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G. Weah: Address to World Summit

Address to World Summit 2019, Seoul, Korea, February 7–11, 2019
Speech by George Weah, President of Liberia
Delivered by Varney A. Sirleaf, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Liberia


Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, Co-Founder of the Universal Peace Federation, Mr. Chairman and members of the Universal Peace Federation, Excellencies, Heads of States and Government, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honored and very delighted, on behalf of Dr. George Manneh Weah, president of the Republic of Liberia, to address you on the theme of peace, security and human development.

Let me first express our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) for organizing this very important World Submit 2019.

Following the Cold War, Liberia went through a brutal civil war for more than a decade that left 250,000 dead and millions of people displaced because of power struggles. 

Crying for help to resolve the crises, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and then the United Nations, intervened at different times. The United Nations sent in one of the largest peacekeeping forces, which successfully ended a 15-year mission to stabilize the country after its violent conflict.

In 2005, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became Africa’s first female head of state when she was elected president of Liberia, and she served two terms consistent with the Constitution of Liberia. She was one of three recipients to win the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to further women’s rights and ensure the safety of women.

In December 2017, Liberians elected Dr. George Manneh Weah, a native Liberian and former professional soccer player, to succeed Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The election of Dr. Weah marked Liberia’s first peaceful and truly democratic transfer of power since 1944. This signaled to the entire world Liberia’s democratic maturity, stability and hope for positive change.

In terms of “peace, security and human development,” the United Nations disarmed more than 100,000 combatants, secured 21,000 weapons, and helped more than 26,000 refugees and displaced persons return home. The United Nations trained and professionalized the Liberian National Police, supported reforms including sectors related to security and rule of law, and promoted national reconciliation. Work done by our partners in cooperation with local communities has set Liberia on a trajectory for sustained peace, security and national reconciliation. These achievements are helping Liberia to flourish into a country that can stand on its own and hopefully with time help other embattled nations to follow its example.

In 2018, Liberia experienced a twin and powerful transition: from a democratic elected government to another one, and from the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to the United Nations Country Team. The United Nations and regional bodies such as ECOWAS, the African Union and others helped to stabilize and to rebuild the statecountry that was once called a failed state.

While steady progress towards peace was being made, in 2014 the deadly Ebola disease hit Liberia and its neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone. It causd increasing death and sent Liberia and its neighboring countries into a three-year setback of devastating death tolls, crippling economies and uncertainty for the future.

However, we are pleased to report that Liberia is a success story for world peace. This is achieved through the support of the United Nations and regional bodies. Neighboring countries in the sub-region like Ivory Coast, Guinea and Sierra Leone learned lessons of resilience from Liberia and further helped West Africa become a beacon of development and stability for the rest of the continent.

With the world now being a global village, we need to work collectively as leaders to support stable countries of the world which is paramount to achieving national and global peace, security and human development. This will help to prevent safe havens where terrorists and transnational criminals thrive, and to stop diseases, including Ebola, from reaching anywhere on the continents.

We would like to challenge this summit to promote efforts towards conflict prevention rather than conflict resolution. Whereas peacekeeping operations were important means to resolve conflicts, to stop their reoccurrence, and to promote democracy, the economic consequences were far more reaching than conflict prevention, which is a more cost-effective means for socioeconomic development.

President George Weah, inspired by this concept, has employed a range of measures to promote stability and reduce the risks of violence that may require any external intervention. The president is committed to building a stable and sustainable peace by ensuring that progress made in Liberia and the subregion is not undermined by any socioeconomic situation and jeopardize the hard-fought gains made in Liberia over the past 15 years.

The president believes that attracting foreign investment, creating jobs, and educating the youth are paramount to maintaining peace, ensuring security and fostering human development. Though this is not an easy task, hoping for a change and exploring opportunities are the true beacons of freedom and the founding blocks for peace, security and democracy to flourish.

It is sad to see the mass migration of young people particularly from Africa in search of greener pastures in developed countries. This is leaving our countries vulnerable to underdevelopment. We need to work against these odds by narrowing the inequalities, ensuring hard work and promoting social justice, which will unite us all in our mission for peace and fostering economic growth and sustainable development.

Our five-year new national development plan in Liberia has dedicated a whole segment to strengthening infrastructure for peace at all levels. This includes capacitating young people to become agents of peace as opposed to victims and perpetuators of violence. It is believed that by serving as agents of conflict prevention, the young people of Liberia are coming to sense and enjoy inclusive governance, respecting diversity and promoting tolerance to achieve social cohesion. This is so because the president is mindful about the ugly past and striving to prevent a reverse of gains made over the years.

The government of President Weah intends to leave no one behind in all aspects of the socioeconomic and political development of the country. Our plans are also focused on addressing vulnerabilities of disadvantaged youth, referred to as “Zogos,” who feel neglected, marginalized and excluded by giving them hope and integrating them into the mainstream of society through social and economic reintegration programs.

As a country just coming from war, we are incredibly grateful to the UPF for giving Liberia this opportunity, and we wish you continued success as you strive for peace around the world.

In conclusion, we must challenge ourselves as leaders never to take peace for granted; we must invest in peace and conflict prevention and take concrete steps towards promoting the achievement of genuine peace and reconciliation. We must not create avenues and conditions that allow our young people to migrate in search of wealth and economic growth because they are natural energies for any nation and pressure jewels for a growing society.

I thank you for listening!



To go to the 2019 World Summit Schedule page, click here.