February 2008 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 January 2008
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AFRICA

Sierra Leone

Expected Council Action
The Council is likely to consider a report from the Secretary-General on a completion strategy for the UN Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL). Under resolution 1793 this was due by 31 January.

Key Recent Developments

On 21 December, the Council adopted resolution 1793 extending the mandate of UNIOSIL until 30 September 2008. The resolution requested the Secretary-General to submit by 31 January a completion strategy for UNIOSIL, including:

  • at least a 20 percent reduction in staff by 31 March;
  • a continued mission at 80 percent of the current strength until 30 June; and
  • the termination of the Office’s mandate by 30 September.

(The intention is to replace UNIOSIL with a UN integrated political office to carry forward the peacebuilding process. The Secretary-General was requested to submit specific proposals to that end in April.)

Related Developments in the Sanctions Committee
On 28 December, the annual report of the Sanctions Committee on Sierra Leone was submitted to the Council. Against the backdrop of the security situation in the country, the Committee’s chairman suggested consideration of streamlining the legal basis for the sanctions regime. The report also indicated that the Committee was awaiting feedback from the Sierra Leonean government on the future of the travel embargo. On 17 December, the Committee chairman had briefed the Council along similar lines on its work.

On 7 January, the Special Court for Sierra Leone resumed the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor at The Hague after a six-month delay to allow him to prepare his defense. Taylor faces 11 charges arising from the conflict in Sierra Leone of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including use of child soldiers, sexual violence and physical violence. The trial is scheduled to take about 18 months. Resolution 1793 granted exemption from the Council’s travel ban for witnesses who might need to appear before the Court.

Related Developments in the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC)
On 12 December, the PBC adopted a cooperation framework for Sierra Leone to guide the work of the Commission and the government of Sierra Leone over the next three years. The framework outlined key peacebuilding challenges facing the country including governance, security and justice sector reforms, youth unemployment and energy sector development.

Key Issues
Key issues for the Council over the coming months will be a successful drawdown and completion of UNIOSIL’s mandate while ensuring consolidation of peace in the country.

Options
Options include the following.

  • Considering the January report on the drawdown of UNIOSIL in informal consultations and giving the Secretary-General feedback.
  • Deferring consideration of the January report and taking it up at the same time as the April report on the future UN presence in the country.
  • Reinforcing the Council’s collaboration with the PBC by holding a formal Council meeting on the drawdown report and inviting Sierra Leone and key PBC members to speak, and the Peacebuilding Support Office to brief during the drawdown period. This might be seen as a contribution both to Sierra Leone’s peace consolidation and the longer term process for integrating the PBC’s advice into the Council’s decisions.
  • Taking up the conclusions of the sanctions committee about the need to streamline the sanctions regime and perhaps asking the Committee for specific recommendations.

Council Dynamics
The UK has taken the lead in prompting a report from the Secretary-General on a completion strategy for UNIOSIL by 31 January. It wants a clearer picture of the components of the mission to be affected by the drawdown as well as some reference points for monitoring progress in its implementation. Council members generally seemed ready to signal the Council’s resolve to terminate UNIOSIL’s mandate as scheduled. Despite the Secretary-General’s preference for a single report covering both completion strategy and the successor office in April, the Council requested two separate reports—one in January to be followed by another one in April.

The UK takes the lead on Sierra Leone. However, African members retain a strong interest and will be vigilant about the link between peace consolidation and mandate termination, especially if there are any signs of renewed risk of violence.

Underlying Problems
The recent elections highlighted that the deep-seated political tensions and schisms among the Sierra Leone population along ethnic and geographical lines are still close to the surface. They could re-emerge in the lead-up to the local government elections likely to be held in June. Moreover, the country continues to face serious economic challenges (a root cause of the war), with widespread poverty, worsening youth unemployment and endemic corruption.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1793 (21 December 2007) extended the mandate of UNIOSIL until 30 September 2008 and requested a completion strategy for the mission by 31 January, as well as specific proposals on the successor office in April.
  • 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 for Sierra Leone.

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/2007/704 (4 December 2007) was the latest report of the Secretary-General on UNIOSIL.

Other

  • S/2007/777 (28 December 2007) was a letter conveying the annual report of the sanctions committee on Sierra Leone.
  • 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 another year.
  • SC/9121 (19 September 2007) was a press statement on the results of the run-off presidential elections.

Peacebuilding Commission

  • PBC/2/SLE/1 (12 December 2007) was the Sierra Leone Peacebuilding Cooperation Framework.
  • PBC/SIL/2006 SR.3 and SR.4 (13 December 2006) 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 Angelo (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 30 September 2008

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