Update Report

Posted 11 November 2005
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Update Report No.2: Liberia

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Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to adopt a resolution soon, mandating the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to apprehend Charles Taylor if he enters Liberia.

Key Facts
The Liberian civil war ended with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2003 and the exile of President Charles Taylor in Nigeria. The CPA establishes a transitional process leading to elections in 2005, whose results are expected in the next few days. The current authority is the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL).

In addition to his role in the conflict in Liberia, Charles Taylor also played a significant role in supporting the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) insurgency in Sierra Leone. As a result, the Liberian civil war spilled over into Sierra Leone. Resources from Sierra Leone generated revenues for Taylor to maintain the war effort in Liberia.

RUF forces under Taylor committed grave violations of human rights, especially in 1999-2000, including widespread murder, rape and arson. Such violations led to the creation of the Special Court for Sierra Leone in 2000.

Taylor was indicted in 2003 by the Special Court, and an arrest warrant was issued. The counts include crimes against humanity, violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Protocol II and other violations of international humanitarian law.

The Security Council established UNMIL in 2003. Its mandate is to support the implementation of the ceasefire and the peace process, including the disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration and repatriation (DDRR) of combatants.

The Council imposed a travel ban against Charles Taylor and associates. The sanctions regime also includes an arms embargo against any recipient in Liberia, a travel ban against any individual that threatens the peace process in that country, and an embargo on diamond, timber and round log exports from Liberia. In order to assist the Sanctions Committee with monitoring the implementation of the sanctions regime, the Council established a Panel of Experts.

Taylor is currently in Nigeria. The UN Panel of Experts has reported that Taylor violated the travel ban by holding meetings in Burkina Faso – denied by Nigeria – and UNMIL continues to receive reports that he maintains regular contact with close associates. Nigerian President and AU Chairman Olusegun Obasanjo has said that Taylor should remain in Nigeria at least until the new government is inaugurated in January 2006.

Council Dynamics
There seems to be no division in the Council on giving UNMIL an extended mandate to arrest Taylor. Discussions are at a very advanced stage.

Mandating UNMIL to arrest Taylor would serve as a deterrent to his return to Liberia. Council members consider any attempt to return in the immediate aftermath of the elections could be very destabilising.

Related Issues
At the time of writing, 90 percent of the votes had been counted. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is in the lead, with 60 percent of the votes, while George Weah received 40 percent.

Weah has already filed a complaint of fraud. IRIN has reported African Union observers saying that the elections have been free and transparent. The National Elections Commission is currently analysing Weah’s allegations, but there are indications that his supporters could react violently are ready to start a riot should Weah lose the elections.

The Council is scheduled to consider in December the renewal of the sanctions regime imposed on Liberia. It will also have for consideration the report of the Panel of Experts on sanctions and the regular report of the Secretary-General.

UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1626 (19 September 2005) extended UNMIL’s mandate, authorized a temporary increase in troop levels and requested that the Secretary-General provides a downsizing plan by March 2006.
  • S/RES/1579 (21 December 2004) and S/RES/1607 (21 June 2005) renewed the sanctions imposed by Resolution 1521 (2003) and the mandate of the Panel of Experts.
  • S/RES/1532 (12 March 2004) established an assets freeze against Charles Taylor and his associates.
  • S/RES/1521 (22 December 2003) re-established an arms embargo, a travel ban and sanctions on the sale of diamonds and timber, as well as the Sanctions Committee.
  • S/RES/1509 (19 September 2003) established UNMIL.
  • S/RES/1497 (1 August 2003) authorised the deployment of a Multinational Force.
  • S/RES/1478 (6 May 2003) further imposed an embargo on timber.
  • S/RES/1343 (7 March 2001) re-established the arms embargo and imposed an embargo on diamonds and a travel ban.
  • S/RES/1315 (14 August 2000) requested the creation of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
  • S/RES/985 (13 April 1995) established a Sanctions Committee.
  • S/RES/866 (22 September 1993) established UN Observer Mission in Liberia (UNOMIL).
  • S/RES/788 (19 November 1992) imposed an arms embargo on Liberia.

Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2005/560 (1 September 2005) is the latest report of the Secretary-General.
  • S/2005/376 (7 June 2005) noted that not enough progress had been made to allow the lifting of sanctions.
  • S/2005/135 (2 March 2005) identified areas for cooperation amongst UN peacekeeping operations in West Africa.
  • S/2003/1175 (15 December 2003) detailed the DDRR program.
  • S/2003/875 (11 September 2003) detailed the proposed establishment of UNMIL.

Reports of Council Missions to West Africa

Other– Reports of the Sanctions Committee and the Panel of Experts

Historical Background
8 November 2005 Second ballot in presidential elections

11 October 2005 First ballot in presidential elections.

19 September 2005The Council increased UNMIL’s troop levels to provide security for the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

October 2004 Disarmament and demobilization process formally completed.

June 2004 The second Council mission to West Africa traveled to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Côte D’Ivoire.

March 2004The Council imposed an assets freeze on Charles Taylor and associates.

December 2003The Council re-imposed an arms embargo, a travel ban and sanctions on the export of diamonds and timber from Liberia.

October 2003 The NTGL was established.

September 2003 The Council established UNMIL; US forces withdrew.

August 2003 The Council approved the establishment of a multinational force in Liberia. The ECOWAS Mission in Liberia (ECOMIL) and US troops arrived; Taylor exiled to Nigeria. Interim administration established. Liberian parties signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Accra and asked for UN peacekeepers.

July 2003 Anti-Taylor insurgents intensify fighting for the control of Monrovia against the Government of Liberia.

June 2003 Taylor indicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The first Council mission to West Africa traveled to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Côte D’Ivoire.

2002 Conflict erupted in Côte D’Ivoire, fueled from spill-over from Liberia; France intervened. President Kabbah declared the Sierra Leonean conflict over.

2001 In a major offensive led by Guinea, anti-Taylor insurgents pushed the RUF back into Liberia and Sierra Leone. The RUF retreated into Liberia. An arms embargo was re-imposed to further pressure Taylor. The UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) was established.

2000 Anti-Taylor insurgents invaded Liberia; Taylor and the RUF counterattacked by taking the fighting into Guinea. The Sierra Leonean Lomé peace accord collapsed, as the RUF took 500 UN peacekeepers hostage; UK troops sent to Sierra Leone. The Special Court for Sierra Leone was established.

1999 The RUF captured Freetown, securing the Sierra Leonean vice-presidency for Foday Sankoh. Major human rights violations, including widespread murder, rapes and arson committed by the RUF. Lomé peace accord signed, ending the fighting in Sierra Leone. The Sankoh-Taylor alliance began to erode over disputes for diamond fields. ECOMOG left Liberia.

1998 In Sierra Leone, President Kabbah was reinstated.

1997 President Kabbah was toppled, leading Nigerian forces to focus on the crisis in Sierra Leone. Taylor elected President; the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in Liberia (UNOL) was established.

1995 Abuja Accord signed; transitional Council of State established.

1993Cotonou Peace Agreement signed; the Council established UNOMIL.

1992The Council imposed an arms embargo on Liberia.

1991 The RUF entered Sierra Leone with Taylor’s support. Yamoussoukro Agreements signed.

1990ECOWAS established ECOMOG.

1989 The NPFL entered Liberia with support from Côte D’Ivoire and Burkina Faso.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary General

Alan Doss (United Kingdom)

UNMIL Force Commander

Major-General Joseph Owonibi (Nigeria)

Size and Composition of Mission

Total authorized strength: Up to 15,000 military personnel, including 250 military observers and 160 staff officers, and up to 1,115 civilian police officers. Resolution 1626 (2005) has authorized a temporary increase to up to 15,250 military personnel until 31 March 2006.

Strength as of 30 September 2005: 14,674 troops, 207 military observers and 1,093 police.

Troop contributing countries: Bangladesh, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Ghana, Indonesia, Ireland, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Moldova, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, South Africa, Sweden, Togo, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, and Zambia.


1 July 2005 – 30 June 2006: $760.57 million


September 2003 to present.

Source: DPKO