perpetrators offering public apologies, government committing to the short and long-term reparation of victims and their communities, and addressing ongoing ethnic and land-based conflicts. The Government must also ensure that policies and actions are conflict sensitive, while deliberately seeking to foster social cohesion and nation building.
 
Ultimately, the “right to peace” should be a mantra, a master message, which must ricochet in the psyche and consciences of Liberians, and serve as a rampart against violence and Fascist tendencies of community leaders and public officials that fueled the Liberian civil war and prolonged the peace process. Liberia is now on an irreversible path to peace. The Government and people of Liberia appreciate the strong partnership of China in supporting the Agenda for Transformation (AfT) for the attainment of sustainable economic and human development in Liberia.
 
(The author is Director General, Foreign Service Institute, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Monrovia, Liberia)