September 2007 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 August 2007
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AFRICA

Liberia

Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Mission in Liberia (UMMIL) which ends on 30 September.  Action on the recommendations of the Secretary-General contained in the report regarding the gradual drawdown of UNMIL over the next few years is also likely.  It is unclear whether the Council will also take up outstanding issues relating to diamond sanctions.

Key Recent Developments
On 8 August, the war crimes trial of former President Charles Taylor was postponed by the Special Court for Sierra Leone until 7 January.  The deferment was granted in response to a request by Taylor’s defence team to be given more time to examine new evidence at its disposal.

Also on 8 August, the Secretary-General submitted his latest report on UNMIL to the Council.  He noted that formidable challenges still confront Liberia.  The report acknowledged the achievements of the new government including increasing public revenue, improving human rights and meeting the sanctions committee’s criteria of appropriate state control over its diamond and timber resources before the removal of related sanctions. (Lifting of timber sanctions became final in October 2006 in a Council press statement, SC/8856.  Diamond sanctions were lifted in April 2007 in resolution 1753 – but subject to renewal.)  He also recommended that the Council extend the mandate of UNMIL for 12 months until September 2008 and encouraged its approval of his proposals contained in the report to drawdown the mission.

The Secretary-General concluded that it was premature to consider arrangements for the final withdrawal of UNMIL or to begin to consider any possible successor.  He recommended a drawdown of UNMIL in stages spanning the period October 2007 to December 2010, with three initial stages for the military component and seven for the police component. Following the drawdown of the military component (i.e. the repatriation of 2,450 troops) in the first phase from October 2007 to September 2008, a three-month review period would include evaluating progress in enhancing state administration and authority in the country, developments in the sub-region and overall stability of the new force structure before possibly proceeding to implement the other phases.  Regarding the support by UNMIL for the Special Court for Sierra Leone and to reinforce UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire, the Secretary-General recommended that the 250-troop Mongolian military guard force deployed at the Special Court be retained during the drawdown period, unless the Court concludes its work.  On the other hand, the provision in resolution 1609 for UNMIL reserve capacity to reinforce UNOCI is proposed to be restricted to an infantry company of about 150 troops during that period.

Regarding the much anticipated report of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), the KPCS indicated in August to the Secretariat that two letters sent earlier to the Liberia Sanctions Committee (in May and July) should jointly be treated as its report under the terms of resolution 1753 on the country’s accession to and compliance with the Kimberley diamond-certification process.  That resolution encouraged the KPCS to report within ninety days to the Council, through the Liberia Sanctions Committee.  This was expected to assist the Council in reviewing the termination of the diamonds embargo formerly imposed on the country.  It is unclear when the Council will consider the letters and review the impact of lifting the diamonds embargo.

The Kimberley Process

The KPCS is an innovative joint initiative between government, the international diamond industry and civil society to stop the flow of conflict diamonds.  This voluntary scheme imposes a number of stringent requirements on participants to certify that shipments of rough diamonds are free of conflict diamonds. It has 45 participants, which supply approximately 99.8 percent of the global production of rough diamonds.  Trade can only take place among participants that have met the minimum criteria of the scheme. (For more information please see our Diamond Sanctions brief in the October 2006 Forecast.)

Key Issues
Key issues include:

  • whether to accept in full the Secretary-General’s recommendations regarding UNMIL’s future troop drawdown;
  • whether to proceed with the review of the impact of the diamonds embargo; and
  • how to assess the success of the overall consolidation of peace within the country.

Council Dynamics
There appears to be considerable consensus among Council members in support of the Secretary-General’s approach to UNMIL’s troop drawdown.  The recommendations’ structured and cautious approach to the matter appears designed to meet the concern of Council members for ensuring balance in retaining a UN presence to assist in consolidating the peace while addressing the need for freeing up troops and resources for urgent peacekeeping needs elsewhere.  The US and African members of the Council have been in the lead on the issue of Liberia.

Another important issue for some members of the Council is the peacebuilding needs of the country.  Council members also 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 challenges in Liberian compliance with the KPCS.

Options
Possible options for the Council include:

  • acceding to the Secretary-General’s recommendations with or without slight modifications;
  • commencing discussion at the expert level on UNMIL drawdown based on recommendations of the Secretary-General’s report; and
  • 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, or incorporating this element in a resolution.

Underlying Problems
Underlying problems remain the stability of the country and its immediate neighbours.  Other problems include limits on the government’s administrative capacity, youth unemployment (which now stands at about 85 percent) and associated reintegration of ex-combatants.

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 and decided to review this decision after receiving reports from the Panel of Experts and KPCS.
  • 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/2007/479  (8 August 2007) was the latest UNMIL report.
  • S/2007/143  (13 March 2007) was a report on cross-border issues in West Africa.
 Other
  • 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.

 

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General
 Alan Doss (UK)
 UNMIL: Size, Composition and Cost
  • Total authorised strength: up to 15,125 military and 1,240 police
  • Strength as of 30 August 2007: 14,121 military and 1,180 police
  • Key troop-contributing countries: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Pakistan
  • Approved Budget: 1 June 2006 – 30 June 2007: 745.57 million
 UNMIL: Duration
September 2003 to present; mandate expires 30 September 2007
Chairman of the Sanctions Committee
 Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser

Full forecast

 

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