🇱🇷 Liberia – President Addresses General Debate, 73rd Session

🇱🇷 Liberia – President Addresses General Debate, 73rd Session


H.E. Ms. Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces,
President of the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly;
H. E. Mr. Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations;
Excellencies, Heads of State and Government, and Heads of
Delegations; Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am honored to address this 73rd Session of the General Assembly of the
United Nations, on behalf of the Government and People of Liberia.
Allow me, first of all, to congratulate you. Madam President, and the
Government and people of Ecuador, for your election as President of the
73^^ Session of this august Assembly. With our eyes on history, Liberia
takes special note, and hails your selection, as the fourth woman President
of the General Assembly. Let me also express appreciation to Secretary-General
Antonio Guterres, whose dynamism and farsighted leadership continues
to strengthen the United Nations in the face of perennial global
challenges. Madame President, Distinguished Ladies and
Gentlemen: Just two weeks ago, we joined millions in
Ghana and around the world to bid a final farewell to former UN Secretary-General
Kofi Annan, devoted his life to peacemaking and conflict resolution,
a calling at which he was renowned and successful.
With his passing, Africa has lost one of its most illustrious sons, and the
world has lost one of the most outstanding diplomats of our time. May his
soul rest in perfect peace. Madam President, Distinguished Ladies and
Gentlemen: Late last year, Liberians participated in
Presidential and Legislative elections, the results of which represented
a major shift in the underlying fundamentals of the Liberian political dynamic.
In an orderly, lawful, and peaceful manner, Liberians voted in
overwhelming numbers for a Change for Hope. This was the first time in 73
years, that Liberians enjoyed a peaceful transfer of power from one
democratically-elected Government to another. At the end of the long campaign, when the
results were announced after the run-off, it became clear that the pendulum
had swung in the direction of youthful leadership, and that the paradigm
had shifted in favor of change and transformation.
The United Nations and its various bodies, as well as regional
organizations and many of our bilateral partners and friends, were direct
witnesses to the maturity of the Liberian electorate, our respect for law and
order, and the successful institutionallzation of the democratic processes.
As Standard Bearer of the winning Coalition for Democratic Change, the
mantle and responsibility of leading this transformation therefore devolved
upon me, when I was inaugurated as the 24″” President of Liberia on
January 22, 2018. The challenges of leadership are enormous,
but in each and every one of these challenges, I see opportunities to make
things better, and to bring permanent improvements to the lives of all
Liberians, as we devise policies and programs that will have a lasting and
positive impact on the lives of our citizens. Madam President:
The umbrella program under which we intend to pursue prosperity is the
Pro-Poor Agenda for Development and Prosperity (PAPD), our National
Development Plan for the next five years. This is not an Agenda only for the poor; it
is for the benefit of all Liberians. But it is a policy framework that gives priority
to the alleviation of poverty, and its core objective and focus is to reduce
the marginalization of the most vulnerable, whilst at the same time creating
a conducive atmosphere for the middle and upper income Liberian to grow
and prosper. We want to build a harmonious society, based
on the goal of economic empowerment, especially for the underprivileged.
Our Pro-Poor Agenda is therefore designed to give power to the people,
promote economic diversification, protect sustainable peace
and encourage good governance. We appeal to our friends, bilateral partners,
and private investors to support this agenda.
Madame President: As we focus on action plans to implement our
development agenda, we are acutely aware of the vulnerability of our
youthful population, who are clearly disadvantaged as a result of high unemployment,
and a lack of access to quality education opportunities.
Our plan is to reverse their unfortunate situation and make them productive
citizens through the provision of adequate educational facilities at the high
school and college levels, for those who still have interest in pursuing
academic programs. For those youths left behind due to the disastrous civil
crisis and who have outgrown their school years, my government is
investing in Technical Vocational Education and Training programs to build
their entrepreneurial and marketable skill-sets. Being conscious of the importance and impact
of infrastructure on social and economic development, my government has
identified investment in roads, energy and ports as our key priority,
and is therefore soliciting funding and other technical expertise to undertake
these projects in pursuit of our goal to connect our cities and towns,
and power our economy. Agriculture, Liberia’s comparative advantage,
has also been identified as one of our major poverty-alleviation instruments
because it will lead us to self-sufficiency in food production and self-employment,
as well as open doors for industrialization. With the implementation
of a new Special Economic Zone law, we intend to attract labor-intensive
light manufacturing.
Madame President: Drawing from the experience of the 2014 Ebola
Epidemic that took the lives of thousands of Liberians and Health workers,
we intend to efficiently and properly organize our healthcare delivery
system, to ensure that the health and wellbeing of our people is improved.
Finally, we are placing emphasis on national security in order to enable our
people move and live freely without fear. With the recent withdrawal of the
United Nations Peace-keeping Mission in Liberia, we are now in charge of
our own security. We thank you for the sacrifices that you have made in
securing and maintaining the peace in Liberia after our protracted civil
conflict. In this regard, we would like to express our
personal appreciation to Mr. Farid Zarif of Afghanistan who, as Special
Representative for Liberia and the last Head of the United Nations Mission
in Liberia (UNMIL) from 2015 to 2018, superintended an orderly withdrawal of troops, while
simultaneously securing the peaceful environment that allowed a very
robust political campaign to take place without incident.
Madam President: My country has finally turned the corner,
with more years of peace than the preceding years of war, guided by our Peace
Agreement signed in Accra 15 years ago. We thank the members and the
Security Council of the United Nations for the UNMIL Peacekeeping
Mission which brought stability and helped us rebuild our institutions
and communities. We are a Peacekeeping success story, and we are grateful
for the support given. But a nation which has experienced civil war
must never take peace for granted, or forget the long shadow that years
of conflict still cast over people’s lives. We must realize and appreciate
that ours is still a fragile peace.
Our people across the country still bear the scars of conflict. We therefore
intend to initiate a series of National Peace Dialogues throughout Liberia.
We must restart those difficult conversations at the local level, and include
our youth, so that they – and we – do not repeat the costly mistakes of the
past. It is clear to me that these frank exchanges
are an essential step in bringing lasting healing, reconciliation,
and unity to our people. Our agenda is not one of division, but rather,
it is an agenda that intends to provide an enabling environment for a united
people to be able to benefit and prosper from the economic dividends of
peace. Madam President: We reaffirm our support to the United Nations in striving
to achieve global peace and security, good governance and the
advancement of the principle of universal human rights. We further reiterate
our commitment to the rule of law, the alleviation of poverty, gender
equality, the elimination of genderbased violence, and the empowerment of women, girls
and young people. Liberia, which has been a beneficiary of regional
support, knows the relevance of regional solidarity. In this
regard we have emphasized the fight against organized crime, especially cross-border
trade in illicit substances, and small and light weapons, drugs, human
trafficking, piracy and the activities of non-state actors which threaten
to undermine peace and security within the ECOWAS region.
Madam President; With your support, we will do all we can to
make our people feel comfortable at home, and to develop love and
respect for one another. We pledge to vigorously work within our regional
organizations such as the AU, ECOWAS and the Mano River Union to foster
peace, security, and stability in our region, and for our peoples.
I thank you.

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