Thursday, November 19, 2009

‘Liberia reeling from the effects of climate change’

Liberia’s Vice President Joseph N. Boakoi says Liberia and the entire continent of
Africa is reeling from the debilitating effects of climate change and needs prompt and robust action, though Africa is not among those who pollute the World.

Ambassador Boakoi said in an attempt to address the travesty of justice imposed by the World’s leading polluters, African leaders have agreed to demand compensation from industrialized countries that are engage in the pollution of the continent and the World.
Speaking at the launch of the 2009 State of the World Population (SWOP) Report in the Auditorium of the University of Liberia, Amb. Boakoi noted that, though Liberia has not significantly contributed to global warming but the country is a victim of the phenomenon of climate change.

He said Liberia has been listed among disaster prone nations and gradually being affected by unprecedented levels of floods, sea erosions and other forms of climate change.

The program organized by the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs in collaboration with the United Nations Fund for Population Agency (UNFPA) was held under the theme: “Facing A Changing World: Women, Population and Climate”.

V.P Boakoi further said, climate change is partly the result of an approach to development and economic growth that has proven to be unsustainable, which halting will require what he called, ‘a fresh, more equitable and sustainable approach to the way people live, produce and consume.’

Amb. Boakoi also indicated that as the growth of the World’s population estimated at 7 billion, economies and consumption outpaces the earth’s capacity to adjust, and climate change could become more extreme and conceivably catastrophic.

Also speaking for UNFPA Resident Representative Esperance Fundira, the Resident Representative of the World Health organization (WHO), Dr. Nestor Ndayimirije said the launch this years’ SWOP report under the theme: “Facing a Changing World: Women, Population and Climate”, explores the links between climate change and population dynamics.

Dr. Ndayimirije said climate change remains a key issue of population dynamics, poverty and gender equality.

“Experts have established that climate-the average weather condition over time-is always changing, but never in the history of human existence more dramatically than it is likely to change in the coming century,” he noted.

The WHO boss said it is evident that climate change is largely due to human action, which influences activity on phenomenon in a very complex way.

According to Dr. Ndayimirije, WHO fact-sheet 2005 indicates that approximately 600,000 deaths occurred worldwide as a result of weather related disasters in the 1990s: and some 95% of these were in poor countries.
He pointed out that climate scientists have predicted that if these trends continue unabated there will be further catastrophic effects on the environment, habitats, economies and people.
Dr. Ndayimirije further said the report points out that countries also need to invest in women, ensuring that alternatives are provided including, wood imported fuel, secure clean water supplies, better roads and mobile phones.
The WHO boss noted that women and girls need education and health care including their reproductive health.
According to him, there are about 200 million women today who would like to space or prevent pregnancies, and who have no access to reliable and modern contraception.
“Helping women to make their own decisions about family size would protect their health, make their lives easier, help put their countries on a sustainable path towards development – and ensure lower greenhouse-gas emissions in the long run,” Dr. Ndayimirije said. See full text of the UNFPA boss message delivered by WHO’s Ndayimirije.
UNFPA Liberia Statement on the Occasion of the Launch of State of World Population Report 2009

Delivered by Dr. Nestor Ndayimirije,
Resident Representative, World Health Organization (WHO)

November 18, 2009

His Excellency the Vice President of Republic of Liberia,
President of University of Liberia
Honorable Ministers
Members of the National Legislature
Senior Government Officials
Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
UN Colleagues
Members of the Civil Society,
University Professors
Students and Youth
Representatives of the Media
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of my Colleague UNFPA Resident Representative Madam Esperance Fundira, I would like to express our sincere thanks to the Government of Liberia especially the Hon’ble Vice-President for the support and gracious presence at this occasion.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Today, we launch the 2009 State of World Population report under the theme: “Facing a Changing World: Women, Population and Climate”. This year’s report explores the links between climate change and population dynamics. It demonstrates that climate change remains a key issue of population dynamics, poverty and gender equality.

How deep the trouble mankind is confronted with today as a result of its own activities? Experts have established that climate-the average weather condition over time-is always changing, but never in the history of human existence more dramatically than it is likely to change in the coming century.

This growing body of evidence shows that recent climate change is largely due to human action. The influence of human activity on climate change is very complex.
Ladies and Gentlemen

Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Republic of Liberia, in her recent welcome address at the “Consultation on Climate Change, Human Rights, Peace and Security”, stated and I quote:

“While Liberia has not contributed in any significant degree to global warming, it is, nevertheless, a victim of the phenomenon of climate change”.

According to the World Health Organization factsheet 2005, “approximately 600,000 deaths occurred worldwide as a result of weather related disasters in the 1990s: and some 95% of these were in poor countries”. If these trends continue unabated, many climate scientists are predicting further catastrophic effects on the environment, habitats, economies and people.

As rightly observed by the UNFPA Executive Director Madam Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, I quote:
“During the past half century, rapid population growth and industrialization have led to a rapid rise in greenhouse gas emissions. We have now reached a point where humanity is approaching the brink of disaster.
The damage done to the environment by modern society is one of the most inequitable risks of our time. Right now, the carbon footprint of the poorest billion people on Earth is a mere 3 per cent of the world’s total carbon footprint. And it is the poor who will bear the disproportionate brunt of our changing climate.
For many people, especially poor women in poor countries, climate change is here and now. Women work hard to keep their households together. They fetch the water, find the food and the fuel to cook it, and clean up afterwards. They watch their children’s health and care for their illnesses. In recent years, both food and fuel have been harder to find. The available water carries parasites. Malaria is creeping into areas that used to be mosquito-free. And floods, rising seas and drought present growing challenges.
Poor women in poor countries are among the hardest hit by climate change even though they contributed the least to it. Poor women don’t take planes. They don’t drive cars. As often as not, they can’t find a vehicle to get them to hospital if they have a difficult labour. In fact, they get very little support for all they do.”
Madam Thoraya also observed and gave a clarion call, I quote:
“This must change. As this report points out, support for women grappling with climate change means empowering them to take their own decisions and be involved in public decisions that affect their lives. Yes, countries need to invest in green technology and reduce emissions immediately and this is a focus for next month’s conference in Copenhagen.
This report points out that countries also need to invest in women – in ensuring alternatives to wood and imported fuel, in secure clean water supplies, in better roads and mobile phones. Girls need education and health care. Women need attention to their own health, including their reproductive health. There are about 200 million women today who would like to space or prevent pregnancies, and who have no access to reliable and modern contraception.
Helping women to make their own decisions about family size would protect their health, make their lives easier, help put their countries on a sustainable path towards development – and ensure lower greenhouse-gas emissions in the long run.”

Ladies and gentlemen, climate change has the potential to reverse the hard-earned development gains of the past decade and the progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Climate change threatens to exacerbate poverty and burden marginalized and vulnerable groups with additional hardships. Poor households are especially vulnerable to climate change because their marginal income provides little or no access to health services or other safety nets to protect themselves against the threats from changing conditions.
The Way forward
Ladies and gentlemen,
The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development or ICPD, was a milestone in the history of population and development. There is a good reason to believe that achievements of the ICPD Goals of universal access to reproductive health, in combination with improved education of girls and gender equality, would help reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in the long run.
Meeting the needs of some 200 million women worldwide who wish to avoid or delay pregnancy would prevent some 23 million unplanned births and 142,000 pregnancy-related deaths. In addition to contributing to eventual population stabilization, women’s ability to plan their families can empower them to cope with the realities of a changing climate, including migration in the face of drought, floods and other extreme weather conditions. The contributions of women to addressing the effects of a changing climate are maximized when they are able to plan their pregnancies and protect their reproductive health.

What is the future scenario? I would like to reiterate the way forward proposed by UNFPA Executive Director, I quote:
“Any treaty emerging out of this Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change “that helps people adapt to climate change and that harnesses women’s and men’s power to reverse the warming of the earth’s atmosphere would launch a genuinely effective long-term global strategy to deal with climate change.

