Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Capacity Problem

...wherein the Ledger gets real wonky on ya. Bear with us.

Thanks Ama for this item from Human Rights Watch about Liberia not signing on to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. We don't know the issue in question, but we do know that Liberia is being deluged with all these well-meaning groups pushing their own particular (and important) agendas. Not to defend too much, but the government must be overwhelmed. Your humble editor's own wife has worked on important issue campaigns like this, where her group has decided not to push too hard right now, knowing that the Iron Lady does not have the time or the people to cope with them now. Domestic pressure on her is massive, too. She goes on a trip to beg for money, and the local papers accuse her of spending too much time abroad.

Keep in mind that "human capacity" here is extremely low, owing to the fact that a whole generation (almost all 18-35 year olds, for example) didn't get educated because of the war. It's really hard to find a Liberian international legal expert, for example, who could take on the project of dealing with the this Convention. Most educated Liberians moved abroad long ago, and are only now starting to come back. Concequently you can rest assured that an iNGO like HRW itself has much better capacity (and re$ource$) than does the govt here. [Conspicuously, the US hasn't signed it either, if memory serves, so that may have something to do with it, too. It may be a way for Liberia to buy favors from the US in the UN. Slap us if we're wrong about this. ]


Human Rights Watch Women and Children (HRWWC) has challenged Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf saying that her administration has failed to prioritize mandatory free primary education for every child as it agreed to do when becoming a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, reports The Analyst May 24. A statement issued by the group said, "The Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on November 20, 1989 and came into force on September 2, 1990. The main purpose of the adoption of this International law was for the survival, growth, protection and development of children, the World over." The human rights group noted that Liberia was represented among seventy-one heads of state and government and eighty-eight other senior government officials during the world's largest gathering in Washington D.C., United States of America, when the CRC was adopted. Article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child states that "States parties recognize the rights of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall in particular, make primary education compulsory and available free for all the children." Although the government is only three and a half months old, the group suggests that Sirleaf's administration is failing to make children's rights one of her government's priorities. "In gross violation of this International Law, the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has neglected Article 28 of this law by failing to add it to her priority listing," the group claimed. The Human Rights Watch Women and Children says there is increase in teenage pregnancies, the number of street children, child labor, prostitution and a proliferation of sub-standard orphanages and child adoption agencies in Liberia, all of which it blames the government for, the Analyst reports.

We should add that The Ledger has come into possession of a preliminary draft of the document that's supposed to lead to Liberia's Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), which--for those of you who aren't total nerds--is an essential document for all developing countries to write these days if they want funding from international donors. It's a government's plan for how to get out of poverty, basically, usually written by, oops, we mean with the assistance of, the World Bank, IMF, and UN. Having chugged a good deal of Jefferey Sachs koolaid here at the Ledger, the LL Editoral Board must wag a finger and say that Liberia's PRSP does not appear to be based on fulfilling the UN Millennium Development Goals. The MDGs are mentioned only in passing in the document we have seen. This matters because such goals as saving children (as the Convention on the Rights of the Child aims to do) would be a hell of a lot easier to achieve if the MDGs were met.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

emergency PRSP revision needed . . . sounds like a job for DEVSQUUAAAADDD!

5:07 PM  

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