The Security Council this afternoon established a new peacekeeping operation, the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL), to monitor the military and security situation in the country, as security conditions permit, for an initial six-month period until 13 January 1999.
In unanimously adopting resolution 1181 (1998), the Council also condemned the continued resistance by remnants of the ousted junta and members of the Revolutionary United Front to the legitimate Government and demanded that they lay down their arms immediately.
The new Mission, which was proposed by the Secretary-General, will include up to 70 military observers, as well as a small medical unit, with the necessary equipment and civilian support staff. Under its mandate, the Mission will also provide the Secretary-General's Special Representative with regular information to help determine when conditions are secure enough to allow for subsequent deployments of military observers beyond the first phase.
The Council, which emphasized the importance of maintaining a secure environment for Mission personnel, stated that the mandate also required the peacekeeping operation to monitor the disarmament and demobilization of former combatants concentrated in the secure areas of the country, including monitoring of the role of the Economic Community of West African States' Monitoring Observer Group (ECOMOG) in those areas; to assist in monitoring respect for international humanitarian law where security conditions permitted; and to monitor the voluntary disarmament and demobilization of members of the Civil Defence Forces, as security conditions permit.
Following the Secretary-General's recommendation, the Council decided further that in the initial phase the first 40 of the military observers would be deployed to ECOMOG-secured areas, with subsequent deployments taking place as soon as security conditions permitted and subject to progress in disarmament, demobilization, the reintegration plan and the availability of necessary equipment and resources.
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According to the text of the resolution, the Secretary-General's Special Envoy, who will be designated Special Representative for Sierra Leone, will lead the Mission. His augmented civilian staff will advise the Government and local police officials, report on violations of international humanitarian law and human rights in Sierra Leone, and assist the Government of Sierra Leone in its efforts to address the country's human rights needs.
The Council decided that the first phase of the Mission will be deployed when security arrangements and the status of the mission agreement are concluded. In light of the prevailing security conditions, the Council will keep the deployment of UNOMSIL under review.
Also by the resolution, the Council demanded that all factions and forces in Sierra Leone strictly respect the status of UNOMSIL personnel, as well as humanitarian organizations and agencies.
Expressing serious concern at the reports of cross-border arms flows and support to rebels in Sierra Leone, the Council welcomed the intention of the Secretary-General to pursue steps to eliminate those activities. It reaffirmed the obligation of all States to comply strictly with the terms of the embargo on the sale and supply of arms and related matériel to Sierra Leone.
Gravely concerned by the plight of children affected by the conflict, the Council welcomed the efforts of the Government to coordinate an effective national response to the needs of children affected by armed conflict, and the recommendation of the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict that Sierra Leone be made a pilot project for a more concerted response to the needs of children in the context of post-conflict peace-building.
The Council further welcomed the decision of the Secretary-General to convene a high-level conference to mobilize assistance for peacekeeping activities, emergency and humanitarian need and reconstructions and rehabilitation in Sierra Leone. It urged all States to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to Sierra Leone.
At the Council's request, the Secretary-General will submit an initial report within 30 days, and every 60 days thereafter, on the progress of UNOMSIL and to report on plans for the later phases of the deployment of the mission.
Statements were made by the representatives of Austria, United Kingdom, Nigeria, Kenya, Slovenia, Japan, Costa Rica, China, Bahrain, Gabon, Sweden, France, Portugal, Brazil, Gambia, United States and the Russian Federation.
The meeting, which was called to order at 12:20 p.m., was adjourned at 1:39 p.m.
Council Work Programme
The Security Council met today to consider the situation in Sierra Leone. In a report to the Council (documents S/1998/486 and Add.1), the Secretary-General recommends that the Council establish, for an initial period of six months, a limited number of unarmed military observers in Sierra Leone.
