Monrovia, Liberia – Monday, January 16, 2017: The Chairperson of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has congratulated the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) for declaring January 16 – each year as ECOWAS Human Rights Day.
The day is also in honor of President Sirleaf in recognition of her unwavering support to the regional goal of the advancement of the promotion and protection of human rights for the benefit of ordinary ECOWAS citizens “I am honor and deeply gratified by the decision of ECOWAS Heads of State for their choice of 16th January every of year to be celebrated as ECOWAS Human Rights Day which, coincide with the day I was first shown-in as President of the Republic of Liberia,” she said.
According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf was speaking on Monday, January 16, 2017 at the Maiden celebration of the ECOWAS Human Rights Day at the Monrovia City Hall under the theme: “Promoting and Protecting Women’s Rights Towards the Attainment of ECOWAS Vision 2020”.
She said the honor bestowed on her by ECOWAS goes to the Liberian people for electing her as the first female President in Africa. She noted that the celebration of ECOWAS Human Rights Day is a demonstration the of the Authority’s renewed dedication and a reaffirmation of commitment to the fundamental principles of ECOWAS, which according to her include democracy, good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law.
She pointed out that these principles are captured in ECOWAS Vision 2020, creating a borderless, peaceful, prosperous and cohesive region; built on good governance where people have the capacity to access and harness enormous resources through the creation of opportunities for sustainable development.
She said the decision to choose women’s rights as a theme to be celebrated is important given the critical significance of women’s rights in the realization of ECOWAS Vision 2020. President Sirleaf emphasized that the region cannot win if women are left out. She said political parties in the region are requested to go beyond the 30% and ensure that at least 35% of all opportunities are given to women to enter elections and be elected.
She urged Member States of ECOWAS to adopt policies that include women in all of their actions to mitigate and manage present conflicts that are politically charged. She congratulated all national human rights institutions across the region for the advocating for the rights of their people.
For his part, Ambassador Babatunde O. Ajisomo, Special Representative of ECOWAS Commission to Liberia – who delivered a Special Statement on behalf of H. E. Marcel de Souza, President of ECOWAS Commission congratulated the citizens of the Community on the occasion of the maiden celebration of the ECOWAS Human Rights Day. He said ECOWAS Commission noted with deep concern that despite the ratification of numerous regional and international human rights instruments by Member States – aimed at promote the rights of women, significant discrimination against women continues unabated in the region.
The ECOWAS Envoy noted that these situations do not only violate the principles of equal rights and respect for human dignity but also constitute an obstacle to the participation of women on equal terms with men, in the political, social, economic, and cultural life of their countries This, he said will hinder the realization of an integrated, prosperous and developed ECOWAS region.
Amb. Ajisomo said ECOWAS Commission expresses its profound gratitude to the Chairperson of the Authority of Heads of States and Government, H.E. Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Member States’ government for their steadiness in providing support and well-thought out policies aimed at advancing the promotion and protection of human rights for the advantage of the ordinary citizens of the Community.
Also speaking, Youth and Sports Minister, Saah Charles N’Tow congratulated ECOWAS for selecting January 16 of each year to honor President Sirleaf. He said this day is special because celebrates a new era of ECOWAS thrust on ECOWAS of people adding.
In separate remarks, FLY President, Augustine Tamba, Madam Ruth Caesar of the Women NGO Secretariat of Liberia, Minister Julia Duncan Cassell and Senator Commany Wesseh of River Gee congratulated ECOWAS for selecting January 16 of each year to honor Africa’s first democratically elected female President. They pointed out that President Sirleaf has brought pride to Liberia for which the people of Liberia gave her a 12-year mandate to lead. They congratulated President Sirleaf for promoting human rights, especially women’s rights, elevating women’s issue and spearheading inclusive government as well as the ratification of various ECOWAS Protocols, among others.
Delivering his Goodwill Message, H.E. Waldermar Vry, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General for the Rule of Law of UNMIL on behalf of the SRSG, Farid Zarif extolled ECOWAS for observing the day and further pledged UNMIL’s continued support to all Member States.
Meanwhile, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf received in audience a Special Envoy from the Republic of Chad, Mr. Adoum Younousmi who is also the Minister of Infrastructure and Development of the Republic of Chad on Monday, January 16, 2017. He was here to deliver a Special Message from H. E. President Idriss Déby of Republic of Chad.
He praised President Sirleaf for receiving him and congratulated her for her extraordinary leadership demonstrated since ascending to the position of Chairperson of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and government. He said a lot of great steps has taken place under her leadership.
Responding, President Sirleaf thanked Mr. Adoum Younousmi for the visit and pledged her commitment to working together with her Chadian counterpart for the battlement of the region and Africa. She said President Deby has demonstrated leadership as Chair of the African Union since his ascendency. She spoke of the need of continue regional cooperation and integration as well as trade and commerce in the region to enhance development. She then conveyed her best wishes to President Idriss Déby and the people of Chad.