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Carter Center and Ministry of Internal Affairs Lead Workshops to Strengthen Rule of Law and Expand Role of Women in Liberia's Local Governance

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Deborah Hakes, 404-420-5124

MONROVIA...The Carter Center, in partnership with Liberia's Ministry of Internal Affairs, the National Traditional Council, and the Ministry of Gender, will conduct workshops for Liberia's local leaders on how to strengthen the rule of law and expand the role of women in local governance in each of the country's fifteen counties between Jan. 27 and the end of April 2009.

The workshops will train officials at the county, chiefdom, and clan levels in key elements of the rule of law and principles of good governance, including discussion of leadership, culture, and tradition. Particular attention will be given to new laws protecting and expanding women's rights and to bringing the voices of traditional leaders, women, and youth together to strengthen local governance decision-making and problem-solving. This training is part of the Carter Center's ongoing access to justice project in Liberia in collaboration with the Government of Liberia and civil society partners.

"Following a successful series of regional workshops with the National Traditional Council last year, we are delighted to expand our partnership with The Carter Center to begin a national program to provide gender sensitive capacity training to government officials at all local levels," said Minister of Internal Affairs Honorable Ambulai Johnson.

Workshops will be held in the Southeast region (the counties of Grand Kru, Maryland, River Gee, Grand Gedeh, and Sinoe) in January and February, the Central region (the counties of Lofa, Nimba, Bong, Rivercess, and Grand Bassa) in March, and the Western region (the counties of Gbarpolu, Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, Margibi, and Montserrado) in April.

"The upcoming workshops represent an important step in the national effort to ensure equal access to justice for all Liberians," said Tom Crick, associate director of the Carter Center's Conflict Resolution Program. "Accepted local means to peacefully resolve disputes and participate in decision making are essential elements of the national renewal."

In Liberia, The Carter Center works in partnership with the Ministries of Justice and Internal Affairs, the Judiciary, and in collaboration with other international partners to strengthen government's capacity to implement the rule of law. Also, through local community organizations, the Center helps take the government's rule of law messages to the most rural villages and brings the average Liberian's feedback and concerns back to government officials.

At the invitation of the Government of Liberia, The Carter Center began its work to improve access to justice in October 2006. Since then, the Center has:

  • Provided capacity building support to the Ministry of Justice by providing them with a Carter Center-supported full time senior attorney, internet lines, logistical support, and training for county attorneys;
  • Worked in partnership with the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, and the American Bar Association to develop and implement a community legal advisor program in the rural areas of Liberia including the five southeastern counties, along with Bong, Nimba and Lofa. This partnership helps Liberians resident in underserved rural areas have access to independent community-based legal information, mediation and referral;
  • Partnered with community-based organizations to conduct sensitization on the rule of law through radio, drama, and local town hall meetings;
  • Worked with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the National Traditional Council to engage traditional communities in discussions about their role in the new Liberia and ways to ensure that national laws are implemented locally;
  • Partnered with the Judiciary to support training of magistrates, judges, and public defenders through the Judicial Training Institute.

The Carter Center's work is Liberia is supported by grants from Humanity United, the Open Society Institute, UNHCR, DfID, and Irish Aid.

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Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope."

A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 70 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers in developing nations to increase crop production. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.

Dec. 22, 2008: Harvard Article Spotlights the Carter Center's Work in Rural Liberia

Learn more about the Center's Liberia Rural Justice Project >

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