September 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 August 2006
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Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to extend the mandate of UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) at existing force levels and to provide security for the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), probably for six months.

The Secretary-General’s recommendations for a drawdown plan for UNMIL, expected to involve the phasing out of one battalion by year’s end and possibly another in the first half of 2007, are likely to be approved.

The Chair of the Sanctions Committee will report on progress following the decision to suspend timber sanctions for ninety days. Diamond sanctions, set to expire 20 December, come up for review in October.

Key Recent Developments
On 12 July the Council authorised an increase in UNMIL’s civilian police component by 125 and decreased the military component by 125, reflecting the Secretary-General’s advice that police resources will better enable UNMIL to respond to security needs.

On 2 July the Secretary-General visited Liberia and reiterated the UN’s commitment to Liberia’s efforts to rebuild the country.

Liberia’s Humanitarian Mid-Year Appeal was launched on 18 July in Geneva by Jan Egeland, the UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator.

At the time of writing, the forestry legislation proposed by the Liberian Forest Reform Monitoring Committee (FRMC) was expected to be considered by the country’s legislature in the last week of August.

The Council has the following options with regard to UNMIL:

  • maintain the current troop ceilings but authorise the Secretary-General to begin a phased drawdown at his discretion as the situation permits;
  • insist on a concrete timetable and detailed security benchmarks for the drawdown with each step to be approved by the Council; and
  • encourage a quicker drawdown and release of resources for neighbouring missions. (But this is unlikely as the Council is in a cautious mode particularly in the light of recent events in Timor-Leste.)

Longer-term options include:

  • developing integrated approaches to peace consolidation, such as a sub-regional reserve force as previously suggested by the Secretary-General; and
  • greater Council support for collaboration between UN missions in West Africa, especially following the Council debate on 9 August and presidential statement on West African issues.

Options for the timber sanctions will depend on whether key benchmarks have been met. If met, the Council may permanently lift the timber sanctions. If not, the following options are possible:

  • extend the suspension for another ninety days; and
  • reinstate the timber sanctions contained in resolution 1521. (The Council would prefer to avoid this given the importance of timber in developing Liberia’s economy.)

Key Issues
The key issue before the Council is the speed of the drawdown and the timing for the adjustment of UNMIL’s mandate.  Given Liberia’s “stable but fragile” status, the Council is aware of the risks of moving the troops out too quickly. A related issue is that the Secretariat is reluctant to develop detailed drawdown plans at this stage, believing that any drawdown needs to be in tandem with actual improvements in the security situation.

Linked to this is the issue of progress on reforming the Liberian National Police (LNP) and Armed Forces of Liberia. So far UNMIL has trained 1,800 LNP officers. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Liberia, Alan Doss, recently said that the aim is to have 3,500 officers trained, equipped and deployed throughout the country by August 2007. But as recent events in Timor-Leste have shown, even extensive police training is not of itself an indicator of progress in security-sector reform.

The issue on timber sanctions is likely to hinge on the extent of progress in revising the forestry legislation. A related issue will be the capacity for monitoring the implementation of the forestry reform package.

Council Dynamics
The US and the African members are clearly concerned with the long-term ramifications of winding down UNMIL too quickly.  Even members like Japan, which in the past were keen to see UNMIL’s resources moved to either UNOCI or SCSL, are not currently pushing for an accelerated phase-down.

Underlying Problems
Security is still a problem in Liberia.  Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf recently admitted to “irregularities within the security apparatus.” In July there was a fire at the executive mansion, and in August a shootout at the residence of the newly appointed director of the Special Security Service.

The volatile political situation in region, particularly in neighbouring Côte d’Ivoire, could threaten stability and progress in Liberia. A future problem may be the lack of resources for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and other key projects.

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UN Documents

 Recent Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1694 (13 July 2006) increased UNMIL’s police component and decreased UNMIL’s military component.
  • S/RES/1689 (20 June 2006) lifted the timber embargo for ninety days and renewed the diamond embargo for six months.
  • S/RES/1683 (13 June 2006) partially lifted the arms embargo for the new security forces of Liberia.
  • S/RES/1667 (31 March 2006) renewed UNMIL’s mandate as well as the deployment of UNMIL troops to provide security for the SCSL until 30 September.
  • S/RES/1509 (19 September 2003) established UNMIL.
 Latest Secretary-General’s Report
  •  S/2006/376 (9 June 2006) contained plans for UNMIL’s drawdown and recommended an additional police unit.
 Other Relevant Documents
  • S/SPRST/2006/38 (9 August 2006) was the presidential statement made after the debate on Peace Consolidation in West Africa.

Other Relevant Facts

 Special Representative of the Secretary-General
 Alan Doss (United Kingdom)
 Size and Composition of Mission
  •  Total authorised strength (till September 2006): up to 15,250 military personnel and 1,115 police
  • Strength as of 31 July 2006: 14,569 military personnel and 1,011 police
  •  Key troop contributors: Bangladesh, Pakistan, Ethiopia and Nigeria

1 July 2006 – 30 June 2007: $745.57 million


 September 2003 to present, current mandate expires 30 September 2006

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