August 2010 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 July 2010
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AFRICA

Liberia

Expected Council Action

In August the Council is due to receive a report from the Secretary-General on the situation in Liberia but is not expected to formally consider it until September, prior to the 30 September expiration of UNMIL’s mandate. However, it is possible that experts will begin consultations on the issues.

Key Recent Developments

On 13 May the Panel of Experts on Liberia submitted its midterm report to the Council’s Sanctions Committee on Liberia covering the period from 15 February to 10 May. The report addressed implementation of the Liberia sanctions regime (arms embargo, diamonds, assets freeze and travel ban). There are currently 45 individuals on the travel ban list and 22 on the assets freeze list, as well as thirty entities on the assets freeze list). The report observed:

  • there were ongoing problems with the functioning of regional diamond offices, as well as other issues such as variances in declared revenues and audited payments of mineral license fees;
  • although a number of significant mining and agricultural concessions were in the process of being negotiated and/or ratified, there were still problems with control and enforcement in artisanal mining areas, and land disputes persisted;
  • provision of additional information on some individuals designated on the sanctions list;
  • there was no evidence of violations of the travel ban;
  • there was no additional proof of any intention to enforce the assets freeze by the Liberian government; and
  • there were no major violations of the arms embargo.

Members of the sanctions committee met on 16 June to consider the Panel’s report and, while welcoming the progress made regarding the implementation of the arms embargo and the travel ban, supported the recommendations made by the panel, including that:

  • the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme reconsider the wording of the administrative decision for sharing information on the UN panels/groups of experts to ensure that the mandates of these Council bodies were not affected by delays or unwillingness of member states to share information;
  • the Liberian government demonstrate its commitment to international obligations by implementing the assets freeze;
  • the Council renew the mandate of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to provide assistance to the Liberian government in re-establishing proper administration of its natural resources and authority in mining and forestry areas; and
  • UNMIL support the creation of a specialised explosive-ordnance disposal unit as part of the Liberian National Police and gradually hand over this activity to the Liberian authorities.

On 13 July Council members were briefed during private consultations by the chairman of the Liberia Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Ivan Barbalić of Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the Panel’s midterm report and the Committee’s deliberations on it. There seems to have been shared concern about the issues raised by the Panel.

On 27 May the Government of Liberia wrote to the Secretary-General conveying the interest of Liberia in being placed on the agenda of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC). On 19 June the request was brought to the attention of the Council. On 14 July the Council decided to accept the request and formally took action pursuant to paragraph 12 of resolution 1645 (2005) adding Liberia to the PBC agenda by requesting the Commission’s advice. The key issues currently under discussion are the creation of a PBC country-specific configuration on Liberia and the identification of a chair for the configuration. The general expectation is that Liberia would be taken up by the PBC by early September.

On 10 March Ellen Margrethe Løj, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Liberia, briefed Council members in private consultations on UNMIL’s work and developments in the country over the preceding five months.

Human Rights Related Developments

UNMIL funded a training programme from 7 to 9 July for civil society organisations on human rights monitoring, reporting and advocacy in Liberia. At the opening of the event, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Rule of Law in Liberia, Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, emphasised that an independent, ethical civil society that works for human rights was one of the foundations on which a strong nation was built. She said the UN family in Liberia was ready to help strengthen civil society organisations to serve as an essential link between individuals unable to stand up for their rights and the state authorities who had the duty to protect and respect human rights.

 

Key Issues

A key issue for the Council is to assess the future of UNMIL in light of the expected conclusion of the third phase of UNMIL’s drawdown of 2,029 military personnel from its previous level of 9,150 military personnel.

A related issue for the Council will be to assess progress with various aspects of UNMIL’s mandate.

A third issue is whether there is the need for UNMIL’s role in the period leading up to the 2011 elections to be emphasised. (Resolution 1885 mandated UNMIL to provide logistical support to the Liberian government for the 2011 general presidential elections, especially to “facilitate access to remote areas, [in] coordinating international electoral assistance, and [by] supporting Liberian institutions and political parties in creating an atmosphere conducive to the conduct of peaceful elections”. It also requested the Secretary-General to monitor progress on these core benchmarks and report on that to the Council)

A fourth issue is whether the Council should take the opportunity of the mandate renewal to act on some of the recommendations of the Panel of Experts.

A fifth issue, given the recommendations to the Council from the facilitators of the Peacebuilding Review (see our separate brief in this issue) is how to adapt Council discussions on Liberia in future to accommodate the wider input proposal.

Underlying Problems

Immediate major challenges facing the country include security problems resulting from the high unemployment among youth and ex-combatants, the slow pace of security sector reform, a lack of public confidence in the justice system and the drug menace affecting the West African subregion. UNMIL’s presence has so far helped curb illegal cross-border activities, but the potential exists for a vacuum in security as the mission draws down.

Council Dynamics

Members of the Council seem to prefer consideration of Secretary-General’s report to be taken in September, for two main reasons:

  • the Council wants time to consider the report (due by 15 August) ahead of the expiration of UNMIL’s mandate at the end of September; and
  • the overall security situation in Liberia is relatively stable and therefore does not appear to be requiring immediate action.

The US is the lead country on this issue on the Council.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1903 (17 December 2009) renewed the sanctions regime for Liberia for a further 12 months and extended the mandate of the Panel of Experts until 20 December 2010.
  • S/RES/1885 (15 September 2009) renewed UNMIL’s mandate for 12 months

Selected Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2010/ 88 (17 February 2010) was the latest report on UNMIL.
  • S/2007/479 (8 August 2007) was the initial drawdown plan for UNMIL.

Other

  • S/2010/319 (17 June 2010) was the latest report of the Panel of Experts on Liberia.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General

Ellen Margrethe Loj (Denmark)

UNMIL Force Commander

Lieutenant-General Sikander Afzal (Pakistan)

UNMIL: Size, Composition and Cost

  • Strength as of 30 June 2010: 9,307 personnel, including 7810, troops, 1,364 police and 133 military observers
  • Key contributing countries: Bangladesh, Nigeria and Pakistan
  • Cost: 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011: US$524,052,800 million

UNMIL: Duration

September 2003 to present; mandate expires 30 September 2010

Chairman of the Liberia Sanctions Committee

Ivan Barbalić (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Panel of Experts on Liberia

  • Rowan Bosworth-Davies (UK, expert on finance)
  • Wynet V. Smith (Canada, expert on natural resources and coordinator of the Panel)
  • Hervé Gonsolin (France, expert on arms)

Full forecast