Overall, climate change is not just an issue of energy or the environment; it is also a moral issue of justice and equity. All nations and people have the right to development. And all countries are challenged to develop in ways that are socially equitable and environmentally sound.
Women should be part of any agreement on climate change—not as an afterthought or because it’s politically correct, but because it’s the right thing to do. Our future as humanity depends on unleashing the full potential of all human beings, and the full capacity of women, to bring about change.”

I thank you once again Ladies and Gentlemen for joining us today!

Worldwatch is Lead Author of the UNPFA State of the World Population 2009

Report finds that women will be most affected by climate change but
remain noticeably absent from Copenhagen agenda.

Washington, D.C.-Women will bear the greatest burden of a changing
climate but so far have received little attention from negotiators
working toward a new global climate deal, according to the 2009 edition
of the United Nations Population Fund's State of World Population.

Robert Engelman, Worldwatch Institute's Vice President for Programs, was
lead author of the report, which argues that women's issues, and
especially women's health issues, have been largely overlooked in
discussions leading up to the UN climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark,
this December.

"This is the first report in which a United Nations agency has connected
climate change to human population and the status of women," Engelman
said. "Its main finding-that investing in women and erasing the
constraints on their achievement will slow climate change and build
social resilience-is powerful and hopeful."

In addition to exploring the inherent connections between population and
climate change, the report examines the climate issue as it pertains to
multiple aspects of health, development, and the global environment.
These connections have long remained at the forefront of Worldwatch's

State of World Population 2009 shows that investments that empower women
and girls-particularly investments in education and health-also bolster
economic development and reduce poverty. But these investments have an
additional beneficial impact on climate.

Girls with higher levels of
education, for example, tend to have smaller families as adults, and the
ensuing lower fertility rates contribute to slower growth in greenhouse
gas emissions and improved adaptation to the impacts of climate change.

A recent report published by Worldwatch and the United Nations
Foundation, Global Environmental Change: The Threat to Human Health
notes that 200 million women
worldwide currently lack access to the family planning services they
want or need, ranging from contraception to reproductive health

The report's author, Dr. Samuel S. Myers of Harvard
University, asserts that providing these services and allowing women to
decide for themselves whether, when, and how often to give birth is an
adaptive strategy against many of the predicted impacts of climate
change-all of which will be exacerbated by larger populations needing
access to resources, secure homes, and productive lands.

"No other intervention would provide more benefits across the health and
environmental sectors than providing global access to family planning
services," says Dr. Myers.

According to State of the World Population 2009, the poor are especially
vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and the majority of the 1.5
billion people living on $1 a day or less are women. The poor are more
likely to depend on agriculture for a living and therefore risk going
hungry or losing their livelihoods when droughts strike, rains become
unpredictable and hurricanes move with unprecedented force. The poor
also tend to live in marginal areas that are vulnerable to floods,
rising seas, and storms. Research cited in the report shows that women
are more likely than men to die in natural disasters-including those
related to extreme weather-with this gap most pronounced where incomes
are low and status differences between men and women are high.

"We can't successfully confront climate change if we neglect the needs,
challenges, and potential of half the people on this planet," said UNFPA
Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid in a UNFPA release announcing the
State of the World Population report. "If we are really serious about
halting climate change, then we must get serious about eliminating
inequalities between the sexes and empowering women to persevere in our
warming world."

For more information or to download State of the World Population 2009,
please visit

David Crane calls for war crimes court

-Taylor faces second trial

By P. Alphonsus Zeon in The Hague

Liberia’s former President Charles Taylor faces the prospect of another trial if at all he gets away as a free man in his current war crimes trial before the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague.

The former Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court who indicted Taylor had in fact called for another hybrid war crimes court for Liberia long before Taylor`s March 29, 2006 arrest at the Roberts International Airport.

In the February 8, 2006 submission to the Sub-committee on Africa Global Human Rights and International Operations, a committee of the International Relations, US House of Representatives, Mr. Crane said the conflict in Sierra Leone was far different from the Conflict in Liberia and that ‘another hybrid war crimes tribunal needs to be established to account for the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Charles Taylor and his henchmen from 1990 to 2003 in Liberia.’

He said Liberia, working together with the international community and under the auspices of the United Nations can account for what Charles Taylor did to his own countrymen.

Crane told the US lawmakers, ‘Charles Taylor has destroyed two nations, not just one.
He must be prosecuted for any crimes he is alleged to have committed in Liberia after he is tried for what he did in Sierra Leone.’ He said Taylor ‘is individually criminally responsible for the destruction of 1.2 million human beings.’ Crane warned that Taylor still poses a threat to Liberia and the region.

‘He is relatively young, wealthy, influential and has a supportive base, military and politically, within Liberia and the Mano River region.

Crane`s call for a second Taylor trial is contained in his ‘suggested roadmap for a successful beginning for Liberia.’

‘First, hand Charles Taylor over to the Special Court for Sierra Leone for a fair trial. This takes him out of the local and regional dynamic that is West Africa. The new President can move forward, confident that Charles Taylor is not lurking in the shadows undermining her initial efforts to develop a legitimate and accountable government in Monrovia.

Second, tie any financial and political support to good governance in Liberia.

Third, encourage the new administration in Liberia to establish the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called for in the earlier peace accords.

Fourth, within the next few years or so, another hybrid war crimes tribunal needs to be established to account for the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Charles Taylor and his henchmen from 1990 to 2003 in Liberia.’

Three of Crane`s suggested roadmap for Liberia had taken place in the country, except a court.
A local group, the Movement for the Establishment of a war crimes court has been campaigning since. But its efforts are hitting rock. Former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan who received the group’s first petition for a court, asked the group to in fact petition its government. Many believe this is a sure way to kill the whole idea. Many in government who should make a formal request for the establishment of the court are potential indictees. It follows then that no one would want to indict himself by calling for a court in Liberia.

Even findings from the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including a provision, calling on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to stay away from public office for 30 years are facing resistance from government circles.

Taylor`s lawyer, Courtney Griffiths refers to Crane`s suggestion for a second trial for Taylor as a second opportunity to get Taylor if the prosecution fails to link him to the crimes in Sierra Leone. ‘So we will throw out - you get your pick. "If we miss him in the Sierra Leonean court, I will try to get him in Liberia."

Taylor said that was the whole point, ‘ they may as well just shoot me,’ he said as he hauls up to his shoulders the ends of his white African gown while resting his elbows on the desk behind which he sat. ‘That’s the whole construct, ‘banging on the desk in the court room.

Dr J. Peter Pham, Director, William R Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs, James Madison University said ‘Liberia, while small in population and without any hydrocarbon reserves discovered to date, is in many ways the key to the entire sub-region. If Liberia remains stable, the fragile peace in Sierra Leone will be reinforced, the conflict in Cote d'Ivoire will be contained and collapse of Guinea mitigated. A democratic Liberia - and the Liberian people want it to be such - will be a beacon for the entire sub-region.’

Dr. Pham said Taylor’s invasion of Liberia, the initial conflict in Liberia made the outbreak of conflict in the neighboring states inevitable.

Jappah family cries for justice

A family member of Aloysius T. Jappah, a former member of the presidential Technical Committee of the controversial Zakhem International Construction, Ltd involving the dismissed Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Corporation (LPRC) Harry Greaves is challenging the Liberian government to take Mr. Jappah to court to enable him exonerate himself through the due process of law.

In a statement released in Monrovia Wednesday, November 18, on behalf of Mr. Jappah, Alteah Jappah said credible sources have hinted the family that there are attempts being made by the government of Liberia to sweep the alleged bribery accusation him (Jappah) under the carpet perhaps due to lack of sufficient evidence to link the accused.

“The government of Liberia must show courage in taking the appropriate steps to leave no doubts in the minds of the public as to who is criminally responsible in the alleged deal raised by Mr. Greaves,” the statement said.

According to the statement, Greaves months ago swore to an affidavit which he submitted to the Office of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf alleging bribery demand on the part of Mr. Jappah which was later accordingly submitted to the Ministry of Justice for investigation.

However, the statement added, “strangely, after two days of investigation by the Ministry of Justice, Greaves undertook a dare-devil public campaign intended to mislead the public, when he realized that the bribery allegation scheme was being identified and exposed as a part of a signature pattern of his to discredit attempts to unmask the unholy Zakhem contract he (Greaves) was immediately dismissed the president.

