August 2007 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 July 2007
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Expected Council Action

The Council is expected to receive the much anticipated Kimberley Process report and review the termination of the diamonds embargo in line with resolution 1753 which encouraged the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) to report within ninety days to the Council, through the Council’s 1521 Sanctions Committee concerning Liberia, on the country’s application to the KPCS.  The ability of Liberia to meet the recommendations of the KPCS is expected to be the main concern in the Council. A Council press or presidential statement is possible.  The Council is also expected to review future troop levels of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). However, the report from the Secretary-General detailing a drawdown plan for the mission may not come until late August so action on this aspect could be taken up in September in conjunction with mandate renewal.  UNMIL’s mandate expires on 30 September.

Key Recent Developments
On 19 July the government of Liberia announced the arrest of five people in connection with an alleged coup attempt.  Those detained included former Speaker of Parliament George Koukou and General Charles Julu, the former head of the presidential guard during the regime of ex-President Samuel Doe and leader of a 1994 coup attempt.  Officials released video recordings by Liberian intelligence services as alleged proof of the coup plot and to support an ongoing investigation.  The accused have subsequently been charged with treason and remain in prison pending trial.
On 12 July, the government submitted a bill to parliament regarding the seizure of the property of former President Charles Taylor, his relatives and associates.  Legislative authority is sought to request the assistance of other countries in tracking, freezing and confiscating the funds, properties and assets of those concerned.  The Panel of Experts on Liberia reported to the Council in June (S/2007/340) that it had not yet ascertained the allegations of investment by Charles Taylor in Nigeria.  This was because the Panel received no response from the Nigerian government to its requests to visit the country to verify the allegations.

The war-crimes trial of former President Charles Taylor by the Special Court for Sierra Leone commenced on 4 June 2007 in The Hague.  Taylor boycotted the first hearing on the grounds that he would not get a fair hearing since he was not satisfied with the calibre of his court-appointed lawyer.  The trial was adjourned subsequently until 3 July, and again to 20 August to allow a defence team to be appointed for Taylor.  The Court approved an expanded defence team and Taylor appeared for the next hearing. (For more details on recent action by the Special Court for Sierra Leone see the Sierra Leone brief in this Forecast.)

On 20 June, the Council adopted resolution 1760 renewing the mandate of the Panel of Experts on monitoring the sanctions regime imposed on the country.  The resolution also anticipated the submission of the report of the Kimberley Process on Liberia.

Key Issues
The key issues before the Council include:

  • reviewing the impact of the diamonds embargo in light of the expected Kimberley Process report;
  • overall consolidation of peace within the country; and
  • eventual drawdown of UNMIL.

Council members remain mindful of the fragile stability in the country and are likely to use the review of the Kimberley Process report to assess progress and/or challenges in Liberian compliance with the KPCS.  Another issue of concern to some members of the Council is the peacebuilding needs of the country. 

The issue of ongoing security continues to be a concern and is highlighted by the recent arrests in connection with the alleged coup attempt to overthrow President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s government. In this regard, an issue which may arise is the need to include language reflecting these concerns in any statement issued by the Council.

Council Dynamics
In considering a future drawdown of UNMIL, Council members will be mindful of developments in neighbouring countries like Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea that could pose a threat to Liberia.  African members in particular have been in the lead in stressing the need that such action has to be carefully considered without compromising Liberia’s fragile security.  Council members appear to have adopted a wait-and-see attitude and may prefer to delay discussion of this aspect until the Secretary-General’s report is available.

Possible options for the Council include: 

  • adopting a press or presidential statement on the Kimberley Process report with the Council’s comments on the country’s level of compliance with the KPCS;
  • starting discussion at the expert level on UNMIL drawdown based on recommendations of the Secretary-General’s upcoming report; and
  • requesting the Secretariat to brief it on the security situation in light of the recent coup attempt and including this aspect in any statement issued.

Underlying Problems
Underlying issues centre on the stability of the country and its immediate neighbours. Major elements include limits on the government’s capacity and youth unemployment, which now stands at about 85 percent, and associated reintegration of ex-combatants.

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UN Documents

 Selected Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1760 (20 June 2007) renewed the mandate of the Panel of Experts on Liberia.
  • 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.
  • S/2007/340 (24 May 2007) was the latest report of the Panel of Experts on Liberia.
  • S/2006/1044  (28 December 2006) was the latest Sanctions Committee report.
  • S/2006/976  (13 December 2006) was a 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 June 2007: 14,151 military and 1,176 police
  • Key troop-contributing countries: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Pakistan
  • Approved Budget: 1 July 2007 – 30 June 2008: 721.72 million
 UNMIL: Duration
 September 2003 to present; mandate expires 30 September 2007

Full forecast

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