Washington, D.C. – October 19, 2023
In his Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing today, Ambassador-Designate to Liberia, Mark Toner, delivered a passionate and heartfelt opening statement, outlining his commitment to the fight against corruption and his vision for promoting economic growth in Liberia. Toner emphasized the importance of ensuring that ordinary Liberians benefit from private-sector growth and accountable government while maintaining Liberia’s position as the United States’ most steadfast partner in Africa.
Addressing Liberia’s tumultuous history, Toner acknowledged the country’s resilience, exemplified by the peaceful transition of power in 2017 and the ongoing presidential elections campaign. He emphasized the importance of ensuring that these elections are peaceful, free, and fair, as the United States and its partners work together to hold Liberian leaders accountable for their commitments.
“The United States has been a significant donor to Liberia, with over $5 billion in bilateral assistance since 2003. This aid has led to positive developments in various sectors, such as the economy, education, security, and public health. However, these gains have been offset by rising lawlessness and corruption within the current administration”, said Toner in his statement.
Toner asserted that, if confirmed, he would lead the embassy’s efforts to combat corruption within the government and steer Liberia towards self-reliance. His aim is to ensure that ordinary Liberians reap the benefits of private-sector growth and accountable governance, preserving Liberia as a crucial partner for the United States in Africa.
The US Ambassador-Designate expressed his intention to promote investment opportunities for U.S. businesses and advocate for inclusive economic development, with a particular focus on job creation. Liberia’s youthful population, with a median age of 19 1⁄2 years, presents an opportunity to harness their potential.
However, Toner emphasized that the responsibility for increasing transparency and addressing corruption ultimately lies with Liberia’s political leaders. Establishing the necessary conditions to attract responsible foreign investment is paramount, which includes addressing human rights issues, gender-based violence, forced child labor, human trafficking, and the legacy of war crimes. Toner stressed the importance of confronting these issues to ensure a broader system of accountability, good governance, and the rule of law.
Lastly, Mark Toner expressed his optimism about building upon the previous Ambassador’s excellent work and collaborating with the Liberian government and people to strengthen democracy and secure a more prosperous future for the next generation.