Home Governance Weah Approves War Crimes Court? …As Liberia Endorses Global Fight Against Impunity Pact

Weah Approves War Crimes Court? …As Liberia Endorses Global Fight Against Impunity Pact

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… To Save Present and Succeeding Generations from Scourge of War

LUSAKA, ZAMBIA: The Government of Liberia (GOL), headed by the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA’s) former Best footballer, George Weah, has formally endorsed a Global Pact, that requires democratic nations to bring to book all those accused of involvement in international crimes including former warlords in Liberia linked to war crimes and other egregious human rights violations that characterized the country’s armed conflict that spanned a decade.

Liberia’s incumbent President, George Manneh Weah, and his officials, since their ascendancy to state power in 2018, have been dragging the implementation of key recommendations by the country’s erstwhile Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), including the setting up of war and economic crimes court for prosecution of those thought to bear the greatest responsibility for the atrocities committed during the Armed conflict during which an estimated 250, 000 persons, predominately women and children, were killed and more than a million others externally and internally displaced.

In its Final Report, released in 2009, the TRC which investigated the causes, factors, antecedents, among others of the Liberian armed conflict listed 116 former Warlords, commanders and others for their alleged involvement in war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other egregious rights violations for prosecution.
Some of the crimes were identified as rape, gang- rape, massacres, torture, and genocide, recruitment of child soldiers, drugs addiction and abuse, among many others.

In late March this year, Liberia joined 78 other nations from around the world in Lusaka, Zambia, that endorsed a human rights and democracy treaty, referred to as the “LUSAKA DEMOCRACY SUMMIT.”

The leaders, who participated in the Summit, which was held on March 29, 2023, representing their respective governments and people including Liberia jointly endorsed its outcome. They stated:
“We, the LEADERS of the Summit for Democracy, reaffirm our shared belief that democracy – government reflecting the effective participation and will of the people – is humanity’s most enduring means to advance peace, prosperity, equality, sustainable development, and security. Democracy is necessary to ensure that every voice is heard, that the human rights of all are respected, protected, and fulfilled, online and offline, and that the rule of law is upheld. We recognize that democracy can take many forms, but shares common characteristics, including free and fair elections that are inclusive and accessible; separation of powers; checks and balances; peaceful transitions of power; an independent media and safety of journalists; transparency; access to information; accountability; inclusion; gender equality; civic participation; equal protection of the law; and respect for human rights, including freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association.”

“To meet the rising challenges to democracy worldwide, we commit to strengthen democratic institutions and processes and build resilience. We acknowledge that freedom and democracy are strengthened through cooperation, and we commit to building stronger domestic, regional, and global partnerships that are more assertive in countering authoritarianism and corruption and that demonstrate that democracy delivers peace, stability, and prosperity for all.

“We believe democratic institutions, which take time and concerted effort to develop, are best supported by an inclusive society that respects diversity, promotes decent work for all, and enables everyone to freely pursue their aspirations, exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms, and live without fear of violence and threats to their safety.

“Globally, we commit to put the strength of our democracies into action to revitalize, consolidate, and strengthen an international rules-based order that delivers equitable, sustainable development for all people and to deepen international cooperation to accelerate progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

“We acknowledge that eradicating poverty is critical to strengthening inclusivity and building confidence and stability in democracies globally. We recognize that democracies that respect human rights are the best means by which to solve the 21st Century’s most critical challenges. We remain united in supporting one another in our efforts to bolster democracy domestically, regionally, and internationally, combat authoritarian trends, advance multilateral and multi-stakeholder dialogue and cooperation, and safeguard the full and effective exercise of human rights, including civil and political rights, as well as the progressive realization of economic, social, and cultural rights.

“We are determined to save the present and succeeding generations from the scourge of war. To this end we unite the strength of our democracies to secure and maintain domestic, regional and international peace and security.
“We reiterate our firm resolve to support countries and people around the world that adhere to the values of freedom and democracy, against direct or indirect attempts or threats to undermine them. We recognize the fundamental principles of the UN Charter that all states shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state and shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means.”
The conference resolution added: “We recognize the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense of States consistent with Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations. We underscore the need to reach, as soon as possible, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine in line with the principles of the UN Charter. We deplore the dire human rights and humanitarian consequences of the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, including the continuous attacks against critical infrastructure across Ukraine with devastating consequences for civilians, and express our grave concern at the high number of civilian casualties, including women and children, the number of internally displaced persons and refugees in need of humanitarian assistance, and violations and abuses committed against children.

