Governance and Rule of Law
One of USAID’s key goals is to assist the Government of Liberia in meeting the needs of its people as well as improving its oversight and accountability for the use of public funds. Good governance will build Liberian citizens’ trust and confidence in the government, improve service delivery, promote stability, and enable private sector investment and development. USAID programs focus on designing, implementing and institutionalizing public administration reforms, including training staff in financial management, procurement, anti-corruption reforms and legislative branch modernization.
Effective rule of law is essential for overcoming political exclusion by enabling citizens to feel empowered rather than threatened by government, as well as enabling economic activity and investment to take root. A poorly functioning justice sector will further erode the tenuous confidence Liberians have in their government’s ability to settle disputes and handle criminal matters. The Liberian judicial system has made considerable efforts to improve internal functions, but poorly trained judges, uneven access to justice, disharmonies between the traditional and formal systems, and technical weaknesses in the court system are just some of the challenges that still need to be addressed. USAID programs support continuous training of magistrates, judges and other judicial personnel through a training institute.
The free and fair 2005 election was a historic and symbolic event that marked the beginnings of a fragile peace in Liberia. Holding credible elections in Liberia and undergoing complex reforms to ensure a competitive and fair process is important for broader goals of peace and stability.
In 2011, Liberia undertook its second national elections since the end of the country’s 14-year civil war, resulting in the re-election of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. International observers such as The Carter Center and the African Union declared the elections to be free, fair and in accordance with the electoral laws of Liberia. USAID’s assistance to build the capacity of Liberia’s National Elections Commission was instrumental in achieving this goal. In comparison to 2005, when the commission required 280 foreign experts to organize democratic presidential and general elections, only 14 were required to assist the process in 2011.
One of the many challenges of post-conflict reconstruction is the re-establishment of trust in governmental institutions. Civil society organizations, especially NGOs, have worked predominantly in the area of service delivery, filling the gap for a virtually ineffective government.
Both civil society and the media can serve as effective vehicles for the delivery of civic and voter education messages. The independent media is also a key pillar of a dynamic democracy. Independent media outlets in Liberia are inadequate due to poor training, weak financial resources and poor research facilities. USAID’s civil society efforts focus on building the capacity of select civil society organizations and media sectors, particularly those focused on women and youth.
Last updated: May 10, 2013