March 2013 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 February 2013
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AFRICA

Sierra Leone

Expected Council Action

The Council expects a briefing in March by Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen, the Executive Representative of the Secretary-General in Sierra Leone and head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL). In line with Council practice, Ambassador Guillermo Rishchynski (Canada), chair of the Sierra Leone configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), may also brief following the recent PBC visit to the country. The briefings are to be followed by consultations.

A likely outcome is the adoption of a resolution renewing UNIPSIL’s mandate which expires on 31 March. At press time, the duration of the renewed mandate was unclear.

Key Recent Developments

The Council was last briefed in consultations by Toyberg-Frandzen on 28 November 2012, shortly after the elections in which President Ernest Bai Koroma was re-elected for a second five-year term. Two days later, the Council issued a presidential statement, commending Sierra Leone on the holding of successful presidential, parliamentary, district and local elections and calling for national dialogue and reconciliation (S/PRST/2012/25). The statement also urged the international community to continue its support to the country, requesting the Sierra Leone configuration of the PBC to provide support in the way of resource mobilisation and coordination of development partners.

In the preceding months, the Council received briefings on 11 September and 9 October 2012. During the former, Toyberg-Frandzen presented the Secretary-General’s ninth report on UNIPSIL of 31 August 2012 (S/2012/679), and the Council was briefed by Rishchynski and heard a statement by Ambassador Shekou M. Touray (Sierra Leone). This was followed by the adoption of resolution 2065 on 12 September 2012, renewing UNIPSIL’s mandate until 31 March 2013. The latter was a briefing on the Special Court for Sierra Leone by Justice Shireen Avis Fisher and Brenda Hollis, President and Prosecutor of the Special Court, respectively. Following the briefing, the Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2012/21) reiterating its strong support for the Special Court and commending the progress it had achieved as noted in its report of 4 October (S/2012/741).

As requested in resolution 2065, the Secretary-General deployed an inter-agency technical assessment mission (TAM) to Sierra Leone from 14-25 January. The objectives of the TAM were to conduct a review of progress made in the implementation of UNIPSIL’s mandate, containing detailed proposals and making recommendations for UNIPSIL’s transition to a regular presence, as well as assessing possible options for UN support beyond UNIPSIL’s withdrawal.

While most expected the TAM to provide a clear timeline for the conclusion of UNIPSIL activities—expected to conclude by the end of 2013—meetings during the mission suggested that there is widespread concern regarding the UN’s departure, with representatives from the government, civil society and other groups voicing their resistance to a quick withdrawal. At press time, the official findings of the TAM were not available and were expected to feed into the Secretary-General’s report due on 28 February.

The 17 November elections were monitored by approximately 300 international observers—including representatives from the AU, EU, the Economic Community of West African States, the Commonwealth of Nations and the Carter Center—with all hailing the elections as reflecting the will of voters. However, EU observers did note some irregularities, and the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) said that the elections were marred by irregularities and fraud. Nevertheless, the SLPP conceded defeat and recognised Koroma as the winner. Koroma was officially inaugurated on 22 February, in the presence of former President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

On 14 December, during a speech at the state opening of the Sierra Leone parliament, Koroma made reference to his intention to conduct a review of the constitution which has been in effect since 1991.

On 4 January, Koroma announced the appointment of a new cabinet, with some ministers maintaining the same portfolios as the previous cabinet while other portfolios reshuffled. The overwhelming election victory of Koroma’s All People’s Congress party gave it a clear and strong mandate, allowing for continuity from the previous administration and promoting political stability in Sierra Leone.

On 29 January, Koroma announced the launch of an Anti-Corruption Commission investigation into allegations of misuse of donor funds, as well as the suspension of ten officials in the Ministry of Health in relation to the matter. An audit of funds from a grant provided by the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunization—an international non-governmental organisation that promotes access to immunisation—revealed concerns that more than $1 million may have been misused between 2008 and 2011.

