UN extend its support to the overall UN support to the constitution review process in Liberia



                                                             PRESS RELEASE


A two man delegation of experts on constitution making and review from the United Nations Political Affairs Department, Mr. Jason Gluck and Hassen Ebrahim of the UN Standby Team on Mediation arrived in Liberia on Saturday, April 13, 2013 to assist the Constitution Review Committee in structuring its civic education and consultative agenda and to produce a set of recommendations on specific areas where UN could extend its support to the overall UN support to the constitution review process in Liberia.


The Experts accompanied by officials from the Political Affairs Office of UNMIL were heartily received at the offices of the Constitution Review Committee by Cllr. Gloria M. Scott and Members of the Committee on April 15, 2013 at the hour of 1:00pm for consultations. The meeting which has been described as fruitful by them was most rewarding to the CRC.


In her welcome statement, Cllr. Scott praised the UN for its support to the review process and expressed the Committee’s appreciation for the coming of the UN experts to assist the Committee in planning and structuring its civic education program.  She informed them that the Government of Liberia has extended the mandate of the CRC to 2015 as a result of appeals from stakeholders that the 2014 mandate would be unattainable.


The CRC Chairperson pointed out that the UN has agreed to assist the process and have developed a Project Document which is before the Government for review. Pending approval from Government, the CRC has adopted a work plan for civic education which needs urgent assistance. She said the Committee is glad that the UN has responded by sending the experts to assist in the CRC.


For their part, the delegation said that they were happy to be in Liberia and emphasize that constitution making and review must involve the people. They stressed transparency, integrity, and legitimacy. The UN experts informed the CRC that they are here to listen and discuss but not to write the constitution for the people of Liberia. The experts told the Committee that constitution making and review is a technical and comprehensive process which must involve the people to give it legitimacy. According to them, review takes a more comprehensive approach than single amendments.


On April 16, 2013, the Committee led the experts to the Internal Affairs Ministry where discussions were held with Minister Nelson Blamo and officials of the Ministry. Counselor Gloria M. Scott introduced the Experts and briefed them on the mission of the UN Team. Both Messrs.’ Jason Gluck and Hassen Ebrahim thanked the Minister for his kind reception and said they were here to help guide and structure the CRC Civic Education Campaign. The Minister expressed appreciation to the CRC and the UN delegation and emphasized the need for the constitution to be reviewed as the Government is committed to reforms in the nation. The CRC led delegation and Internal Affairs officials deliberated on important areas of the Constitution that need to be reviewed. The aspect of civic education and extensive consultation with every segment of society dominated the discussions.


Following the Internal Affairs meeting, the CRC held discussions with political parties and civil society organizations separately at the CRC Conference Room. The meetings were aimed at explaining the mandate of the CRC and its consultative and civic education plans; discussing the thoughts of political parties and civil society organizations as well as the roles they wish to play in the review process.


The meetings were held under the atmosphere of cordiality, honesty and transparency. The CRC took note of very important political, economic, social, and constitutional issues raised at the meetings and urged both groups to document their proposals comprehensively and have them submitted to the CRC. The Committee through its Chair promised to work with them and all Liberians to ensure that they own the process. The political parties and civil society organizations want the CRC to be independent to give it credibility and ensure confidence in the process. 


On the 17 of April, 2013, the CRC and UN Experts met with the National Muslim Council, Acting Senate President Protempore and some members of the Senate and Deputy Speaker and some Members of the House of Representatives as well as the National Council of Traditional Leaders, the President of the Chambers of Commerce, and the Medical and Dental Association. The meetings brought on the table crucial national issues of constitutional ramifications and suggestions on how to proceed with the process. Discussions were frank and open. The CRC stressed the need for participation and said the review of the constitution is an opportunity for all Liberians to take ownership of the process.