GEMAP Postscript

GEMAP Postscript

In a move that took even some insiders by surprise, on June 20th the UNSC lifted timber sanctions on Liberia. Days beforehand, Global Witness issued a report imploring the UNSC to keep sanctions in place, convincingly documenting the new government’s understandable failure to achieve the conditions required for their removal. The report argued that:

Sanctions originally intended to curtail an oppressive and aggressive regime now effectively act as a protection to the new administration, enabling it to embark on essential reforms at a time when it does not possess the logistical capacity to control large swathes of its own territory. In this context, sanctions should not be seen as a punitive measure either within Liberia, or by the international community, but instead as a tool to assist the reconstruction and rehabilitation process.

Reconstruction is just as quickly invoked by those who supported the move. Although Global Witness questioned the economic benefits of the timber industry, sanctions were eased at least in part in the hope that Liberia’s timber will act as a much needed driver for the economy, now facing unemployment which some figures place at 85%.

Without the protection afforded by sanctions, the oversight promised by GEMAP is all the more crucial. CENTAL has issued a report on GEMAP (unfortunately not available online) critical of transparency in several different areas and expressing serious doubts about progress toward capacity building. The EGSC took a significant step toward addressing the former concern this summer, when the GEMAP Web site finally came online. For the first time, the major documents related to the GEMAP, including minutes of the meetings of the EGSC, are available to the general public.

Either the meetings are short or the minutes are vague: the only participants identified by name are the Chair (President Sirleaf) and the Deputy Chair (currently the U.S. Ambassador, Donald Booth, or his surrogate); announcing the arrival of the international experts in May, the minutes do not even include their names; draft proposals for concession reviews and anti-corruption programs are noted but not discussed in detail. Even what are arguably vindications of the GEMAP go unmentioned. In early July a team of Finance Ministry officials, assisted by officials appointed to the ministry under GEMAP, undertook an ‘on-the-spot’ verification of the legislature’s payroll. Apparently flabbergasted by this invasion of their prerogatives, some legislators refused to comply, insisting they had the right to distribute salaries to their offices. The Ministry seems to have won...

tote | University of California Press Lima