Special Feature

How H.E. President Weah’s Land Commissioner’s Dr. Othello Brandy Must Reduce High Costs of Unscrupulous Land Sales Against the Interest of Liberians: A Few suggestions

The reduction of the high costs of land across Liberia is another area that is adding hardship on Liberians. The unprecedented hike in the sale of land is unbearable. There is an urgent need for very strong austerity measures taken by H.E. President Weah to arrest such an ugly scenario. This situation is causing Malham among Liberians in Liberia. Land prices should be moderate so that it can be affordable by Liberians who have the desire of purchasing a piece of land for their future. H.E. President Weah's government could also erect low-cost housing facility for poor Liberians across Liberia.


The rationale is to reduce hardship on Liberians. The Government Land Commissioner Dr. Brandy should re-regular land tenures and land prices across Liberia. Let the Land Commissioner creates a condition that will make land purchases more and more affordable by Liberians. Land prices shouldn’t be left to landowners or foreigners to decide.

For example, land situated around the Robert Field High Way should be price tagged between $2,000LD to $3,000LD. Land situated around the Congo settlement should be sold between $500LD to LD800 dollar. Those in the leeward counties should be sold between $200LD and $300LD dollars to ease the land burden problems on Liberia across Liberia. Steps should be taken swiftly by H.E. President Weah’s administration to make Land accessible for purchase by all Liberians ill-respective of creed, status or condition in Liberia.

Lowering prices for rent/land tenures can also reduce hardship on Liberians. H.E. President Weah will need to take series of much stronger measures against Liberians and foreigners who are bent on hiking house rent and the sale of unscrupulous land in US dollars against the will and expectations of very poor Liberians.

First, all house rents should be paid in Liberian dollar and not in US dollar nor its equivalence. There should be a much stronger regulatory rent and land policies put in place by H.E. President Weah that will work towards abolishing the: “no rent pay in US dollar system across Liberia, but rent should rather be paid in exclusive LD.
Housing is one of the major areas of tremendous hardship in Liberia. H.E President Weah should curtail the proliferation of huge rent hikes on poor Liberians by foreigners who owned properties in Liberia and increased their rents straightly in US dollar. Other Liberians who are also in the Estate market business, shouldn’t be charging between $75 to $100 US for a one-bedroom apartment.

Other Liberians and foreigners charged the US $200 the for $300 dollars for a two-bedroom apartment with a tiny pouch with no conducive outside kitchen or bathroom. A whole house is being rented between $1,500 to $2,500 US a month, which is ridiculous. These self-imposed rent hikes activities are causing hardship on Liberians. Worst of it, some unscrupulous foreigners are heavily engaged in the Housing Estate Business. These foreigners hiked housing prices thus making life unlivable for Liberians in their own country.

For example, one-bedroom should be rented at a reasonable price of $1,500 LD; two-bedrooms should be $2,500LD, and a whole house of three-bedrooms should be $3,500LD. The idea of Liberians making compulsory deposits for two to three years advanced rents before they moved into a particular apartment/house. Such an advanced payment arrangement should be canceled by H.E. President Weah in order to make housing affordable to poor Liberians.

How Can President George Weah’s Government Balance Foreign Policy with Rival World Blocs- America and China?

 

If there's a single consistent aspect to President Donald Trump's strategic vision, it's this: United States of America (USA) foreign policy should always be governed by the simple principle of “America First, Make America Great Again,” with America’s vital interests placed above those of all others. “We will always put America's interests first,” Trump declared in his 2017 inaugural’s speech. The principle “America First” was persistently echoed during the American’s 2016 decisive presidential election which brought the Republican flag bearer to power.


While on the other hand, China's strategy for conducting its foreign relations is tailored to the specific circumstances of countries or regions with which it wishes to do business or ... a foreign policy that does not frighten neighboring nations or the world's great economic and military powers, most notably the United States and that of other global powers. Power shifts have brought into sharp focus the significance of the U.S.–China relationship in the early twenty-first century, both need each other.

The purpose of this instructive article is to provide, to some greater extend, specific useful diplomatic strategies how the CDC led-government can balance its foreign policy and international relations with the rival world blocs, the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China on one hand and European Union on the other-hand, and further looks deep into new other emerging diplomatic maneuvering across the globe.
But what diplomatic methodologies can President George Weah’s administration put into place to balance Liberian foreign policy and international relations with the two opposing world blocs- China and America? While at the same time to keep Weah’s regime on a positive standing with both countries without being consider as darling child of the other or play second fiddle to one of the rival blocs.

This is a crucial question, since sound strategy depends on an accurate assessment of the capabilities and intentions of the two potential rivals. Significantly the Weah’s government should play its cards very well, critically evaluate statements or speeches as relates Washington and Beijing to avoid diplomatic suicide (meaning disheartenment Liberia interest with China and the USA). Although at present, public statement should consider a balance with the two countries national interests, and not statements that would perhaps drag the Weah’s government into a state of strategically vulnerability.
Africa nowadays has become a continent of strategic importance for the two opposing world blocs –USA and China, for several reasons; many scholars and political pundits believed that the new U.S., China’s growing affection for Africa go with a deep interest to hunt for Africa’s riches, using several strategies and tactics to ensure and expand their influences.

The two opposing world blocs use tools of soft power in different ways to their benefits and with varying effects. Many experts argue that China‘s policies of non-interference and no political attached strings‘ have resonated so strongly among African countries which have become so wearied of those sanctimonious clichés about democracy, human rights, and good governance being proposed by the United States and its western partners, while the USA attached specific strings to aid .

Keeping a balance with Washington and Beijing will reinforce Liberia’s domestic policies and programs that fortify the bedrock of prosperity and stability will also enhance domestic control and its influence home and overcoming the primarily economic vulnerability that the government, state and people of Liberia are faced. President Weah needs to consider an official trip to Washington and Beijing to strengthen diplomatic ties with American and Chinese leaderships, Presidents Trump and Xi Jinping of the CDC led-government commitment to Liberia-USA and Liberia-China bilateral ties, since diplomacy today is an appropriate instrument to attract investments and businesses back home, and, simultaneously, prove to be politically and economically profitable to all governments, states and people.
Meritoriously, the Sino-Liberia and U.S. Liberia ties rapprochement will definite helped to create the unique conditions that led to the limited apprehensions but contributed and move the exiting relations to another levels of exceptionality.

Liberia’s balance ties with America and China perhaps most important, will be a great help strengthening the Weah’s regime domestic sources of national control in several vital areas especially human capital development, quality education, job creation, recognized health delivery system, pave roads, efficiency political system, research and development.

President Weah administration need to effectively exercise what I described as “diplomatic equilibrium” in its dealings with the two rival world blocs to avoid being seemed as weighting heavily towards one bloc. In this case, the government should move faster and put its diplomats to work, define China and USA interests and use the country’s bilateral ties to the advantage of the government.

The Weah’s regime should solemnly understand the new level of diplomatic maneuvering across the globe as relative Beijing and Washington. China views development and foreign aid as practical policy instruments to promote political friendship and economic cooperation, and only tied aid to one China policy while the U.S. attaches clearly stated goals, stringent conditions, and strict criteria including democracy, respect for rule of law, human rights, and good governance, to its development programs

But Beijing’s amazing aggregation of national power over the past 40 years has been a basis of wonderment among major state actors and non-state actors in the international system, as political experts are at a loss to expound the persistence of Communist Party rule despite its more open market order while economists have been astonished by China’s steadily high rate of progress while historians have describe China’s spectacular rise as unprecedented.
Nevertheless, there are other concerns especially the one coming from the United States of America regarding China’s emerging influence in the world especially its dealing with third world African states. But to the U.S. national security community, China’s rapid ascent up the global power ladder has been a source less of amazement than of cumulative unease.

During his recent inauguration, President Weah made known his administration foreign policy and domestic agenda constructively as he reached out to friendly countries and Liberia’s international partners especially to Washington, Beijing, European Union, ECOWAS, African Union, United Nations, World Bank International Monetary Fund and Arab League countries, among others.

President Weah need to keep to his commitment regarding Liberia-America bilateral ties as he stated in his esteemed speech which touched the relations between Liberia and the United States of America on one hand and Liberia-China productive and mutually rewarding relations.
Foreign policy takes into consideration emerging events across the globe since foreign policy formulations and implementation takes into consideration domestic policy of a state because politics deals not only with government or state but also several dynamics that occurring at other states levels.