The statement said unlike Greaves who has been fully compensated and given all his benefits since his dismissal, Mr. Jappah has written several letters to the President, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Minister of State for Finance, Economic, and Legal Affairs, the Minister of Justice, and the Director General of the Civil Service Agency to receive his just compensation for services rendered the government of Liberia but to no avail.

The Jappah family however described as “outright cruelty and no respect for governance and the rule of law” the apparent refusal by the government to pay their brother just benefit. The statement calls on the public to implore the President to pay Mr. Jappah and to properly investigate the litany of lies told against this decent young man whose character remained immaculate until he joined the company of wolves and hyenas.

In conclusion, the statement commended the Ministry of Justice for the professional form and manner in which the alleged bribery accusation against Aloysius Jappah was handled and investigated.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Professor honored with international award

Sharon Friedman, a professor of journalism, was awarded the International Green Pen Award from the Asia-Pacific Forum for Environmental Journalists for her work in advancing international environmental reporting this month.

The award is given to those who have helped encourage others to pursue journalism that focuses on the environment, according to Sri Lanka Environmental Journalists Forum, a social organization that uses the media to make change.

Friedman was among five independent environmental journalists who received the 2009 International Green Pen Award.

Friedman was awarded the honor based on her work with environmental reporting in the Asia-Pacific region of the world. Part of her work included leading teaching seminars in Asian countries, centered on the book written by Friedman.

Her book, "Reporting on the Environment: A Handbook for Journalists," was co-authored by her husband, Ken Friedman, also a journalism professor at Lehigh, and covers topics of responsible environmental reporting.

As with the seminars, the book was written with a focus on the Asia-Pacific region. Friedman says the book has been translated into 19 languages and is used in some of her classes.

The seminars in Asia occurred over almost a decade of summer trips that usually lasted between three and four weeks long, she said.

The training workshops were initially sponsored by the United Nations Economic Social Commission for Asia and Pacific, but Friedman says the funding was eventually picked up by several collaborating journalist forums when the U.N. funding ended.

Friedman considers herself an environmental journalist, but noted she did not start her career in environmental journalism until she had had several different careers.

Her undergraduate studies were focused on molecular biology, although she soon found work writing about ecology.

"I got a job writing about ecology and the environment at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington D.C., and so I didn't know very much about ecology, so I learned on the job from the best minds in the United States," said Friedman.

Friedman noted it was "serendipity" that led to these career changes into environmental journalism and her eventual connection to the groups in Asia.

Friedman says it was an article about environmental journalism that she wrote for a magazine titled "Environment" that caught the eye of a foreign U.N. executive.

"It was seen by the head of the U.N. program in Bangkok," Friedman said, who sent her several ambiguous telegrams, signed only with "Economic Social Commission for Asia and Pacific."

After finally arranging a long-distance phone call, Friedman became a consultant for the U.N. "The whole thing started by chance," Friedman said. "It turned out to be a wonderful experience."

Friedman recognizes her career and success are due to her flexibility of career paths and changes.

"I always tell my students that careers are not developed like straight bullets. Be adaptable and flexible, and open to new opportunity," she said.

Friedman noted the importance of environmental journalism today, especially in presenting a "non-biased point-of-view."

She described how environmentally inclined organizations and industries may present environmental information in different ways, furthering the need for environmental reporting.

"It raised awareness on many different levels," Friedman said of her work in environmental journalism.

This was not the first award Friedman has received for her work, although it is her first major international award.

In 1989, Friedman was elected as a fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Friedman was also a co-recipient of Lehigh's Hillman Award for her excellence in undergraduate instruction.
Read more at:
ALEX ZOOK, Forum for Environmental Journalists

Millions die annually in road accidents

Every day, in Liberia and around the world, more than 3,000 people are killed in road crashes and up to 137,000 are injured - that adds up to more than 1.3 million people dying on our roads every year. Far from abating, this tragic toll continues to increase, especially in low- and middle-income countries like Liberia, where more than 90% of road fatalities occur.

An additional tragedy is that youth are paying the highest price - worldwide, road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among young people aged 15 to 29, and the second cause of death for those aged 5 to 14. That is unacceptable. We must work together to save these millions of lives, especially young lives.

A statement issued by the Liberia National Red Cross Society over the weekend in Monrovia said what makes these statistics particularly horrendous is that these deaths and injuries are preventable. Simple, cost-effective and proven measures can make the roads safer and change the behaviour of road users. This is why the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) are calling for urgent global action to address this major public health problem.

Governments must be persuaded to pass and enforce traffic laws to reduce speeding, to fix strict limits on drinking and driving and to make the use of seat belts and helmets mandatory. Other effective measures include the adoption of national road safety policies supported by adequate and stable financing, better road conditions, public awareness campaigns on road safety, more first aid training for new and professional drivers, and better emergency care for road crash victims.

More than one third of the IFRC’s 186 member societies including the Liberian Red Cross are actively involved in road safety activities. Many have integrated road safety in their first aid programs. Working at the heart of communities, they have effective access to people of all ages and conditions. They promote safe behavior for road users through public campaigns, they teach road safety to schoolchildren and provide first aid training, and of course, when road crashes occur, they are there, to provide vital first aid services to victims.

For their part, Red Cross and Red Crescent Youth have identified road safety as one of today’s key humanitarian challenges. In their agenda-setting Solferino Declaration in June this year, they call on the governments of the world to include first aid and road safety in national education curricula, and to allocate appropriate resources. They also commit to promote road safety and encourage their peers to act as responsible road users.

The IFRC believes that promoting a culture of prevention can minimize unnecessary deaths and ultimately build safer communities. In line with this approach, it has made safer roads a priority for action over the next ten years. As part of its commitment, it also hosts the Global Road Safety Partnership, created in 1999 to address road safety issues, principally in developing countries.

Working together with our partners - governments, civil society, UN agencies, as well as the transport, health and business sectors, we believe we can significantly mitigate the multiple and tragic social and economic consequences of road crashes.

Carter Center team arrives in Liberia

The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has announced the arrival into the country of a two-member delegation from the Cater Center on a week-long visit to renew support for efforts to advance the passage of the Freedom of Information Act.
The Carter Center Access to Information Manager/Associate Director, Laura Neuman and Senior Project Associate on Access to Information Initiative, Sarah Dougherty, arrived in the County Sunday, November 15 and are expected to meet with stakeholders to learn more about the state of the draft law and provide observations in light of emerging international standards and the way forward.
A PUL statement issued in Monrovia Sunday said the delegation will share international experience and lessons learned regarding the establishment of access to information regimes in separate discussions with Government officials, including Lawmakers, civil society actors and the media.
The visit is a follow-up to similar mission in October 2008 to share thoughts on the bill and support for its enactment.
The Freedom of Information Act was one of three bills submitted to the Legislature in April 2008 by stakeholders, including the Ministry of Information and the media community. The Bills have been locked up in committee room for well over one and a half years.
The Lawmakers have given assurances of the passage of the bill following their annual break.
Meanwhile, PUL President Peter M. Quaqua is off to Brussels, Belgium to participate in a roundtable on the Socio-Economic integration of ex-combatants.
The PUL president was invited by the organizers, International Alert to give his personal perspectives on “The Impact of Regional and International Dynamics of Reintegration Programs for ex-combatants.”

LiNCSA ends sensitization campaign

The Liberia National Commission on Small Arms (LiNCSA) with support from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Small Arms Program (ECOSAP) and UNDP Community Security and Social Cohesion have concluded a successful week-long massive sensitization and awareness campaign against electoral violence. The campaign took place from 3 – 10 November.

The commission deemed it necessary to carry out the massive sensitization and awareness campaign against electoral violence during the first round of the Montserrado County senatorial by election campaigning exercise.

The by-election has been described by political actors in the country, especially Montserrado County, “as a trial balloon” to the presidential and general elections slated for 2011.

The awareness campaign was launched at the commission’s office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia. At the launch, members of the commission urged the public to carry out a by-election free of violence and to also help campaign against the use of illicit small arms and light weapons in their respective communities.

