June 2007 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 May 2007
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AFRICA

Liberia

Expected Council Action
The Council awaits the Secretary-General’s quarterly report on the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). Resolution 1750 renewed UNMIL’s mandate until 30 September. This interim report is expected to propose a drawdown plan, including “specific recommendations on force levels and options”. At press time, it seems unlikely that members will want to revise UNMIL’s size before 30 September. The Council is expected to renew the mandate of the sanctions Panel of Experts by 20 June. The Panel is scheduled to submit its final report by 6 June.

Key Recent Developments
The Council lifted the embargo on Liberian diamond exports in late April. On 27 April, resolution 1753 also signalled that the decision would be reviewed after reports from the Kimberley Process and the Panel of Experts on Liberia’s accession to and compliance with the Kimberley certification scheme. (For more details, see our 26 April Update.)

The March Secretary-General’s report underlined that some progress has been made concerning benchmarks for UNMIL’s drawdown. There is concern nonetheless with the slow pace in some key areas, including:

  • the reconstitution of the armed forces;
  • the adoption of a national security strategy;
  • the completion of reintegration programmes for ex-combatants; and
  • the consolidation of state authority throughout Liberia.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone announced that the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor is scheduled to begin on 4 June at the Court’s outpost in The Hague. The trial is expected to take up to 18 months to complete.

Key Issues
The key issue in June will be whether to begin considering UNMIL’s future troop levels. This has been postponed for some time in view of Liberia’s huge reconstruction and peacebuilding needs, and the challenging regional environment. However, ongoing pressure to free up peacekeeping resources for other missions makes it likely that at least some initial views on this issue will be laid out.

Council Dynamics
There is sympathy among most Council members regarding Liberia’s peacebuilding needs. There is also concern that regional developments, particularly in Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire, may threaten peacebuilding achievements in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

There is nonetheless awareness that if reasonable progress is being made on drawdown benchmarks, the time will come soon to address UNMIL’s size given the increased peacekeeping demand and related costs.

Underlying Problems
The situation in neighbouring Guinea had been a related concern.  However, it seems to have improved this year with the appointment of a new prime minister and cabinet and the apparently successful defusing of a planned army mutiny in May.  In addition, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea in late April unveiled plans to revive the regional bloc known as the Mano River Union, largely dormant since the early 1990s due to the conflicts in the region.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1753 (27 April 2007) lifted the diamonds embargo.
  • S/RES/1750 (30 March 2007) renewed UNMIL until 30 September and requested detailed drawdown plans.
  • S/RES/1731 (20 December 2006) renewed sanctions.
  • S/RES/1532 (12 March 2004) imposed an assets freeze against former President Charles Taylor and associates.
  • S/RES/1521 (22 December 2003) imposed sanctions.
  • S/RES/1509 (19 September 2003) established UNMIL.
Selected Secretary-General’s Reports
  • S/2007/151 (15 March 2007) was the latest UNMIL report.
  • S/2007/143 (13 March 2007) was a report on cross-border issues in West Africa.
Other
  • S/2006/1044 (28 December 2006) was the latest sanctions committee report.
  • S/2006/976 (13 December 2006) was the latest report of the Panel of Experts.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General
Alan Doss (United Kingdom)
UNMIL: Size, Composition and Cost
  • Total authorised strength: up to 14,875 military and 1,240 police
  • Strength as of 30 April 2007: 14,060 military and 1,202 police
  • Key troop-contributing countries: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Pakistan
  • Cost: 1 July 2006 – 30 June 2007: $745.57 million
UNMIL: Duration
September 2003 to present; mandate expires 30 September 2007

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