While international relations is a strategies of self-interest adopted by a state to protect national interest and respect to its sovereignty including independence, regulation, power, authority, government with the much needed goal in international system. Let us not forget that foreign policy and domestic policy are both interconnected because foreign policy formulation is originated from the inner of state programs which determines government developmental priories based on budgetary appropriation.

Liberia’s Foreign Policy is firmly rooted in its political ideology of liberalism and democracy while the guiding principles of Liberia’s foreign policy has been the maintenance of national security and the preservation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country, the promotion of peace and harmony based on the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states.

The fundamental thrust of Liberia’s foreign policy objective before the mid-1960s was predominantly the maintenance of national independence, due to threats posed by the former colonial powers to the Lone Star of freedom and Liberia’s support to independence movement in Africa. The foreign policy objective, during the colonialism was the independence of African states and a devotion to economic, social and political development across the continent.

In order to cement Liberia’s bilateral ties further higher with the current powers in Washington and Beijing, the Weah’s administration should attempted to build close cooperative relations with the two countries using diplomatic, thus keeping a vigorous communication channel with the two economics powers and the rest of the free world to the advantage of the CDC-led government pro-poor agenda, the interest of Liberia above other interests.

However, the diplomatic equilibrium can only be achieved if the rightful individuals assigned at Liberia’s embassies and diplomatic missions abroad are demanded to perform a national duties since the president or the foreign minister cannot be presence every were at once to project the nation’s images. Those currently in the field requires a strong background of a multidisciplinary perspective since diplomacy today is an appropriate instrument to attract investments and businesses back home, and, simultaneously, prove to be politically and economically profitable to Liberia.
Considerable literature has appeared in recent years speculating on future Sino-American cooperation, competition, or conflict. While there is no shortage of theories of international relations to inform conjecture on likely future scenarios, two in particular highlight the sharp contrasts in approach and perspectives that characterize this debate regarding Washington and Beijing.

These two perspectives promote very distinct U.S. approaches for dealing with the challenges posed by a rising China. Realists, who believe that states operate in an unsentimental and unforgiving environment, would advise current American President Donald trump to keep ample powder dry, to leverage existing and acquire new allies, and to occasionally accommodate when relevant U.S. interests are much less than those of China.

The current government domestically remained popular which the government should use to reinforce its foreign policy and international relations with the outside world especially Liberia’s development partners and friendly nations and governments. Accurately, Liberia would not have received the worldwide benevolence it got during the 12-year of former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration if not for apt diplomatic initiatives and had serious negotiations not taken place sometimes long hours to balance the country’s diplomatic dealing with Washington and Beijing.

The current administration primarily need to focus on economic diplomacy in the formulation of the CDC-led government foreign policy and the practice of international relations with Washington and Beijing on one hand and the West on the other hand especially Europe and Africa.
Those who are given the responsibility to project Liberia’s images in the international system especially countries accredited at the various embassies and diplomatic missions abroad must be sharp, cognizant of global prevailing dynamics political and diplomatic issues to drive the desire results back home, and not just sit and wait to be tele-guided (push and start). They need to understand that diplomacy goes far beyond sparkling red and white wines, champagne, ceremonial dinner and soliciting financial and other hand-outs for personal enrichment.

The noble profession which goes with greater demands is not an end but a means; not a purpose but a method. It seeks, by the use of reason, conciliation and the exchange of interests to prevent major conflicts arising between sovereign states and other civil organizations.
But nowadays diplomacy and international relations are wrapped up with domestic policy-making and political demands about governance across an extended spectrum of pressing national issues such as President George M. Weah's administration pro-poor agenda and jobs creation for the greater population.
In an advanced technically era, diplomats sometimes are merely the messengers of their governments rather than important advisers and policy makers, since technology has brought about a psychological warfare and propaganda that has become a powerful weapon to diplomacy and foreign policy.

For the purpose of efficiency and productivity, the Weah’s administration should institute decisive measures that the serious issue of diplomats negotiating which missions to be assigned should be halted; they should be posted to counties by those with the appointing powers, the president and the foreign minister.
This was one of the major weaknesses of the former Sirleaf’s regime. It was common for these so-called influential diplomats to lobby for posting to “prestigious” diplomatic missions in Europe, Asia, America and multilateral organizations, as greater numbers were not willing to be posted to African missions, especially the underdeveloped ones, while the stayed of a diplomat at one mission in most instances rendered the diplomat or Foreign Service officer inefficient.

Can this administration regularly rotate diplomats every four years, just as hundreds of states continue managed well. For example, nowadays most of the countries from Africa to America and Asia to Europe and South America to Meddle East regularly rotate diplomats; after four years at one diplomatic mission, the individual is brought home to render service at the foreign ministry while his successor move to replace the person; this strategic is intended to ensure effectiveness and not complacency.

While another concern is the existence of too many diplomatic missions abroad, which place a heavy financial burden on the scarce resources of this poor country Liberia, decisively, maintaining more contacts with non-African states. Studies have shown that Washington, Paris, London or Beijing wouldn’t post diplomats to countries of their choice or where diplomats do not have command over the language of the host state or uninformed diplomats to countries of strategic importance in a particular region or continent.

Considering Liberia’s current economic burden and scarce resources, President Weah need to establish a core group of financial, legal, foreign policy and diplomatic experts and political connoisseurs to review the past regime action to maintain existence of too many embassies and diplomatic missions in one region while the country has no embassy or diplomatic mission in other region or continents.

For instance, the existed several missions in the Middle East countries including Qatar, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, while Liberia has no diplomatic missions or embassy in South America, Central America, Australia, Scandinavia and Oceania regions.

At present, diplomats are engaged in an expanding range of functions, from negotiation, communication, consular, representation, and reporting to observation, merchandise trade and services promotion, cultural exchange, and public relations. Diplomats restrict their interactions and deal solely with other members of an exclusive club, comprised of governmental officials, fellow diplomats, and, occasionally, members of the business community.

A nation's diplomat required function as his or her country's eyes, ears, and voice abroad, must be aware of national interests and values while being able to understand foreign politics and cultures. At the same time, the skills required of professional diplomats include intelligence, tact, discretion, circumspection, patience, self-control, teamwork, adaptability, creative imagination, the ability to signal and communicate messages precisely to the target audience.
In certain cases, diplomats also give occasional speeches to members of the community of their host country. It is admirable profession of integrate, intelligent, honesty, political and edification elegance, free of corrupt and other unwholesome practices especially greed for financial gains. But, now new issues such as technical matters are coming to the forefront. Out of this sphere of unfolding developments and uncertainties a diplomat, in this modern era, should obtain the ‘requisite tools’ of education, skills, and a marketable reputation.

Evidently, diplomat presents his or her government’s policies to the foreign and domestic publics in a persuasive and persuading tone, not a demanding one, as such; a diplomat always represents the interest of the nation but at the same time cannot ignore the public opinion on national and international issues that go beyond defined borders.

Diplomat should be fully aware of work every day to be able to partner with local businesses and companies in host country to enhance economic growth back home in his country. That is why those tasked with economic activities at embassy must be sharp, cognizant of global prevailing wheeling and dealing; keep check of the financial movers and shakers, be well-schooled and knowledgeable of economic diplomacy which encourages greater cooperation and relations that protect investment and bilateral ties between two states or among companies.

Diplomacy serves states in three useful channels of communication including means of negotiating agreements between states, a source of information about what is happening in host states and representing the interest of the sending state.

But considering Liberia’s present poor economic situation, economic diplomacy should be given greater priority in our international relations with powerful states and government since economic diplomacy is now key factor in the development of contemporary international politics. It is clear that economic and commercial interests, particularly those related to investment, trade , exports, protection and assistance could be essential aspects of the diplomatic activities of a considerable number of countries.

Diplomacy today takes place among multiple sites of authority, power, and influence; at its essence is the conduct of relationships, using peaceful means, by and among international actors, at least one of whom is usually governmental. The typical international actors are states and the bulk of diplomacy involves relations between states directly, or between states, international organizations, and other international actors.

In the modern world, the issues of economic interests, trade, protection of nationals, and security have become much more difficult, with major challenges affecting the practices of diplomacy being influenced by major actors and powerful states, and some time the continued experiment of global, continental and regional groupings. Other factors such as bad political decisions in domestic politics, economic growth, and technological development, among others have greatly affected the international system.

