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National Conference on the Future of Liberia
Unity Conference Center, Virginia
August 19, 1998
Conference Resolutions
(The Virginia Declaration)
 

1.0 Preamble

1.1 WHEREAS, the government of the Republic of Liberia, by and through the President of the Republic, Dr, Charles Ghankay Taylor, convened the National Conference on the Future of Liberia at the Unity Conference Center, Virginia, Liberia, on  July 19- August 12, 1998, and requested the delegates of over three thousand Liberians, to propose, debate, decide upon and recommend an agenda of strategic initiative and actions designed to address the future direction of the Liberian nation.

1.2 NOTING that the said delegates came from Liberia and abroad, and represented all political sub-divisions of Liberia at the levels of the township, chiefdom, district, political party, national, apex organization, professional body, non-governmental organization, and religious institution; women, youth, and student organization; as well as Liberians in the North Americas, Europe, and the Middle East; Nigeria, Ghana, Guinea, and La Cote D'Ivoire;

1.3 WHEREAS the Conference deliberated on (a) the state of socio-economic and political conditions and situations desired to exist in Liberia by the year 2024; (b) the national actions that are required to create and maintain these conditions and situations; and (c) the administrative and resource allocation framework including the actions to be taken to achieve the strategic goals defined:

1.4 NOTING FURTHER that following prolong hours of discussions and deliberations, including debates and compromises, the Conference adopted a "Vision 2024" strategic framework to guide the preparation and implementation of national social, economic, and political development plans in the first quarter of the first century of the new millennium.

1.5 COGNIZANT that after seven-years of civil war, there exists an urgent need for Repatriation/resettlement of the externally and internally displaced citizens-refugees; Rehabilitation/re-adjustment and socio-psycho healing; that genuine national peace and unity are Are the fundamental preoccupations of all Liberians and that in this regard national reconciliation is the centerpiece around which Liberians should surmount the new challenges occasioned by the war.

1.6 CONCERNED that after one hundred and fifty one years of independence Liberia, with an area with 43,000 square miles and a population of 2.5 million remains underdeveloped with adult illiteracy rate in excess of 60%, infant mortality rate standing at 144/1000, under-five mortality rate standing at 216/1000 live births Gross domestic Product per capita below 450 (real income less than US $1.00 per day), and the population yet unable to feed itself

1.7 RECOGNIZING that individual/collective security is relevant to effective political administration, the promotion of public and private sector initiatives, the reversal of the brain drain, the contribution to the creation of an enabling environment to attract and retain foreign investments, and the general advancement of sustainable human development.

1.8 AWARE that equal access to public service opportunities, equitable and transparent dispensation of justice as well as respect for human rights are the foundations for fostering understanding, peaceful co-existence, enlightened progress of a nation that is a mosaic of many traditions.

1.9 CONSCIOUS of the need to preserve Liberian heritage and to promote the positive dimensions of its culture and values and appreciating the new emerging sense of national identity and nationalism, including the desire of Liberians to take control of the Liberian economy and the realization that the development of Liberia is a responsibility of Liberians.

1.10 ACKNOWLEDGING that the nation's economy needs to be revamped so as to create more jobs and put more Liberian people back to work; and that the quality of life of Liberians need to be continuously improved by creating enabling conditions that economically empowers Liberians individually and collectively.

1.11 AWARE that economic, growth and development should be private sector driven, thus the need to make the public sector lean, constructive and efficient.

1.12 REALIZING that good democratic governance at all levels of administration and in all spheres of our national life should be manifested in greater degrees of responsiveness to the needs of the people, tolerance, accommodation. transparency, and accountability in order to achieve sustainable human development.

1.13 FURTHER CONVINCED that an investment in the future of Liberia requires an appropriate re-structuring of the national political power and the empowerment of local governments; prioritizing the interests and needs of children, the young people, and woman in development, and empowering local communities to take responsibility and ownership for their own well- being.

