September 2011 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 August 2011
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AFRICA

Sierra Leone

Expected Council Action
In September the Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL), which expires on 15 September. Prior to the renewal, the Council will receive the Secretary-General’s next progress report and briefings by UNIPSIL’s head, Michael von der Schulenburg, and the chair of the Sierra Leone country-specific configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC). 

Key Recent Developments
Tensions between political parties in Sierra Leone remain high due to regional loyalties that divide party lines. Distrust between the parties and contest of local by-elections in late 2010 have raised concern over a possible resurgence of political violence and intolerance.

On 24 March, von der Schulenburg briefed Council members on the work of UNIPSIL. In presenting the Secretary General’s sixth progress report, he urged greater government focus on ongoing underlying problems highlighted in past reports, such as youth unemployment, drug trafficking and exploitation of natural resources. He also flagged the 2012 presidential and legislative elections, noting that while progress has been made in some areas, challenges remain in other areas, including:

  • regular engagement between political parties and the National Electoral Commission and the Political Party Registration Commission;
  • government review and adjustment of election budgets;
  • voter registration;
  • reforms of electoral legal frameworks; and
  • police mobilisation.

The then-chairman of the PBC country-specific configuration for Sierra Leone, Canadian Ambassador John McNee, also briefed the Council at the March meeting. Newly appointed Ambassador Guillermo Rishchynski is expected to participate in the September briefing.

Developments in the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC)
A high-level delegation of the PBC, under Canada’s chairmanship, visited Sierra Leone from 23 to 27 May. The delegation took note of the progress made by Sierra Leone since the end of the civil war in the areas of anti-corruption and youth unemployment. The delegation also discussed with relevant stakeholders how the Commission could best assist the country to prepare for the 2012 elections.

In March, the Council requested the UN Mission in Liberia to withdraw its military personnel providing security for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and transfer that responsibility to local police. The court was established to try those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during Sierra Leone’s civil war in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Also in March, the trial of former Liberian leader Charles Taylor, accused of war crimes committed during the civil war, concluded at The Hague. A judgment is expected before the end of the year, to be followed by any appeals and a final verdict in early 2012.

Human Rights-Related Developments
 The government is currently examining a number of recommendations of the Human Rights Council’s working group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Most of the recommendations relate to ratification of various human rights treaties, abolition of the death penalty and introduction of legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender. The government will report on the outcome of its review of these recommendations at the Council’s September session. Sierra Leone has already adopted or agreed to more than 100 UPR recommendations.

Key Issues
The key issue for the Council is how it can contribute to ensuring peace through the period leading up to the 2012 general elections, as well as that a free and fair election process takes place.

A related issue is preparing for an eventual transition from UNIPSIL to a UN country team, with Council members envisaging the mission’s departure in 2013. 

Options
The most likely option for the Council is to extend the mandate of UNIPSIL for another year.

It could also decide to modify the mandate to authorise the mission to engage in activities supporting a peaceful election process.

Council Dynamics
Sierra Leone is currently not a contentious item for the Council, due largely to UNIPSIL’s success and the continued consolidation of peace in the country. Consequently, Council members seem ready to support a likely recommendation by the Secretary-General to extend the mission mandate for another year.

The UK is the lead country on Sierra Leone.

UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1941 (29 September 2010) extended the mandate of UNIPSIL until 15 September 2011.
  • S/RES/1688 (16 June 2006) requested the Secretary-General to assist in the transfer of former Liberian President Charles Taylor to The Hague.

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

Security Council Meeting Record

  • S/PV.6504 (24 March 2011) was a briefing from the Executive Representative of the Secretary-General in Sierra Leone.

Peacebuilding Commission

  • PBC/4/SLE/3 (28 September 2010) was the review of the outcome of the high-level special session of the PBC on Sierra Leone.

Other Relevant Facts

UNIPSIL Executive Representative of the Secretary-General, UN Resident Coordinator and Resident Representative of UNDP

Michael von der Schulenburg (Germany)

Size and Composition of Mission

Staff strength (as of 31 March 2011): 34 international civilians, 29 local civilians,6 UN volunteers

Duration

1 October 2008 to present; mandate expires 15 September 2011

Chair of the Sierra Leone Configuration of the PBC

 (Canada)

Full forecast