Expected Council Action
In August, the Council may receive a briefing (followed by consultations) from the chair of the 1521 Liberia Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Dina Kawar (Jordan) on the work of the Committee, the final report of the Panel of Experts and the Secretary-General’s update on arms, ammunition and border issues (due 1 August). The travel ban and arms embargo expire on 9 September (the asset freeze is not time-limited). (The Council is also expected to hold a briefing on Ebola in August.)
Key Recent Developments
The extractive industries and agribusiness continue to pose risks to stability in Liberia. On 26 May, armed members of the local community entered a palm oil plantation in south-eastern Sinoe County owned by Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL), whose principal owner is Singapore-listed Golden Agri-Resources. Media reports have characterised the protest as caused by either labour or land grievances. (GVL’s 65-year concession, which covers more than 2 percent of Liberia’s total land area, has been contentious.) Deputy Internal Affairs Minister Varney Sirleaf, a nephew of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, was visiting at the time and was wounded as he was evacuated from the protest, while a senior manager of GVL was briefly taken hostage. The Liberian National Police (LNP), with the assistance of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), ended the protest. On 29 May, the LNP arrested 23 protesters and charged them with attempted murder, looting, aggravated assault and armed robbery.
On 10 July, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon convened the International Conference on Ebola Recovery in New York, which was chaired by UNDP and held in partnership with the African Development Bank, AU, EU and the World Bank. Liberia had been declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization on 9 May (with no new cases having been reported in the preceding 42 days), but as of press time there have been six new cases of Ebola confirmed in the country since 29 June (two people died, two were discharged after treatment and two remained under observation).
Council members last discussed Liberia on 25 June within the context of a briefing on the annual report of the Peacebuilding Commission and an informal interactive dialogue held with the six country-specific configuration chairs.
Developments in the Sanctions Committee
On 21 July, the 1521 Liberia Sanctions Committee held informal consultations. The meeting concerned the final report of the Panel of Experts and an update from the Secretary-General on arms, ammunition and border issues as requested by the Council in resolution 2188. The analyses of the Panel of Experts and the Secretary-General were consistent as both presentations emphasised that while some progress has been made there remain significant challenges with respect to the Liberian government’s institutional capacity. This is particularly true in terms of the state’s ability to regulate arms and ammunition and control border areas, which remain risk factors for insecurity. Committee members also discussed an agreement regarding “hot pursuit” in border areas that had been reached in March at a quadripartite meeting of the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia and the UN peacekeeping operations in the two countries.
The principal overall challenge remains maintaining stability in Liberia during UNMIL’s drawdown and a potential partial lifting or termination of sanctions.
Risk factors for insecurity in Liberia include inadequate regulation of arms and ammunition, a lack of control over insecure border areas, potentially contentious upcoming national elections in neighbouring Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea, an incomplete transitional justice process, a lack of public sector transparency and accountability, and dependence on natural resources (large-scale agriculture and the extractive industries continue to be sources of social unrest over labour and land issues).
While Council members are unlikely to take action in August regarding Liberia other than participation in a potential briefing and consultations on sanctions, they may begin their consideration of whether to renew existing measures, modify the regime to partially lift sanctions, or terminate them in September.
Council and Wider Dynamics
Regarding sanctions, the Council stated its intention in resolution 2188 to keep measures under review with a view toward their modification or termination, contingent upon sufficient progress toward meeting the conditions outlined in resolution 1521 (i.e. maintain cease-fire; disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration and repatriation; security sector reform; implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement; and stability in Liberia and the sub-region), while also taking into consideration the threat posed by Ebola. In addition to the final report by the Panel of Experts transmitted on 21 July, the forthcoming update by the Secretary-General should offer further assessment of whether these conditions have been met, particularly regarding the regulation of arms and ammunition and the control of border areas.
The US is the penholder on Liberia, and Jordan is the chair of the 1521 Liberia Sanctions Committee.
|Security Council Resolutions|
|9 December 2014 S/RES/2188||This was a resolution on Liberia that renewed the arms embargo on non-state actors, targeted travel ban and mandate of the Panel of Experts and reaffirmed the asset freeze.|
|18 September 2014 S/RES/2177||In this resolution, the Council determined that the unprecedented extent of the ebola outbreak in Africa constituted a threat to international peace and security.|
|22 December 2003 S/RES/1521||This resolution imposed sanctions.|
|Sanctions Committee Document|
|21 July 2015 S/2015/558||This letter transmitted the final report of the Panel of Experts.|
USEFUL ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Ebola Situation Report, World Health Organization, 22 July 2015.
Hollow promises: An FPIC assessment of Golden Veroleum and Golden Agri-Resources palm oil project in south-eastern Liberia, Forest Peoples Programme, 15 April 2015.