June 2009 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 May 2009
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AFRICA

Sierra Leone

Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to consider the report of the new UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) in June. UNIPSIL’s mandate expires on 30 September. No Council action is required at this time but a statement may be a possibility.

Key Recent Developments
On 9 February Executive Representative of the Secretary-General Michael von der Schulenburg briefed the Council. He stated that formidable challenges still confront Sierra Leone seven years after the civil war. He urged patience, decisive action and fulfillment of commitments by the international community. He said UNIPSIL was the “nexus of partnership” between the Sierra Leonean government and the UN, especially the Council and the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC).

The then chairman of the PBC Sierra Leone configuration, Ambassador Frank Majoor of the Netherlands, told the Council that the creation of UNIPSIL had been a groundbreaking innovation for the UN family. He said it was creating a truly integrated approach to peacebuilding. The peace consolidation agenda in Sierra Leone remained unfinished, and he cautioned against shifting limited resources from the “relatively stable” country to urgent crises elsewhere. He said the PBC would intensify its efforts to mobilise additional resources for Sierra Leone, especially through broadening the donor base and strengthening partnerships with the private sector.

Ambassador Shekou Touray of Sierra Leone called for sustained international engagement in nurturing peacebuilding. Establishment of UNIPSIL had been a significant step and was the “fourth-generational” phase of the UN presence in the country. The challenges remained and therefore the PBC and all development partners needed to support Sierra Leone’s national agenda.

On 25 February the Special Court for Sierra Leone found the three most senior surviving leaders of the former rebel Revolutionary United Front, Issa Sesay, Morris Kallon and Augustine Gbao, guilty of a number of counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity between 1991 and 2002. On 18 March the Special Court signed an agreement with Rwanda that would allow some criminals convicted by the court to complete their sentences in Rwanda. On 8 April the Special Court sentenced Sesay, Kallon and Gbao to jail terms of between 25 and 52 years.

On 4 May the Special Court’s Trial Chamber at The Hague dismissed a request by the defence counsel for former Liberian President Charles Taylor to drop the charges against him (11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity) on the grounds of insufficient evidence. Taylor’s trial is scheduled to resume on 29 June.

From 13 to 16 March, following a disputed local council special election in southern Sierra Leone, political violence flared up in the capital, Freetown, between supporters of the country’s largest political parties—the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) party and supporters of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP). On 18 March, President Ernest Koroma called for calm and warned of a possible government crackdown. Following bipartisan dialogue facilitated by the UN, the APC and SLPP on 2 April agreed to:

  • a bipartisan understanding on the role of the ruling and opposition parties;
  • rejection of all forms of violence; and
  • mechanisms for enquiry into the violent clashes.

Related Developments in the PBC
On 25 February Ambassador John McNee of Canada replaced Majoor as chairman of the PBC Sierra Leone configuration.

On 6 April McNee issued a statement welcoming the joint communiqué between the two leading political parties following the March interparty political violence and recommending follow-up action by the international community in that regard.

McNee visited Washington on 12 May to further explore the PBC’s cooperation with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. He also visited Sierra Leone from 20 to 24 April for an assessment of the situation on the ground and reviewed key peacebuilding issues.

At press time the PBC was preparing to hold a high-level special session on Sierra Leone on 10 June. The meeting will aim, among other things, at garnering support for the Sierra Leonean president’s Agenda for Change, which is the primary national framework for development and peace consolidation. The session may also provide the basis for continued PBC engagement and generate support for the UN Joint Vision for Sierra Leone and launch the UN Multi-Donor Trust Fund.

Key Issues
The key issue for the Council is whether UNIPSIL is adding value to sustainable peace consolidation, particularly against the backdrop of the violent expression of political tensions in March.

Another key issue is whether the Council can play a role, in partnership with the PBC, in sustaining progress.

Options
The main option for the Council is whether to respond to recent developments in the country and if so, whether to issue a formal statement.

Council Dynamics
There is consensus among Council members on the need to continue consolidating peace in Sierra Leone through peacebuilding. The content of the upcoming report will likely influence members’ positions on next steps.

The UK is the lead country on this issue in the Council.

Underlying Problems
The socioeconomic problems that underlay the civil war still persist, with widespread poverty and youth unemployment, along with inadequate resources to effectively combat endemic corruption. Issues of drug-trafficking are also emerging throughout the West African subregion.

There is also concern about the lack of sufficient funds to secure the future work of the Special Court. Unlike the international tribunals for Rwanda and Yugoslavia, the Special Court is not supported through assessed contributions by the UN member states but by voluntary contributions.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1829 (4 August 2008) authorised the creation of UNIPSIL to replace UNIOSIL for one year commencing 1 October.
  • 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, and specific proposals on the successor office.

Selected Secretary-General’s Report

  • S/2009/59 (30 January 2009) was the first report of the Secretary-General on UNIPSIL.

Other

  • S/PV.6080 (9 February 2009) was the open debate by the Council to consider the first report of the Secretary-General on UNIPSIL.
  • S/2009/18 (8 January 2009) and S/2009/17 (5 January 2009) was the exchange of letters between the Secretary-General and the Council president on the appointment of Michael von der Schulenburg as the executive representative for UNIPSIL.
  • S/PV.5948 (4 August 2008) was the meeting resulting in the adoption of resolution 1829 establishing UNIPSIL.
  • S/2008/63 (31 January 2008) was the letter from the Secretary-General conveying the completion strategy for UNIOSIL.

Peacebuilding Commission

  • PBC/3/SLE/4 (6 April 2009) was the statement welcoming the joint communiqué between the two leading political parties in Sierra Leone.
  • PBC/3/SLE/2 (15 December 2008) outlined conclusions and recommendations of the second biannual review of the Sierra Leone Peacebuilding Cooperation Framework.
  • PBC/2/SLE/SR.4 (19 June 2008) was the summary record of the Sierra Leone configuration’s fourth meeting (biannual review of the Peacebuilding Cooperation Framework and report of the PBC’s visit to Sierra Leone between 1-7 June 2008).
  • PBC/2/SLE/6 (19 June 2008) outlined conclusions and recommendations of the biannual review of the Sierra Leone Peacebuilding Cooperation Framework.
  • PBC/2/SLE/5 (19 May 2008) was the chair’s summary of the high-level stakeholders consultation on Sierra Leone.
  • PBC/2/SLE/1 (3 December 2007) was the Sierra Leone Peacebuilding Cooperation Framework.
  • 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

UNIPSIL Executive Representative of the Secretary-General

Michael von der Schulenburg (Germany)

Size and Composition of Mission

Staff strength (as of 31 March 2009): 29 international civilians, 15 local civilians

Duration

1 October 2008 to present; current mandate expires 30 September 2009

Full forecast