Expected Council Action
In December, the Sanctions Committee on Liberia is likely to take up recommendations from the panel of experts charged with investigating and reporting on implementation of sanctions.
Also, the Council is likely to renew the current sanctions regime for Liberia, which expires on 16 December and the mandate of the panel of experts, which expires on 20 December.
Key Recent Developments
On 15 September, the Security Council adopted resolution 1938, extending the mandate of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) until 30 September 2011. The resolution authorises UNMIL to provide logistical support for the general presidential and legislative elections in 2011. In a related issue, on 29 September, the UN special representatives in West Africa agreed to unite their efforts to support the electoral processes in the region.
On 16 September, the Peacebuilding Commission established a country configuration for Liberia in order to implement priorities established in letters sent to the commission by the Council and the Liberian government dated 27 May and 19 July, respectively. On 15 November, the commission adopted a draft statement, laying out the terms of partnership agreed with the Liberian government to strengthen the rule of law, to implement security sector reform and to promote national reconciliation between different groups in the country.
In a 24 September address to the General Assembly, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf said that corruption and mismanagement are the greatest challenges facing Liberia’s efforts to rebuild its society and economy. She also mentioned human trafficking and illicit drug trade in West Africa as threats to Liberia’s development.
On 3 November, Johnson-Sirleaf dissolved her cabinet in order to allow for cabinet restructuring with a “fresh slate.”
On 25 October, the joint UN-EU Partnership on Natural Resources, Conflict and Peacebuilding launched a training programme designed to help countries affected by resource-driven conflicts. Liberia was named one of the four pilot countries in which a series of training modules will be implemented.
On 24 November, the Council adopted resolution 1951, authorising the Secretary-General to temporarily redeploy from UNMIL to the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire a maximum of three infantry companies and an aviation unit of two military helicopters, for a period of no more than four weeks.
In accordance with resolution 1903 (2009), the panel of experts is to produce its final report to the Council via the sanctions committee by 20 December.
A key issue for the Council is striking a balance between easing the sanctions regime (reflecting the progress achieved in Liberia so far) and maintaining sufficient tools to effectively continue to address the challenges facing the country in the near future (so as not to jeopardise that progress).
A related issue is addressing the patchy implementation of the sanctions by the Liberian government.
Major socioeconomic challenges, coupled with weaknesses in state institutions relating to democracy and the rule of law, the slow pace of security sector reform and the difficulties in restoring effective state control over the national territory, all continue to threaten stability in Liberia.
In addition, problems from the wider region, such as human and drug trafficking, constitute another worrying factor.
Options for the Council include
- a simple rollover of the sanctions regime and the mandate of the panel of experts; or
- renewing the sanctions regime and the mandate of the panel of experts but reducing some aspects of the sanctions regime
Council members are in general agreement that Liberia continues to make significant progress, due in great part to the willingness of the government to work with the UN and other international efforts.
Council members envision the sanctions regime being lifted in a gradual process in the next few years, in light of the continued improvement of the situation in the country. Nevertheless, there seems to be a sense that substantial adjustments to the sanctions regime should be deferred until after the successful completion of the October 2011 national elections and the anticipated completion of the trial of the former Liberian president, Charles Taylor, before the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
As for a future drawdown of UNMIL, many Council members feel that the progress made in Liberia could be compromised unless there is a gradual and carefully executed exit strategy. Some have expressed concern that Liberia has become overly dependent on UNMIL and bilateral US assistance, while not enough emphasis has been given to the eventual transfer of ownership of the country’s institutions to the local government, particularly with respect to security sector reform.
There is much concern that Liberia’s failure to fully implement Council sanctions, in particular the assets freeze, is a risk. Some Council members feel that stronger signals should be sent to the Liberian government about this.
The US is the lead country on this issue in the Council.
Selected Security Council Resolutions
Selected Secretary-General’s Reports
Special Representative of the Secretary-General
Ellen Margrethe Løj (Denmark)
UNMIL Force Commander
Lieutenant-General Sikander Afzal (Pakistan)
Size, Composition, Cost and Duration
Chairman of the Liberia Sanctions Committee
Ivan Barbalić (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Panel of Experts on Liberia