During the weeklong campaign, the commission held meetings with political parties and communities leaders. The meeting discussed, among others things, how to educate residents of the various communities and partisans of political parties about the importance of an election free of violence.

Posters, flyers, banners and t-shirts with anti-electoral violence messages were also used during the campaign to educate the public. Anti-electoral violence messages were also aired and scrolled on several radio and television stations. Some of the messages read:
“Ballots not bullets, stop electoral violence; Your voice is the ballot not Bullets etc.”

The awareness campaign, according to LiNCSA, was a huge success with no major violence reported at polling centers. Accordingly, LiNCSA is therefore commending the senatorial aspirants, voters and public for carrying out an election free of violence.

The commission is also urging the public to exercise maturity on Tuesday, November 24, the date set aside for the second round in the Montserrado County by-election.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Forest contracts' protests choke FDA

Logging companies which participated in the recent vetting process for forest management contracts but lost have expressed shock and dismay over an alleged apathetic attitude adopted by the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) in promptly addressing their protest against the awards of Forest management contracts to the International Consultant Capital(ICC) and Euro-Logging by the Inter-Ministerial Concession Committee (IMCC) headed by NIC Chairman Richard Tolbert contrary to the findings of the Bid Evaluation Panel.
The companies said although the Bid Evaluation Panel had reported that Euro-Logging did not meet the minimum financial bid requirement to operate a forest concession and that ICC’s purported claims of financial capability was somewhat uncertain and questionable based on its reliance on an unnamed director in a corporation, the IMCC took a rather myopic decision and awarded forest management contracts to the two companies in total contravention of the Public Procurement and Concession Commission Act(PPCC).
An investigation conducted by this writer and confirmed by testimonies of the companies that lost the bid shows that there was a serious procedural and administrative blunder committed by the IMCC which our investigation discovered is not only a slur on the credibility on the entire vetting process but also raises a fundamental question as to how the IMCC arrived at the decision of selecting companies with limited and questionable financial and technical capacities.
Under the PPCC Act the IMCC has two basic functions; (1) to approve the recommendations of the Bid Evaluation Panel; and (2) to reject or recommend further investigation by the panel, but our investigation revealed that the IMCC chose to re-evaluate or re-rank companies that were already evaluated by the Bid Evaluation Panel.
Our investigation also shows that amongst the companies challenging the decision of the IMCC is UNITIMBER which strongly contended that the IMCC’s alleged decision of arrogating unto itself the power to re-evaluate and re-rank competitive bidders is inconsistent with the PPCC Act.
The losing companies have therefore filed separate complaints challenging the award process and demanding explanation as to the method used in awarding forest management contracts to ICC and Euro-Logging contrary to the panel findings.
Our investigation also shows that although the complaints were filed by the companies in the middle of August 2009 to the Forestry Development Authority, they are yet to receive any reply and insiders have hinted that the FDA is embarrassed over what the IMCC has done and therefore referred the companies’ protest letters to the chairman of the Bid and Evaluation Panel for response contrary to the PPCC Act.
A source close to UNITIMBER has described as a great shame the continued delay for almost three weeks by both the FDA and IMCC to reply his company’s letter of protest and indicated that the FDA has shamelessly resorted to excuses and delay tactics as a ploy to play for time and create an ill-fated impression that the award process was free and fair.
The source however noted that it would be a serious miscalculation for anyone in the FDA or IMCC to live under the illusion that his company’s patience will run out and thereby abandon the idea of demanding an explanation.
He said because the award process was riddled with flaws and the companies that were selected did not believe what they heard, they are now desperately engaged in massive media campaigns as part of the shallow tactics of lies and misrepresentation to conceal their financial inadequacies, administrative hypocrisies and technical limitations both in character and substance.
Concluding the source said consistent with PPCC Act the FDA owes his company some explanations and expressed serious concern that their protest letter has been referred to the Chairman of the Bid Evaluation Panel whom he said is being told to either respond or reverse his panel’s initial findings to justify what he terms as an award process driven by sympathetic and financial considerations at the expense of national interest.
When the Acting Managing Director of FDA, Kederick Johnson was contacted recently he confirmed receiving complaints from some companies that were not awarded contracts but noted that because their complaints contain a lot of legal issues, they were referred to the legal; department for response.
He however refused to give a dateline on when the FDA will address the concerns of the losing companies.
Meanwhile, reports reaching this writer say the companies are threatening to take their complaints to the PPCC as of next week if the FDA to critically look at their concerns and provide redress consistent with the PPCC ACT.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

FUBI, not on LWSC records

-as management threatens lawsuit

Claim by the management of the First United Business Incorporated (FUBI), that the company gets its source/supply of water from the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC), has been proven contrary by The Monitor’s investigation.

The FUBI’s Coordinator, Neol Harmon recently told our reporter in an interview that the Company gets its supply of water from the LWSC, which is only used to fill the buckets that produces the ice, while water from the well, located just next to the pool is used to wash and spill on the buckets in which the ice are frozen in order to easily get the blocks of ice out.

In continuation of The MONITOR on going inquiry into the dirty ice being produced at the First United Business Incorporated, a local ice producing Company Liberia, has established that the name ‘FUBI’ is not in the records of the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC), the arm of government that is clothed with the responsibility of providing the people of Liberian access to pure and safe drinking water and companies alike.

According to officials of the LWSC Commercial Department, there is no record available to show any business transaction with FUBI.

The LWSC official who choose anonymity told our reporter that, the only ice producing Company situated in Paynesville (Small Gorbachop field), that has been a client to the LWSC is ‘PROMPT BUSINESS INC.’ instead of FUBI.

FUBI, commonly known to its costumers as ‘Johnson Compound’, is situated on the Monrovia-Kakata road.

Meanwhile, management of the First United Business Inc. has allegedly threaded legal action against the management of The MONITOR Newspaper for apparently, revealing and publishing the ‘dirty ice’ saga of the company.

The MONITOR recently discovered through its investigation into the sanitary condition through which ice and drinking water were been produced for consumption on the Liberian market that, FUBI was producing the commodity not only in a very filthy environment, but the commodity itself remains dirty and unsafe for consumption.

Our investigation further revealed that most of the buckets that are being used for the production of the ice are rusty and normally placed in a pool of dirty looking water to freeze up.

According our reporter, the blocks of ice, after freezing are placed on a wooden platform surrounded by dirty water and sawn apart for the customers.

Our investigation continues

FUBI, not on LWSC records

-as management threatens lawsuit

Claim by the management of the First United Business Incorporated (FUBI), that the company gets its source/supply of water from the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC), has been proven contrary/likewise from The Monitor’s investigation so far.

The FUBI’s Coordinator, Neol Harmon recently told our reporter in an interview that the Company gets its supply of water from the LWSC, which is only used to fill the buckets that produces the ice, while water from the well, located just next to the pool is used to wash and spill on the buckets in which the ice are frozen in order to easily get the blocks of ice out.

In continuation of The MONITOR on going inquiry into the dirty ice being produced at the First United Business Incorporated, a local ice producing Company Liberia, has established that the name ‘FUBI’ is not in the records of the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC), the arm of government that is clothed with the responsibility of providing the people of Liberian access to pure and safe drinking water and companies alike.

According to officials of the LWSC Commercial Department, there is no record available to show any business transaction with FUBI.

The LWSC official who choose anonymity told our reporter that, the only ice producing Company situated in Paynesville (Small Gorbachop field), that has been a client to the LWSC is ‘PROMPT BUSINESS INC.’ instead of FUBI.

Senator Taylor launches SOS for hand pump

By: Saye Messah (contributor)

Bong County Senior Senator Jewel Howard Taylor has launched SOS called for local and international NGOS, national government and other humanitarian organizations to come to the aid of citizens living in Darquee Town by providing hand pumps for safe drinking water.

Speaking Wednesday April 22, during her visit to the community, Senator Taylor said she was sharked during her visit to see citizens using bag of sand as the means of purifying water for drinking and cooking. She said it is discouraging to see community that contain over 5000 residents depend on a single hand pump for safe drinking water.

