Over 36 persons, including journalists, human rights officers, and election workers, as well as CSOs from Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, and Gbapolu Counties, participated in the first phase of a series of regional trainings on a conflict-sensitive and human rights-based approach to election reporting in Tubmanburg, Bomi County. A total of 144 people are expected to attend the nationwide training on a conflict-sensitive and human-rights-based approach to election reporting.
According to Atty. Roosevelt Jayjay, OHCHR human rights officer, the training is a Peacebuilding Fund project on elections to promote a peaceful electoral environment and community security in Liberia. It is held under the theme “Promoting Human Rights and Peaceful Environment,” organized by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in collaboration with the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), the National Elections Commission (NEC), and the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR).
Atty. Jayjay also told participants that the UN OHCHR project aims to address the most prominent and underfunded potential triggers of violence and to strengthen response mechanisms so as to make them more inclusive, more effective, and better coordinated, with a view to reducing the likelihood and intensity of violent conflict related to the electoral issues during and after the 2023 elections.
He informed participants that the project is in line with Liberia’s international human rights obligations and pillars 3 and 4 of the government’s medium-term development agenda, the pro-poor agenda for prosperity and development, through its notably high priority on promoting inclusive and peaceful elections, which contribute to a well-developed framework for sustaining peace, formulated in accordance with Security Council Resolution 2333 of 2016.
Atty. Jayjay added, “The project will support a peaceful electoral environment through interventions on conflict prevention and mitigation of widespread insecurity, human rights violations, and electoral violence before, during, and after the 2023 elections.”
He stressed that the project supports a response to actual and predicted triggers of electoral violence by consolidating the early warning and early response mechanisms and mainstreaming human rights, gender, and youth-based intervention, mainly at the grass-roots level.
“To promote human rights and a peaceful electoral environment, the project will implement a series of activities, and one of these activities is to train media practitioners on conflict-sensitive and human rights-based approaches to election reporting.”
The UN human rights officer observed that the overall outcome of the program will be a more inclusive, coordinated, and effective early warning system and inclusive dialogue at the community and political level to reduce violence.
Speaking on behalf of the OHCHR Country Representative, Mr. Uchenna Emelonye, Mr. David Dolo informed participants that the training was one of the ways OHCHR helps the Liberian Government fulfill its human rights obligations and ensure that human rights are mainstreamed in all activities of the government.
Mr. Dolo observed that the importance of election reporting cannot be overemphasized and described the process that leads to elections as competitive and emotional, which, when not managed well, could lead to conflict.
“This is why the OHCHR sees it fit to train you in conflict-sensitive reporting on elections,” Mr. Dolo said.
The UN human rights officer called on participants to take advantage of the training to improve their skills in reporting on election-sensitive issues.