Faith and Justice Network (FJN), a religious and human rights organization in Liberia has officially launched the Archbishop Michael K. Francis Intellectual Discourse on Social Justice and Peace in the country.
FJN was established to promote an ecumenical social justice advocacy strategy for just governance and citizen’s participation in public policies formulation and implementation. The organization also creates the space for citizens’ engagement to influence social participation, to build competences and skills for church leaders and church institutions for lobby and advocacy initiatives and to promote moral integrity in schools/universities through corruption free school campaign.
The Archbishop Michael K. Francis Intellectual Discourse on Social Justice and Peace was on Thursday August 8, 2019 launched by FJN in collaboration with the Liberia Council of Churches and the Association of Evangelicals of Liberia under the theme: “Promoting the Rule of Law, Transparency and Accountability – Prospect and Challenges for Post Conflict Liberia”
The intellectual discourse creates awareness and consciousness in the minds of citizens on the work and teachings of Archbishop Michael K. Francis on social realities in Liberia. The aim of the intellectual discourse is to encourage citizens to support peace and justice throughout Liberia through conflict prevention, peace building, human rights and sustainable development.
In his introductory statement, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of FJN, the Most Reverend Bishop Dr. Jonathan B. B. Hart said promoting the rule of law, transparency and accountability in postwar Liberia is not optional. Bishop Hart said the rule of law, accountability and transparency produce government that is legitimate, effective and is supported by citizens.
He added: “It is not just a matter of deciding to be good people; citizens must believe they will be better off under a reformed system of governance.”
“Where the rule of law is strong, people uphold the law not out of fear, but because they have a stake in its effectiveness. Transparency too rests on a partnership,” he said.
The FJN Head of Board wants officials to make information available and there must be people and groups with reasons and opportunities to put information to use. He said rules and procedures should be open to scrutiny and comprehensible and transparent government makes it clears what is being done, how and why actions take place, who is involved and by what standards decisions are made.
“Citizens should harness these forces to build good governance. The state and society should be able to influence each other. Policies should respond to social realities and demands and participation should be subject of the rule of law. Accountability must be balanced by the ability authoritatively through words and actions by those that governed,” he added.
For his part, the Keynote speaker and Chief launcher, Atty. Aloysius Toe who spoke on the “Role of the Liberian Church in Promoting the Rule of Law, Transparency and Accountability” said the church has a cardinal role in promoting justice and human dignity.
According to Atty. Toe, the church has a special and dignified place in struggle against human suffering manmade injustices and institutional indignities, saying “this is the occasion on which the church must rise.”
“The church has a role to speak fearlessly and insistently in terms of justice, rule of law, transparency and accountability. The church must raise her voice against growing corruption in government and take a stance against the virus. The Christian church has a role to promote reconciliation,” Atty. Toe said.
Panelists at the program recounted the advocacies of the late Archbishop Michael K. Francis and said his legacy must live on because he fought for social justice and spoke against ills in the society. The participants include Rev. Christopher W. Toe, Secretary General of the Liberia Council of Churches (LCL), Rev. James T. Cooper, Secretary General of the Association of Evangelicals of Liberia (AEL) among other distinguished church leaders.
Participants at the programs commended the Faith & Justice Network and partners for the Archbishop Michael K. Francis Intellectual Discourse on Social Justice and Peace and pledged their unflinching support in making the program a success to keep the legacy of the late Catholic archbishop.