The Bong County Senator is therefore appealing to national government, NGOs and other concern citizens to quickly response to the SOS call in order to save lives in that part of the country adding “it will help them not to encounter diarrhea”. According to her the government needs to do more to improve the livelihood of its citizens because it is required by the poverty reduction strategy.

Senator Taylor is however recommending more than five hand pumps to be installed in the community to enable them have safe and purify water for drinking and cooking. She pledged her support and corporation to the citizens until their concern is address.

At the same time, the youth Coordinator of Darquee Town D. Moses Wantu commended Senator Taylor for been concern about their community and promise to work in collaboration with any organizations that will come to their aid. He noted that despite of the water shortage, the community is also in need of road, clinic and school.

Mr. Wantu further pointed out that children often died due to the lack of road and health center. He said the senator action clearly prove to them that indeed she is a true patriotic citizen of the country adding that there is a needs for the United Nations to lift the traveling ban on her as a senator.

In response, the Chairman for development Arthur D. Jarwleh applauded the Bong county senator for her visit. Mr. Jawleh disclosed that Senator Taylor has visited the community before and made some meaningful contribution toward their road rehabilitation.

NMCP haunches 14 day malaria awareness

The National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has launched activities marking the celebration the 2009 World Malaria Day in Monrovia.

NMCP Manager, Dr. Joel J. Jones said as part of this year’s celebration, 14 days of malaria awareness will be carried out in communities across the country in order to sensitize the people about the danger of malaria.

“Malaria is a disease that is killing and making a lot of our people sick, and is still being considered in some quarters as a common disease; but I tell you that malaria is not a common disease, because 38% of patients that visit hospital are diagnosed with malaria”, the NMCP boss noted.

Dr. Jones furthered that Liberia is now over the half way benchmark for the achieving the Abuja Declaration on increasing coverage of access to treatment, coverage of treatment for pregnant women and preventing spread of the disease by using insecticides mosquito bed nets for children under five years.

He said the nomenclature of “Africa Malaria Day” was changed by Presidents of the 60th World Health Assembly to World Malaria Day, in order to have day given global importance.

For his part, Dr. Moses Pewue, who launched the 14-day activities for Dr. Bernice T. Dahn, Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Minister said, it is time to eradicate malaria out of Liberia, as was done in the case of polio.

Deputy Minister Pewue noted that, if malaria is not robustly and collectively eradicated out of Liberia, the disease might claim the lives of every Liberian.

He than expressed the ministry’s appreciation to partnering organizations that are help the Ministry in delivering health services to the Liberian people.

This years’ celebration is supported by Mentor, Liberia National Red Cross Society (LNRC) and other partners including those in the healthcare delivery sector.

For uncovering FUBI's dirty ice saga:

Commerce official verbally abused Monitor’s reporter

The Inspector General at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has accused Liberian journalists, especially The Monitor’s reporter, who is currently investigating the sanitary conditions under which ‘mineral water’, ice and other consuming products are being produced on the Liberian market, of overlapping the functions of the Ministry’s inspectors, who according to her has the oversight responsibility.

Inspector General Maceatoh Wreh arrogantly accused our reporter, who had gone to the Standard Division at the Ministry, through its Public Relation Office to inquired about latest findings on the ‘dirty ice’ produced by the First United Business Incorporated (FUBI), that he was instead attempting to solicit money or blackmail the Ministry and its officials.

Madam Wreh emotional outburst was constantly quieted through the intervention of some employees of the Ministry and others as she aggressively raged towards our reporter. The Commerce official raged: “You people just passing around the place, for ‘karto’ (gift) and overlapping our functions and calling yourselves journalists”.

The Monitor recently uncovered through its investigation that ice produced by FUBI were processed not only in a filthy environment but is unsafe for human consumption.

Our investigation also disproved the Company’s claims that it was receiving safe water supply from the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC), and that the name FUBI was never seen on any records at the LWSC.

The action by the Commerce Inspector General has been described by pundits as, ‘strange’ and warrants further investigation.

Meanwhile, latest information gathered by this paper reveals that following the unrelenting reportage on the unsanitary condition, the Company (FUBI) has began major renovation of its facility, beginning with the painting of the buckets in which the ice are produced.

In related development, the Director of Standards, Mohammed Turay said the KEN Mineral Water Company recently shut down by the government will not operate, unless the Company relocates to a more conducive site.

Mr. Turay indicated that the company was closed down for operating and producing below the Country’s water quality standards and among other condition.

He said the Commerce Ministry is putting into place all necessary mechanisms to ensure that water being produced in the country meets the Liberian water standards.

Health harzard hits Paynesville

Residents of Paynesville City especially the “Red Light Market” Community have alarmed that there would be an imminent outbreak of disease if nothing is done by the Unity Party led Government to clear stock piles of garbage that is gradually overtaking the entire market ground.

“We’re dying here slowly from the garbage especially the disgusting odors all over the place and we don’t have anywhere to go and sell or to get extra money to feed our families, except these little things that we’re selling here,” a marketer said.

“We want the government to come to our aid, because it seems that people are taking advantage of the situation to be throwing dead babies and other dangerous wastes that are very risky to our health”, said an elderly woman, Madam Korpo Sumo.

Madam Sumo was seen by our reporter preparing commercial food (locally known as ‘cook bowl’), just a stone through from the stock pile of garbage.

“The government, through the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) headed by Madam Mary Broh lied to us, they told us to dump the dirt here that they (MCC) will collect same at the end of each day, which they started, but to our surprise and disbelieves, for the past almost three months the MCC stopped and the dirt is gradually coming to close/block the road (road that links Paynesville to the Free Port of Monrovia through the Somalia Drive).

The government people (officials) can pass here every day in their big-big cars, while we are here getting sick small-small (gradually), they don’t care about us”, 23 year-old Prince Emmanuel Sackie, standing close to the garbage selling cosmetics in a wheelbarrow, who appeared very frustrated over the apparent failure of government to continue the World Bank and other partners funded garbage collection project, noted.

Our reporter who visited the scene of garbage observed that the garbage, located in the middle of the market, where marketers and costumers including children were seeing transacting and at some point in time, eating is gradually turning into a hill with a very sickening odors in the entire surroundings.

It was also noticed that at same instances, people were seeing walking over the garbage that if not collected with in the next couple of days would block/close the Paynesville to Free Port road as means of having access to the market and the both Somalia Drive and Tubman Boulevard bus terminals.

When contacted, the Secretary General of the Liberia Marketing Association (LMA), Paynesville branch, Kullie Kollie admitted that the garbage is posing serious health hazard to, not only those in the market but the entire community, which he said, the MCC has already been notified through written communication.

Mr. Kollie said, although the opening of the dump sit in the middle of the market by the authorities of the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) was done with the consent and input of the local LMA authorities, but is proposing the options to the sit relocated or the MCC assign security on the sit to avoid the dumping of other harmful substances by community dwellers themselves.

He said prior to the opening of the dump sit by the MCC with the intent of clearing it at the end of each day, the LMA had an assigned dump sit where all of its garbage cleared from the market were carried by same hired personnel every day to avoid stock paled of garbage in the market and other street corners.

The Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) is among other things responsible for city ordinance, enforcement of the city zoning laws, ensuring city cleanness etc., while the Liberia Marketing Association (LMA) is responsible for the governance of market grounds, including sanitary conditions, collection of garbage among others.

The LMA collects on a daily bases, unspecified amount of fees and dues from marketers across the country.

When our reporter visited the Offices of the MCC for comment on the matter, the head of the Garbage Collection Project (name not disclosed) was said to have been out, but MCC sources blamed the delay in the garbage collection project to, what they called ‘breakdown’ of the garbage collection trucks.

Urey in temporary lead

As the counting of ballots in the Montserrado County senatorial by-election goes into full swing, preliminary results from 33 of the 280 voting precincts across the 14 Electoral Districts have put the Unity Party candidate; Clemenceau Blayon Urey, in a temporary lead with 1,449 votes which constitute 36.3% of the total of 4,038 votes tallied so far.