1.14 RECOGNIZING that Liberians deserve a government that is efficient, credible and committed to the need for an effective management of the nation's resources and the environment as well the need for developing special programs for vulnerable groups such as the elderly and the handicapped.

1.15 ALSO RECOGNIZING the need far forging new progressive partnership with non-governmental organizations, the international community, and friends of Liberia.

1.16 AFFIRMIMG LIBERIA'S "VISION 2024" to entail the following five (5) strategic, national goals:

  • establishment of genuine national peace, unity and reconciliation;
  • the advancement of lndividual/collective security, social justice, human rights and the rule of law;
  • a renaissance of Liberia's culture, national identify, and nationalism;
  • economic development and empowerment for the advancement of the quality of life;
  • good democratic governance at all levels and in al spheres of national life;
NOW THEREFORE, WE, REPRESENTATIVES of the Liberian people aforesaid, accredited to this Conference on the future of Liberia, having discussed, deliberated and debated, with compromises, DO HEREBY RESOLVE AS FOLLOWS:

2.0 Particular

2.1 Thank President Dr. Charles G. Taylor and the Government for convening the Conference which has afforded the people of Liberia at all levels of our national life the opportunity to participate in deciding the future direction our country should take;

2.2 Regrets and mourns the home-going of delegate William Brown of the Township of Jarjoho from Grand Gedeh who passed away during the course of the conference. We pay tribute to old man Brown who died in service to his country, May his soul rest in perfect peace;

2.3 That there shall be no more war and that Liberians will settle any and all their social, economic and political differences now and in the future through dialogue, compromise and the ballot box;

2.4 That the Liberian people will never again accept any Government, which comes to power other than through the constitutional process.

3.0 Socio-Political

3.1 That the three branches of government in their exercise of power and political authority recognize that good democratic governance at all levels and in all spheres of national life is one of our national goals. Liberians deserve a government that is efficient and credible, responsive to the real needs of the people, and focused on what a government in a free enterprise society ought to be doing.

3.2 IN PURSUANCE OF THE ABOVE, calls on the government to aspire to adapt a public policy that facilitates public participation in the national decision making process which establishes priorities, along the following parameters:

3.3 Good governance and decentralization

3.3.1 THAT the machinery of government MUST be decentralized with appropriate arrangements for the provision of adequate resources for the functioning of local civil administration;

3.3.2 THAT the appropriate constitutional amendments be made for the election of the county superintendents in addition to paramount, clan, and town chiefs;

3.3.3 THAT a merit-oriented civil service system be instituted with appropriate restructuring of governance institutions to eliminate parallel and/or duplicate functions; and that appropriate judicial sanctions be enforced against those convicted to embezzlement of public resources;

3.4 National Identity:

3.4.1THAT in the effort to evolve a true Liberian identity, within the concept of the African personality, Liberia should affirm the promotion, fostering, and preserving positive Liberian culture and values;

3.5 Tribalism

3.5.1 THAT tribal differences connote differing perceptions, attributes, and values - diversity in unity. As a basis for the negotiation of tribal/ethnic interests in the building of a pluralistic democracy, tribalism based on prejudice, hatred, antagonism, fear, and suspicion must be cleared of the Liberian society:

3.6 Citizenship

3.6.1 THAT the relevant provision of the constitution on citizenship remains for the time being and an appropriate commission be set-up to review the implications and formulate appropriate recommendations;

4.0 Socio-Economic

4.1 That Liberia's economic recovery, growth and development should be private sector driven, thus the need to create the necessary environment for the innovative, defiant, and sustainable development of education and training; health, water and sanitation; agriculture and food security; housing and human settlements; the land tenure system; infrastructure (energy, communications, transportation); forestry, natural resources and the environment. Economic empowerment and the enhancement of the quality of life of all of our people is a fundamental national objective.

CALLS on the government to:

4.2 Post War reconstruction Agenda

4.2.1 immediately put into place a program for divestiture and privatization of some state- owned enterprises (public corporations).