At the same time, the skills required of professional diplomats include intelligence, tact, discretion, circumspection, patience, self-control, teamwork, adaptability, creative imagination, the ability to signal and communicate messages precisely to the target audience.
The Weah’s leadership foreign policy and international relations should base its interaction with states and international players on interest since international relations is the study of relations between political entities such as states, empires, international non-governmental organizations, among others.

The CDC led-government foreign policy and international relations, by all account, should be formulated solely for the national interests and its primary and obvious objectives should entails the maintenance of national security and the preservation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country, the promotion of peace and harmony based on the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, and respect for international orders. This will led to securing the much-needed strategic partnerships with international players in support of the Weah’s administration agenda.

The expectations of Weah’s leadership are sky-high among Liberians who believe are positives that the president will deliver on his promises of pro-poor agenda equality, rule of law, unity and better living standard for the poverty-stricken population.

About the Author: Josephus Moses Gbala-hinnih Gray is an Assistant Professor at the University of Liberia Graduate Studies Program. He is a native born Liberian, hails from the Southeastern village of Kayken Chiefdom in Barclayville, Grand Kru County. He is an author, professor, journalist, diplomat and scholar with a wealth of rich credentials. He has authored two books, published Two Graduate Studies Theses and a 600-page Doctoral Dissertation on the theme: “Geopolitics of African Oil and Energy: China and America New Strategic Interests in Africa”. He has written extensively and published over 50 articles on variety of contemporary issues. He can be contacted at Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
By: Prof. Josephus Moses Gray
Assistant Professor of International Relations
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

DECENTRALIZATION -BOLD, COURAGEOUS, PATRIOTIC  REASONABLE, PUBLIC POLICY OPTION: WILL PRESIDENT WEAH IMPLEMENT THIS OPTION?

Introduction
At the National Conference Vision 2024 convened/sponsored by the Liberian Government on The Future of Liberia and held at the Unity Conference Center, Virginia, Liberia, on July 19, 1998, a former official of government had the privilege/opportunity to be present as Presenter.


This former official of government, a Public Policy Advisor, is ethnic/tribal, Liberian citizen with social cultural, Traditional Society Egalitarian/Utilitarian beliefs and background.

Recalling the socio-economic and political indignities to which the overwhelming majority of the nation’s citizens had been, and are subjected, the former official of government presented the Paper, entitled “Decentralization” to the Conference.

The Paper re-visited/re-introduced the ideas of Decentralization of administrative, economic and political power for the election of public officials of the Provinces – the Counties – as a necessary, viable, socio-economic and political alternative option for the future of our nation.

The Paper, also, coined/introduced the prevailing reality of Liberia’s Presidents as imperial presidents; identified and outlined institutional reforms for re-structure and re-organization of government and its functions, designed to introduce and implement fundamental, comprehensive, socio-economic and political transformation, necessary to ensure modern, democratic practice and Local Governance, in the effort to facilitate, among many others, national reconciliation, healing, peace, unity and national security, after the brutal, civil war. There was, and had been, no response from the Taylor Government.

The President’s Pledge & Governance Commission
Then, in her first Inaugural Speech delivered on January 6, 2006, a little less than 8 years after the presentation of the Paper, Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, as President of Liberia, demonstrated profound courage, foresight and encouragement for the future of our country by the declaration that “. . . I pledge to bring the government closer to the people. The days of the imperial presidency . . . are over in Liberia . . . The Executive Mansion and ‘Monrovia’ will, no longer, be the only center of power . . . The people and their interests, as defined by them, will be at the very heart of our new dispensation of decentralization and the devolution of power (Vol. 1 No. 1, Governance Commission Decentralization Bulletin, March 31, 2011)”. Indeed, these pledges of encouragement are, in fact, two of the major themes of the Paper on Decentralization.

It was, and is, also, a pleasing encouragement to note that the President followed the announcement with formation and establishment of the national Governance Commission as a think tank, so to speak, on Decentralization for Public Sector Reform. For, this action affirms decentralization as a compelling, social, economic and political need in our country at this point in time.

But, the administration of the provinces, or Counties, the national constituent, political sub-divisions and their sub-structures that, together, constitute the Republic of Liberia, are caught in vicious shackles of policy confusions and contradictions due to policy decisions made and dispensed by bureaucrats sitting in their Monrovia offices, creating more and more new sub-structures such as Town, Clan and Paramount Chiefdoms, townships, administrative and statutory districts, in addition to existing sub-structures created by ancient, Liberia Law governing Hinterland Liberia, without benefit of current, on-ground and in-county research information.

The results have been and are profoundly disappointing. In her Annual Message delivered on January 28, 2013, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf drew national attention to this, disabling condition when she observed that:

“. . . the challenges of the Decentralization Policy . . . the present local (the political, administrative subdivisions) governance structures are bloated, and difficult to manage. For example, there are more than 149 cities – 33 in Sinoe . . . 93 Administrative Districts; 251 Paramount Chiefs; more than 689 Clan Chiefs; 1,410 General Town Chiefs; and 250 Township Commissioners”, (indicating the creation of that number of townships). “Moreover”, the President continued, “the government has to deliver services to more than 16,000 TOWNS AND VILLAGES. As if these statistics were not daunting enough, the boundaries of all these localities overlap, leading to confusion over jurisdiction and administrative authority . . .”

The Unitary Structure of Government
The Unitary Structure of the Liberian Government became an oligarchy that dominated and continues to dominate national decision-making, mainly, to protect and preserve the interests of a very few, the emerged/emerging “political class” of indigenous, ethnic/tribal Liberian citizens and the traditional Americo-/Congo-Liberian citizens.

Consistent with this structure (Unitary) of government, political, economic and administrative power was vested solely-, highly- and rigidly-centralized in imperial presidents in faraway Executive Mansion, Monrovia, and enshrined in the nation’s constitution of 1847. This ancient log-jam placed on modern democratic process must be removed for the required, indeed demanded, Change.

Preamble, National Policy on Decentralization & Local Governance
The incoming Government of President Weah inherited, fortunately, the proclamation and establishment of the National Policy on Decentralization and Local Governance. The Policy Preamble to this National Policy provides that:

• “. . .Since 1847 and throughout the history of Liberia, governance and public administration have remained highly centralized in Monrovia and controlled mainly by institutions and structures of the central state which have not allowed adequate legal opportunities for the establishment of a system of participatory local governance”.
• “. . . The highly centralized system of governance has impeded popular participation and local initiative, especially in the provision of public goods and services, and has contributed to the need for greater accountability and transparency in the management of public affairs and led to the gap in economic growth and development, equal access to social and economic opportunities and human well-being between Monrovia and the rest of Liberia”.

• “. . . These conditions have slowed down (in fact, prevented) Liberia’s overall economic growth and development and democratization process, leading to underinvestment in human resources and human wellbeing throughout the Republic.”

• “. . . The Government of Liberia (therefore) realizes the need to ensure (and ensures, hereby) greater participation of the Liberian people in their own development process and for equitable distribution of the nation’s resources so as to ensure a more wholesome process of development and democratic governance.”

Thus, the national, public policy announcement states, agreed and admitted that, based on its (foregoing) analysis and conclusion, the most, major culprit for the socio-economic and political under-development, socio-economic and political paralysis and the resulting “failed state” condition of the Republic of Liberia is the prevailing Unitary Structure of the Liberian Government, utilized during these 170 years. It is, indeed, the major source of, almost, all of Liberia’s socio-economic and political ills.

But, we are told by the national, public policy theorists and advisors, the Governance Commission, that “Liberia shall remain a unitary state with a system of local government and administration which shall be decentralized with the county as the principal focus of the devolution of power and authority (Section 1.0, page 2, National Policy on Decentralization & Local Governance, January 2011)”.

This conclusion is, an apparent, complete and profound contradiction. For, decentralization-devolution of political power is not the same under the Federal structure of government as required by the preamble and, in fact, desired and demanded by the overwhelming majority of the Liberian People. We hasten to provide comparative, contrasting analysis below, showing the critical difference between the two, main, systems of government – Federal and Unitary.


