October 2012 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 September 2012
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THEMATIC ISSUES

Sierra Leone

Expected Council Action

In October, the Council will receive a briefing from Justice Shireen Avis Fisher, the President of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), and Brenda Hollis, the Chief Prosecutor of the Court.

No Council action is expected after the briefing.

Background

Though it did not create it, the Council has been involved with the SCSL from the start. On 14 August 2000, it adopted resolution 1315 requesting the Secretary-General to negotiate an agreement with the government of Sierra Leone to create an independent special court to prosecute persons who bear the greatest responsibility for the commission of crimes in Sierra Leone.

On 16 January 2002, the UN and Sierra Leone signed an agreement on the establishment of the SCSL, composed of international and national judges and staff, to prosecute those responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law and national law committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since 30 November 1996.

The UN and Sierra Leone agreed in 2010 on a completion strategy and the establishment of a residual court in Sierra Leone after the completion of the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor. On 30 May, Taylor was sentenced to 50 years in prison for war crimes. The appeals phase of the trial, which will now continue into 2013, was expected to be concluded by July 2012.

The agreement establishing the SCSL states that the Court will be funded by voluntary contributions, yet since 2010 these have not been sufficient. In 2011 and 2012 the General Assembly approved subventions for the SCSL of approximately $9 million each year.  On 21 June, the General Assembly decided to allow the Court to use these sums beyond the initially agreed termination date of 31 July 2012 through to the end of 2013, but it did not approve a new subvention. While the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly was discussing these issues in May, the SCSL had already spent half of its budget for the 2012-2013 biennium and is likely to be without funds as it continues to operate in 2013.

Council Dynamics

There is general support for the SCSL in the Council, yet the sense among Council members is also that the Taylor trial ought to have been brought to an end this year. Council members are eager at this point to see the proceedings end and for the residual court to commence its work.

UN Documents on Sierra Leone

Security Council Resolutions  
14 August 2000 S/RES/1315 This resolution requested the Secretary-General to negotiate an agreement to create the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
General Assembly Documents  
21 June 2012 A/66/PV.117 At this meeting the General Assembly endorsed the recommendations of the Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions to allow the utilisation of the subvention amount to the SCSL beyond 31 July 2012.
24 May 2012 GA/AB/4032 At this meeting the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee discussed the subvention to the SCSL.
24 December 2011 A/RES/66/247 This resolution authorised the Secretary-General to commit a sum of no more than $9.06 million to the SCSL in the budget for the biennium 2012-2013.