The International Contact Group on Liberia held its second working session at UN Headquarters in New York Held on 28 February 2003
(Press Release Issued by ICG)
Representatives of Ghana, Nigeria, Morocco, France, United Kingdom, United States of America, African Union, European Union, ECOWAS Secretariat and the United Nations attended. The meeting was co-chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ghana, Mr. Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, and the Special Representative of the Presidency of the European Union to the Mano River Union countries, Mr. Hans Dahlgren.
The Contact Group remains seriously concerned about the conflict in Liberia and reaffirmed the need for a comprehensive approach to the solution of the Liberian crisis. The Group urges the Government of Liberia and LURD to enter immediately and without preconditions into negotiations on a ceasefire, as they have both committed to do. In this regard, it urges both parties to accept Mali as mediator on behalf of ECOWAS. The Group agreed to call upon the Security Council to consider authorizing a monitoring mechanism for the ceasefire.
The Contact Group stressed the importance of free and fair elections in Liberia. The Group concluded that the conditions for free and fair election did not exist. The Group urges the Government of Liberia to act rapidly to create such conditions before elections are held. In that regard, the Group agreed to request the Secretary-General of the United Nations to consider sending a needs assessment team to Liberia, and urges the
government of Liberia to welcome and cooperate with the team. The Contact Group concluded that conditions for free and fair elections must include a ceasefire, security, a process of national reconciliation, electoral reform and respect for human rights.
The Contact Group adopted terms of reference for its work, and agreed to meet again in two months’ time. The Group also agreed to establish a group in Monrovia comprising locally represented Contact Group members in Liberia to facilitate its work.
Terms of Reference
1. The Contact Group's aim is to consolidate the various efforts to promote peace and reconciliation in the Mano River Union region in general and in Liberia in particular.
2. Recognizing the long-term prospects for representative government and economic progress in Liberia, and for peace and stability in the Mano River sub-region, depend principally on the adoption of responsible policies and practices by the Government of Liberia, the Contact Group's task is to take initiatives or to support those already existing to the following ends:
achieve cessation of hostilities in Liberia and promote processes leading to lasting peace and national and regional reconciliation;
bring about a comprehensive change in the security environment in Liberia, to ensure that Liberians - individually and collectively - are free to determine their political future and pursue economic development;
encourage the establishment of the necessary conditions for free and fair elections, including enhanced respect for human rights by all parties in Liberia.
3. The contact group will focus on the cessation of hostilities and reconciliation. In that respect, it will:
- encourage greater co-ordination between the various initiatives to end the fighting in Liberia and build peace and stability in the sub-region, such as those sponsored by Morocco, ECOWAS, the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia or the UN Office for West Africa;
- facilitate liaison between ECOWAS and the UN and the wider international community;
- ensure that the international community is responsive to requests for support from ECOWAS and others in their efforts to build lasting stability through long term peace measures;
- help promote full implementation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions;
- establish contacts with Liberia's neighbors and interested states, in order to encourage a positive contribution to the solution of the crisis.
4.Concerning elections, the contact group will:
- report on the conditions for the preparation of free and fair elections;
- promote establishment of an atmosphere of security, openness and personal freedom which is essential for free and fair elections;
- ensure the implementation of internationally established benchmarks on freedom of access to the media, voter education, protection of candidates, the vote of internally displaced persons and other factors which would reflect the free and fair expression of political will.
The group is formed of the following states and organizations:
Ghana (as current ECOWAS Presidency)
Time, place and format of meetings
Members of the contact group will meet regularly, in West Africa or elsewhere, in response to other regional meetings and developments.
The contact group will meet in closed sessions. After due consultations and based on consensus, the contact group may invite representatives of the Government of Liberia or other relevant actors to an open meeting of the group.
There will be two co-chairs of the group. The group's permanent co-chair will be the ECOWAS Presidency (currently Ghana). The other co-chair will be agreed by consensus on a 6-monthly basis (currently European Union).
A list of contacts will be drawn up to facilitate communication between members of the group.
Draft minutes of working sessions will be circulated to members of the group for comments before being adopted. Minutes of meetings will be internal working documents. A policy of information to the public and to media will be adopted.