Decentralization – Federal & Unitary Structures
Although both Federal and Unitary structures refer to or define “devolution” as decentralization of political power, but there are distinct, important legal differences and conditions, critical to successful democratic practice and results, particularly, in the light of Liberia’s turbulent past, for examples:

In the Federal structure, devolution-decentralization is guaranteed by written, constitutional provisions, with terms and conditions binding upon the central, federal government and its regional, semi-autonomous constituents;

Whereas, in the Unitary structure, devolution-decentralization is non-constitutional and that the central, unitary government reserves the right to alter, re-arrange or abolish the devolved-decentralized powers because, unlike federal system, the Unitary regional constituents lack constitutional right to exist, in the first place;

Therefore, it is compelling and, in fact, reasonable to implement change, with reforms, in the light of doing the same thing for a century with disastrous results. For, throughout 170 years, successive, Liberian, political leaderships and derivatives, held on to the unitary structure, while the nation becomes a “failed State”. But surprisingly, we are told by the Governance Commission that “Liberia shall remain a unitary state”, a complete, profound contradiction, as indicated earlier.

Not only because federalized devolution-decentralization of political power recognizes, supports and constitutionally-guarantees the right of citizens to vote in the election of their Superintendents, Mayors of cities, Paramount, Clan and Town Chiefs as expected, desired and demanded by the overwhelming majority of this nation’s citizens. But the Unitary system, now prevailing in Liberia is unconstitutional and continuation/retention of “business as usual”.

The Liberian voters in Fish Town, River Gee; Saniquellie, Nimba; Tubmanburg, Bomi and Bentol, Montserrado Counties do not need a rocket scientist to tell them that this unitary structure has been and is undemocratic!!

Therefore, it is our hope that the foregoing, graphic description of Liberia’s prevailing, political dynamics convey, will convey, clearly, the critical challenges facing this nation for political electoral Change.

The New Political Dispensation
President George Weah’s success, as President of the Republic, depends on complete, fundamental and comprehensive paradigm shift from the 12-year record of his predecessor ( only learn to benefit from her mistakes) to a progressive, liberal, pluralistic democratic politics –Decentralization - of administrative, economic and political power to ensure local democratic governance; that is, the election of all public officials of the provinces or Counties, superintendents, mayors of cities, paramount, clan, town chiefs, etc., consistent with Federal structure, the relatively, proven democratic success. But these political officials are, now, appointed by Monrovia.

Elsewhere, in a speech, we held that “In a representative democracy, the right to vote in the selection of important public officials is regarded not as a privilege, but an inalienable right that inheres to adult citizens by virtue of their citizenship. It is the primary means of ensuring that governments are responsive to the wishes of the governed”.

Change and Pro-poor Governance
It is widely-expected that President Weah, who campaigned as candidate on “Change and Pro-poor” Themes, will place emphasis on democratic elections of county public officials, with the Change/replacement of the Unitary structure with the time-tested, relatively, democratic Federal structure of government.

Finally, Structure influences behavior, according to Organization Theory. The structure of an organization influences the performance behavior of individuals in organization. Similarly, the structure of the Liberian Government influenced, influences the performance behavior of some 3000 plus, important functionaries of the Liberian Government into Corruption, Incorporated, the celebrated public dishonesty. Decentralization of the sweeping powers of the President is, will be hopeful reduction of this public dishonesty.

This, indeed, is the first order of democratic political business; all else will, and must, follow and fall, hopefully, smoothly, in expected, demanded place.

 

How President Weah’s Government Can Reduce Hardship in Liberia?

-----Let Lebanese and Foreign businesses create jobs for Liberians
The Lebanese factor: Lebanese and other entrepreneurs are having an enormous and most outstanding good time within the Liberian feeble business environment. The Lebanese and other petty foreign businesses in Liberia are potential contributing elements to the ongoing hardship being experienced by most Liberians with past governments paying deaf ears to a common business regulatory rudiment that should help get Liberian out of hardship.


Past governments’ officials failed to carry out simple Liberian business policy. That is because a huge array of government officials has either taken permanent residence in the wallets of the Lebanese business people or they are dinning and winning with them at the detriment of Liberian business policy in Liberia. As a result, government officials in Liberia have been virtually paralyzed and vulnerable to the business power of Lebanese cash tycoons who controlled the lifespan of Liberian politicians in Liberia.

For example, the Lebanese business people and other business partners will open several stores in Liberia and eventually bring along with them their brothers, sisters, nephews, cousins, loved ones, grandfathers, grandmothers, and friends from Lebanon to be employed in those stores. In other words, they erect these stores and employed their own people who will then take the profits of those stores back to Lebanon and other places, leaving thousands and thousands of Liberians stranded with no jobs as they get submerged slowly in hardships and poverty.

At some point, those businesses may hire just a single Liberian, the rest will be Lebanese imported directly from Lebanon and other places to be the benefactors of those stores to the detriment of native Liberians. This same method is applied to other smaller businesses that are manned by unpatriotic Nigerians, Fulani, Guineans, and Ghanaians in Liberia just to name a few. This form of business practices in Liberia by foreigners is creating hardships and social degradation for Liberians. These ugly business practices should be declared unacceptable under the Weah’s government.

Every Lebanese entity erected in Liberia should have only one Lebanese the rest of the employees should be Liberians. Each Lebanese story should contain four Liberian employees each. Every store should have an account officer who should be a Liberian. He/she should be mandated by the Weah’s government to abreast the government on how much a store generates in a month time including profits accrued. The rest of the sale representatives and procurement staff in each store should also be exclusively Liberians employees.

This type of business methodology should be enforced by businesses manned by foreigners across Liberia, and violators should be thrown in jail or be asked to leave Liberia, and by the same token, the government should keep running their businesses/stores for the benefit of Liberians. Investment of any kind in Liberia should benefit all Liberians and not the foreigner themselves. For instance, the ECO Bank in Liberia should provide employment to three (3) Nigerians only. The rest of the employees should be exclusively Liberian employees in all ranking sectors of the ECO Bank.

This approach should be reflected and enforced by all entities across Liberia. Nigerians and other foreign businesses in Liberia should practice this approach which in turn will create massive employment opportunities for Liberians to get out of hardship. Foreign missions such as diplomatic embassies accredited to Liberia, PVOs and NGOs should only employ Liberians and not foreigners. President Weah’s Commerce Minister should enforce this idea. It will help to minimize hardship among some Liberians in Liberia. This approach will create more and more jobs for Liberians. It will also enforce good living condition because massive jobs will be secured.

The Weah’s government should declare as a labor crime for any foreign businesses that will sideline Liberians and make job offers available to foreigners. In short, no foreigner should be employed in Liberia in both the private and public sectors for any reason. Such method will reduce hardship on Liberians. The Chinese factor is becoming a night mere in Liberia. The Chinese are heavily engaged in the sale of cold-water on our streets, marketing of charcoal, breaking firewood, mining sands and rocks are unacceptable, and the Weah’s government should halt such a practice.

The Chinese shouldn’t be a serious competing force to Liberian small businesses in Liberia. The Weah’s government should create an innovative working team that will engage ordinary Liberians to go in rock mining, charcoal, and firewood businesses for them to earn money to survive and gets the Chinses out of those petty Liberians businesses. The Weah’s government will need to move swiftly to protect small Liberian business interests. What other foreigners cannot do in China, Chinese shouldn’t do those things Liberia as well.

Ghanaians, Nigerians, Sierra Leoneans, and Guineans have taken over all the market spots in Monrovia. This form of free market enterprise system should be discouraged. Our market women shouldn't be competing with foreigners for market spaces, good, and services with foreigners. The Weah's government should ensure that our market women get the first-hand privilege and best of opportunities in their native land when it comes to the full protection of Liberian small businesses.

Liberia features in Oxfam sex scandal

The man at the centre of a sexual exploitation scandal at aid agency Oxfam was dismissed by another British NGO seven years earlier for similar misconduct, IRIN has found.


A former colleague reveals that Roland van Hauwermeiren was sent home from his job in Liberia in 2004 after her complaints prompted an investigation into sex parties there with young local women. Despite this, van Hauwermeiren was recruited by Oxfam in Chad less than two years later and went on to work for them in Haiti, and then in Bangladesh for Action contre la Faim.

The Swedish government’s aid department, alerted in 2008, also missed an opportunity to bring his behaviour to light and even went ahead that year to fund Oxfam’s Chad project, under his management, to the tune of almost $750,000.

Last week, The Times reported that van Hauwermeiren was ousted from Oxfam for sexual exploitation and abuse when he worked in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Oxfam’s deputy CEO, Penny Lawrence, has since resigned, and the charity has faced a deluge of criticism, both for the abuse itself and its handling of the staff member. It now faces an enquiry by the charity regulator.

Agencies in the humanitarian sector face serious challenges in tackling sexual exploitation and abuse, and some argue, at least today, that Oxfam’s safeguarding procedures are stronger than those of many other aid agencies.