The new peacekeeping mission would be known as the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL). The Secretary-General states that the mission could give impetus to the disarmament and demobilization of former combatants and assist the Secretary-General's Special Envoy to avert further bloodshed among civilians and combatants alike. Moreover, a more visible United Nations presence could bolster confidence and encourage more substantial donor support. It is estimated that the total cost for an initial six-month period would amount to some $18.3 million gross. The Secretary-General recommends that the cost be borne by Member States and be credited to a special account.
The observer mission would have as its immediate objectives: to monitor the military and security situation in the country as a whole, so as to assist the Government and the Economic Community of West African States' Monitoring Observer Group (ECOMOG) with disarmament and demobilization; to monitor the demobilization of already disarmed former combatants concentrated in secure areas; to assist in monitoring respect for international humanitarian law at disarmament and demobilization sites; to monitor the voluntary disarmament and demobilization of members of the Civil Defence Force; and to monitor the creation of a new national army. The observer mission would also observe, as security conditions permit, the situation in the north and east of the country, with a view to assisting in the disarmament and demobilization of surrendering former junta forces. It would continue to inform the Special Envoy for Sierra Leone on the military and security situation in the country as a whole.
The mission would be led by the Secretary-General's Special Envoy, Francis G. Okelo, who would be designated Special Representative for Sierra Leone. The UNOMSIL would subsume the office of the Special Envoy and its staff and require up to 70 officers, as well as a medical unit of up to 15 persons, with the necessary equipment and civilian administrative support staff.
Because of the volatile security situation outside the capital, the deployment would take place in phases, with the first group of approximately 40 military observers being deployed in July 1998, to Freetown, Hastings and Lungi. Depending on the security situation, the second phase of deployment would probably take place in August-September, with the final phase beginning in October. The Secretary-General would establish security arrangements for United Nations personnel with the Chairman of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and conclude a status of mission agreement with the Government of Sierra Leone.
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The deployment would require a commensurate expansion of the office of the Special Representative, as well as an increase in the number of human rights officers attached to the office of the Special Envoy. An increase in the number of civilian police advisers from two to five would also be required to advise the Government and local police officials on police practice, training recruitment and respect for internationally accepted standards of policing in democratic societies.
At a future stage, if the security of the unarmed military observers is threatened, the Secretary-General could envisage recommending the deployment of a highly mobile unit of armed United Nations troops, to protect observers in locations where their security might be at risk.
During the six-month period of the mandate, the Secretary-General would keep the situation closely under review and would make further recommendations to the Council concerning a possible extension or expansion of the mission as the circumstances permitted.
The Secretary-General also proposes that the deployment of ECOMOG troops at the border with Liberia could help lay to rest allegations of cross-border arms flow. He would pursue the proposal of Liberian President Charles Taylor for the deployment of a small contingent of United Nations military observers at the border, to help in verifying that Liberian territory was not being used to destabilize Sierra Leone.
The Secretary-General says that since his last report the situation in Sierra Leone has, in some respects, improved considerably. The Government has moved rapidly to reassert its authority throughout much of the country, and President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah has nominated a compact Cabinet of acknowledged experts in their fields, all of whom have been confirmed by Parliament.
In the eastern part of Sierra Leone and parts of the north, however, the remnants of the former junta continue to resist ECOMOG forces and attack civilians. The Secretary-General deplores the continued resistance to the legitimate Government, and calls on junta supporters to lay down their arms. He also joins the condemnation of the mutilations, rapes, looting and other atrocities carried out by junta elements. He applauds the efforts of United Nations humanitarian personnel, ECOMOG and the non-governmental organizations in locating and aiding victims. However, more must be done as a matter of urgency, including the provision of additional medical and surgical capacity, including hospital beds.
The Secretary-General also calls on the Government to continue to adhere to international human rights standards. He supports the recommendation of his Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict that Sierra Leone be made one of the pilot projects for a more concerted and effective response in the context of post-conflict peace-building.
