Ebola A Threat To International Peace And Security

By Dr. D. Elwood Dunn

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
September 10, 2014



The people of Liberia and the West African region face an existential threat. The threat has implications beyond the sub-region and the African continent. The Ebola crisis constitutes a threat to international peace and security. It is far past time for the world community to step up its engagement from a “public health emergency of international concern” to a Chapter Seven Mandate to “Deliver as One.”

The evidence of the threat is abundant since the Ebola outbreak began making headlines worldwide a few months ago – the unfolding drama in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea with the decimation of large population segments, destruction of cherished human values, human insecurity on an unprecedented scale, including the absence of medical attention to non-Ebola ailments.  Add to this the potential that if unchecked in time the virus could mutate, become transmissible and present a clearer and more present danger. Already some have begun to speak of a shift from linear growth to exponential, citing possibilities of 20,000 to 100,000 casualties in the months immediately ahead.

 Led by the international scientific community, notably Medecins Sans Frontieres, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health, among others, the nature of the disease has been focused and treatment requirements made clear. Even more, a host of private and governmental personnel is in the fields battling the disease and its devastating consequences for the affected populations now bearing the brunt.

If one can speak of a measure of progress registered in the fight by national, regional and global actors, it is equally clear that the opportunities of this challenge loom large.  The small battles won (cases of recovery and the continuing efforts being deployed) have yet to add up, to make a significant dent in this devastating war. There are encouraging headlines such as “Obama Commits ‘Military Assets’ for Ebola Health Care Surge,” “Italy Aids Ebola Fight – Sends Mobile Lab Team, Food, Drugs,” “EU announces 140 million Euros Ebola Response Package.” All of this in addition to reported plane loads of supplies arriving from China, from the U.S. and elsewhere in the world.

A few weeks ago the UN Secretary General named Dr. David Navarro, a British Physician as his Special Envoy to West Africa with a mandate to stop the spread of the disease. No doubt serious work is underway to which we are not privy. What seems clear, however, is that the impact of that work has yet to be felt on the ground if one judges from the alarming reports pouring in daily from the fields, including a warning from the WHO that thousands of new cases will come to light in the coming weeks.

While Liberians and West Africans appreciate the “international public health emergency” measure that Dr. Navarro’s mandate is addressing, developments in the fields, among the populations in the affected West African countries require a ratcheting up of effort to Chapter 7 Mandate with a UN Security Council Resolution declaring the Ebola situation a threat to international peace and security and calling forth the requisite measures to containing the threat.

Here is what this would mean:

  1. That the national and regional efforts would benefit from a more robust global effort underpinned by political commitment at the highest level, including the possible re-activation of the civil war-era International Contact Group on Liberia (ICGL) to lead and monitor implementation of the Security Council Resolution;
  2. Robust command and control infrastructure replete with an epidemic response force comparable to UNMIL at the height of its operations in the country, as opposed to its current drawdown posture;
  3. The “Deliver as One” doctrine would enable decision-making and implementation mechanism that would gather all of the pieces of the international effort and direct them to the goal of reversing the current trend of spread of the disease;
  4. Envisage a division of labor where appropriate assets could be brought to bear in particular circumstance. For example, given the historic role of the US in Liberia, it would play certain central roles, as would Britain in the case of Sierra Leone.
  5. Such highly coordinated actions by governments and governmental organizations could lead to change in behavior of the international private sector such as the airlines industry, the shipping industry, even expert workers engaged in foreign direct investment activities in the affected countries.

The thrust of what I am suggesting is that the global community would --in a more supportive role, backstopping governments and regional organizations – be delivering as one.

We appeal to African leaders of conscience, African leaders of earned credibility to step forward and make this happen. I have in mind non-government leaders taking the lead in exciting action on part of global leaders through the instrumentality of the United Nations. These include, but are not limited to, former Nigerian Presidents Abdulsalam Alhaji Abubakar and Olusegun Obasanjo, former South African President Thabo Mbeki, former Mozambique President Jacquim Chissano, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, Philanthropist Mo Ibrahim, Nelson Mandela’s widow, Graca Machel, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and our own Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee.