Mr. Urey is being followed by the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) Geraldine Doe-Sheriff.

The Chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC) James M. Fromayan at a late Wednesday evening news conference said the UP candidate is followed by Geraldine Doe -Sheriff of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) with 1,257 votes or 31.5% of the total votes cast.

Mr. Fromayan said parties and candidates wanting to file complaints regarding the polling process or any irregularities are to file such complaints with the NEC magistrates in the county within 24 hours.

Already, the National Election Commission has come under fire from political parties and residents of Montserrado County for the form and manner in which the election was conducted including lack of adequate civic education prior to the polling.

Meanwhile, final results of the by-election are expected to be announced Friday-, November 13.

No food: Prisoner released

Magistrate confirms

The Associate Magistrate of the Magisterial Court in Tienii, Grand Cape Mount County, has claimed the Liberian Government is failing to provide food for prisoners at various detention centers in the county.

“We, as judges, magistrates and including law enforcement officers oftentimes ask the victims or complainants to provide food for suspects while they’re in detentions; and in some instances, we take up the initiative because the government is not doing so now,” Associate Magistrate Jacob Rogers told our reporter.

Mr. Roger in a telephone interview with The Monitor said although it is government’s responsibility to cater to suspects while in detention awaiting prosecution, but the government currently lacks the capacity.

Responding to allegation that he had released a rape suspect because of the lacked of food for the suspect and transportation for court officials, the Associate Magistrate said he only set free a burglary suspect who he said had spent a week in detention without food and beyond statutory 48 hours.

The Magistrate was recently accused of releasing a man who allegedly raped a 13-year-old girl in Tienii, Tewor District, because the victim’s mother failed to provide L$1500.00 to facilitate court proceeding including the daily ‘feeding fee of L$50.00’ required.

“We do not have our own detention center, so we use the police’s facilities to keep suspects, and that was where we had this fellow who’s charge sheet shows that he was arrested for burglary and not rape as is being alleged by this family without the accusers presence. So I ordered my clerk to have him released because he was being kept without food”, he noted.

The government’s failure to provide food for suspects at detention centers, Rescue Alternative, an advocacy group asserts, is a complete violation of accused rights.

Several attempts to contact the Solicitor General were unsuccessful as he was said to be out of Office and his mobile phone rang endlessly.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Damages of foreign ships into Somalia waters

The damages of foreign ships into the Somalia waters and the problems of Somalia piracy

The national Association of Somali Science and Environmental Journalists (NASSEJ) was recently highlighted the plight of Somalia environment and now NASSEJ is going to write the second report for Somalia environment and will focus both the damages of foreign ships into the Somalia waters and the problems of Somalia piracy.
Apart from charcoal and hazardous waste dumping; illegal fishing, merciless hunting, water pollution, are all environmental abuses that have gone unchecked in Somalia for over a decade.

The threat and damage done to Somalia's environment will not receive the attention it merits as long as peace and political stability remain the main life-threatening conditions in the country. In its totality, the damage done to Somalia's natural environment is unimaginable and seems unmanageable even long after a solution is found for the current difficult prolonged political crisis.
Piracy is illegal action that takes place in rivers, seas and oceans, committed by non state actors.For Somalia, uprising overthrew the central government in 1991 and this caused the disappearance of Somali state from international community.
The lack of state attracts foreign ships to catch fish in the Somali waters.In addition to that, Somali people have known what is going on around their coasts such as dumping west industrial materials by foreign ships. As a result; dozens of Somalis have died of west toxic from the Somali waters.
But Somalis have realized that they can do nothing against these illegal ships, because Somalia does not have warships that can guard the Somali waters.
Some Somalis organized themselves to drive foreign ships from Somali waters by hijacking them. But asking them ransom is illegal and unacceptable according to the international law. Somali pirates have argued that the foreign ships are threatening their livelihood by fishing in the Somali waters.
Top of that United Nations turned its eyes from those who are violating and entering into the Somali waters without permission.
The failure of the international community to intervene and act as a behalf of Somali people brings about anarchy and chaos towards internal and external of Somalia.
Indeed, Somalis understand that the piracy is unlawful action according to the international law but most of Somalis believe that Somali people do not have other option rather than protecting the food of their children from foreign looters and expressed their views through local and international media saying that foreign ships have exploited Somali national resources so Somali people have right to defend their national resources by applying the rules of the international law.
On the otherhand, there is another vision from prominent former warlord Mr. Mohamed Qanyare who is now a member of Somalia parlament and read his view at the following link;
How Somalia's Fishermen Became Pirates Ever since a civil war brought down Somalia's last functional government in 1991, the country's 3,330 km (2,000 miles) of coastline — the longest in continental Africa — has been pillaged by foreign vessels.
A United Nations report in 2006 said that, in the absence of the country's at one time serviceable coastguard, Somali waters have become the site of an international "free for all," with fishing fleets from around the world illegally plundering Somali stocks and freezing out the country's own rudimentarily-equipped fishermen. According to another U.N. report, an estimated $300 million worth of seafood is stolen from the country's coastline each year. "In any context," says Gustavo Carvalho, a London-based researcher with Global Witness, an environmental NGO, "that is a staggering sum." In the face of this, impoverished Somalis living by the sea have been forced over the years to defend their own fishing expeditions out of ports such as Eyl, Kismayo and Harardhere — all now considered to be pirate dens. Somali fishermen, whose industry was always small-scale, lacked the advanced boats and technologies of their interloping competitors, and also complained of being shot at by foreign fishermen with water cannons and firearms. "The first pirate gangs emerged in the '90s to protect against foreign trawlers," says Peter Lehr, lecturer in terrorism studies at Scotland's University of St. Andrews and editor of Violence at Sea: Piracy in the Age of Global Terrorism. The names of existing pirate fleets, such as the National Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia or Somali Marines, are testament to the pirates' initial motivations.The waters they sought to protect, says Lehr, were "an El Dorado for fishing fleets of many nations." A 2006 study published in the journal Science predicted that the current rate of commercial fishing would virtually empty the world's oceanic stocks by 2050. Yet, Somalia's seas still offer a particularly fertile patch for tuna, sardines and mackerel, and other lucrative species of seafood, including lobsters and sharks. In other parts of the Indian Ocean region, such as the Persian Gulf, fishermen resort to dynamite and other extreme measures to pull in the kinds of catches that are still in abundance off the Horn of Africa. High-seas trawlers from countries as far flung as South Korea, Japan and Spain have operated down the Somali coast, often illegally and without licenses, for the better part of two decades, the U.N. says. They often fly flags of convenience from sea-faring friendly nations like Belize and Bahrain, which further helps the ships skirt international regulations and evade censure from their home countries. Tsuma Charo of the Nairobi-based East African Seafarers Assistance Programme, which monitors Somali pirate attacks and liaises with the hostage takers and the captured crews, says "illegal trawling has fed the piracy problem." In the early days of Somali piracy, those who seized trawlers without licenses could count on a quick ransom payment, since the boat owners and companies backing those vessels didn't want to draw attention to their violation of international maritime law. This, Charo reckons, allowed the pirates to build up their tactical networksand whetted their appetite for bigger spoils. Beyond illegal fishing, foreign ships have also long been accused by local fishermen of dumping toxic and nuclear waste off Somalia's shores. A 2005 United Nations Environmental Program report cited uranium radioactive and other hazardous deposits leading to a rash of respiratory ailments and skin diseases breaking out in villages along the Somali coast. According to the U.N., at the time of the report, it cost $2.50 per ton for a European company to dump these types of materials off the Horn of Africa, as opposed to $250 per ton to dispose of them cleanly in Europe.


