What's In Blue

Posted Fri 22 Mar 2013

Briefing and Consultations on UN Mission in Liberia

On Monday (25 March) Karin Landgren, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), is expected to brief the Council on the situation in Liberia. Staffan Tillander (Sweden), chair of the Liberia configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), will likely also brief the Council on the recent PBC mission visit to the country. Following the briefings Council members will meet in consultations, though no outcome is expected.

Council members will likely be interested in hearing about the Secretary-General’s assessment outlined in his latest report (S/2013/124) on the situation on the ground. Key topics in the discussion are expected to include UNMIL’s continuing reconfiguration, progress towards achieving the transition benchmarks, and the development of a transition plan with the government of Liberia.

Council members will likely want to hear about the progress of UNMIL’s drawdown. There are some differences among permanent members on the pace of the drawdown, with those more heavily invested in Liberia, mainly the US, preferring a more gradual drawdown. The Secretary-General noted in his report that he was encouraged by progress made by the government, other national stakeholders and UNMIL in advancing the security transition process and overcoming the operational challenges the government faces in deploying police and immigration officers to areas where UNMIL military has been withdrawn. (During the reporting period, UNMIL troops began the second phase of their drawdown and by 18 February, 1,130 troops had been repatriated from Liberia. The military strength of UNMIL stood at 6,822 military personnel of an authorised 7,952 and its police component had 1,340 personnel of an authorised 1,795, not including an additional 1,265 personnel in 10 formed police units. Three of the 10 formed police units were newly authorised by resolution 2066.)

There could also be some interest among Council members in an update on the situation along the border with Côte d’Ivoire. The Secretary-General reported improvements in the situation along this border, despite persistent reports of armed elements operating in the area and rumours of attacks.

The Council will have a chance to get more details of the PBC’s 11-15 February mission to the country fromTillander. It seems that Tillander may shed light on his discussions with different stakeholders on peacebuilding efforts, in particular on police reform in the context of the UNMIL transition, PBC contributions to security sector reform, rule of law and national reconciliation, and other peacebuilding opportunities and risks related to land rights and the management of natural resources.

Council members may also be interested in additional information on the transition process that Tillander describes in his post-visit report. In the report, he noted that the training of the Liberian National Police (LNP) and the Bureau for Immigration and Naturalisation must intensify according to plans, and without further delay, and that UNMIL police are playing a key role in supporting the LNP, which has become even more critical in the context of the UNMIL transition.

Another issue that has been of concern to some Council members and may be raised is the issue of corruption in Liberia. Leymah Gbowee, one of the co-laureates of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize alongside President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, resigned on 8 October 2012 as the head of the Peace and Reconciliation Commission, apparently because of frustration with corruption and nepotism in the Johnson Sirleaf government. The current Secretary-General’s report notes that “corruption and public integrity remained a central figure of public discourse. Progress in combating corruption remains slow.”

Reconciliation and humanitarian issues are also areas that may be covered during the discussion.

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