May 2007 Monthly Forecast

Posted 27 April 2007
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AFRICA

Sierra Leone

Expected Council Action
In May the Council is expected to discuss the first periodic report on the UN Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL) and receive a briefing from the Secretary-General’s Executive Representative, Victor Angelo. The report is expected to focus on recent developments and progress made on election preparations. UNIOSIL’s mandate expires on 31 December.

Key Recent Developments
Preparations for the presidential and parliamentary elections on 28 July are progressing well, with voter registration completed on schedule. At the end of March the National Electoral Commission announced that 91 percent of voters aged 18 and over had registered.  This high level of participation is viewed as an encouraging sign given the importance of voter registration to the overall credibility of the elections. 

A recent governmental proposal to hold a parallel constitutional referendum to update the 1991 constitution has raised concerns about possible confusion with the election itself, as well as questions about who will bear the cost.

Resolution 1734, which on 22 December extended the mandate of UNIOSIL, asked for a comprehensive assessment, close to the election date, on UNIOSIL’s role including an exit strategy. The Secretariat believes, based on experience in other similar situations, that it will be better placed to provide an accurate picture of a possible exit strategy after the elections.

PBC Developments

The first field mission of the UN Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) took place in Sierra Leone from 20 to 25 March 2007. The 12-member delegation, led by the Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the UN, discussed gaps in  priority areas for peacebuilding with key stakeholders. Agreed priorities included justice and security reform.  During the mission the PBC and the government of Sierra Leone reached an understanding on the importance to develop a framework or “compact” for an integrated peacebuilding strategy. The framework is expected to be ready by June.  This is envisaged as an umbrella framework under which partners can pledge their mutual commitment to taking action.

The PBC will next meet on 2 May for a discussion on youth unemployment. On 8 May it will brief NGOs before its 9 May country-specific meeting on Sierra Leone.

Options
The most likely option is that Council members will want to issue a statement reinforcing progress to date, encouraging the election process, perhaps commending the PBC “compact” and looking forward to working through the next stage of UNIOSIL’s mandate with the incoming elected government.

Key Issues
The key issue on the ground is ensuring successful free and fair elections in July within a stable security environment. A related future issue is the timely establishment of a mechanism for electoral disputes.  

An emerging issue is the relationship between the Council and the PBC.  In the January open debate on the PBC, the Council indicated that it was willing to become more involved in the PBC’s work. Any adjustment in UNIOSIL’s mandate after the election could depend on the level of Council confidence in progress by the PBC.  Possibilities include increased cooperation and information sharing.

Council Dynamics
Relative stability has led most members to devote less attention to Sierra Leone in the past six months. However, some are beginning to take more interest in the role the Council needs to play in coordinating with the PBC in the lead-up to future decisions on the UNIOSIL mandate.

Underlying Problems
The greatest threats to security now include youth unemployment and marginalisation and poor living conditions. The government has launched a youth employment and empowerment scheme but lacks the resources and institutional capacity for proper implementation.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1750 (30 March 2007) noted that UNMIL should continue to provide administrative and related support and security for activities in Liberia of the Special Court of Sierra Leone.
  • S/RES/1734 (22 December 2006) extended the mandate of UNIOSIL until 31 December 2007.
  • S/RES/1688 (16 June 2006) requested the Secretary-General to assist in the transfer of former Liberian President Charles Taylor to the Special Court’s special outpost in the Netherlands.
  • S/RES/1626 (19 September 2005) mandated UNMIL to provide security for the Special Court of Sierra Leone.
  • S/RES/1620 (31 August 2005) established UNIOSIL.

Selected Secretary-General’s Report

  • S/2006/922 (28 November) was the third report of the Secretary-General on UNIOSIL.

Selected Letter

  • S/2006/1050 (26 December 2006) was the letter from the chairman of the PBC to the president of the Council on the Burundi and Sierra Leone country-specific meetings.

Peacebuilding Commission

  • PBC/SIL/2006 SR.3 and SR.4 were the summary records of the third and fourth meetings of the PBC.
  • PBC/OC/1/2 (21 June 2006) was a letter from the Council president to the Secretary-General referring Sierra Leone to the PBC.

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