Daud Abdi Daud
NASSEJ, Secretary General National Association of Somali Science and Environmental Journalists (NASSEJ)

Climate Vulnerable Forum Declaration

Draft Declaration: Climate Vulnerable Forum

We, Heads of State, Ministers and representatives of Government from Africa, Asia, Caribbean and the Pacific, representing some of the countries most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change:

Alarmed at the pace of change to our Earth caused by human-induced climate change, including accelerating melting and loss of ice from Greenland, the Himalayas and Antarctica, acidification of the world’s oceans due to rising CO2 concentrations, increasingly intense tropical cyclones, more damaging and intense drought and floods, including Glacial Lakes Outburst Floods, in many regions and higher levels of sea-level rise than estimated just a few years ago, risks changing the face of the planet and threatening coastal cities, low lying areas, mountainous regions and vulnerable countries the world over,

Asserting that anthropogenic climate change poses an existential threat to our nations, our cultures and to our way of life, and thereby undermines the internationally-protected human rights of our people – including the right to sustainable development, right to life, the right to self-determination and the right of a people not to be deprived of its own means of subsistence, as well as principles of international law that oblige all states to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction;

Conscious that while our nations lie at the climate front-line and will disproportionately feel the impacts of global warming, in the end climate change will threaten the sustainable development and, ultimately, the survival of all States and peoples – the fate of the most vulnerable will be the fate of the world; and convinced that our acute vulnerability not only allows us to perceive the threat of climate change more clearly than others, but also provides us with the clarity of vision to understand the steps that must be taken to protect the Earth’s climate system and the determination to see the job done;

Recalling that the UNFCCC is the primary international, intergovernmental forum for negotiating the global response to climate change,

Desirous of building upon the commitment of leaders at the recent United Nations High-Level Summit on Climate Change in New York in addressing the needs of those countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change as well as other political commitments, including the AOSIS Declaration and the African Common Position,

Underlining the urgency of concluding an ambitious, fair and effective global legal agreement at COP15 in Copenhagen.

Gravely concerned at reports of a downgrading of expectations for COP15 and calling therefore for a redoubling of efforts – including through the attendance in Copenhagen, at Head of State- or Head of Government-level, of all States, and especially of major industrialized nations and all major emerging economies.

Emphasizing that developed countries bear the overwhelming historic responsibility for causing anthropogenic climate change and must therefore take the lead in responding to the challenge across all four building blocks of an enhanced international climate change regime – namely mitigation, adoption, technology and finance – that builds-upon the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol.

Taking account of their historic responsibility as well as the need to secure climate justice for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities, developed countries must commit to legally-binding and ambitious emission reduction targets consistent with limiting global average surface warming to well below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and long-term stabilization of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations at well below 350ppm,,and that to achieve this the agreement at COP15 UNFCCC should include a goal of peaking global emissions by 2015 with a sharp decline thereafter towards a global reduction of 85% by 2050,

Emphasizing that protecting the climate system is the common responsibility of all humankind, that the Earth’s climate system has a limited capacity to absorb greenhouse gas emissions, and that action is required by all countries on the basis of common but differentiated responsibilities, respective capabilities, and the precautionary principle,

Underscoring that maintaining carbon-intensive modes of production established in 19th Century Europe will incur enormous social and economic cost in the medium- and long-term, whereas shifting to a carbon-neutral future based on green technology and low-carbon energy creates wealth, jobs, new economic opportunities, and local co-benefits in terms of health and reduced pollution,

Convinced that those countries which take the lead in embracing this future will be the winners of the 21st Century;

Expressing our determination, as vulnerable States, to demonstrate leadership on climate change by leading the world into the low-carbon and ultimately carbon-neutral economy, but recognizing that we cannot achieve this goal on our own;

Now therefore,

Declare our determination, as low-emitting countries that are acutely vulnerable to climate change, to show moral leadership on climate change through actions as well as words, by acting now to commence greening our economies as our contribution towards achieving carbon neutrality,

Affirm that this will enhance the objectives of achieving sustainable development, reducing poverty and attaining the internationally agreed development goals including the Millennium Development Goals,

Call upon all other countries to follow the moral leadership shown by the Republic of Maldives by voluntarily committing to achieving carbon-neutrality,

Assert that the achievement of carbon neutrality by developing countries will be extremely difficult given their lack of resources and capacity and pressing adaptation challenges, without external financial, technological and capability-building support from developed countries,

Declare that, irrespective of the effectiveness of mitigation actions, significant adverse changes in the global climate are now inevitable and are already taking place, and thus Parties to the UNFCCC must also include, in the COP15 outcome document, an ambitious agreement on adaptation finance which should prioritise the needs of the most vulnerable countries, especially in the near-term,

Call upon developed countries to provide public money amounting to at least 1.5% of their gross domestic product, in addition to innovative sources of finance, annually by 2015 to assist developing countries make their transition to a climate resilient low-carbon economy. This grant-based finance must be predictable, sustainable, transparent, new and additional – on top of developed country commitments to deliver 0.7% of their Gross National Income as Overseas Development Assistance.

Underline that financing for mitigation and adaptation, under the authority of the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC, should be on the basis of direct access to implement country-led national Low-Carbon Development Plans and Climate Resilient Development Strategies, and the process to allocate and deliver the finance must be accessible, transparent, consensual, accountable, results-orientated and should prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable countries.

Maldives opens Climate Vulnerable Forum

Maldives opens Climate Vulnerable Forum with appeal for carbon neutrality

Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed called on fellow vulnerable, developing countries to embrace a carbon neutral future, during his inaugural address to the Climate Vulnerable Forum, which is meeting in the Maldives on Monday and Tuesday.
In the Forum’s keynote address, Nasheed lamented the lack of progress being made in international climate change negotiations and called on poor, vulnerable countries to show moral leadership by shifting from fossil fuel to renewable energy.
Delegates at the Climate Vulnerable Forum include President Tong of Kiribati, as well as foreign and environment ministers from Bangladesh, Nepal, Vietnam, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania, and representatives from Barbados and Bhutan.
, Denmark, France, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, the UK and the United States are attending the Forum as observers.
We are gathered here because we are the most vulnerable group of nations to climate change. Some might prefer us to suffer in silence but today we have decided to speak we will not die quietly, Nasheed said.
“To my mind, countries that have the foresight to green their economies today will be the winners of tomorrow,” the President added.
Nasheed called on developing countries to break away from carbon-based growth and embrace green technology as a way to shame larger polluters to clean up their act.
Nasheed said a group of vulnerable developing countries committed to carbon neutral development that he said would send a loud message to the outside world.
If those with the least start doing the most, what excuse can the rich have for continuing inaction?
At the moment every country arrives at [international climate] negotiations seeking to keep their own emissions as high as possible. This is the logic of the madhouse, a recipe for collective suicide.
We don’t want a global suicide pact we want a global survival pact, Nasheed stated.
Maldivian organisers of the Forum say the aim of the gathering is to amplify the voices of vulnerable, poor nations, who often go unheard in international negotiations.
Organisers say they hope the Forum will mean a better outcome at Copenhagen for vulnerable, developing nations.
The countries represented in this room are diverse but they have one thing in common: their vulnerability to climate change, Maldivian Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam said in his welcome address to the Forum.

We have waited for over a decade for something to happen. But nothing has happened. We refuse to sit and do nothing, added Aslam.
Environmentalist Mark Lynas, who helped draw up the Maldives 10-year carbon neutral plan, also addressed the Forum.
“Don’t let anyone tell you it is too late to stop climate change it is possible to stop it with political will,” Lynas said.
The world needs to quit carbon abandoning a form of development we now know to be wrong, Lynas added.
In March this year, the Maldives announced plans to become the worlds first carbon neutral nation.
The carbon neutral plan includes proposals to switch from oil to 100% renewable energy production.

Earlier this month, President Nasheed unveiled plans to build a 75 Mega Watt wind farm in North Male atoll, which would provide 40% of the countrys electricity and cut the Maldives carbon dioxide emissions by a quarter.

