Strengthening Democracy Through Civic Participation in Liberia and the Sub-region

Citizen voice and participation are essential to building and sustaining democratic societies. Toward this end, our Democracy and Human Rights Program promotes politically engaged and informed citizenries, active civil society organizations, organized labor, independent and open media in Liberia and the sub-region.

The Context

In the last decade, the political, economic and social landscape of Liberia and the entire Mano River Basin region have changed significantly. During the last decades, Liberia and the sub-region were engulfed in intractable armed conflicts. Today, Liberia and the sub region remain peaceful although political tensions are high.

The explosive growth of communications technology in West Africa  – mobile phones in particular – has not only given people access to more diverse information streams but also new ways to engage with each other in order to  shape societies and help create informal transnational movements.

Nevertheless, despite recent progress in sustaining peaceful environment, Liberia lack strong democratic governance institutions, and civil society organizations are often incapable of effectively demanding accountability from government. Moreover, government continue to create a facade of democracy while carefully calibrating tools of repression such as manipulation of procurement laws and  violations of the constitution as governing elites continue to resist change and accountability.

 

Democracy in Liberia remains  vulnerable as citizens’ rights  are violated while watchdog institutions weakened. For example, Liberia enacted ‘Freedom of Information (FOI) Law in 2010. Article 15 of Liberia Constitution provide for freedom of expression and of the press. Nevertheless, these rights are often limited in practice. Government continue to level libel charges against media houses and journalists, while existing regulatory bodies are largely ineffective, and media self-regulatory mechanisms are not yet developed. Liberian journalists continuously face physical violence, and threats and intimidation in their work. .

 Among the most fundamental problem in Liberia is the continued barriers to widespread participation and inclusion. Democratic notions of popular voice and majority rule coexist with traditions that continue to undermine inclusion and human rights. As a result, eradicating extreme poverty in Liberia has become extremely challenging because  poverty in this small West African nation is underpinned by poor and undemocratic governance, weak and corrupt institutions and entrenched power dynamics that often  lead to political and economic exclusion. The results  are often manifested in poor development, impunity, deepening levels of poverty and policy neglect of pandemics such as Ebola, HIV/AIDS and others.

VOSIEDA’s Governance, Civic Engagement and Human Rights Initiatives:


Under this program, VOSIEDA is working to intensify efforts to promote politically engaged and informed citizenries, active civil society organizations, and independent and open media.

  • We work with, support and protect human rights defenders and civil society reformers in  in Liberia, while fostering increased space for meaningful political competition. 

  • We foster greater accountability of institutions and leaders to citizens and to the law in Liberia through social accountability.

  • We provide electoral assistance that enables citizens to exercise their right to select and replace their leaders through free and fair elections.

  • Support the ability of civil society and independent and open media to provide oversight and serve an informed critique of government.

  • Assist local government institutions to deliver on the mandates of their offices, fulfilling the public trust, and providing public goods and services through transparent and responsive governance.

 

  • We protect and promote universally recognized human rights through protection, mitigation, and response to violations against human rights, human rights violations affecting the most vulnerable such as women, children and those suffering from modern day slavery.

  • We promote human rights principles, in accordance with universal values and international norm.

Do you have question or need more information? Ok, please meet our Expert.

Ms. Grace M. Tour
Programme Coordinator

Governance, Civic Engagement & Human Rights

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