December 2007 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 November 2007
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AFRICA

Sierra Leone

Expected Council Action
The mandate of the UN Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL) expires on 31 December. Informal consultations are likely to consider the long overdue Secretary-General’s report requested by resolution 1734 to be submitted “closer to the election date” (possibly to now be furnished by mid-December) based on a comprehensive assessment, to help the Council in defining UNIOSIL’s exit strategy. A resolution extending and refining UNIOSIL’s mandate is likely. 

Recent Developments
On 8 November, the Sierra Leone government submitted a letter to the Council requesting a one-year extension of the mandate of UNIOSIL “as it is currently structured, and with the same institutional link with the Secretariat, through the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.” The reasons given by the government for requesting the continued presence of UNIOSIL centred on fostering peace-consolidation initiatives (including governance reform and accountability), enhancing the rule of law, security sector reform, promoting sustainable development and ensuring greater national cohesion.

Ernest Bai Koroma, Sierra Leone’s new president, was officially inaugurated on 15 November. He promised that tackling corruption will be a major priority for his government, after a report he commissioned revealed widespread corruption under the previous government. However, observers note that there is a risk that prosecutions may be seen as victimisation of supporters of the former government.

In early November, Amnesty International called on the Sierra Leone government to improve its assistance to victims of sexual abuse during the country’s brutal civil war. Amnesty estimated that about a third of the country’s female population were subject to rape and forms of sexual abuse during the conflict.

For recent information relating to the run-off presidential election, the Council’s subsequent press statement and related developments please see our November Forecast.

Related Developments in the Peacebuilding Commission
In November the country specific configuration of the PBC on Sierra Leone met four times in informal settings to continue development of the Sierra Leone cooperation framework document. It is reported that agreement has been reached on the eventual adoption of the framework as a PBC document by mid-December.

Key Issues
The key issue for the Council remains the future of UNIOSIL and its role in effectively consolidating peace in the country, as well as how to factor in the advice of the PBC into its consideration of these issues. A further issue relates to residual matters from the Special Court of Sierra Leone.

Options
Options include:

  • maintaining the mandate of UNIOSIL unchanged for another year;
  • maintaining the current mandate of UNIOSIL for a shorter period (e.g. six months), but making it subject to review with a possible transformation into a purely political mission (which seems a more likely option); and
  • enhancing collaboration with the PBC in peace consolidation, including integrating its advice in the Council’s decisions.

Council Dynamics
Many Council members remain cautious about phasing out UNIOSIL, in view of the relative fragility of the situation and recent lessons learned elsewhere on premature withdrawal. Some members, like the UK and the African members, attach importance to avoiding a hasty exit. However, the Council as a whole seems amenable to a drawdown over a period shorter than that requested by the Sierra Leone government, while closely monitoring developments on the ground, before transforming UNIOSIL into a political office.

(For information on the dynamics of the interface between the Council and the PBC on this issue please see our November Forecast.)

The UK and Ghana are the lead countries on this issue.

Underlying Problems
Lingering root causes of the war include youth unemployment, corruption and poor standards of living.

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 and requested a comprehensive assessment of UNIOSIL’s role closer to the election date.

Selected Presidential Statement

  • S/PRST/2007/23 (28 June 2007) addressed the work of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Selected Secretary-General’s Report

  • S/2007/257 (7 May 2007) was the fourth report of the Secretary-General on UNIOSIL.

Other

  • S/2007/659 (8 November 2007) was a letter conveying the request of the Sierra Leone government for an extension of the mandate of UNIOSIL for a further period of one year.
  • SC/9121 (19 September 2007) was a press statement on the results of the run-off presidential elections.

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.

Other Relevant Facts

UNIOSIL Executive Representative of the Secretary-General

Victor da Silva Ângelo (Portugal)

Size and Composition of Mission

Total budgeted staff of 298, comprising 82 international staff, 192 local staff and 24 UN volunteers.

Duration

1 January 2006 to present; current mandate expires 31 December 2007.

Full forecast