Repeat offender
Seeing the Times article about van Hauwermeiren, Swedish civil servant and former aid worker Amira Malik Miller was shaken to read about the Haiti case, which pertained to alleged parties and orgies in 2011, seven years after her own experiences of him in Liberia. She couldn’t believe he was still active in the aid world, especially after she had blown the whistle on him and his colleagues, not once but twice.
“Oh my God, he’s been doing this for 14 years,” she remembers thinking. “He just goes around the system… from Liberia to Chad, to Haiti, to Bangladesh. Someone should have checked properly,” she told IRIN.

On two previous occasions, she thought she had done enough to stop his predatory behaviour.
Malik Miller told IRIN how her initial complaints way back in 2004 led to van Hauwermeiren being pushed out of his job as Liberia country director of UK charity Merlin, a medical group now merged with Save the Children. An internal investigation into sexual exploitation and misconduct led to his departure, several Merlin staff members confirmed.

Formal complaint
In 2004, Malik Miller was being briefed in London for a new job: assistant to the Liberia country director and reporting officer there for the medical group Merlin. She had been warned by a colleague that there might be some “dodgy” things going on; she says it was clear they were related to sexual behaviour.

Soon on the plane to the West African country, she was picked up at the airport personally by her new boss: van Hauwermeiren. Initially grateful for his hospitable gesture, her confidence quickly evaporated after he took a call during the drive and said to the person on the other end: “It’s a green light”. She told IRIN it was “really uncomfortable” as she “definitely felt that it was about me”.

Positioned in van Hauwermeiren’s Monrovia office as the most junior expatriate staff member, Malik Miller couldn’t help but notice unusual patterns in his workday. “He was away a lot,” she explained, often returning to work with fresh clothes or wet hair.
Assigned to stay in one of two guest houses rented by Merlin, she shared one nicknamed “London” with several colleagues, while van Hauwermeiren and a medical manager were in another called “Brussels”.

One weekend morning, two or three weeks into her assignment, Malik Miller found one of her housemates, the financial manager, joking with and fondling a young Liberian woman in the kitchen. The woman appeared young, she said. Immediately, she took him aside and explained she wasn’t going to tolerate sex work in the house.

“It can’t go on where I’m living,” she told him. On the Monday morning, she emailed a formal complaint to the Merlin head office in London.
From that point on, Malik Miller said it was “quite intimidating” – the four senior managers “constantly had their eye on me”. When Merlin’s human resources officer called to check up on her (which they did frequently), she pretended it was her mother or sister on the line and stepped away so she wouldn’t be overheard.

Insufficient proof
Within a fortnight, Merlin had sent a senior two-person team to Monrovia. In the course of their investigation, they spoke to other aid groups, Liberian employees of Merlin, and the expatriate staff and management.

One of Merlin’s investigating team, a former senior manager, confirmed Malik Miller’s account. He told IRIN he and his colleague rapidly reached their conclusion: the management team (“four middle-aged men”) were all engaged in paying for sex. They had been using Merlin cars to ferry women to and from the NGO’s two guest houses for paid sex and parties involving sex workers.

“It was obvious,” he explained. “So many people had seen them with a succession of young local girls.” He said it was impossible to say if some of the women were under 18. On being told the findings of the probe, van Hauwermeiren “denied everything” but nevertheless agreed to an immediate resignation.

The investigating manager said Merlin lacked sufficient proof to pursue a prosecution, and that the report from Malik Miller was the first he’d heard of the Monrovia misconduct. However, a third source, an aid worker familiar with the episode, countered this, saying the London head office had already been aware of the allegations.

Van Hauwermeiren and the rest of the Liberia management team were “shameless”, she told IRIN. “They acted like it was the most normal thing in the world.”

In the wake of the civil war, “the behaviour at that time in Monrovia was insane,” she recalled. “I think Merlin were a bit worse, but plenty of UN types [were] doing the same. Lots of sleazy bars, girls on the beach…”

“Tip of the iceberg”
Such behaviour may have been rife then in Liberia, but the former Merlin manager who conducted the 2004 investigation told IRIN that sexual exploitation in the aid sector remains an enormous problem to this day.

The latest revelations were just the “tip of the iceberg”, he said, calling for more to be done to professionalise the sector. He argued that the lack of a professional certification body means there is no central monitoring of individuals, while aid agencies are compromised by trying to protect their reputations.

He said it was “staggering” that van Hauwermeiren was able to find re-employment with Oxfam and that he felt “real regret” that his actions didn’t prevent Oxfam recruiting the Belgian. He claimed he couldn’t recall the names and further careers of the other three managers but said they had all been replaced and left Merlin.

Malik Miller, meanwhile, told IRIN she was partly satisfied with the response of the head office and believed her original complaint had at least been taken seriously. “I felt supported,” she said.

However, she was left thinking that the disciplinary action taken had been a bit weak. Van Hauwermeiren had been allowed to resign, while the housemate who had brought a sex worker to the guest house was told to apologise and allowed to stay on.

She started to doubt her own resolve, thinking: “Maybe it is OK… if we can’t prove that they’re under 18, hey ho…. maybe it's me overreacting.”
She recalled her deeper concern at the time being about this apparent “culture of complacency” that allowed men, ostensibly working for charitable causes, to conduct this behaviour more or less in the open.

In the sector, it’s “a system failure” and a “lack of responsibility to protect children and vulnerable women,” she said. The transactional sex was widely known by colleagues, male and female, who seemed to have accepted it as normal.

Second attempt
Four years later, Malik Miller was at her desk in the Swedish government’s aid department. A file landed on her desk: an application for funding from Oxfam in Chad. She opened it and was appalled to find van Hauwermeiren’s name listed as the country director.
Per Byman, then humanitarian director of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), confirmed to IRIN that he had been alerted in 2008 by Malik Miller to van Hauwermeiren's previous record at Merlin.

He told IRIN he had taken advice from SIDA's legal department on what to do about it, but couldn’t recall the outcome. He said he was "disgusted" at reading the recent news of van Hauwermeiren's behaviour.

SIDA’s website reports a grant of $748,537 to Oxfam for Chad in late 2008. Documents related to the grant include the following: “Oxfam will work with women in their communities to enable them to have recognised value in the family due to increased financial and social capital."
Asked by IRIN whether it knew of the Liberia case, Oxfam did not answer the question and provided a link to a previous statement. The Charity Commission of England and Wales told IRIN it had no records for Merlin in 2004, so it couldn’t comment on whether it was alerted to the case. Last year, the regulator asked charities to report any previously withheld cases of abuse.

Save the Children’s press office was unable to comment in detail before publication, but pointed out its takeover of Merlin was in 2013. IRIN was unable immediately to reach Geoff Prescott, who was chief executive of Merlin at the time of the 2004 allegations.

Looking back, Malik Miller said: "My experience of whistle-blowing has not been negative. I felt like I was listened to, and supported by colleagues, including senior managers. At least that side of the system worked. It's the follow-through that was lacking, and allows people like Roland [van Hauwermeiren] to continue to work in the sector."

Liberian former aid worker Jeanine Cooper told IRIN she was "shocked" to hear of the case and outraged to see how "these predators are recycled in a cozy system".

“[Back in 2004], the NGO scene was absolutely horrible; the UN too – impunity all around," said Cooper, who worked with the UN in several countries.

The aid worker familiar with the Merlin case, who asked to remain anonymous, told IRIN her perception of what is normal in the sector needed readjustment after the experience of working with van Hauwermeiren.

“My next field posting after Liberia was post- (2004 Indian Ocean) tsunami,” she said. “And I remember thinking, ‘oh, there are some old unattractive white men NOT having sex with prostitutes – weird’.

What Will Be The Impact of Liberian Foreign Relations Under President George Weah's Administration ?

The landscap of mordern diplomacy and international relations across the wold in terms of practice may have lost some of its image of exceptional ingredients, in the sense that it has to compete and interact with a much wider dynamic of the international system, conduct itself in a more time-sensitive manner, and be applied with a greater technical orientation and to a far greater extent than in the past.


But nowadays diplomacy and international relations are wrapped up with domestic policy-making and political demands about governance across an extended spectrum of pressing nnational issues such as President George M. Weah's admnistration pro-poor agenda and jobs creation for the greater population.

The practices have changed from the old practices to a contemporary system; beginning with the advancement of technology and education that makes it imperative to adapt to the many demands evolving from introduction an advanced hi-tech communications and continuing transformations of the international system.

