24 September 2013

Liberian President Says Country Now On Path of 'Irreversible Progress'

Photo: Liberia Government
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf addresses the 68th UN General Assembly session.

Achieving an average annual growth or over 7 per cent and improving governance and accountability has put Liberia on the path to "irreversible progress", noted President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as she addressed the 68th session of the General Assembly.

Liberia has returned to the comity of nations as a "respectable and responsible partner" over the last 10 years, and while the country has come a long way "we have a long way to go," added President Johnson-Sirleaf in her address to the Assembly's General Debate which began at UN Headquarters today and runs through 1 October.

Thanking the Organization for extending the UN peacekeeping operation in Liberia through September 2014, the President reiterated her country's commitment to building a competent security sector, able to tackle violent crimes, sexual and gender-based violence.

The UN has maintained a peacekeeping force in Liberia since 2003 to bolster a ceasefire agreement ending a decade of war that killed nearly 150,000 people, mostly civilians. The mandate of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) includes helping to restore the rule of law and democratic processes, as well as facilitating humanitarian assistance.

In extending UNMIL's mandate for another year, the Security Council endorsed the continued drawdown of the mission's military component agreed upon last year by a further 1,129 personnel by next September, with the goal of leaving its military strength at some 3,750 personnel by July 2015.

Referring to the conflict in Syria, Ms. Johnson-Sirleaf said her country agonizes with the people, "particularly those innocent women and children who suffer most." She went on to condemn the use of chemical weapons in Syria and anywhere in the world.

In her capacity as one of three co-Chairs of a High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons tasked to make recommendations for a new global development agenda post-2015, she reminded delegations that the solutions of yesterday may not apply to today's challenges. "We must muscle the courage to take bold steps," she said.

In Africa, a continental consensus was being sought to forge a global development framework that reflects African priorities; and one that creates an "enabling environment for Africa's transformation," which includes infrastructure development and steps to accelerate creation of employment aimed at young populations, the President remarked.

Of an estimated 7 billion people in the world, 1.5 billion live in situations of conflict and fragility, President Johnson-Sirleaf remarked, urging that the peculiarities and special circumstances of post-conflict nations should be accommodated by international partners.

Ms. Johnson-Sirleaf is one of scores of leaders to speak at the annual General Assembly session at which heads of State and government and other high-level officials will present their views and comments on issues of individual national and international relevance.

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