The Vice President of Liberia Joseph Boakai says the perennial illegitimate sales of land as well as its possession has been a graved source to fueling conflict in the country since the cessation of the protracted period of violence that ravaged every fabric and facet of the society. Consequently, to adequately address this continuing practice by unscrupulous individuals van careening with fake deeds and other acts concomitant with land use, a comprehensive approach of land tenure and policy must be evolved taking into consideration its equitable access, security and peace which will obviously prop up sustainable growth and progress couple with good organization of the setting.
Speaking at the official launching ceremony of the Land Commission, on Thursday, March 11, 2010 in Monrovia, the Liberian Vice President asserted that the lack of national land policies and pertinent laws and regulations have ignited tension in this nation claiming several lives thus posing a grave menace to peace and security. Too often the nation had suffered from outdated laws and consistent administration of land and the rule of law that most time result into skirmishes over land. He said the composition of the Land Commission was no mistake in this critical time of the nation history, especially in its recovery, reconstruction and reconciliation drive.
The Vice President said that land is one of the vital components to economic development and at such Liberia is endowed with tremendous natural resources but the access to land upon which these resources are has not been reasonable and clearly obtainable for the citizenry thus creating a shrewdness of segregation felt by them. “This mentality has to change for the betterment of our people; therefore land reform is a must.”
He then urged the Land Commission not to take for granted the enormous stint and challenges ahead of them but the ability to resolve these challenges will definitely make germane impact on the financial growth including the Poverty Reduction Strategy and peace building.
He then pointed out that one of the most difficult and confronting issues the Land Commission will be faced with at all times is the issue of resolution of land disputes and warned the commission to meticulously handle such matter in order not to balloon it out of proportion. While it is true that the commission does not have adjudicatory role, the provision in the Act gives the commission latitude to propose, advocate and coordinate reform of land policy, laws and programs in Liberia.
The commission is also mandated to consider and make recommendations for the 'prompt and fair resolution of dispute over land,' but the it shall give the resolution of land dispute highest priority. VP Boakai then underscored the need for the Land Commission to play an important role in ensuring that the priority needs are addressed and support is galvanized from different stakeholders, key land actors and international partners to support its work. Hence, it is significant that the commission facilitates dialogue with key Liberian land stakeholders including government ministries and agencies, individuals, the private sector (particularly concessions) professional groups, civil society as well as women and youth groups.
Making brief remark at the occasion marking the formal launching of the commission, Dr. Cecil Brandy assured the Liberian people that the commission will serve as a bridge over troubles water by working assiduously to ensure that the issue of land dispute be brought to an end in the country. He then thanked Dr. Amos C. Sawyer who said has tirelessly worked to help constitute the commission as well as some of its draft policies. He said Dr. Sawyer worked with them during the most difficult times providing his expertise to ensure success of the commission.
For her part, Nessie Golokai Assistant Resident Representative on Governance and the Rule of Law who spoke on behalf of her Boss Dominic Sam United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Country Representative said that Liberia remains a vital partner to the UNDP and will ensure that they (UNDP) will offer their fullest support the Land Commission to enhance and build its capacity.
Madam Golokai further stressed that Liberia must do everything so as to not slip back into chaos that once made this nation a failed state. Land disputes are issues that most often result into crisis; therefore the establishment of the Land Commission is timely and important in the reconstruction of Liberia.