What this means is nothing short of a coordinated effort at national, regional and global levels driven by the need to “deliver as one.”  This is not “outsourcing” of national responsibility. This is the nation and the region availing themselves of critical international collaborative crisis leadership. For after all, when the crisis subsides, it will be national governments and their peoples who will remain to pick up the pieces as they learn lessons from this horrific experience. And the world community would have contributed to saving the lives of many West Africans while averting the prospect of the Ebola virus mutating, becoming transmissible, and therefore posing even greater threats to international peace and security.

The Author: Dr. D. Elwood Dunn is a retired Liberian academic
Center For Policy Studies (Liberia)

Ziggy Morgan

Very good piece, doc. You are indeed acknowledged as a worthwhile academic. But why did you not tell your readers you are part of this government? Aren't you a member of a committee? Constitution Committee?

Secondly, what kind of government, or shall I say scheme, you folks are running in that country? Yes, when an emergency strikes, countries come to each other's aid... but shouldn't the country stricken be prepared to handle things first? Is taking the hat or bucket around and begging for foreign aid a worthwhile policy? Shouldn't the nation be ashamed, or perhaps I should say, shouldn't the administration be ashamed for begging for aid from foreigners as a first resort?

Wasn't it common sense that there were not enough hospital beds in the country? Not enough nurses, not enough doctors? Doesn't statistics tell us these things? Why is there a surprise now? Because the government sits around and waits for foreign aid, that's why.

Are there enough schools? Enough teachers? No. But we're ignoring the education problem because decision-makers can afford to send their children abroad or to private schools. Right?

Now you're using your reliable policy of begging for foreign aid? What is the meaning of sovereignty? Did our president graduate from Harvard without learning a single thing about effective government management? This is simply a pity. A pity that everyday-folks get to suffer so much from these idiotic and wicked policies...
Ziggy Morgan at 05:12AM, 2014/09/11.
Mae Moore
All these are hot air Elwood Dunn....MERE COSMETIC OR STUNTS to cover the evil and corrupt deeds of you and your corrupt and incompetent boss Ellen. If we ever decide to use the Rawlings formula to punish those who encourage corruption, you are going to be among the first five.

Where are the reports on all the many fake investigative commissions you were given only to justify eating state funds for work you did not do! You cronies and your boss Ellen shall realize in due course the Liberian people are not fools. Wait and see Ben!
Mae Moore at 02:10PM, 2014/09/11.
B. K. Washington
Over the past nine years Dr. Dunn should have been advising his good friend Ellen Sirleaf to stop her rampant corruption, nepotism, cronyism, excessive and unnecessary globe-trotting, and focus in stead on meeting the vital needs of the Liberian people.

The professor must have known for sure that Sirleaf was doing nothing at all about the nation's non-existent systems of healthcare, sewerage, sanitation in general, but especially in slums like West Point, potable water, electric power, roads and streets, affordable housing, agricultural production in general, food security, environmental protection, public safety, employment, and so on and so forth. In fact the current Ebola epidemic has only exposed Liberia to the whole world as a failed state, with a corrupt and incompetent government led by a self-styled "Harvard-trained economist".

In the final analysis Dr. Dunn should know also that the last two people Liberians would want to see involved in their affairs at this point in time are former Nigerian Presidents and Generals Abdulsalami Alhaji Abubakar and Olusegun Obasanjo, considering that it was largely due to their gross mismanagement of the country's critical transition from war to peace that Liberia now finds itself facing a nightmarish existential threat.
B. K. Washington at 09:57PM, 2014/09/11.
Degan Ballayan

Is Liberia Cursed?

In all my life, born in the remote rain forest of the Western Province sector of Liberia (Lofa County), started my formal education at the age of 12 in the Mining Town of Bomi Hills, (living in Golahun Town), I had wished that Liberia would one day become better for Liberians. I had wished and prayed at the Evangelical Zinc Camp Baptist Church where I attended and taught Sunday School for 5 years before coming to Monrovia to pursue my high school education after completing Charles Dewey's junior High (C.H.Dewey Jr. High) where I met Mr. Charles Taylor who also taught me at the L.M.C. Zinc Camp company's Elementary school. During all these years, I had yearned for a better Liberia. I had prayed profusely, that one day, one day, Liberia would become a nation of trust, a nation of progress, a nation that would lift her people up instead of down; I also prayed that the erection of this tiny nation among the community of nations meant God has chosen us. Today, I still believe God is with us, despite of our deviations. But Liberia must do better, care for her people, provide the necessitates that every human needs.