Nine months after his conviction by the Special Court for Sierra Leone on 26 April 2012, Charles Taylor appealed his 50-year prison sentence during a hearing that took place on 22-23 January. Appeals judges are expected to make a decision on the Taylor case by 30 September, the anticipated end of its mandate. A Residual Special Court is expected to be created following its closure.

Developments in the Peacebuilding Commission

From 15-20 February, a PBC mission visited Sierra Leone with the aim of meeting with different stakeholders engaged in peacebuilding in the country. The mission specifically focused on the political and economic outlook for Sierra Leone over the post-election phase and outstanding peace consolidation issues, as well as the role of the UN with a focus on UNIPSIL’s transition and the support that the PBC could potentially provide. During the visit, the mission engaged with the Mano River Union—a regional association that fosters economic cooperation among Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea—to discuss further collaboration towards the adoption of a regional approach to peacebuilding.

The Sierra Leone configuration of the PBC can potentially play a key role in UNIPSIL’s transition, working alongside UN funds and programmes. Such a role could include absorbing peacebuilding-related residual tasks from UNIPSIL.

Key Issues

A key issue of concern for the Council is the timeline for UNIPSIL’s withdrawal and how its responsibilities should be transferred to a regular UN presence.

A related issue is the future role of the Sierra Leone configuration of the PBC in the country, including its possible assumption of UNIPSIL’s peacebuilding-related responsibilities.

Options

The main option is for the Council to renew UNIPSIL’s mandate for twelve months to continue its role providing political support—particularly for the constitutional review—and to implement the transition strategy according to the timeline recommended by the TAM.

Renewing the mandate for a shorter period is another option.

Council and Wider Dynamics

Sierra Leone is a non-contentious issue for the Council, with members remaining like-minded on the transition and withdrawal of UNIPSIL.

The UK is the lead on Sierra Leone in the Council, and Canada is the chair of the PBC country configuration for Sierra Leone.

UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions  
12 September 2012 S/RES/2065 This resolution extended UNIPSIL’s mandate until 31 March 2013.
Secretary-General’s Reports  
31 August 2012 S/2012/679 Secretary-General’s report on UNIPSIL (Sierra Leone).
Security Council Presidential Statements  
30 November 2012 S/PRST/2012/25 Urged all political parties in Sierra Leone to accept the results of the 17 November elections.
9 October 2012 S/PRST/2012/21 This presidential statement followed briefings by the President and Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone and emphasised the need for further pledges of voluntary contributions in order to allow the Court to complete its mandate in a timely manner.
Security Council Letters  
11 January 2013 S/2013/16 This letter acknowledged the Secretary-General’s request for an extension of the UNIPSIL report.
9 January 2013 S/2013/15 This was a letter from the Secretary-General requesting an extension for the UNIPSIL report.
28 November 2012 S/2012/892 This was a letter from the President of the Council to the Secretary-General regarding the Secretary-General’s proposal on alternate means of financing the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
5 October 2012 S/2012/741 This letter was from the Permanent Representative of Canada (in his capacity as chair of the management committee of the Special Court for Sierra Leone) to the President of the Security Council, transmitting a letter from the President of the Special Court and the report of 4 October on the Special Court and requesting that they be issued as a document of the Council.
Security Council Meeting Records  
30 November 2012 S/PV.6876 This was the adoption of a presidential statement on the elections in Sierra Leone.
9 October 2012 S/PV.6844 Justice Shireen Avis Fisher, the President of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and Brenda Hollis, the Chief Prosecutor of the Court, briefed the Council on the residual work of the Court.
11 September 2012 S/PV.6829 Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen (Denmark), the head of UNIPSIL, briefed the Council on the Secretary-General’s latest report (S/2012/679). Ambassador Guillermo Rishchynski (Canada), the chair of the PBC configuration for Sierra Leone, and Ambassador Shekou M. Touray (Sierra Leone) also addressed the Council.