By Caroline Bowah BrownI remain an advocate for justice and truly want accountability for the heinous crimes committed in Liberia. Yes, I do but I am also of the opinion that doing so must be thought through carefully. The search for truth and justice must be carried out without jeopardizing the fragile peace we enjoy in this moment. It must be done while ensuring our safety.The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia was established to promote national peace, unity, security and reconciliation and hold perpetrators accountable for the atrocities committed. About eleven years ago, the Commission completed its work and handed over its report to former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for implementation. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf made no overtures towards implementing the recommendations of the TRC. The UN and other international organizations took no action against Madam Sirleaf for her failure to do so. In fact, she was awarded several accolades from the same international community; one of them being the Nobel Peace award and later the Mo Ibrahim Award after she stepped down from political office. What double standards. The international community was extremely tolerant towards her government and no pressure was mounted on her to implement the recommendations of the TRC. As part of its support to the peace process, the UNMIL was under obligation to ensure the Liberian Government implement the recommendations of the TRC report. According to the 1st United Nations Security Council 1509 (2003) that established the mission, it was mandated to “support all parties to cease all human rights violations and atrocities against the Liberian population, and stresses the need to bring to justice those responsible.” After 15 years, the UNMIL closed down its Liberian operation without achieving one of its key mandates, which was to support the Government to bring to justice those responsible for committing atrocities in Liberia. Shortly after the election of the new Government of President Weah, there have been increasing calls for judicial accountability for war crimes from various sources including social media and other spaces. Similarly, on July 5, 2018, Human Rights Watch put out a statement supported by Seventy six Liberian, African, and international non-governmental organizations demanding the Liberian government “undertake fair and credible prosecutions of international crimes committed during its two civil wars”. The statement was submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Committee. On September 8, 2018, the US Congress introduced a resolution for the full implementation of the TRC recommendations. Interestingly this is the first concrete action taken by the US government since the completion of the TRC’s work. No such action was ever taken during the tenure of Madam Sirleaf’s government. This makes one wonder why after more than eleven years they choose this moment to begin to pursue the implementation of the TRC recommendations. What does the US Congress aim to achieve, what is the real motive for this action? In the first place the new government is still in its infancy and only now starting to organize itself and implement the mandate given to it by the Liberian people. For me, it is too early and not timely for the US Congress to burden the Liberian government with such demands. We vividly remember how the US Embassy shut its gates and watched from the Atlantic shore while millions of Liberians were being killed, raped, tortured etc. If Liberia is forced to implement these recommendations, is the international community and the US in particular, ready to create the conditions to guarantee our safety and stability? What commitments are they making if Liberia once again finds herself in a state of instability while implementing the TRC recommendations? Bearing in mind that some of the alleged perpetrators hold a great deal of power and have amassed personal wealth, it is important to consider how this power and influence might be used to resist the TRC implementation. The risk of such a process destabilizing the country is high and this is the reason why such a process should have been conducted while the UNMIL force was still stationed in Liberia. The UNMIL mission could have supported the judicial accountability process before their mission ended. In closing, it is important for the Government of Liberia to be very clear about how the leadership wants to proceed with the non-judicial and judicial process for transitional justice in Liberia. They must be in the driver’s seat and show the Liberian people that they mean to act on this in a measured and responsible way. Many are hurt, many need reparations and many need to be reconciled. As I write this I am reflecting on a day in 2003 when we had nowhere to run and I had to carry my one year old baby and choose which of our few belongings to carry. Today he is 16 years old and will soon be completing high school. I imagine a bright future for him. This future can only be guaranteed by a peaceful country. This is the aspiration of many Liberians. We do need closure to this chapter. Of course we need justice but it must NOT be detrimental to the fragile peace. We look forward to the Government position on this and it must not be driven by an international agenda. Never again!The Author:Ms. Caroline Bowah Brown is an Economist, Gender Specialist and a leader in civil society movement in Liberia and currently serves as the Country Director for medica Liberia, and a lecturer at the Department of the Economics, University of Liberia. In 2008, Ms. Brown was appointed by Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to serve as member of the Veterans Bureau. Most of her work is in the areas of gender, peacebuilding, security sector reform and transitional justice. She has a Masters Degree in Economic Policy Management from Makerere University in Uganda. 