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In describing actions taken by the Government since his last report of 18 March, the Secretary-General says that President Kabbah has outlined major national policies which his Government intends to pursue. Those include: establishing guidelines for development activities, a framework for the creation of a new army and the restructuring and retraining of the police force; improving relations with neighbouring countries; reviving the national economy; strengthening key sectors of activity; and promoting civic education to sensitize the people of Sierra Leone to the true meaning of peace and democracy. The President has also called for national reconciliation.
The report also reviews action taken by ECOMOG which has outlined its objectives as the attainment of peace, the training of a new Sierra Leonean army and the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of the Sierra Leonean combatants into society, accompanied by humanitarian assistance.
Referring to the humanitarian situation, the report states that the humanitarian consequences of the wave of atrocities are very severe. Malnutrition levels are increasing, and there are indications that the 10 per cent global threshold for acute malnutrition, at which an emergency response is required, is being breached. Over the past three months, some 237,000 Sierra Leoneans, many of whom are suffering from malnutrition, have poured into Guinea and Liberia, bringing the total number of Sierra Leonean refugees in the two neighbouring countries to 530,000 people since the start of the conflict in 1991. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has issued an urgent appeal for $7.3 million to help refugees who have fled from the rebel forces.
The Secretary-General intends to convene a high-level conference in the near future to mobilize assistance for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, and for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Sierra Leone. The conference would also address the need to provide logistical and other support to ECOMOG in order to improve its capacity to carry out its peacekeeping role, as well as for emergency and humanitarian needs.
Draft Resolution The Council has before it a draft resolution (document S/1998/620), which reads as follows:
"The Security Council,
"Recalling its previous relevant resolutions and the statements of its President,
"Welcoming the continued efforts of the Government of Sierra Leone to restore peaceful and secure conditions in the country, to re-establish effective administration and the democratic process and to embark on the task of national reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation,
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"Recognizing the important contribution of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in support of these objectives,
"Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 9 June 1998 (S/1998/486 and Add.1),
"Noting the objectives set by ECOWAS for its Military Observer Group (ECOMOG) as described in paragraph 17 of the report of Secretary-General,
"Gravely concerned at the loss of life and immense suffering undergone by the people of Sierra Leone, including refugees and displaced persons, as a result of the continuing rebel attacks, and in particular at the plight of children affected by the conflict,
"1. Condemns the continued resistance of remnants of the ousted junta and members of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) to the authority of the legitimate government and the violence they are perpetrating against the civilian population of Sierra Leone, and demands that they lay down their arms immediately;
"2. Emphasizes the need to promote national reconciliation in Sierra Leone, encourages all parties in the country to work together towards this objective, and welcomes the assistance of the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy in that regard;
"3. Welcomes the proposal in the report of the Secretary-General of 9 June 1998 on the establishment of the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL);
"4. Notes that the Government of Sierra Leone has adopted a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration plan agreed with the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the United Nations Development Programme and other donors;
"5. Commends the positive role of ECOWAS and ECOMOG in their efforts to restore peace, security and stability throughout the country at the request of the Government of Sierra Leone, and notes the role of ECOMOG in assisting the implementation of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration plan adopted by the Government of Sierra Leone, including the provision of security and responsibility for arms collection and destruction;
"6. Decides to establish UNOMSIL for an initial period of six months until 13 January 1999, and further decides that it shall include up to 70 military observers, as well as a small medical unit, with the necessary equipment and civilian support staff, with the following mandate:
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"(a) To monitor the military and security situation in the country as a whole, as security conditions permit, and to provide the Special Representative of the Secretary-General with regular information thereon, in particular with a view to determining when conditions are sufficiently secure to allow subsequent deployments of military observers beyond the first phase described in paragraph 7 below;