The revolutionary changes in the nature of relations between sovereign states and even non-state actors have changed the responsibilities of today’s diplomacy which is basically that of mediation and communication of international issues between countries, international system and the public.

The development of instant communications and the advance of science and technology have increased the depth and scope of diplomacy in this contemporary world of civilization, especially with globalization and the emergence of new and powerful states on the world stage, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, conflict resolution, terrorism and bad governance.

The necessity for a well formulated dialogue in a modern world when relative certainties of a bipolar state system have given way to a disorderly, confused multi-polarity is witnessed by the distracted pace of contemporary diplomatic activities.

In the words of Richard Rosecrance, Adjunct Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, in the extended sense, diplomatic techniques have undergone considerable metamorphosis since the eighteenth century. In his book titled: The Rise of the Trading State”, Professor Rosecrance propounded that the extensive use of propaganda, subversion on a wide scale, and the manipulation of national economic instruments for foreign policy purposes have greatly enlarged the range of multilateral dealings on the world scene.

Former U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine K. Albright in her esteemed publication: New American Diplomacy,(2000), pinpointed that Diplomacy is the art and practice of negotiation between nations, conducted mostly through private conversations and the exchange of confidential documents.

According to her, leading diplomats and ambassadors use public statements and news conferences to explain their policies, seek support for their governments, and put pressure on other countries in the negotiations of a specify situation.

A former American Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Kissinger in his thoughtful new book: New Order: Explained that practically, new actors on the international scene are increasingly using practices employed by states with the aim of furthering their interests in the international arena and putting new issues on the global agenda.

In the words of Warren Christopher, diplomat is a crisis manager and must possess: A good knowledge of international relations, a good understanding of how international relations function between states, should be well informed, smart, bridge and possess the ingredients of contemporary diplomatic know how and the aspirations in negotiating, great moral and intellectual sensitivity, imagination and courage, the ability to make parties feel convincing and grateful for successful negotiation.

For the former Senior Ambassador At Large of Liberia, Carlton Karpeh (2010) diplomat presents his or her government policies to the foreign country in a persuasive and persuading tone, not a demanding one, as such, a diplomat always represents the interest of the nation but at the same time cannot ignore the public opinion on national and international issues that go beyond defined borders.

In the words of former Liberian Minister of Foreign Affairs, T. Ernest Eastman (2006), “The field of international relations is so important that they called diplomacy the ‘master-institution’ of international politics which influenced domestic politics. While in international relations, Eastman (2006) said diplomacy functions through a labyrinth of foreign offices, embassies, consulates, and special missions all over the world.
In the much quoted definition of a renowned Liberian author and former diplomat, Dr. Joseph Saye Guanua, “diplomat as an honest Man sent abroad to lie for the good of his country.

While in his recent book: Liberian Emerging Democracy, Josephus Gray, (2013) reiterated that beyond representation, a diplomat is expected to possess a good knowledge and understanding of his own country; its geography, history and culture, its economy, political, social and its demographic structure, natural resources, its industry and the determinants of its foreign policy priorities.

According to a leading twentieth-century figure in the study of international politics, Hans Morgenthau, diplomacy will naturally decline with the onset of modern communication technologies such as the telephone, telegraph, cable and communication satellite. For example, following the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, Washington and Moscow set up a teletype system that delivered printed copy from one capital to the other.

Meanwhile, the Post Johnson Sirleaf’s era presents a challenge for President George M. Weah’s administration to put its diplomats to work, as the government seeks international partners as the country emerges from an idle and desperate economic situation.

That is why those tasked with economic and political activities at the various embassies and diplomatic missions of Liberia must be sharp, cognizant of global prevailing dynamics political and diplomatic issues to drive the desire results back home, and not just sit and wait to be tele-guided.

The current administration primarily need to focus on economic diplomacy in the formulation of the CDC-led government foreign policy and the practice of international relations, indisputably, economic, trade and commercial diplomacy should be paramount in this era.

This requires a strong background of the diplomats from a multidisciplinary perspective since professional diplomacy is an appropriate instrument to perform this synthesis, to the extent that it can use its persuasive techniques in favor of businesses and investments and, simultaneously, prove to be politically and economically profitable to Liberia.

Liberia would not have received the worldwide benevolence it got during the former regime of Johnson Sirleaf, if not for apt diplomatic initiatives by the Foreign Ministry, and had serious negotiations not taken place sometimes long hours into the night, as perceptively as possible with grinding efforts, employing the tools of diplomacy for national advancement.

Diplomacy has brought development and prosperity to other sovereignty states for example as already enumerated and economic and trade values as seen in varied negotiations with bilateral and multilateral bodies, as the Liberian case illustrates, as well as increased economic and commercial activity.

But considering Liberia’s present poor economic situation, economic diplomacy should be given greater priority in our international relations since economic diplomacy is now key factor in the development of contemporary international politics. It is clear that economic and commercial interests, particularly those related to investment, trade , exports, protection and assistance could be essential aspects of the diplomatic activities of a considerable number of countries.

The noble profession which goes with greater demands is not an end but a means; not a purpose but a method. It seeks, by the use of reason, conciliation and the exchange of interests to prevent major conflicts arising between sovereign states and other civil organizations. Diplomacy goes far beyond sparkling red and white wines, champagne, ceremonial dinner and soliciting financial and other hand-outs for personal enrichment.

It is an activity which aims to promote the national interest of a country and also a technique for accommodating conflicting interest. But it could also be construed that apart from representing national interests the role of a diplomat includes the bringing about compromises to ensure a greater peace in an age when conflict has more dire consequences.

Diplomacy today takes place among multiple sites of authority, power, and influence; at its essence is the conduct of relationships, using peaceful means, by and among international actors, at least one of whom is usually governmental. The typical international actors are states and the bulk of diplomacy involves relations between states directly, or between states, international organizations, and other international actors.

Contemporary diplomacy in terms of practice is carry out through several processes such Shuttle diplomacy, Multilateral diplomacy, Public diplomacy, Economics diplomacy, Hi-Tech diplomacy, Conference diplomacy, Instant Media diplomacy and Resident diplomacy which is also called Track diplomac which is refers to as the standard form of diplomacy involving negotiations between officials of two or more.

According to a leading twentieth-century figure in the study of international politics, Hans Morgenthau, diplomacy will naturally decline with the onset of modern communication technologies such as the telephone, telegraph, cable and communication satellite.

Occasionally, telephone diplomacy some time experiences problem due to tech-glitch, on a largest scale hi-tech diplomacy is wildly used by world leaders to get a quick result (Gray, Josephus Moses, 2014), The Practices of Hi-Tech Diplomacy in an Advanced Technically World). Studies have shown that the Hi-Tech diplomacy is used mainly by world leaders and emissaries to by-passed their ambassadors to put their calls through directly to their counterparts or other high ranking officials of another states to discuss issues. This form of diplomacy, unlike the traditional one, is very effective, it gives instant results.

Also technology has rendered the difference in time, space and distance irrelevant and meaningless in contemporary diplomatic intercourse.
Besides, the almighty internet with its many sophisticated features including the e-mail segment cannot be denied center-stage in the community of diplomacy (US State Department report 2003). Another factor is multilateral diplomacy which also brought in its wake new forms of diplomatic activity like public debates, extensive committee work; parliamentary procedures that back in the home country are the provenance of politicians.

Intranet” systems allow, among other benefits, presents a comprehensive and effective communication between the Foreign Ministry and diplomatic missions in their country. “Instant media” have a significant role in this area, especially the “chats” and social media networks like Face book, Skype and Twitter, which are used both by the foreign ministries and diplomatic missions to disseminate and receive data.

These forms of diplomacy were very effective during the 2016 US Elections which Republicans’ J. Donald Trump won over his Democrats challenger, Hillary Clinton , although seventy-five percent of news on the Facebook and internet were fake, misleading or fabrication to the disadvantage of the other party.

Another effective form of diplomacy is Public diplomacy which has grown in the world and in the age of reality TV which is used to mobilize public support, to sustain momentum in negotiations, or to sabotage negotiations by leaking details of concessions contrary to individual preferences. This practice also include Conference diplomacy has its antecedents in the Eastern Mediterranean in the 4th century.

Other area of diplomacy, which has brought great development to other nations is eeconomic and trade diplomacy, as well as economic and commercial diplomacy. Nowadays, economic diplomacy and trade are now being given greater priority; these areas are now the key factors in the development of contemporary international politics.

