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. Prior to that, it will receive a briefing on and consider in consultations the Secretary-General’s latest report on UNMIL (S/2013/479). UNMIL head, Karin Landgren, and Ambassador Staffan Tillander (Sweden), chair of the Liberia configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), are expected to brief.
Key Recent Developments
Pursuant to resolution 2066, by 30 June UNMIL completed the first of three drawdown phases as 2,026 military personnel departed the mission, handing over some facilities and security responsibilities to national authorities.
On 22 June, Liberia deployed 45 troops to join the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), marking its first contribution to UN peacekeeping since 1961.
On 29 June, ministers of Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone met with representatives from the UN, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Secretariat of the Mano River Union (MRU) in Dakar, Senegal, to discuss a joint security strategy for the MRU. In resolution 2066, among others, the Council encouraged ECOWAS and the MRU to develop, with the support of the UN Office for West Africa, a subregional strategy to address the threat of the cross-border movements of armed groups and weapons as well as illicit trafficking. The high-level meeting identified the fundamental elements for the strategy and decided to establish an MRU-ECOWAS-UN Steering Committee to spearhead the development of the strategy.
In its 23 May report, the Panel of Experts (PoE) of the 1521 Liberia Sanctions Committee reported an emerging security concern in the Gola Forest on the Liberia-Sierra Leone border (S/2013/316). The PoE found evidence of extensive gold mining by ex-combatants and reported on a 2 February incident during which militia members armed with assault weapons crossed into Sierra Leone and attacked forest rangers.
The security situation along the border with Côte d’Ivoire has improved but remained fragile as reports continued to indicate that planning and organisation of new cross-border attacks might be underway. The governments of Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire continued to strengthen their cooperation to address border security challenges.
As of 2 August, there were 58,276 Ivorian refugees in Liberia although some 10,000 returned to Côte d’Ivoire in the first seven months of 2013 as the closure and consolidation of refugee camps continued. However, some 1,490 new refugees registered in Liberia between January and March, and there was an influx of about 1,000 refugees into Nimba county from April to June.
According to a Transparency International survey, 96 percent of Liberians feel that the legislature is corrupt, and 94 percent believe the police are corrupt. On 8 July, four senior officials were dismissed for allegedly engaging in illegal practices. On 10 July, the House of Representatives voted to concur with the dismissal of the auditor general of the General Auditing Commission and recommended that the auditor general and the director of the General Services Agency be investigated for failure to disclose their investments in private entities. On 5 August, the deputy director of the Drug Enforcement Agency was dismissed for ethics and policy violations.
Developments in the PBC
From 12-16 May, Tillander, and Brian Williams of the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) visited Liberia. The mission focused on justice and security, reconciliation, land and natural resources and issues linked to the Peacebuilding Fund financing for peacebuilding.
A key issue for the Council while UNMIL is drawing down and is transitioning to a smaller presence is ensuring that there is sufficient national capacity to assume performing security tasks and address other challenges.
A related issue is the need for Liberia to address the high rates of sexual and gender-based violence, land disputes and corruption and to continue their efforts on reconciliation, security sector reform, constitutional reform, accountability and transparency.
The fragile security situation along the border with Côte d’Ivoire and the emerging security concern at the Liberia-Sierra Leone border are further issues of concern for the Council.
When renewing the mandate of UNMIL, the Council could decide to:
- continue the pace of the drawdown of UNMIL’s military component envisaged by resolution 2066; or
- reconsider the pace of the drawdown in view of the fragility of the borders and the challenges the government is facing addressing social unrest and assuming its new security responsibilities; and
- in either case, include a strong message to the government of Liberia regarding the need for institutional reforms and for further progress.
The renewal of UNMIL in September will likely create little controversy among Council members as they are generally keen to continue the implementation of the drawdown plan. This would involve the repatriation of another 1,129 troops to reach a level of 4,797 troops by July 2014, while increasing the number of UNMIL formed police units by two additional units to address any security vacuum. Some Council members may want to call for further progress from the government in building its national security and pursuing its reforms.
The US is the penholder on Liberia in the Council.
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||This resolution 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.|
|12 August 2013 S/2013/479||This was a report of the Secretary-General on UNMIL.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|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.|
|Sanctions Committee Document|
|23 May 2013 S/2013/316||This was the midterm 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 Size, Composition and Budget
Strength as of 30 June 2013: 5,790 troops; 120 military observers; 1,458 police; 219 UN volunteers; 415 international civilians; 916 local civilians
Budget: $476.3 million (1 July 2013-30 June 2014)
UNMIL Force Commander
Major General Leonard Muriuki Ngondi (Kenya)
Chairman of the Sanctions Committee
Ambassador Masood Khan (Pakistan)