The ninth edition of the European Union-Liberia Political Dialogue organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was on Friday, March 12, held in Monrovia.
EU-Liberian relations are grounded on the Cotonou Agreement, which associates the EU with 79 states in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, ACP countries. The Cotonou Agreement is the most comprehensive partnership agreement between developing countries and the EU.
Since 2000, it has been the framework for the EU’s relations with 79 countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP). Compared to preceding agreements and conventions shaping EC’s development cooperation, the Cotonou Agreement represents further progress in a number of aspects. It is designed to establish a comprehensive partnership, based on three complementary pillars:
“DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION, ECONOMIC AND TRADE COOPERATION AND THE POLITICAL DIMENSION”.
The political dimension of the Cotonou Agreement is partly expressed through political dialogue, as stipulated in Art. 1 of the Cotonou Agreement: According to Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement, “the Parties shall regularly engage in a comprehensive, balanced and deep political dialogue leading to commitments on both sides”. Through dialogue, the Parties contributed to peace, security and stability and promote stable and democratic political environment. It shall encompass cooperation strategies, including the aid effectiveness agenda, as well as global and sectoral policies, including environment, climate change, gender, migration and questions related to the cultural heritage. It shall also address global and sectoral policies of both Parties that might affect the achievement of the objectives of development cooperation. The dialogue was formally launched on 21 June 2012 in a meeting between the President of Liberia, H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, together with senior ministers, and Dr. Nick Westcott, Managing Director for Africa in the European External Action Service, Attilio Pacific, Head of the EU Delegation to Liberia, and the four EU Heads of mission from France, Germany, Sweden and the UK.
The partnership was centered on the objective of reducing and eventually eradicating poverty consistent with the objectives of sustainable development and the gradual integration of the ACP countries into the world economy (Art. 1 of Cotonou Agreement). The fundamental principles of the Cotonou Agreement are as follows, “EQUALITY OF THE PARTNERS AND OWNERSHIP OF THE DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES. PARTICIPATION, CENTRAL GOVERNMENTS AS THE MAIN PARTNERS, PARTNERSHIP OPEN TO DIFFIRENT KINDS OF OTHER SECTORS. PIVOTAL ROLE OF DIALOGUE AND THE FULFILMENT OF MUTAL OBLIGATIONS, AND DIFFERENTIATION AND REGIONALISATION”.
In March 2010, the European Commission and the African Caribbean Pacific group concluded a second revision of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement, adapting it to new challenges, such as climate change, food security, regional integration, State fragility and aid effectiveness.
He added that the historic moments signifies the depth of EU-Liberia partnership which continues to grow from strength to strength.
According to the Amb. Kemayah, today dialogue highlighted the debilitating effects of the corona virus pandemic, food security, education, electoral reform and democracy, human rights, fight against corruption, sexual and gender-based violence, the state of the Liberian Economy, creating the condition for broad based economic growth and job creation, good governance, accountability and transparency which are the most issues addressed at the session. He noted that while government appreciates global efforts made in containing the COVID-19 pandemic and the development of the COVAX vaccines, and the hearing of Ebola virus in neighboring Genuine brings memories to Liberians. Amb. Kemayah at the same time said, the health authorities will provide valuable updates as they work with the EU and partners to fight the disease. At the closing ceremony, Amb. Kemayah said the new frame work will guide the country’s frame work. He thanked the European Union for their hard work for promoting good governance, human right among others.
Also speaking, Head of European Union Delegation to Liberia, Amb. Laurent Delahousse assured EU partnership with Liberia. He said, the discussion focused on Liberia development in terms of implementation, policy making among others. The meeting shows EU-Liberia working partnership in the interest of the Liberian and focused on deliverable and new ideas for EU partnership development. At the closing ceremony he pledged EU continuation of the IMF support process. The EU Head to Liberia confirmed the EU partnership in fighting COVID-19. “EVERY LOST DAY IS A BROKEN LIFE FOR EVERY GIRL CHILD IN LIBERIA” Amb. Delahousse noted as said the protection of the girl child and women rights are paramount. He said, the issue of the voters roll is an issue to be settle before any other elections and noted that agriculture is the main program of the EU to Liberia this year as it is also in confirmation of the government PAPD agenda.
Meanwhile, the Chairman on Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Senator Commany Wesseh noted that the issues discussed are paramount to Liberia. He said, the issues of elections are a problem and need to be address especially for women participation in politic. According to the chairman, Liberia should be proud of her women for their role played in bring peace to the country. He said, the world’s Noble Peace price were given to two important women for their promotion of peace. He pleaded for women empowerment and women participation in politic. He complained about the working relationship between the EU and the Liberia Senate. Senator Wesseh also pleaded with the EU to focus on the education sector. “TRANSFORMATION LEADS TO DISTENTATION, CONFIRMATION LEADS TO EXTENTION” senator Wesseh noted as he pleaded with political parties to put women forward as stander barriers.
At the end of the day long dialogue, both parties discussed mutual interest including, economy, public finance, government PAPD, economy growth and job creation through business and investment, governance, accountability, transparency and anti-corruption, human rights, Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Liberia and the fight against sexual and gender based violence (SGBV), elections public health including Liberia response to COVID-19, Ebola preparedness, recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), Food security, education and EU programming of the EU-Liberia partnership from 2021-2027. Following the 2014-2020 period, during which the EU support to Liberia under the European Development Fund US$ 330 million.
Both parties reaffirmed commitment to hold regular political dialogue on issues of common interest and following up on conclusion and agreements reached. Both parties also desired that the 10th edition of the EU-Liberia Political Dialogue be held in the second half of 2021,(June, 2021). The program was held at the headquarters of the foreign ministry in Monrovia on Friday March 12, 2021.