September 2010 Monthly Forecast

Posted 25 August 2010
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Sierra Leone

Expected Council Action
In September the Council will be briefed on developments in Sierra Leone by Michael von der Schulenburg, the head of UNIPSIL. The Secretary-General’s next progress report is due in mid-September. The mandate of UNIPSIL, which expires on 30 September, is expected to be renewed for another year.

Key Recent Developments
On 22 March Michael von der Schulenburg, the Secretary-General’s Executive Representative in Sierra Leone briefed Council members on the work of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL). Three issues have traditionally been considered critical for peace consolidation in the country:

  • youth unemployment;
  • illicit drug trafficking; and
  • corruption.

The Secretary-General’s representative is also likely to flag the 2012 presidential, parliamentary and local elections as a fourth critical issue. In March he noted that the elections would present quite difficult and complex challenges for the country, including the prevailing ethnic loyalties in party politics, winner-takes-all syndrome and political party financing.

The chairman of the Peacebuilding Commission’s (PBC) country-specific configuration for Sierra Leone, Canadian Ambassador John McNee also briefed the Council at the March meeting.

From 14 to 16 June the Secretary-General visited Sierra Leone, where he highlighted the successes of the country in consolidating peace, and he visited the UN supported Special Court for Sierra Leone, set up to deal with the worst crimes committed during that country’s civil war which ended in 2002. He told journalists that the country was one of the most successful examples of post conflict recovery, peacekeeping and peacebuilding, and noted that the UN mission’s smooth transition from a peacekeeping operation to a peacbuilding support one provided an example for other countries emerging from conflict.

On 15 July the Council through an exchange of letters with the Secretary-General accepted his proposal that he would work out an agreement with the Sierra Leonean government to set up a residual mechanism for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and a statute of the residual mechanism. (The Special Court has prosecuted and convicted eight persons since it was set up in February 2002. One indicted person remains at large, and its only remaining trial is that against former Liberian President Charles Taylor, at The Hague. It is expected that Taylor’s trial will be completed around June 2011 and any appeal concluded around February 2012.)

Peacebuilding Commission-Related Developments

On 26 March Ambassador McNee briefed the PBC country-specific configuration for Sierra-Leone on the PBC delegation’s visit to Sierra Leone from 8 to 12 March. Also discussed during the meeting was the new Joint Response to Youth Employment in Sierra Leone, which is an integrated national programme to assist in the creation of employment opportunities for young people. (The joint response was developed by the government of Sierra Leone together with international partners like the World Bank, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit, the UN Development Programme, the International Labour Organisation, UN Industrial Development Organisation and the EU.)

Human Rights-Related Developments

The third annual report of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (established by an act of the country’s parliament in 2004) was presented to Sierra Leone’s president on 3 August. The Commission was mindful of Sierra Leone’s forthcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by the Human Rights Council set for 5 May 2011 and signalled it would work with and support the government and civil society to ensure that Sierra Leone deposited its UPR State Report well before the deadline.

The Commission will next convene a meeting with cabinet ministers to discuss its findings and recommendations. Five key recommendations are for the government to:

  • establish a follow-up forum to the Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC);
  • provide the remaining 49 percent of its contribution to the reparations programme;
  • implement a 30 percent quota for women in leadership;
  • complete the constitutional review process in the shortest possible time; and
  • fulfil the remaining TRC recommendations.

Introducing the report, the chair of the Commission, while commending the government for upgrading health infrastructure including hospitals, noted that there still remained human rights challenges that needed to be addressed.

Key Issues
A key issue for the Council is deciding on UNIPSIL’s role in Sierra Leone in light of developments on the ground, as well as the presidential, legislative and local government elections scheduled for 2012. A closely related issue is whether UNIPSIL is sufficiently well resourced to ensure effective peace consolidation in the country.

Another key issue for Council members likely to be addressed by the Secretary-General in his upcoming report is action needed to develop benchmarks for the transition of UNIPSIL eventually into a UN Country Team presence, in line with resolution 1886.

A third issue, given the recommendations to the Council from the facilitators of the Peacebuilding Review in July (see our August 2010 Forecast for details on this issue) is how to adapt Council processes when discussing Sierra Leone to reflect the proposal that it should seek wider input in its decision making, including seeking the advice of the PBC structures when peacekeeping mandates are being reviewed.

Underlying Problems
Socioeconomic challenges coupled with weaknesses in state institutions relating to democracy and the rule of law, youth unemployment (one third of Sierra Leone’s population is between 15 and 35 years of age) and illicit drug trafficking persists. Economic recovery has been slow partly because the reconstruction needs are immense.

Council Dynamics
Sierra Leone is not currently generating controversy in the Council, due largely to the successful transitioning of the UN mission from peacekeeping to peacebuilding operations, and its relatively stable peace consolidation process. Consequently, Council members appear agreed on the continued utility of UNIPSIL and many seem ready to support a related recommendation by the Secretary-General for a further extension of the mandate of the mission.

Most members seem likely to prefer to retain the main elements of UNIPSIL’s mandate, with the only modifications being made to it with regard to authorising the mission to engage in activities that will enable it to better support the process towards holding peaceful and credible national elections in Sierra Leone in 2012.

It also remains to be seen if the Council will take up the recommendations of the facilitators of the Peacebuilding Review in July, by seeking the PBC’s input into its review of the mandate of UNMIL.

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

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UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1886 (15 September 2009) extended the mandate of UNIPSIL until 30 September 2010 and requested the Secretary-General to develop benchmarks for the transition of UNIPSIL into a UN Country Team presence.
  • S/RES/1829 (4 August 2008) authorised the creation of UNIPSIL to replace UNIOSIL for one year commencing 1 October.
  • S/RES/1688 (16 June 2006) requested the Secretary-General to assist in the transfer of former Liberian President Charles Taylor to the Special Court’s special outpost in the Netherlands.

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

Selected Letters

  • S/2010/385 (15 July 2010) conveyed the Council’s approval for the Secretary-General to work out an agreement with the Sierra Leonean government to establish a residual mechanism for the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
  • S/2010/384 (15 July 2010) was from the Secretary-General informing the Council about his intention to work out an agreement with the Sierra Leonean government to set up a residual mechanism for the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
  • S/2008/63 (31 January 2008) was from the Secretary-General conveying the completion strategy for UNIOSIL.


  • A/64/868-S/2010/393 (19 July 2010) was a letter from the three co-facilitators in charge of the 2010 review of the UN peacebuilding architecture communicating their final report on the review process.
  • S/PV.6291 (22 March 2010) was the verbatim record of the 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.


  • PBC/3/SLE/6 (12 June 2009) was the outcome of the PBC High-level Special Session on Sierra Leone.
  • 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/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 May 2010): 27 international civilians, 32 local civilians and one UN volunteer.


1 October 2008 to present; mandate expires 30 September 2010

Full forecast

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