Liberian President George Manneh Weah has opined that peace is an essential element for global advancement, providing a positive framework for international cooperation and the enhancement of global trade and commerce.
“It is therefore incumbent upon all nations, if we are to establish a new world order where peace prevails, to seek to resolve conflicts through dialogue, negotiations, and mediation, rather than war. The time for war is over,” President Weah said at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on Monday.
The Liberian leader was speaking during the launch of the 2018 edition of the Internet Governance Forum at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.
President Weah served as guest of honor at the ceremony also attended by French President Emmanuel Macron, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay.
The Liberian president observed that while military force can be used to counter a military threat, it cannot, on its own, resolve profound underlying political, social, economic and governance problems or create sustainable peace.
“It is therefore important that the international community should give serious consideration to changing the paradigm for resolving differences and threats, by moving away from military action as a primary option, to conflict resolution by non-violent means,” President Weah noted.
He pointed out that “it is only through our success as global and national peace-builders that we will be able to achieve social and economic justice, reconciliation among and between our respective countries and peoples, enhance our individual and collective security, and provide the conducive environment for sustainable development.”
The Liberian Chief Executive thanked President Macron and UNESCO for the honor accorded him to attend the very important forum, and to share his perspectives on the critical issue of internet governance in this ever-progressing digital age.
President Weah said the internet can be a fulcrum to drive peace and security in the world as it has now become a platform which impacts every facet of our lives; social, political and economic, adding: “This global platform has propelled and accelerated innovation.”
“The internet has also bridged the communication gap, and has made our world a smaller and better place in many ways. It has enhanced development in the areas of technology, education, health and welfare,” President Weah stressed.
“Today, a farmer in a remote village can now use the internet to get price updates and better earnings from his produce. A nurse in a faraway community can get instructions and prescriptions from a doctor on the other side of the globe and can then be enabled to give proper treatment to patients.
“Teachers can use internet-based tools to improve learning outcomes. The valuable power of the internet cannot be over-emphasized,” President Weah told the UNESCO gathering.
He added: “While we extol the positive and progressive impact of the internet on our lives, we cannot and must not overlook the dark forces which are lurking. With its huge capabilities, the internet has a direct reach into our homes, placing every kind of information into our hands through the prevalence of various devices such as mobile phones.”
However, the Liberian leader observed, this provides great opportunities for exploitation by criminal elements. These elements are using the internet to carry out various cyber crimes, including terrorism and financial crimes.
“The internet is also now being used to stoke hatred among our people and to spread dangerous false information which can lead to violence and the destruction of societal fabric,” he said.
He suggested that it is therefore necessary that proper structures are put in place to ensure that this very strong instrument for the advancement of human development is not transformed into an instrument of terror, hate, crime and destruction.
Civil society actors, international bodies, and technology companies, the Liberian President said, must work together with governments in developing a governance structure which will ensure that the internet is used for the good of society, and not for its destruction.
At the same time, while attempting to eradicate criminal elements, such governance structures must not inhibit or stifle free speech and expression, or innovation and development, which is essential to global progress, Pres. Weah said.
He then urged participants at the 2018 World Internet Governance Forum to deliberate in good faith, build upon the experience of IGF 2017, and derive solutions for the betterment of humanity.