The Center for Policy Studies (CERPS) is an independent Liberian public policy research institution created to investigate, through rigorous research, issues that are critical to the development of Liberia and important to West Africa. The Center was founded in August 2013 and, notwithstanding the Ebola pandemic that consumed the Mano River sub-region beginning only a few months later, has been making steady, though slow, progress in establishing itself. By undertaking research using the best social science methodology, CERPS aims to identify a range of alternative possible choices, and initiate public debate involving policy makers, the public at large, and donors with a view to arriving at a consensus on optimum choices which best achieve the desired results and meet the legitimate aspirations of all concerned.
CERPS’s Vision is to see a transformed, progressive, developmental and truly democratic Liberian state achieved through responsible people-centred dialogue among broad cross-sections of society based on rigorous research, the best generally accepted democratic principles, and our best traditional African values.
Members of CERPS have decades of research experience in several policy fields, with expertise in economics, law, political science, security, land issues, and development. Members of the team have worked in government, with international, research and academic institutions, as well as with civil society.
CERPS has been commissioned by, or is affiliated with: the Africa Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University, Washington, D.C; the African Capacity Building Foundation, Harare; the Cummings Foundation, a private Liberian foundation; the Governance Commission, a Liberian autonomous public commission; the Institute of Statistical Social and Economic Research at the University of Ghana, Legon; the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA); the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania; the United States Institute of Peace, Washington, D.C.; the Uongozi Institute, Dar es Salaam; and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, D.C.; among others.
In addition to the challenges posed by Ebola, which remains a threat, world prices of iron ore and unprocessed rubber – two commodities that historically constitute the bulk of Liberia’s export revenues – have plummeted, and prospects of their recovery are not apparent. In the face of this inauspicious environment, CERPS has only been able to obtain a grant of less than US$45,000 from OSIWA. The achievements and ongoing activities of CERPS so far include:
- An inaugural study on the public policy formulation landscape in Liberia;
- A think piece for the UNDP to start a dialogue on the imperatives of post Ebola reform initiatives;
- Two papers commissioned by the United States Institute of Peace on: executive power sharing during Liberia's 2003-2005 transition government; and Liberia's experiences of constitution making, focusing on the country's Constitution Review Committee;
- A contract with a local, private foundation to analyze corruption issues, focusing on measures to reduce it; and
- A contract with the Governance Commission to edit and make publishable the 2012 papers of Liberia’s Vision 2030.