4.2.2 demonstrate sound fiscal management by: prioritizing and streamlining public expenditures, broadening the tax base, strengthening tax administration, as well as demonstrating transparency, accountability, and equity in public financial management.

4.2.3 formulate the necessary policy and enact legislation to create the enabling environment for private sector-led growth of the economy.

4.3 National Development and Land Tenure

4.3.1 develop and put into place a program that will ensure the effective and efficient management of our land and natural resources as well as the protection of the environment, and that a commission be set up to study the problems of land ownership, usage and title, and advise government on options for reforms;

4.3.2 accentuate add accelerate agricultural productivity by: increasing mechanization, strengthening extension services, training, agricultural credit, and marketing.

4.3.3 assign priority to investment in a diversified but reliable energy base, a good transport network and an effective and efficient  telecommunications and information system that can unleash both urban and rural economic potential.

4.4 Social Service Delivery

4.4.1 prioritize education by: increasing the annual allocation for education to 20% of the national budget, making education free from kindergarten up to the sixth grade, strengthening and making the curriculum more relevant to out national aspiration, strengthening teacher training, making school supplies available, and implementing a national program of functional literacy and numeracy.

4.4.2 prioritize health by: increasing the annual allocation for heath care delivery to 15 % of the national budget, strengthening primary health care services, and eliminating the curative bias, the fixed facility bias, and the urban bias in the structure and delivery of health services.

4.4.3 develop and put into place special programs for vulnerable groups such as women and children, the elderly, and the handicapped.

4.4.4  ratify all international conventions, protocols, treatises and laws banning the abuse of narcotics and other psychotropic substances, as well as establish the appropriate institution and provide programs for the rehabilitation detoxification and reintegration of drug-affected individuals.

5.0 Security

5.1 That a Legislative enactment be made to restructure and reorganize our national security institutions to reflect geographic balance, new mission statement/requirement, force structure, table of organization and equipment, professional training and educational standards, minimum entry level requirement and qualification standards, efficient command and control, better salaries and incentives, and professional development through merits and qualifications. These institutions include the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), The Liberia National Police (LMP), National Intelligence Institutions; the Special Security Service (SSS); and the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN).

5.2 The appropriate statutory enactment for the proper re-organization and re-structuring of the national security institutions should ensure that these institutions are developed into a well disciplined, correctly trained, loyal, and efficient service institutions.

5.3 That the Government should consider the creation of a Bureau of Human Rights within the office of the Solicitor General, Ministry of Justice;

5.4 That law enforcement officers and officials adhere to the rule of law and dignity of the human person;

5.5 That the Government and citizens should establish and poverty programs, and create an enabling environment wherein individuals can live in peace and harmony;

5.6 That the National Legislature should enact legislation for gun control laws.

5.7 That the Government sets up an Independent Review Board within the Ministry of Justice to investigate police actions and behavior.

5.8 That the government should establish and maintain mutual defense pacts with countries in the sub-region.

5.9 That the governemnt should establoish a truth commission.

6.0 Judiciary

6.1 That the independence of the Judiciary be enhanced.

6.2 That a Statute be enacted establishing an Independent Judicial Commission that would be responsible to screen and recommend for nomination and appointment to judicial positions individuals who are qualified and competent.

6.3 That members of the legislature must be freely elected by the people.

6.4 That the Government provides adequate budgetary appropriations for the Judiciary and that a statute be enacted granting the Judiciary management of the funds allocated to it in the National Budget.

6.5 That the government provides housing facilities for the Judges that are in circuit in the various counties of the Republic, as well as adequate salaries, benefits and incentives.

6.6 That the Magisterial and Justice of the Peace Court system be overhauled and reformed to prevent the iniquities, the judicial wrongs, and the abuses of judicial power now prevalent in the system.

6.7 That certain traditional practices, such as trial by ordeal or sassywood, should be abolished.  In this regard, the legislature should enact the appropriate laws to criminalize the practice of sassywood.