In the contemporary world, the issues of economic interests, trade, protection of nationals, and security have become much more difficult, with major challenges affecting the practices of diplomacy being influenced by major actors and powerful states, and some time the continued experiment of global, continental and regional groupings. Other factors such as bad political decisions in domestic politics, economic growth, and technological development, among others have greatly affected the international system.

In an advanced technically era, diplomats sometimes are merely the messengers of their governments rather than important advisers and policy makers, since technology has brought about a psychological warfare and propaganda that has become a powerful weapon to diplomacy and foreign policy.

At present, diplomats are engaged in an expanding range of functions, from negotiation, communication, consular, representation, and reporting to observation, merchandise trade and services promotion, cultural exchange, and public relations. Diplomats restrict their interactions and deal solely with other members of an exclusive club, comprised of governmental officials, fellow diplomats, and, occasionally, members of the business community.

The practice of diplomacy in the contemporary world as relates the new world order and international relations, the ancient practice of diplomacy has under goes several transformations to the new effectual and dynamics ones, moving at a greater speech that requires one to precisely understand foreign politics, culture, trade and commerce, and the intellectual facility and linguistic agility to network and intelligently contribute meaningfully at major gathering where issues are brought forth and discussed.

In contemporary diplomacy, the issues of economic interests, trade, protection of nationals, and security have become much more difficult, with major challenges affecting the practices of diplomacy being influenced by major actors and powerful states, and some time the continued experiment of global, continental and regional groupings.

Furthermore, leader’s willingness to use the telephone has carried communication a step further. In the Persian Gulf crisis of 1991, former President George Bush, Sr., and former President Mikhail Gorbachev conducted an unprecedented 75 minutes telephone conversation including the time needed for translations.

Also in recent times the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu made a telephone call to the former UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon dissuading him not to go to Iran, former US secretary of State, Colin Powell conducted an unprecedented about 95 telephone calls under the rubric of diplomacy to his colleagues around the world while former Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan on one occasion took advantage of this modern system of tech-diplomacy. Occasionally, telephone diplomacy some time experiences problem due to tech-glitch.

According to reports, former Secretary Colin Powell by-passed his ambassador and put a call through directly to the Secretary General. Study shows that technology has rendered the difference in time, space and distance irrelevant and meaningless in contemporary diplomatic intercourse. And now the almighty internet with its many sophisticated features including the e-mail segment cannot be denied center-stage in the community of diplomacy.

In the middle Ages diplomacy was typically engaged in by kings and princes of neighboring states directly at summit level, the practice fell out of favor partly because of the inherent risk to the personal safety and security of the royals, and partly owing to the paucity of results. The ease and speed of international travel, combined with an explosion in the range of issues that diplomacy now covers, is responsible for a proliferation of diplomatic summits with a resulting convergence between foreign policy-makers and the practice of diplomacy.

A nation's diplomat required function as his or her country's eyes, ears, and voice abroad, must be aware of national interests and values while being able to understand foreign politics and cultures. At the same time, the skills required of professional diplomats include intelligence, tact, discretion, circumspection, patience, self-control, teamwork, adaptability, creative imagination, the ability to signal and communicate messages precisely to the target audience.

In certain cases, diplomats also give occasional speeches to members of the community of their host country. It is admirable profession of integrate, intelligent, honesty, political and edification elegance, free of corrupt and other unwholesome practices especially greed for financial gains. But, now new issues such as technical matters are coming to the forefront. Out of this sphere of unfolding developments and uncertainties a diplomat, in this modern era, should obtain the ‘requisite tools’ of education, skills, and a marketable reputation.

Evidently, diplomat presents his or her government’s policies to the foreign and domestic publics in a persuasive and persuading tone, not a demanding one, as such; a diplomat always represents the interest of the nation but at the same time cannot ignore the public opinion on national and international issues that go beyond defined borders.

Another factor responsible for the low productivity of African diplomacy is the serious issue of diplomats negotiating which missions to be assigned, instead of getting posted to counties by those with the appointing powers. It is common for these so-called influential diplomats to lobby for posting to prestigious diplomatic missions in Europe, Asia, America and multilateral organizations, as greater numbers are not willing to be posted to African missions, especially the underdeveloped ones.

The problem of concern is the existence of too many diplomatic missions abroad, which place a heavy financial burden on the scarce resources of these poor African Countries, decisively maintaining more contacts with non-African states. Studies have shown that Washington, Paris, London or Beijing wouldn’t post diplomats to countries of their choice or where diplomats do not have command over the language of the host state or uninformed diplomats to countries of strategic importance in a particular region or continent.

Diplomacy serves states in three useful channels of communication including means of negotiating agreements between states, a source of information about what is happening in host states and representing the interest of the sending state.

Diplomat should be fully aware of work every day to be able to partner with local businesses and companies in host country to enhance economic growth back home in his country. That is why those tasked with economic activities at embassy must be sharp, cognizant of global prevailing wheeling and dealing; keep check of the financial movers and shakers, be well-schooled and knowledgeable of economic diplomacy which encourages greater cooperation and relations that protect investment and bilateral ties between two states or among companies.
A nation's diplomat required function as his or her country's eyes, ears, and voice abroad, must be aware of national interests and values while being able to understand foreign politics and cultures.

At the same time, the skills required of professional diplomats include intelligence, tact, discretion, circumspection, patience, self-control, teamwork, adaptability, creative imagination, the ability to signal and communicate messages precisely to the target audience.
In certain cases, diplomats also give occasional speeches to members of the community of their host country. It is admirable profession of integrate, intelligent, honesty, political and edification elegance, free of corrupt and other unwholesome practices especially greed for financial gains.

But, now new issues such as technical matters are coming to the forefront. Out of this sphere of unfolding developments and uncertainties a diplomat, in this modern era, should obtain the ‘requisite tools’ of education, skills, and a marketable reputation. Watch out for part four.
By: Prof. Josephus Moses Gray
Assistant Professor of International Relations
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

'Liberia takes over chairmanship of African Group of Ambassadors at United Nations'

Liberia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Lewis Garseedah Brown, II, on Tuesday took over the chairmanship of the African Group of Ambassadors to the United Nations for the month of February.


Ambassador Brown took over the chairmanship from the Permanent Representative of Equatorial Guinea, His Excellency Ambassador Anatolio Ndong Mba who served for the month of January.

Handing over the gavel of authority, Ambassador Mba expressed confidence in Ambassador Brown's leadership and pledged his full support to ensuring success during his tenure.

According to a dispatch from Liberia's Permanent Mission to the United Nations, Ambassador Brown thanked the former Chairman for his commitment and dedication to the work of the African group and assured that he would continue in the footprints of his predecessors to advance the objectives of the Group.

As Chairman, Ambassador Brown will coordinate the affairs of the African group and serve as its official spokesperson at all United Nations events including meetings and high level conferences.

During his tenure as Chairman, the African group will participate in ongoing intergovernmental negotiations on UN Security Council reforms and convene a retreat of Permanent Representatives of African Missions to the United Nations from February 23-24.

The retreat, meant to enhance the effectiveness, unity, cohesion and solidarity of the Group will be held under the theme: Working towards African driven and Africa led Reform process at the United Nations: Maximizing Africa's impact and influence.

From Where I see Weah..

Part (I) B:
How President Weah’s Government Can Reduce Hardship in Liberia?
Cancel the US dollar In Liberia: Condt’d from part I


Any Liberian or foreigner who will keep more than two-thousand US dollar in his/her private bank account said account should be an investigated by the National Security Service (NSA). And if the source of said amount or account is unquestionable, those concerned should be taken to Court of competent jurisdiction to provide evidence and justification of how they obtained such amount of US dollar and from what source. All private/public banking entities should be mandated by the Bank of Liberia to make a quarterly disclosure of all foreigners’ and Liberians who saved more than five thousand US dollars in their foreign accounts at home and abroad.

No foreigner/Liberian should be allowed by the NSA to pass through the Robert International Airport (RIA) with any US dollar without the approval of the Bank of Liberia and said fund should be in bank draft and not in physical cash. If the Bank of Liberia doesn’t approve of said transactions those involved should be charged with economy sabotage or economy crime and placed behind a bar for ten-year after a court ruling. Anyone wishing to travel with US dollar outside of Liberia he/she should get an authentic bank draft of not more than one five hundred US dollar with the support of the Bank of Liberia.

The US dollar has affected the effective growth and development of Liberia from time in Memorial. This is because every Liberian/foreigner/politician and other business people often engage in a capital flight of the US dollar from Liberia which undermines development in Liberia. The US dollar also facilitates rampant corruption in Liberia. There should be a banned on any Liberian banking in US dollar outside of Liberia.