Civil Society expresses concern over by-election processl

Civil Society Concerned: By-Elections Slow, Disorganized

The Liberia Civil Society Election Observer Coalition is concerned about the slow progress and the general disorganization observed so far in the Montserrado County senatorial by-elections.
The group in a release noted that the voting process begun very late across the county, including central Monrovia, for a variety of unacceptable reasons, adding, “Late arrival of election materials and poll workers, causing many voters to return home because of frustration, fatigue or the weather.”
The National Elections Commission (NEC) promised that the voters that the process would have began at eight in the morning.
The Coalition, according to the release is also concerned that up to noon of November 10, there were still confusion over polling centers, as many voters did not know where to vote as polling centers have been changed with no information about the changes.
“In some instances, the location of several centers could not be identified, as the voters were repeatedly turned back from the options they had. A particular instance involved voters registered in the 30066 - 30068 series. They voted at the Centennial Pavilion in 2005 and were redirected to the Buchanan Street AGM; later to the JJ Ross High School, where there was no polling; then to the New Housing Bank Building, which was not initially listed as a center; and the Newport Street High School,” the group said.
The coalition notes that polling officers were not properly informed, and were overwhelmed by complaints from voters and party representatives, thereby putting the polling officers away from the voting procedure, and reducing their oversights.
The release further said, centers and facilities were not properly thought out as polling places. As a result, voting took place in private properties and in some instances, school authorities prevented voting (School in Nyanforh Town, Gardnersville; and JJ Ross High School) in their facilities because they have no understanding for the use of their school as polling places. The abandoned Housing Bank, though not cited as a polling place anywhere, is now a precinct.
The coalition however notes the involvement of observers from independent organizations and political parties, as a positive development that should ensure popular participation in the process.
The coalition is meanwhile calling on the National Elections Commission to “take note of the problems observed so far, and take prompt actions to get them under control.”
The coalition renews that “the successful hosting of these elections is an important step in the sustenance of peace and democracy in Liberia,” and calls on all, inclusive of candidates, parties’ supporters, electoral officials and the general public to think of Liberia and commit to making the elections succeed.
The Liberia Civil Society Election Observer Coalition has been organized by Liberian civil society groups with a mission to engage the democratic process, including the monitoring and observation of electoral and political party activities, up to and including the general elections of 2011.
Members of the coalition include the Liberia Democratic Institute (LDI), West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), National Youth Movement for Transparent Elections – Partners for Democratic Development (NAYMOTE-PADD), Actions for Genuine Democratic Alternatives (AGENDA), and the Center for Media Studies & Peace Building (CEMESP).

Monday, November 9, 2009

Little education endangers society

Little education endangers society
Allen tells AMEZUC students

The Director General of the Civil Service Agency (CSA Dr. C. William Allen has reminded students of African Methodist Episcopal Zion University College (AMEZUC) that “little learning endangers the future of any country.”

He said student government prepares individuals for national leadership and as such, it is always good to be a leader with enviable record.

Serving as key speaker Friday on the main campus of the school at programs marking the induction of the leadership of the senior class, Dr. Allen said “student government is a rehearsal for national leadership; you are therefore under obligation to demonstrate good moral behavior as those that elected you are equally watching you.”

Dr. Allen challenged the students to combine their skills with silence and listening; something he noted produces wisdom, adding “make sure your opinions are always backed by facts and research.

He encouraged the students to take their education seriously, warning that little education endangers society.

The former Information Minister reminded the students to be mindful as to who they vote into leadership, adding,” I did not come here to campaign for any candidate in the Montserrado County By-election, but I only want admonish you to please shine your eyes and elect a responsible candidate that will represent your country at all levels.”

In his inaugural address, the President of the senior class, Peter Karngbaye, assured the school’s administration of the fullest cooperation of students.

He said the class will remain committed to the fundamental principles of the university even after they shall have left, adding, “We believe in participatory leadership and transparency—actions are indicators of man’s character.”

TRC wrongful judgment exposed

TRC wrongful judgment exposed

The Managing Director of the Liberia Water & Sewer Corporation (LWSC) Nathan Hun-Bu Tulay says unless Liberians stop empowering their national leaders outside of the constitution, the future of the country will remain uncertain.

Mr. Tulay said additional empowerment of national leaders out of the appropriate legal framework has the propensity not only to endanger the future of Liberia, but it also brings into question the quality of education being impacted into the younger generation.

Inducting the leadership of the senior class of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion University College (AMEZUC) Friday on Benson Street, Monrovia, Mr. Tulay described as a “disservice to the country and its people,” the decision by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to render judgment in its finding as contained in the final report of the commission.

Mr. Tulay said some of the recommendations made by the commission in its findings were outside of law and as such it has the propensity to reintroduce violence in our country gradually recovering from the effect of the protracted bloody civil war.

He said laws are established to restrain our emotions and personal biases and as such, recommendation by the TRC to exclude some Liberians from participating in the country’s political process for 30 years is a case in point that violates the legal instrument that establishes the commission.

“The TRC recommendation was outside of its own law,” and therefore challenged students of the noble institution to cultivate a reading habit, because according to him, “reading, makes a ready man.”

Commenting on the student leadership, Mr. Tulay said good leaders are individuals that respect time and the views of others, adding again, “let me encourage you all not to take power outside of the law.”

Since the publication of its final ‘unedited report’ the TRC continues to receive widespread criticisms about the form and manner in which the report was handled.

Members of the TRC remains deeply divided over the report. Commissioner Pearl Brown-Bull at news conference recently exposed the “wrongful judgment” of the commission, citing widespread irregularities. She has already made her dissented opinion on the matter public.

Presidential press Secretary, Cyrus Wleh Badio told a gathering of journalists in Gbarnga recently that the president will not implement the TRC report suggesting that it contradicts the constitution. “

“The president took oath to protect and defend the constitution of the Republic, she will not therefore implement anything that contradicts the constitution of Liberia,” he added.

The National Legislature has already tabled the report until what it referred to as enough consultations with its constituency during its ongoing agriculture break. Liberians both and abroad remains deeply divided over the report.

Rape survivors urge to seek emergency medical care

Rape survivors urge to seek emergency medical care
-as MSF launches “Rape is hospital and clinic business” campaign

The international medical humanitarian aid agency, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), will today, Monday, launch an awareness campaign across Monrovia, to urge more adult survivors of sexual violence to seek vital medical and psychological care, particularly in the first three days after rape.

“Though MSF provides care to more than 70 survivors of rape or sexual abuse in Monrovia each month. “We know there are many more hidden survivors, particularly adults, who never seek help.” says Theresa Saday, MSF’s Sexual Violence Project Supervisor in Monrovia. “Many are too shocked, humiliated or terrified to access services, while others may not know how vital it is to come for care within the first three days after rape. Those first 72 hours are crucial to limit serious longer-term damage, like HIV or other infections, tetanus or unwanted pregnancy.”

By October this year, MSF had already assisted more than 650 survivors of sexual abuse, over three quarters of whom were under 18 years of age. The largest age group of abused children were aged between 13 to 18, closely followed by the 5 and 12 years age group, while the youngest girl treated was a mere 18-months old.

Saday continued, ‘I meet the people behind the statistics of sexual violence, and whether young or old, I see that rape has brutally shattered their lives and health, causing serious physical and emotional injury. The sad reality is that there is still a conspiracy of silence and denial within many families and communities. I want survivors of abuse to know that they are not alone, that sexual violence is a despicable stain on our society, and that we are here to help – with safe, free, confidential medical and psychological care.”

Starting today, MSF will run a one-month targeted radio, mobile phone, drama-group and poster campaign to reach thousands of people across Monrovia with the message that “Rape is hospital and clinic business – get free care now!”, meaning that rape is a medical emergency for which care is not only available, but also urgently needed. MSF has also established a 24 hour emergency helpline (06-122 122) to coincide with the campaign and hopes this initiative will lead to a 30% overall increase in those seeking both medical and psychological care within three days after rape.

Currently, MSF provides comprehensive emergency and follow-up medical psychological care to survivors of sexual violence in Island hospital, a paediatric hospital in Bushrod Island, and in New Kru Town Clinic, which is the out-patient department of Redemption Hospital in Bushrod Island.

Besides the care provided by a medical practitioner, an MSF social worker provides psychosocial support, welcoming the patients and accompanying them to consultations. After the first consultation, follow-up counseling sessions are scheduled for up to one year. This follow-up support also includes discovering if the patient needs protection, as there are often serious threats against those who decide to seek treatment or take their case further. MSF teams also provide medical-legal certificates to every rape survivor who visits their health facilities.