September 2011 Monthly Forecast

AFRICA

Liberia

Expected Council Action
In September the Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) before it expires on 30 September. At some point in the month, the Council will likely be briefed on recent developments and the Secretary-General’s most recent report on UNMIL, and hold consultations on the matter. 

Key Recent Developments
On 15 June, the midterm report of the panel of experts of the Liberia Sanctions Committee was brought to the attention of the Council. Following the report’s recommendations, on 4 August the Committee updated its travel ban and assets freeze lists to better reflect the current passport information of those on the lists.

In his most recent report on UNMIL, released 5 August, the Secretary-General recommended maintaining the mission’s military and police authorisations at current levels through the 2011 general elections. The report also recommended a review by 30 May 2012 based on the findings of a technical assessment mission planned for the period following the inauguration of Liberia’s next government.

The electoral commission announced on 9 August that it had found more than 10,000 people who had registered more than once for the presidential election.

On 23 August, Liberians voted in a constitutional referendum to decide the date of the presidential election, the length of the residency requirement for presidential candidates and the majority needed for election. There was some confusion regarding a fourth initiative, to change the mandatory retirement age for justices, caused by a typographical error on some ballots. The main opposition party, Congress for Democratic Change, had called for a boycott of the referendum, disputing the neutrality of National Elections Commission Chairman James Fromayan. Early reports suggested voter turnout was low. Results of the referendum are expected in early September.

Developments in the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC)
The Liberia configuration of the PBC met informally on 13 July. Member states heard a briefing on the visit of a PBC delegation to Liberia from 12 to 17 June. The chair of the Liberia configuration of the PBC, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein (Jordan), praised Liberia’s efforts towards national reconciliation while noting the challenges that remained before security responsibilities could be transferred from UNMIL to Liberian forces.

Underlying Problems
Refugees from Côte d’Ivoire continue to enter Liberia, with potentially destabilising effects. Amongst the more than 160,000 refugees are several hundred mercenaries loyal to former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo. Providing adequate security to safeguard the electoral process in border regions remains a significant challenge.

Options

Options include:

Council Dynamics
There appears to be considerable consensus in the Council that the upcoming general elections are a key benchmark for Liberia’s progress and that decisions on the transition of security responsibilities to Liberia should wait until the next government has been inaugurated. While some Council members appear more eager than others to review the mission’s current configuration and mandate, it is not likely that such differences of opinion will affect UNMIL’s renewal. However, it is likely that the speed of UNMIL’s transition and drawdown will prove contentious in 2012.

The US is the lead country on Liberia in the Council.

UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions

  •  S/RES/1992 (29 June 2011) extended the redeployment of armed helicopters from UNMIL to the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire until 30 September 2011.
  • S/RES/1938 (15 September 2010) renewed UNMIL’s mandate for 12 months.

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

Security Council Letter

  • S/2011/367 (15 June 2011) was the letter transmitting the mid-term report of the panel of experts.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General

Ellen Margrethe Løj (Denmark)

UNMIL Force Commander

Maj. Gen. Muhammad Khalid (Pakistan)

Size, Composition, Cost and Duration

Maximum Authorised strength: up to 7,952 troops, up to 1,375 police

Strength as of 31 July 2011: 7,782 troops, 1,288 police and 130 military observers

Key contributing countries: Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh and Ghana

Cost (1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012): $525.6 million

Duration: September 2003 to present; mandate expires 30 September 2011

Chairman of the Liberia Sanctions Committee 

Nawaf Salam (Lebanon) 

Panel of Experts on Liberia

  • Wynet V. Smith (Canada), natural resources and coordinator of panel
  • Christian Dietrich (US), finance
  • Augusta Muchai (Kenya), arms

Full Forecast