CEMESP Organizational Profile
The Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding (CEMESP) is one of Liberia’s leading media development organizations. It was legally established on October 24th 2003 in response to the challenges confronting professional media practice and free speech as a consequence of 14 years of conflict in Liberia. The attrition of war in human and material terms necessitated a post war media action to help in building state and non-actors synergy in charting a new direction based on democratic renewal that consolidates peace. Its primary goal at inception was to strengthen the work of media professionals and human rights organizations; thereby enhancing peace building efforts through the development of the capacities of these two key sectors to understand, anticipate and forecast conflicts as well as develop and plan holistic solutions to such conflicts. In line with its five years strategic plan, CEMESP is in transition from Peacebuilding to peace consolidation. This in effect means that the organization has gone beyond its traditional role of training and defending journalists, but rather adopting the multistakeholders approach in dealing with state and non-state actors to contribute to the national recovery efforts of a country in transition.
CEMESP has in recent times been engaged with good governance and political accountability training workshops to build synergy amongst stakeholders, local authorities, community radio journalists and civil society groups in six counties with funds obtained from USAID through IREX. The organization remains committed to defending freedom of expression and perennially publishes alerts around attacks and threats on media, as well as providing media legal support services for journalists facing litigations in court as a result of their work. CEMESP played pivotal role in the enactment of the Liberia Freedom of Information Act including ongoing campaigns to ensure that law is used in promoting the culture of transparency and accountability. This process has led to stakeholders meetings, training workshops and a couple of research to inspire FOI Law usage, whilst trying to understand what the problem with the implementation of the law is. CEMESP is the brainchild behind the formation National Investigative Journalism Network as an outcome of a recent FOI training.
CEMESP is playing a central role in advocacy and reform to decriminalization media offenses under the auspices of The Declaration of Table Mountain. CEMESP recently partnered with other affiliate groups in hosting a roundtable- to dialogue the passage of three media laws- Community Radio Sustainability, Public Service Broadcaster and Broadcast Regulator. CEMESP has added to its list of publications from the said roundtable including a recent research publication: Monitoring the Demand Supply Trend of FOI Law. During the 2011 elections, CEMESP played leadership role working with a consortium of CSOs, Elections Coordinating Committee to educate voters, train and deploy monitors across the country. In 2011 CEMESP hosted political party spokespersons in meetings and radio talk shows to help in toning down violent rhetoric and also hosted a post elections stock taking forum on how media covered the elections. The center is on course to influence citizens voices in the passage decentralization and local governance Acts following the hosting of nationwide Open Space dialogue tools; a project funded by OSIWA. In line with its human rights defending value, women issues have become a critical problem solving window for CEMESP. The organization has consequently developed its capacity in designing and implementing gender empowerment training packages that have been rolled out in several counties. CEMESP has vast international and local partnership and this has translated in recent facilitation of CSO-Government engagement under the Open Governance Partnership. As a steering committee member CEMESP contributed to the development of a National Action Plan for Liberia that has been validated and reviewed. CEMESP has been involved with the Open Budget Initiative from the point of view of awareness raising and facilitation of dialogue between government and the citizenry in a couple of counties including Rivercess, Grand Bassa and Sinoe. The same process is underway to domesticate the African Charter on Governance and Elections, with CEMESP working with the sub regional partner Center for Democracy and Development, CDD based in Nigeria.
To reflect its new outlook, CEMESP has redesigned its website to add new features including social media facebook portals: Mano River Oil Watch and Liberia Freedom of Information Watch. These are conduits moderated for civic engagement to influence sound policies relative to deepening good governance and openness about the emergent oil sector, using social media. With name recognition and clout- locally and internationally, CEMESP has been offering wide ranging consultancy services within its core competence areas namely: Tax Education for Ministry of Finance; Marketing of the West Africa Regional Fishing Project using Community Radios, Evaluation of the Public Awareness Component of the UNDP Arms for Development in Lofa, Nimba and Grand Gedeh counties in 2007; Nationwide Evaluation of the Impact of the Local Rebroadcast of Charles Taylor Trial done by West Africa Democracy Radio; Evaluation of the Good Governance through Sustained Media for Journalist for Human Rights/ Liberia Media Center 2010; under the IREX USAID fund Good Governance Training for CSOs, Local Authorities and Community Radios set up Citizens Budget Monitoring Networks in Bong, Nimba, Grand Gedeh, River Gee and Lofa, among other things.