What's In Blue

Posted Mon 25 Mar 2013

Adoption of Resolution Renewing the UN Mission in Sierra Leone

The Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) tomorrow morning (26 March) for a period of twelve months. The draft resolution was put in blue late Friday morning (22 March) after what appears to have been relatively straightforward negotiations.

It seems that Council members were in general agreement on the duration of the renewal, which falls within the 12-18 months recommended by the Secretary-General in his 27 February report on Sierra Leone (S/2013/118), to allow time for the consolidation and drawdown of UNIPSIL. The draft resolution is clear in its articulation of a specific time frame for the drawdown process, stating that “UNIPSIL should be fully drawn down by 31 March 2014”, while allowing slight flexibility should it require more time.

During a briefing on the Secretary-General’s report on 13 March (S/PV.6933), Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen, Executive Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNIPSIL, noted three key residual tasks for UNIPSIL to perform, in coordination with the UN country team and other partners: conflict prevention and mediation support for the upcoming constitutional support process (in which UNIPSIL is expected to play a role, with the UN country team taking over following UNIPSIL’s drawdown); security sector reform support; and support to the strengthening of human rights institutions. These areas of work are highlighted in the Council’s draft resolution as remaining activities to be addressed during the drawdown.

While one permanent member indicated that a shorter duration for the renewal of UNIPSIL’s mandate could have been feasible, others noted the need for sufficient time to address the financial challenges associated with the transfer from a political mission supported through UN assessed contributions to that of a UN country team. (While political missions have an assured budget through the assessed budget contribution system, the UN country team, through its constituent UN agencies, funds and programmes, is partially dependent on voluntary funding.) Ambassador Guillermo Rishchynski (Canada), chair of the Sierra Leone country-specific configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), noted this during the 13 March briefing when he indicated that the configuration will be playing a role in advocating for resources to fill gaps created by UNIPSIL’s drawdown.

Meanwhile, the Sierra Leone government made its position clear on the subject during the same briefing, as well as during the recent visit of the PBC to Sierra Leone (15-20 February). During the briefing, Samura M.W. Kamara, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Sierra Leone, urged Council members to ensure the drawdown process be guided by factors on the ground, highlighting the need to “seriously consider the transition to a strong and well-resourced Resident Coordinator system, in terms of the much-needed technical expertise and funds, within a time frame that avoids any gaps or hiccups along the way.”

On the question of the work of the Sierra Leone PBC configuration during and beyond the drawdown of UNIPSIL, it appears that during the negotiations Council members had divergent views, with some being keen to include a specific date in the draft resolution for the conclusion of its work while others successfully argued for the exclusion of a date to allow for careful consideration of the PBC’s future role in Sierra Leone. While it seems that some Council members would be happy to see the conclusion of the PBC’s work coincide with the drawdown of UNIPSIL, it seems more likely that it will continue through late 2014.

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