UNDP’s Democratic Governance work in Liberia, seeks to strengthen good governance, build democratic society and the rule of law following 14-years of civil conflict in which Liberia’s political, social, and economic structures and systems collapsed. UNDP supports the Government of Liberia, among others, to re-establish civil authority and the rule of law across the country, improving the efficiency and accountability of the public sector as well as reduce corrupt practices in public service. UNDP supports a more accountable and efficient government, together with a public sector that delivers quality services, while advocating for reforms and institutional capacity development in Liberia.
The Governance and Public Institution Programme takes a broad view of governance to constitute the mechanisms, processes, relations, and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their rights, mediate their differences and build consensus on shared interests. Its utility rests in the extent to which it assists the government and citizens realize their development aspirations through state institutions that work; a civil service that pays a decent wage; a justice system that operates independently; a legislature that makes laws and controls executive power, and a free media that gives citizens information that empowers them, among others.
Specifically, the Programme focuses on four linked elements that reinforce the basic foundations of governance while targeting a substantially expanded role for women in each area of engagement, in particular their participation in positions of authority and decision-making at the national and local levels.
These include: (a) continued development of capabilities (knowledge, skills, systems, procedures, targeted actions) for managing the electoral cycle, with emphasis on elections management, civic and voter education, gender equality, participation of women and youth, prevention of violence and monitoring of electoral processes;
(b) implementation of the Legislature’s Modernization Plan aimed at improving core functions of oversight and outreach, based on effective internal structures, systems, skills and resources;
(c) transparent and accountable management of public resources, specifically follow-through on the agreed national anti-corruption policy and strategy, based on a more capable and empowered LACC and GAC, as well as development of the media, women’s groups and other civil society organizations to perform a “watchdog” role, focusing on their ability to design, fund and manage monitoring and analytic work and advocacy and social mobilization initiatives; and
(d) preparation of an implementation road map for the Decentralization Policy and its progressive roll-out across the country to develop basic functions of consultation, planning, budgeting, monitoring and feedback.
UNDP Liberia’s governance work includes, supporting the reforms in the justice and security sectors aimed at enhancing security and justice institutions.
The Justice and Security program-seeks to support the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and the Judiciary to reform and strengthen security and justice institutions including the Liberia National Police (LNP), Bureau for Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) and the Bureau for Corrections and Rehabilitation (BCR) to provide effective services to Liberians. With the Agenda for Transformation (AfT), the goal of the Government is not only to further growth, but to also ensure that it can be sustained and ultimately lead to a more inclusive society. Thus, the strategy encompasses economic growth but also inclusion, equity, justice, peace, reconciliation, human development and good governance.
Support to Elections Programme-aims at deepening the democratization process by improving electoral institutions, processes and laws. It also aims at making legal and administrative structures meet international standards. It is implemented by UNDP but also through a coordinated donor support framework of “One UN” where various agencies can deliver assistance throughout the duration of the programme which also integrates a coordinated collaboration with regional and international bodies such as the African Union, ECOWAS, Japan and the European Union as well as mainstreams gender and conflict preventative approaches.
The Strengthening Transparency Accountability; Oversight Programme (STAOP)-The overall objective of the STAOP Programme is to contribute to government and other actors’ efforts to strengthen corruption prevention, transparency and accountability in Liberia. It provides support to both state institutions (relevant line ministries, agencies and oversight institutions) and civil society organizations to increase transparency and accountability in governance processes
Accomplishments so far
• A National Policy on Decentralization launched and a costed Decentralization Implementation Plan formulated.
• A Local Government Act drafted for submission to the Presidency and onward submission to the Legislature for enactment.
• Over 200 local government officials trained in leadership, procurement, financial management. This has helped improve the delivery of services at the local government level.
• over 1,000 justice sector personnel trained, including police officers, County Attorneys, City Solicitors and police investigators. Also trained were officials of the judiciary including Public Defenders, Judges and Magistrates. This has contributed immensely to some improvement in the dispensation of and access to justice in Liberia. According to findings from a recent quick impact survey of regional hub services, citizens in the area spoke to the fact that they no longer have to pay for legal services as was done in the past.
Interventions to the Judiciary, Police, the Ministry of Justice and other security apparatus through various trainings, construction of courts,police barracks, training facilities and procurement of mobile partition for females affected by Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) have helped improved working conditions for court officials and security personnel and created an atmosphere of confidentiality for women affected by SGBV.
Support from the Elections Basket Fund to 95 women’s organizations and 419 women representing 17 political parties, helped enhance their confidence to contest key political positions and enhanced their participation in voters’ registration. As a result, over 100 women participated in the primaries of their various political parties to gain seats in the Presidential and Legislative elections. As a result of support to the elections process through the Elections Basket Fund managed by UNDP, 1.8 million voters registered and 71.6% participated in the 2011 Presidential and Legislative elections in Liberia. Statistics from the National Elections Commission showed that an impressive 49% of women participated.
•Training conducted for over 4,000 police officers helped to secure the elections process which took place in an atmosphere of peace as no incidence of violence was reported.
·A framework for collaboration between key line ministries and oversight institutions developed. The document is being used to help strengthen internal systems and procedures within these institutions and has been validated, printed and distributed.
·The National Integrity Barometer Report aunched, printed and distributed to partners and stakeholders. The report was commissioned by the National Integrity Forum (NIF) and is a result of a survey conducted in 2013 to gauge the public’s experience of corrupt practices in Liberia. It covers service delivery in the health, education, judiciary, civil protection and business sectors. This initiative was led by the Governance Commission.
·An Online data repository for extractive companies’ registration and data reporting module for information on concessions awarded and revenues has been generated.
The operationalization of the justice and security hub in Gbarnga, Bong County supported with provision of computers, VSAT and vehicles; public awareness on the hub; deployment of public defenders and prosecutors as well as human rights monitors. This has led to improved service delivery in Hub region with rapid response of LNP Police Support unit to civil disturbances and quicker disposition of cases on the docket of courts with the deployment of additional public defenders and county attorneys. The spill-over effect is less crowded jails. The Gbarnga Hub, was able to record the total of 127 (46 new, 81 old) sexual offense cases in Bong, Lofa and Nimba Counties.
· Institutional change and capacity development has strengthened the effectiveness of the NEC to enhance its policy formulation, planning and operational delivery services on free and fair elections.