Resolution on Resumption of Liberia Mission Drawdown
Tomorrow (2 April), the Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution authorising a resumption of the drawdown for the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), which had been suspended since September 2014 due to the Ebola outbreak. The US circulated a first draft on Friday, 27 March requesting comments from Council members by mid-day Monday. It seems there were no major differences among Council members over the draft and a negotiation session was not needed. Following minor revisions, the draft text went into blue on Tuesday afternoon.
The draft resolution authorises the Secretary-General to implement the third phase of UNMIL’s drawdown to arrive at new ceilings of 3,590 military personnel and 1,515 police personnel during the current mandate period, which expires 30 September. In terms of UNMIL’s authorisation, the drawdown represents a 25 percent reduction in peacekeepers and a 16 percent reduction in police from the levels last authorised in resolution 2190 (4,811 and 1,795 respectively) adopted on 15 December 2014. However, in operational terms the drawdown would be less substantial, since as of 28 February UNMIL’s actual deployment was 4,439 military personnel (troops and military observers) and 1,426 police (including formed police units). Thus, the drawdown would require a 19 percent reduction in deployed military personnel and no cuts in deployed police personnel.
The drawdown specified in the draft resolution is in line with recommendations made by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Hervé Ladsous during a briefing in consultations with Council members on 16 March. The briefing had been requested by the Council in resolution 2190 in order to receive updated analysis regarding the impact of the Ebola outbreak on Liberia’s stability and options for resumption of the drawdown. Ladsous concluded that the political and security situation in Liberia has sufficiently stabilised to resume the drawdown of UNMIL. (According to the World Health Organization’s 25 March Ebola Situation Report, there has been only one new case of Ebola reported in Liberia during the last three weeks. In comparison, at the height of the outbreak in September there were more than 400 new confirmed cases of Ebola in the country per week.)
The draft resolution also amends UNMIL’s mandate to remove a provision regarding contributing electoral assistance to the government of Liberia for senatorial elections, which had been added with resolution 2190. This included supporting logistics, coordinating international electoral assistance, and facilitating an atmosphere conducive to holding peaceful elections. The elections, which had been postponed from 14 October due to the Ebola outbreak, were held on 20 December. Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNMIL Karin Landgren issued a statement on 22 December praising the peaceful conduct of the elections.
The draft resolution highlights the Council’s concern with border security, particularly between Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire. It calls on the governments of the two countries to continue reinforcing cooperation, particularly with respect to their common border. It also calls upon all UN entities in the two countries, including UNMIL and the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), to support the Ivorian and Liberian authorities. The draft resolution also reaffirms the importance of inter-mission cooperation arrangements as UNMIL and UNOCI downsize. The potential for border insecurity to destabilise Liberia or Côte d’Ivoire has been mentioned in the reports of the Secretary-General on UNMIL and UNOCI as well as in the various reports of the experts supporting the 1521 Liberia and 1572 Côte d’Ivoire sanctions committees.
Lastly, the draft resolution reaffirms the Council’s expectation that the government of Liberia will assume full responsibility for security from UNMIL by 30 June 2016. In the interim, the Council requests the Secretary-General to continue to streamline and consolidate the activities of UNMIL across its civilian, police and military components in light of the resumed drawdown and anticipated security transition.