Standing by Liberia:

President Jimmy Carter’s Legacy of Friendship and Support

By H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia

When I consider the many years of friendship between Liberia and President Jimmy Carter, I cannot help but feel gratitude for his unwavering dedication to our nation. President Carter has left an indelible impact on the history of Liberia, from his first state visit in April 1978 to his pivotal role in conflict mediation and support for our democracy and healthcare system.

In April 1978, President Carter became the first U.S. president to visit Liberia during his tenure. This historic visit demonstrated the close relationship between our nations and reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to Liberia’s growth. It was a significant event that paved the way for an enduring friendship.

The years following President Carter’s visit to Liberia were marked by turmoil and conflict. However, President Carter’s commitment to our country never wavered. Between 1992 and 1997, he played a crucial role in mediating our country’s brutal civil conflict. His tireless efforts contributed to the end of the conflict and paved the way for Liberia’s new beginning.

In the subsequent years, President Carter continued to demonstrate his dedication to our nation by personally observing elections in 1997, 2005, 2011, and 2017. His presence and that of the Carter Center contributed immeasurably to the credibility and openness of these elections, giving the Liberian people confidence that their voices had been heard and respected.

President Carter has had an enduring impact on Liberia, not only in the realms of politics and peacebuilding. His organization, The Carter Center, was instrumental in fostering peace, establishing a vibrant and flourishing democracy, bolstering the rule of law, and establishing a sustainable public mental health system in our country.

Early in the 1990s, the Carter Center began its work in Liberia, focusing on human rights and the rule of law. These efforts were crucial to rebuilding our nation following years of civil war, ensuring that all citizens were treated with dignity and respect. Numerous programs designed to promote accountability, transparency, and the defense of human rights demonstrate the Center’s ongoing dedication to this cause.

In 2010, building upon nearly two decades of the Carter Center’s efforts consolidating peace and democracy in Liberia, Mrs. Rosalynn Carter’s Mental Health Program launched an initiative to help address this pervasive and growing challenge. This effort to create a sustainable public mental health system in Liberia focused on holistically building capacity to mitigate the impact of future crises on mental health and psychosocial well-being. The Center has trained hundreds of mental health clinicians and provided technical assistance to the Ministry of Health, thereby contributing to the development of a sustainable mental health system for our population. This work has not only improved the lives of those directly affected by mental health disorders, but it has also contributed to the well-being of society.

The friendship between President Jimmy Carter and Liberia has impacted innumerable lives and shaped the future of our country. President Carter has left a legacy of optimism and progress in Liberia through his personal participation in peacebuilding efforts, his support for democratic institutions, and The Carter Center’s extraordinary work.

As we continue to forge ahead as a nation, continuing and building upon the work of the Cater Center we are grateful for President Carter’s unwavering friendship and support. These strong bonds give us the strength to face the challenges of the future to build a brighter and more prosperous Liberia for all. 

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