Mapping South-South Cooperation in the Arab States

Arab States

Setting the stage for an equitable and people driven constitutional reform process in Liberia

Wednesday, 20 June 2018 17:51 Written by 
  • Location(s): Liberia
  • Type(s): Solution
  • Theme(s): Civil Service 
  • SDG(s): 11. Sustainable cities and communities, 16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • Locations in Africa: Liberia
  • Types in Africa: Solution
  • Themes in Africa: Civil Service 
  • SDGs in Africa: 11. Sustainable cities and communities, 16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • Types of ComSec Solutions: Solution


Liberia has achieved great progress towards its social and economic development goals over the past 15 years. Nevertheless, its democratic transition process is not adequately reflected in the national Constitution. Attempts to reform the 1986 Constitution have not led to public consensus and approval through the necessary quota. The latest reform process, launched in 2012, aims at addressing bottlenecks in the reform process through a nation-wide outreach and consultation campaign, amongst others inspired by other African countries such as Ghana and Kenya.


Liberia has recorded impressive strides in human development since its transition to peace and democratic governance at the outset of 21st century. Its first peaceful transition between democratically elected governments has taken place in 2017. Nevertheless, a reform of the country's 1986 constitution has not been part of the overall development process and specific proposals for a review of the Constitution have been multiplying. In a 2011 referendum proposals did not cast the necessary approval of 2/3 of the voters. Since 2012, a Constitutional Review Committee appointed by H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia between 2005 and 2017, aimed at addressing the challenges of a number of outdated fundamental principles and institutional structures based on preliminary nationwide consultations.


The Government of Liberia has made constitutional reform its priority and is working with UNDP to strengthen national capacities in the implementation of a transparent, impartial, inclusive, participatory and creditable constitution making process. In this framework, Liberian officials benefited directly from the experiences of Kenya and Ghana who have undergone similar processes in recent years. Ghana's first democratically established Constitutional Reform Process was set up in 2010. In line with its Constitution of Kenya Review Act (2008), Kenya's constitutional reform was adopted by referendum in 2010. Both countries held extensive public consultations on key issues throughout their territory. Between 2014 and 2016 a variety of interactions and

two direct visits took place between delegations from the Constitutional Review Committees (CRCs) and other key players involved in the reform process of the three countries. The exchanges enhanced the capacity of the various institutions participating in these study tours to afford exposure, forge partnerships, draw lessons learned and put them into practice in Liberia. Since their return for example, the members of Liberia's CRC have spearheaded a public consultation exercise countrywide, collecting views of citizens. More than 56,000 suggestions were collected through public consultations reaching 10,950 Liberians in 73 districts and the diaspora as well as through other opportunities for contribution (radio call-in, toll free call-in, visits to the CRC head offices). Main suggestions, such as the reduction of electoral tenures and the enhancement of decentralization, that transpired from a majority of the recommendations were compiled into a set of proposals submitted to the President. After approval by the President they were submitted to Parliament. In November 2016 the House of Representatives adopted 7 out of 25 proposals which are yet to be approved by the House of the Legislature before being submitted to a public referendum. Exchanges with Ghana also allowed to integrate a particular focus on client-oriented policing and the strengthening of Liberia's National Police force. In 2014 and 2015 seventeen police officers (13 male and 4 female) were trained in Ghana for 8 weeks.

Supported by: UNDP

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