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When Christopher Columbus set out to find a route to Asia, he consulted the works of the most knowledgeable cartographers and scientists in recorded history at that time to determine the best, safest and most efficient route from his point of departure in Palos, Spain to the Eastern shores of the same land mass he departed. Maps and Explorers’ Christine Sawyer traces his efforts to build a case for funding such a voyage; he had to obtain permission as well as the sponsorship for what would prove to be a very costly series of expeditions.Crucial to his case, Sawyer writes, was his estimation of what was then known as the oecumene – the combined landmass of Europe, Asia and Africa.Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) on engraving from 1851. Explorer, navigator and colonizer. Engraved by I.W. Baumann and published in The Book of the World, Germany,1851.Ptolemy, one of the earliest sources consulted, believed that this landmass stretched across 180 degrees of the planet’s surface.Later cartographers would estimate 225 degrees of longitude, and despite a history of debate on the matter, Columbus believed that 225 degrees was an understatement, thus shortening even further the distance he would have to travel to reach the east coast from the west.A printed map from the 15th century depicting Ptolemy’s description of the Ecumene, (1482, Johannes Schnitzer, engraver).In reality, the oecumene spans less than 180 degrees of longitude, and so when Columbus sailed west and reached land, he quickly correlated the places that he found with his maps of the east coast of Asia despite having found the east coast of North America.As the Encyclopaedia Britannica notes, Columbus would repeat this miscalculation on several successive voyages believing he was founding Spanish settlements throughout eastern Asia.“Columbus map,” drawn c. 1490 in the Lisbon workshop of Bartolomew and Christopher Columbus.In recent years, researchers have begun to collect and study the maps that would have informed Columbus’ voyages in an effort to dig deeper into the explorer’s curious navigation. In particular, LiveScience’s Laura Geggel writes, researchers have returned to the oldest surviving maps from the period with new technology to extract more information from them than was previously available.Christopher Columbus at the gates of the monastery of Santa María de la Rábida with his son Diego, by Benet Mercadé.Using multispectral imaging, a team led by Chet Van Duzer of the University of Rochester’s Lazarus Project has scanned and analyzed a 1491 map of the world that Columbus would likely have consulted as he made his preparations.Though the map has faded over the centuries, Geggel writes, the team was able to recover a significant amount of text and graphical information from it by scanning it with a variety of different wavelengths of light which are reflected or absorbed differently by the different inks and materials employed by the original cartographer.Map of the world by Henricus Martellus Germanus, preserved in Yale University. Christopher Columbus used this map.The map, which was previously “an almost unstudiable object” according to Van Duzer, was created by the German cartographer Henricus Martellus very shortly before Columbus’ first expedition.Martellus’ map was itself the result of secondary research and consultation of a variety of scientific texts including a popular and contemporary treatise on biology and the testimony of Africans during the Council of Florence.Henricus Martellus, explanatory inscription on his world map of 1491.The map shows the oecumene as taking up well over 75 percent of the longitude that it shows.Columbus’ contention with smaller estimates of the oecumene’s size was his belief that earlier scientists were unaware of the size of its eastern reaches, but there is surprisingly little water between the edge of the continent and the edge of the map in Martellus’ depiction – it is missing the entirety of the American continents, as well as nearly everything in between these and the oecumene.The world map of Henricus Martellus Germanus (Heinrich Hammer the German), Florence 1489. The first map with the Dragon Tail. It is a mixture of Ptolemy, recent Portuguese discoveries and unknown sources. Displays the Cape of Good Hope, rounded by Bartolomeu Dias in 1488.Still, the recently-revealed map was a feat for its day and age; it showed the correct orientation of Japan, which other maps did not, and likely influenced the next generation of maps that began to appear following Columbus’ misguided discoveries.Read another story from us: The mystery of the Christopher Columbus letter stolen from VaticanVan Duzer speculates that if Columbus didn’t see Martellus’ map, he likely saw a version of it – it was an influential depiction and among the best of the age. Thanks to the work Van Duzer’s team, we are now able to view it as Columbus did.