6.8 That adequately furnished and equipped Law Libraries be established in each county headquarters and that all opinions of the Supreme Court be codified.

6.9 That a program of on-going in-service education be provided judges, magistrates and other judicial personnel through workshops and seminars and that studies be undertaken to determine the efficacy of the present jury system.

6.10 That a Code of Conduct be enacted by the Legislature to serve as a common standard for the conduct of public officials.

6.11 That the government, Bar Associations and individual lawyers establish legal aid services in all the thirteen political sub-divisions of the country.

6.12 That the constitution be amended to give recognition to the rights of victims of crime and abuse of power.

6.13 That the Legislature carry out its constitutional mandate by enacting the following laws: a) making torture and inhumane treatment during detention a crime and providing penalties therefore; b) giving adequate protection to women married under customary practices; c) providing a mechanism for redress against the government for violations of constitutional rights; d.) promoting national unification and popular participation in government; e) eliminate sectionalism and tribalism, and promoting good governance.

7.0 International Relations

7.1 That Government attracts more credible and trained Foreign Service Personnel who are experienced and knowledgeable in the held of International Relations.

7.2 That Government restructures and reactivates the Foreign Service Institute to enable personnel to be active, imaginative and even aggressive in disseminating information and soliciting assistance for a new Liberia.

7.3 That the proliferation of foreign nationals as Consuls, Consuls-general and Honorary at-large be substantially reduced;

7.4 That the Taylor Administration re-new and build stronger bonds of enduring and lasting special relationship with the United States of America.

7.5 That the Taylor Administration strengthens its friendship with our immediate neighbors, ECOWAS States, the OAU and the entire International Community;

7.6 That Liberia's Foreign Policy objective focus on trade and investment and restore mutually rewarding commercial links with developed and newly industrialized countries.

7.7 That Liberia re-news her membership in all International Organizations.

7.8 That Government launches an appeal to the Governments of the United States, France, Germany, Italy and Japan to waive all debts owed them.

7.9 That Government insists that all funds for NGOs be channeled through the banking system;

7.10 That the Government and the private sector establish contacts with friends of Liberia everywhere to enable them solicit investments and other commercial links with Liberia.

7.11 Government re-examines its bilateral agreements with traditional countries with the view to making essential changes that will reflect current realities and foster cooperation.

7.12 That the Taylor Government and the private sector attract direct foreign investments by engaging in partnerships with multinational corporations and newly industrialized countries to sustain national development.

7.13 That the Government breaks away from dependency tradition and re-assesses its interest on the basis of dividends and revenues to be accrued from concessional arrangements;

7.14 That Liberia engages the United States in concrete and sustained ways to improve security, maintain democracy, enhance good governance and advance economic development;

7.15 That Government encourages cost-saving measures by supporting private investments; and, Government pursues a structural adjustment program to enhance development.

8.0 General

8.1 That the Government ensures that the Conference Secretariat produces and publishes a Report of the Conference proceedings, findings, conclusions and recommendations.

8.2 That the Government establish a Small WORKING GROUP to:

a) host a series of post conference national sectoral workshops to develop the detail and fine tune the agenda and administrative frame work for effecting the vision defined:

b) produce a comprehensive Liberia Vision 2024 Document by January 1,1999 to guide Liberia's development planners in preparing and implementing national social, economic and political development plans;

8.3 That the Government creates within the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs a Strategic Planning Unit with a long term perspective to produce the first in the series of five- year social, economic, and political development plan based on the Liberia Vision 2024 Document by July, 1999;

We, the representative of the people of Liberia, FURTHER RESOLVE to: (a) attain the vision defined above; (b) pursue the global national actions identified to be carried out in pursuit of the vision defined; and (c) put into place the appropriate governance framework, including resource allocation parameters, to achieve our national hopes and aspirations. We do solemnly pledge the finest, the ablest, the best in us, and agree to be held accountable, individually and collectively, for being promoters of sustainable democracy and human development in our country.



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