Expected Council Action
In June Council members expect to receive a briefing in consultations from the chair of the 1521 Liberia Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Masood Khan (Pakistan), on the midterm report of its Panel of Experts (PoE). No outcome is expected.
The sanctions and the mandate of the PoE expire on 12 December. The mandate of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) expires on 30 September.
Key Recent Developments
On 25 March, the Council was briefed by Karin Landgren, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNMIL, and Ambassador Staffan Tillander (Sweden), chair of the Liberia configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, on the situation in Liberia. Landgren briefed on UNMIL’s continuing reconfiguration and drawdown, while Tillander focused on security sector reform, rule of law and national reconciliation.
The 1521 Liberia Sanctions Committee met on 23 May to receive the midterm report of the PoE monitoring the sanctions. The report apparently highlights several areas, including:
- violations of the arms embargo and Liberia’s progress in developing the capacity to monitor and track the flow of arms;
- continued activities by individuals targeted by sanctions that risk destabilising the government of Liberia as well as the identification of individuals who could potentially be delisted;
- continuing tensions related to land tenure issues; and
- progress made by the Government of Liberia in regulating its natural resources industries, especially diamond mining (including Kimberley Process compliance), gold mining and the forestry sector.
On 5 April, representatives of the Governments of Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire and the heads of the UN Mission in Côte d’Ivoire and UNMIL held a four-party meeting in Monrovia to discuss border security, humanitarian issues, reconciliation and cooperation between the two countries. A communiqué adopted following the meeting condemned repeated sporadic attacks in the border region between the two countries by armed non-state actors. (Cross-border attacks in March killed 14 civilians and soldiers in Côte d’Ivoire.)
According to news reports in May, Ibrahim Bah, subject to a travel ban under the Liberia sanctions regime, had been found living and conducting business (including with mercenary and paramilitary forces) in Freetown, Sierra Leone, in violation of the sanctions regime.
In May, the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative released its final report on an audit of the process for awarding natural-resource concessions between 2009 and 2011. The audit found that during that period, Liberia did not comply with its own laws in awarding 60 out of 68 contracts in various sectors, including mining and timber. (In resolution 2079, the Council called on the PoE to pay special attention in its reports to progress made in the forest and diamond sectors since the lifting of measures against those sectors in 2006 and 2007.)
The key issue for the Council is ensuring that the Liberia sanctions regime continues to complement efforts to consolidate peace and strengthen institutions in Liberia by denying anti-government forces and mercenaries access to resources and weapons with which to destabilise Liberia and its neighbours.
Though the Council is expected to receive the briefing and take no action, it will most likely begin its thinking about the future of the Liberia sanctions, as per resolution 2079. Options include:
- asking the 1521 Sanctions Committee to significantly revise the list of individuals subject to the asset freeze and travel ban (delisting is currently a gradual process);
- modifying or lifting all or part of the arms embargo (a possibility raised in resolution 2079); or
- strengthening existing sanctions to address the continuing instability in border regions and the slow progress by the Government of Liberia in combating corruption in particular economic sectors (such as the forest and diamond sectors).
It appears that Council members are in agreement that the situation in Liberia at present does not warrant significant revisions to the sanctions regime, as the government continues to lack the necessary legal and enforcement capacities to regulate the importation of arms. (Council members hold differing views as to what level of capacity the government would need to reach in order to end the arms embargo.)
Council members also generally agree on the value and utility of the PoE’s regular reporting on the implementation of the sanctions and are likely to base any decisions on the future of the Liberia sanctions regime on the recommendations of the PoE.
Some Council members appear to be interested in making more use of the PoE and sanctions in Liberia and would like to see more cooperation between the Panels of Experts for the Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire sanctions regimes. Other Council members, however, question the effectiveness of the current sanctions regime and are interested in seeing the delisting process continue (20 individuals were delisted in 2012), with the eventual lifting of part or all of the sanctions.
UN Documents on Liberia
|Security Council Resolutions|
|12 December 2012 S/RES/2079||This resolution renewed for a year both the sanctions regime on Liberia and the mandate of the Panel of Experts.|
|17 September 2012 S/RES/2066||Extended the UNMIL mandate for one year and authorised the reduction of the mission’s military strength in three phases between October 2012 and September 2013.|
|28 February 2013 S/2013/124||This was a report of the Secretary-General on Liberia.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|25 March 2013 S/PV.6941||This was a briefing on the situation in Liberia by Special Representative Karin Landgren and Ambassador Staffan Tillander (Sweden), the PBC configuration chair.|
|Security Council Letters|
|10 January 2013 S/2013/12||This letter concerned the appointment of three members of the Panel of Experts.|
|Sanctions Committee Documents|
|31 December 2012 S/2012/980||This letter transmitted the report of the 1521 Sanctions Committee, containing an account of the Committee’s activities from 1 January to 31 December 2012.|
|3 December 2012 S/2012/901||This letter transmitted the 12 November final report of the Panel of Experts on Liberia.|
Other Relevant Facts
Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMIL
Karin Landgren (Sweden)
UNMIL Force Commander
Major General Leonard Muriuki Ngondi (Kenya)
Chairman of the Sanctions Committee
Ambassador Masood Khan (Pakistan)
Panel of Experts on Liberia
Christian Dietrich, arms (US); Caspar Fithen, natural resources (UK); Lansana Gberie, finance (Canada)
Useful Additional Source
Post Award Process Audit Final Report, Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI), May 2013