Those who will violate such policy their properties should be confiscated by a Court and the accuse ones should be thrown in jail for five-years. A presidential decree from President Weah should compel every Liberian irrespective of status or position in Liberia to bank straightly in Liberia. It should be considered as an economic crime for any Liberian to bank abroad.

The Liberian government doesn’t have the necessary resources to back the use of the US dollar in Liberia, as a result, the nation is experiencing huge inflation and capital flight. The Liberian dollar has been undermined and weakened severely, which is a ridiculous economy. Liberia can easily obtain resources to back the Liberian dollar, then the US dollar in Liberia. Liberians are using the US dollar because of greed, corruption, personal aggrandizement and prestige.

The removal of the US dollar in the Liberian economy will eventually minimize hardship on Liberians because Liberia will only be confronted with the use of one single currency, that is Liberian dollar for all of Liberians personal and private transactions in the country. The use of the US dollar in the Liberia economy should be declared insane and violators should be put behind bars for using the US dollar as a legal tender in Liberia if only President Weah is serious about reducing hardship on Liberians in Liberia.

The other areas that adds hardships on Liberians is the serious disparities in salaries structures. Lebanese and other foreign businesses should be mandated how much to pay Liberian employees rather than the foreigners determining how much they should pay Liberian employees within their personal purview or perspective. The Weah’s government should get engaged fully in these areas of sincere concerns.

Column: From Where I see Weah…

Part I (A):
How President Weah’s Government Can Reduce Hardship in Liberia?


There are several practical steps or approaches the Weah’s government can utilize to minimize hardship and maximize good living conditions for Liberians. This series contained part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Part I of this sixth series, calls for the cancellation of the use of the US dollar in the Liberian economy which is one of the major factors contributing to hardship in Liberia.
Removal of the US dollar from the Liberian Economy:
The systematic and comfortable utilization of the US dollar as a legal tender in the Liberian economy is one of the fundamental and systemic causes of acute hardship-indirectly imposed on Liberians in Liberia since 1907. Not every Liberian works or earns the US dollar in Liberia. Pegging the US dollar with the Liberian dollar is economically not appropriate. Every item sold in stores in Liberia has the UD dollar price tag on it, thus making life miserable for millions of Liberians while few Liberians and their unscrupulous business partners dwelled in perpetual dollar paradise.
House rents are labeled in US dollar, school fees and registration are largely labeled in US dollar. Everything is labeled in US dollar. How will Liberia develop under such condition? Enormous goods and services are charged in US dollar. Salaries of government officials, including the judiciary, the executive and parliament are all in US dollar. As a result, unwelcomed and dangerous foreign businesses are constantly flocking to Liberia in search of the US dollar with evil intent thus leaving Liberians in poverty—this is viciously an insane precedence.
The Liberian economy is draining considerably due to the effective use of the US dollar which is adversely undermining the smooth development of the Liberian economic. First, the US dollar has been creating huge inflation rate (139 LD to I US) which has continued to weaken the status of the Liberian dollar. Liberia is the only country in the world that is effectively utilizing two legal currencies working assiduously -side-by-side. The use of the US dollar in Liberia is conducive and lucrative but it is very dangerous for Liberian living condition in general.
The US dollar fertilizes the perpetuation of rampant corruption in Liberia. The US dollar is highly tantamount to the economic vandalization of the Liberians business sectors and the proliferation of corrupt agent of change. The US dollar encourages the huge influx of thousands and thousands of foreigners into Liberia. These foreigners’ fundamental goal is to search, grab and take away every cent of the US dollar away from the Liberian economy.
If the Weah’s government is very serious to minimize hardship on Liberians as an agent of positive change, his government should move tactically and swiftly to replace the US dollar with the Liberian dollar. In other words, the Weah’s government should foster the establishment of a very strong Liberian dollar economy that will benefit Liberians and not the foreigners who are purposely in Liberia to chase and take away the US dollar.
Furthermore, all items, materials, should be sold directly in Liberian dollar going forward, which would improve and reduce hardship on Liberians. No business material should be price tagged in US dollar in Liberia anymore. For example, gas stations, hotels, motels, restaurants and for-profit and not-for-profit business entities/institutions, public and private Universities in Liberia should be made to charge all their fees and registrations in Liberian dollar exclusively.
Every embassy, NGO, PVO internal/external charities organizations, government officials, parliament, the judiciary and the executive should conduct their normal business transactions in Liberian currency only with no pegging with the US dollar. The bank of Liberia should be the official custodian of the US currency. All business entities/institutions that are in the business of importing goods from abroad should purchase the US dollar directly from the Bank of Liberia.
Other private banks should buy the US dollar from the bank of Liberia for external international transactions only. Individual Liberian can be allowed to open a private US dollar account at any bank of their chosen, but they will transact that amount in Liberian dollar in Liberia. Liberians who will have a US dollar account at any bank should be forbidden by law to transact their businesses and or other services directly in Liberian dollar and not in US dollar. Those services or businesses should be reflected in the through the powers of the Liberian dollar. That means, a Liberian can withdraw his/her US dollar from a bank of his/her chosen, but his/her transaction should be done in Liberian dollar going forward. Condit in next edition (Cancellation of the US dollar in the Liberian economy).

Optimism: Is the Magic Word

If Liberians at home and abroad had never been optimistic about their president, since the cradle of Liberia’s independence, July 26, 1847, the inauguration of President Weah, should set the platform for such optimism about him.


Too often, most Liberians had dwelled in the state of unmanageable figment, terrible hallucinations, and endless bigotries. These disavowal vices have often prevented Liberians from knowing the hidden aptitudes of their elected leaders. These treacherous vices have the latent to develop into falsehood, political conspiracy theories, bitterness and hatred against their elected leaders. As a result, some Liberians become overwhelmed with impediment and disillusionment which often lead to sowing a discourse and bitterness in the nation against their elected leaders, when they should be submerged in the spirit of optimism.

Liberians should begin to nurture the political fruits of optimism for President Weah and his government for the sake of peace and unity. This is the moment when Liberians will need to forge ahead in harmony. Speaking with one preference in support of President Weah’s platform for the growth and development of Mama’s Liberia. Liberians need to understand that this is not President Weah’s government. It is the government of all Liberians. President Weah is simply a vessel to lead Liberians and Liberia as a captain.

His Excellency wasn’t elected Head of State and the 25th President of Liberia on the basis of mere human luck or by holistic magical powers, his election was divinely driven. H.E. was elected because the Almighty God had permitted him to become president of the Republic of Liberia. President Weah election is synonymous to that of the election of former President Barrack Obama of the United State of America in 2009/17. Former President Obama was elected in a white-dominated culture. Something that shocked and surprised the whole world. Former President Obama wasn’t elected on the basis of his hard-earned law credential or because he was born to a white mother. It was the Lord Almighty who sent him to lead both white, black and brown people of the United States of America.

Over 90% of Americans were definitively optimistic about former President Obama’s presidency. Because of such optimism, former President Obama was greatly successful and presidentially productive in every facet of his political undertakings. That doesn't mean that President Obama did not encounter political problems, social obstacles, and economic catastrophe.

The people of America stood by Former President Obama every step of the way; because they found meaning in the spirit of optimism and inspirations. In the midst of their troubles and frustrations, Americans were still optimistic about former President Obama. This is the type of spirit Liberians will need to cultivate honesty in supporting President Weah’s government in his trek.

Today, President Weah has been named the father of the nation, as such, all entities including the opposition parties, the clergy, political detractors, government officials, students and well-wishers will need to cultivate the spirit of optimism, hope, and inspirations for His Excellency to achieve the platform he has set forth to achieve. Liberians should be optimistic by putting forward meaningful advice, suggestion, and recommendation.

Liberians should not travel to Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the United States of America with the intent of undermining the Weah’s Presidency, by calling on the international community to impose sanctions and discouraging donor agencies to support the pending holistic development initiatives embarked on by President Weah purposely for the people of Liberia.

Liberians who might be fortunate one day to travel far and wide around the world should speak positive about Liberia and encourage donor organizations and investors to invest in Liberia not purposely because of President Weah’s government, but because of the suffering masses of the Republic of Liberia. Let us remember when President Weah fails, Liberians fail, when he succeeds, Liberians succeed. “Optimism: Is the magic word” for the future of Liberia.

 

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