Separately, I have in my possession, the tapes of the Charles Taylor's unfortunate invasion of Liberia on the eve of December, 1989. In that tape, I first saw Dr. Edward Dunn narrating what the Liberian people would do if they had the choice of choosing Doe or Charles Taylor for their leader. Dr. Dunn eloquently and ephamphatically stated that of course, it will be Mr. Charles Taylor. Since that time, though I have never met Dr. Dunn, I said to myself wow, Liberia has some very smart, brilliant, individuals or scholars who really care about Liberia!! But guess what?? I was wrong about Dr. Dunn even till today. How can such an educated man, including Dr. Sawyer and the Harvard graduate can't come with any feasible means to lift up Liberia?? Just what not, and why?? For example, what if the international community never existed, then where would Liberia be in this Ebola crisis??? Must Liberia always asks for handout?? Then what's the meaning of independence or sourveinty??? Does Liberia again, need a League of Nations or a Trusteeship?? Where do we, or Liberia goes from here?? The days of Tubman, Tolbert, Doe, Taylor's are long gone!! So where do we go from now or from here?? May God bless Liberia!! And God, please forgive all of our sins we committed.
Degan Ballayan at 08:43AM, 2014/09/12.
Degan Ballayan

The Burning Entanglements That Keep Me Awake At Night:

I am sure that I am not alone. That other Liberians from China to Tubotu, have similar nightmares thinking about native land, Liberia. This is because they still have living relatives living there. Obviously and connectively, these relatives living abroad wherever they are or may be, are communicating with their relatives, no doubts. This, by the way, is only natural. Liberians love their country at hearts even if they are away. They are willing to make all sacrifices to travel there, hug their relatives, make meaningful contributions to society. But, but, they are deprived from obtaining a dual-citizenship which will enable them to come on board, invest their money and talents to turn Liberia around. This is adsorb because all this adds up to is political maneuvering and rhetoric, as we know it. If Liberia has the influx or foreigners in power and control of the local economy as we all know it, why is she depriving natural born Liberians?? Of course, this can only be political, nothing else!! This is where I find it very ironic and unbearable.

Then there is this: All of my friends (contemporaries) who had lived and attended US or other universities abroad and had or have the opportunities to help change Liberia, have chosen the opposite side of history. In fact, in actuality, they tend out to be worst than those who are already corrupt. Mind you, these are individuals who demonstrated at the US White House almost every week for change in their native land, Liberia. Charles Taylor and others held same demonstrations on the grounds of the US White House and promised they would make Liberia better if they were given the chance. They got their chances but did not redeem Liberia as promised. Now, this makes me mad and left me with wondering, who really has Liberia at heart?? Prince Johnson, Dr. Sawyer, Dr. Edward Dunn, A.B. Johnson, Speaker Tyler, my friend, Julia Cassell (Pinky), Mrs. Nah, Justice Minister, Justice Carbina Jena, Mr. Lweis Brown, Minister Samokai of Defense, or Mr. Robert Sirlef?? Just exactly who has Liberia at heart right now, right this minute?? Who is really, really, really, in their heart, doing the right thing?? Or does Liberia need another General Rawlings of Ghana to come to our rescue and clean house as he did in Ghana, and why not??? Or do we have to wait on the second coming of Christ??
Unfortunately, these are the unbearable entanglements that keep Liberians abroad awake at night, including this writer. In other words, something has to give. Again, Liberia has to do better!! No one, including this writer, is contemplating on any more blood bath or ugly past. All Liberia has to do is follow and implement the rule of law and let every chip falls wherever they may land or fall. END

Degan Ballayan at 10:03AM, 2014/09/12.

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