Liberia national conference concludes with the Virginia Declaration
Jun 26, 2009
The Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission recently sponsored a National Conference on Reconciliation in Virginia, Liberia. Delegates came from all parts of the country as well as abroad, included representatives of all races, clans and tribes, and consisted of perpetrators as well as victims.
On June 19, 2009, the conference issued The Virginia Declaration: A Call For a Way Forward to a New Liberia through Reconciliation and Justice resulting from the National Truth and Reconciliation Processes Culminating in the National Conference on Reconciliation Held at the Unity Conference Center in Virginia, Liberia.
Among its provisions were calls for individual and community reparations, prosecution of leaders of warring factions during the conflict as well as use of "under the palava hut" approaches to deal with participants who have confessed their part and who seek forgiveness.
The Declaration begins:
We, the delegates of the National Conference on Reconciliation in Liberia, representing citizens of Liberia from all 15 counties and from all walks of life, background, race, clan and tribe as well as representing perpetrators and victims of crimes of all forms and degrees against our fellow brothers and sisters; having come together to forgive and seek forgiveness through the pursuit of truthful reconciliation among ourselves placing our nation, our dignity and the future of our children and children’s children ahead of us all through the Grace and Mercy of Almighty God; and
We recall the spirit of all our Great ancestors, who through love of unity, freedom, justice and liberty founded this great Nation. We honor their vision, their gallant strides and dedication to building a nation great and strong which is also able to standagainst its foes. This spirit of gallantry demonstrated through unity of purpose must live on; and
We acknowledge the recent, difficult chapter in our national history. We stand together and share in the pains of victims. We acknowledge that the wounds are deep and the pains are breathless. Yet we stand together, both perpetrators and victims, forgiving and seeking forgiveness of each other, embracing each other in the true spirit of reconciliation and love once more. Recognizing all of this, we remain cognizant of the fact that justice and accountability are necessary for true reconciliation and national healing.
We the delegates at this National Reconciliation Conference, organized by the Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission with the theme: “National Reconciliation and the Way Forward”, discussed at length issues related to reconciliation for our people, including reparations, prosecutions, amnesty, memorialization, traditional reconciliation and accountability mechanisms, national identity, participation in governance, land tenure and ownership, and a national vision for a new Liberia.
Following the robust and important discussions held on these topics during the National Reconciliation Conference, we the delegates representing the people of Liberia both at home and in the Liberian Diaspora, DO HEREBY DECLARE:
That the recommendations listed below represent the views of the Liberian people represented at this conference; and
That the Recommendations are not offered in order of priority. Rather, the delegates consider all of these issues to be critical and urgent components for true reconciliation and stable peace to be achieved and sustained in Liberia.