“ We are deeply concerned by the adverse impact of the war on global food security, energy, nuclear security and safety and the environment. We demand that Russia immediately, completely, and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders and call for a cessation of hostilities. We also call for the parties to the armed conflict to adhere to their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law. We call also for the complete exchange of prisoners of war, the release of all unlawfully detained persons and the return of all internees and of civilians forcibly transferred and deported, including children.

“We strongly support accountability for the most serious crimes under international law committed on the territory of Ukraine through appropriate, fair and independent investigations and prosecutions at the national or international level, and to ensure justice for all victims and the prevention of future crimes.
“We acknowledge that protecting and strengthening democratic societies is an ever-evolving process, and that we are all striving towards better adoption and implementation of democratic principles. Such a society contributes to sustainable development in all its forms – economic, environmental, and social – and serves as a foundation for peace.

“We, the Summit for Democracy participants, call upon other leaders to join us in these efforts.”
Moreover, Liberian and the rest of the countries are jointly dedicated to Count Four of the Declaration which states: “We support civilian control of the military and hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations and abuses, including those committed by non-state actors. We demand that all parties to armed conflict fully comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law including those regarding the protection of civilians, with particular consideration of populations in marginalized or vulnerable situations. We commit to fight against impunity and promote accountability for violations of international law, particularly genocide, war crimes, the crime of aggression and crimes against humanity, including where such crimes involve sexual and gender-based violence.

“ We acknowledge the important role played by the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a permanent and impartial tribunal complementary to national jurisdictions in advancing accountability for the most serious crimes under international law.”
Although some participating countries of the conference expressed reservations on some of the paragraphs and issues which could interfere with their domestic laws, the Liberian Representative at the Summit, Foreign Minister Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, endorsed all of the provisions and contents of the Summit.

The host country, Zambia, condemned Count-Eighth of the global human rights summit Declaration, Liberia signed unto all the instruments in totality without any exception or dissociation from the troubling Counts in the document.

Of the seven African countries that attended the Democracy Summit in Lusaka, Zambia- Liberia, Mauritius, Botswana, Senegal and Niger endorsed those troubling Counts of the Communique, while the likes of Zambia, Mauritania and Malawi dissociated with certain paragraphs, citing their cultural beliefs.

Those countries that disagreed to some of the controversial clauses in Declaration as indicated were Iraq, Armenia, Paraguay, Israel, Philippines, Malawi, Mauritania, Bulgaria, Spain, Mexico, Zambia, etc.
Those countries that agreed to other controversial issues including Liberia are Albania, Iceland, North Macedonia, Argentina, India, Norway, Palau, Australia, Ireland, Panama, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Peru, Botswana, Japan, , Kosovo, Canada, Latvia, Portugal, Chile, Republic of Korea, Colombia, Liechtenstein, Romania, Costa Rica, Lithuania, Senegal, Croatia, Luxembourg, Serbia, Cyprus, Slovakia, Czechia, Malta, Slovenia, Denmark, Marshall Islands, Spain, Sweden, Ecuador, Mauritius, Switzerland, Estonia, Finland, Micronesia, Ukraine, France, Moldova, United Kingdom, Georgia, Montenegro, United States of America, Germany, Netherlands, Uruguay, Greece, New Zealand, Honduras and Niger among others.
The 79 countries including Liberia that attended the Summit agreed on March 29, 2023, to promote respect for human rights and equality for all individuals and combat all forms of discrimination.
Liberia was represented at the Zambia Summit for Democracy by Foreign Minister Dee-Maxwell Kemayah, who is said to have signed the Communique on behalf of Liberia’s President, George Manneh Weah, the government and people of Liberia.

Since the ascendency of President Joe Biden to the highest office in the United States, the Biden-Harris Administration has made it clear that renewing democracy in the United States and around the world is essential to meeting the unprecedented challenges of today’s world.

On December 9-10, 2021, President Biden held the first of two Summits for Democracy, which brought together leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector in their shared effort to set forth an affirmative agenda for democratic renewal and to tackle the greatest threats faced by democracies today through collective action.
In March 2023, President Biden co-hosted the second Summit for Democracy with the governments of Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Republic of Korea, and Republic of Zambia, which was held in March 2023.

The second Summit assembled world leaders in a virtual, plenary format, followed by gatherings in each of the countries with representatives from government, civil society, and the private sector.

Together, they showcased progress made by Summit partners on commitments during the Year of Action, and organized collective actions to address emerging challenges to democracy.

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