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.
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.
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.
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.
|Selected Security Council Resolutions|
|Selected Secretary-General’s Reports|
|Special Representative of the Secretary-General|
|Alan Doss (United Kingdom)|
|UNMIL: Size, Composition and Cost|
|September 2003 to present; mandate expires 30 September 2007|