September 2009 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 August 2009
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AFRICA

Sierra Leone

Expected Council Action
In September the Council is expected to consider the Secretary-General’s next report on the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL). The mandate of UNIPSIL, which expires on 30 September, is expected to be renewed for another one year. 

Key Recent Developments
On 8 June the Council was briefed in an open meeting by the Executive Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNIPSIL, Michael von der Schulenburg, on the Secretary-General’s latest report on UNIPSIL. The chair of the Peacebuilding Commission’s (PBC) country-specific configuration on Sierra Leone, Ambassador John McNee of Canada, highlighted the findings of his recent visit to the country and the preparations for the PBC’s high-level special session on Sierra Leone on 10 June.

Also participating in the meeting was the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sierra Leone, Zainab Hawa Bangura, who briefed the Council on the peace consolidation efforts of the Sierra Leonean government.

Developments in the Peacebuilding Commission
On 10 June the PBC held a High-level Special Session on Sierra Leone, which brought together senior representatives of member States, the UN and civil society, with the aim of garnering support for Sierra Leone’s “Agenda for Change” (the government’s medium-term poverty reduction strategy) which is the primary national framework for development and peace consolidation. The session also provided a basis for continued PBC engagement and generated support for the “UN Joint Vision for Sierra Leone” (an agreement among UN bodies, agencies and programmes operating in the country, which defines common priorities and outlines criteria and comparative advantages to improve the impact of their peacebuilding activities in Sierra Leone) and launched a UN Multi-Donor Trust Fund for the country.

The meeting agreed on the following conclusions and recommendations which the Commission indicated would form the basis for the future engagement of the PBC with Sierra Leone:

  • To provide political support for the implementation of the political parties’ joint communiqué. (The joint communiqué was reached on 2 April following bipartisan dialogue facilitated by the UN after political violence flared up in the capital, Freetown, between supporters of the country’s largest political parties—the ruling All People’s Congress party and supporters of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party in mid-March.)
  • To endorse the “Agenda for Change” of the government of Sierra Leone as the core strategic document to guide all future national and international development efforts. (In effect, the PBC has now shifted away from the “Peacebuilding Cooperation Framework,” agreed between the government and the PBC in December 2007, which has now been replaced by the “Agenda for Change.” This means focusing on a number of peacebuilding priorities derived from the “Agenda for Change,”—some of which were also highlighted in the Peacebuilding Cooperation Framework—including promoting good governance and the rule of law, combating illicit drug trafficking and addressing youth unemployment.)
  • To suppoer the UN joint vision for Sierra Leone as a new and innovative tool for supporting peacebuilding and working to mobilise financial resources for its implementation.
  • To enhance the coordination and coherence of international support to Sierra Leone’s peace consolidation efforts.

On 13 July the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, charged before the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection with the civil war in Sierra Leone, resumed at The Hague with the opening of the defence case. The defence started with the testimony of Taylor himself, who on 14 July spoke for the first time in public since his transfer to The Hague in 2006. He denied all charges and said that the case against him was based on misinformation and lies. His testimony was expected to last some four weeks. The defence has said it has a list of 249 witnesses but may not call on all to testify. Currently, the trial is expected to continue until February with a possible ruling in July 2010 and a sentencing in August 2010.

On 16 July the Security Council was briefed during an open meeting by the President of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Justice Renate Winter, on the Court’s activities. She said that the Court had set many precedents in international criminal law since its inception. She also indicated that the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor was critical to preserving peace and stability in West Africa. Winter said the Court needed $30 million to successfully complete its mandate.

Special Court Prosecutor Stephen Rapp also briefed the Council during the 16 July meeting. He said the Court offered justice for victims of the Sierra Leonean war by holding to account those alleged to bear the greatest responsibility for those crimes.

Human Rights-Related Developments

The latest annual report on Sierra Leone by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights observed a positive trend in 2008 towards respect for civil and political rights. Progress towards overcoming delays in the administration of justice was made through the government’s launch of a three-year Justice Sector Reform Strategy and Investment Plan through 2010. Parliament passed legislation in August 2008 strengthening the Anti-Corruption Commission, by conferring powers of prosecution on it.

Challenges identified in the report include securing new funding for the national Human Rights Commission and implementing various outstanding recommendations of the 1999 Lomé Peace Agreement and of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Key Issues
The key issue for the Council is renewing the mandate of UNPISIL, which does not seem to be controversial at this stage.

Another related issue is ensuring that UNIPSIL adds value to peace consolidation in the country as anticipated by its mandate. The mission is mandated to focus on support to the government of Sierra Leone in:

  • providing political support to national and local efforts in identifying and resolving tensions and threats of potential conflict;
  • monitoring and promoting human rights, democratic institutions and the rule of law;
  • consolidating good governance reforms, especially antiā€‘corruption instruments such as the Anti-Corruption Commission; and
  • supporting efforts towards decentralisation, a review of the 1991 Constitution and enactment of relevant legislation.

Council Dynamics
The mandate is expected to be extended by the Council for another 12 months without any modifications in view of the continuing consensus among members on the need to carry on consolidating peace in Sierra Leone through peacebuilding.

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

Underlying Problems
The political tensions and socioeconomic problems that fomented the civil war still persist. Widespread poverty, together with a 70 percent youth unemployment rate and endemic corruption pose formidable challenges to peace consolidation.

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 Reports

Other

  • S/PV.6137 (8 June 2009) was an open meeting by the Council on UNIPSIL.
  • A/HRC/10/52 (4 March 2009) was the annual report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Sierra Leone.
  • 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/L.2 (10 June 2009) was the PBC’s latest conclusions and recommendations on Sierra Leone.
  • PBC/3/SLE/4 (6 April 2009) was the PBC 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 Issues

UNIPSIL Executive Representative of the Secretary-General

Michael von der Schulenburg (Germany)

Size and Composition of Mission

Staff strength (as of 30 June 2009): 26 international civilians

Duration

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

Full forecast