"(b) To monitor the disarmament and demobilization of former combatants concentrated in secure areas of the country, including monitoring of the role of ECOMOG in the provision of security and in the collection and destruction of arms in those secure areas;
"(c) To assist in monitoring respect for international humanitarian law, including at disarmament and demobilization sites, where security conditions permit;
"(d) To monitor the voluntary disarmament and demobilization of members of the Civil Defence Forces (CDF), as security conditions permit;
"7. Decides further that the elements of UNOMSIL referred to in paragraph 6 above shall be deployed as outlined in the Secretary-General's report, with approximately 40 military observers deployed in the first phase to ECOMOG-secured areas, and that subsequent deployments shall take place as soon as security conditions permit, and subject to progress on the implementation of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration plan and the availability of the necessary equipment and resources;
"8. Decides further that UNOMSIL shall be led by the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, who will be designated Special Representative for Sierra Leone, that UNOMSIL shall subsume the office of the Special Envoy and its civilian staff, and that the augmented civilian staff, as recommended by the Secretary-General in paragraphs 74 and 75 of his report, shall perform, inter alia, the following tasks:
"(a) To advise, in coordination with other international efforts, the Government of Sierra Leone and local police officials on police practice, training, re-equipment and recruitment, in particular on the need to respect internationally accepted standards of policing in democratic societies, to advise on the planning of the reform and restructuring of the Sierra Leone police force, and to monitor progress in that regard;
"(b) To report on violations of international humanitarian law and human rights in Sierra Leone, and, in consultation with the relevant United Nations agencies, to assist the Government of Sierra Leone in its efforts to address the country's human rights needs;
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"9. Welcomes the commitment of ECOMOG to ensure the security of United Nations personnel, and in this regard welcomes also the intention of the Secretary-General to establish security arrangements for United Nations personnel with the Chairman of ECOWAS and to conclude a status of mission agreement with the Government of Sierra Leone;
"10. Decides that the elements of UNOMSIL referred to in paragraph 6 above shall be deployed when the Secretary-General informs the Council that security arrangements and the status of mission agreement have been concluded, and further decides to keep the deployment of UNOMSIL under review in the light of the prevailing security conditions;
"11. Stresses the need for full cooperation and close coordination between UNOMSIL and ECOMOG in their respective operational activities;
"12. Demands that all factions and forces in Sierra Leone strictly respect the status of UNOMSIL personnel, as well as organizations and agencies delivering humanitarian assistance throughout Sierra Leone, and that they respect human rights and abide by applicable rules of international humanitarian law;
"13. Expresses its serious concern at the reports of cross-border arms flows and support to the rebels in Sierra Leone, welcomes the intention of the Secretary-General, as indicated in his report, to pursue with all parties concerned steps to eliminate these activities, and in that regard reaffirms the obligation of all States to comply strictly with the terms of the embargo on the sale or supply of arms and related matériel to Sierra Leone imposed by resolution 1171 (1998) of 5 June 1998, and to bring all instances of violations of the arms embargo before the Committee established by resolution 1132 (1997) of 8 October 1997;
"14. Welcomes the efforts of the Government of Sierra Leone to coordinate an effective national response to the needs of children affected by armed conflict, and the recommendation of the Special Representative of the Secretary- General for Children in Armed Conflict that Sierra Leone be made one of the pilot projects for a more concerted and effective response to the needs of children in the context of post-conflict peace-building;
"15. Further welcomes the decision of the Secretary-General to convene a high-level conference to mobilize assistance for peacekeeping activities, emergency and humanitarian needs and reconstruction and rehabilitation in Sierra Leone;
"16. Reiterates its urgent appeal to States to make contributions to the Trust Fund which has been established to support peacekeeping and related activities in Sierra Leone, to provide technical and logistical support to assist ECOMOG to carry out its peacekeeping role, and to help facilitate other
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ECOWAS member States to provide additional troops to strengthen the deployment of ECOMOG in Sierra Leone;
"17. Urges all States and international organizations to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to Sierra Leone, in response to the consolidated inter-agency appeal launched on 24 June 1998;
"18. Encourages all States and international organizations to assist and participate in the longer term tasks of reconstruction and economic and social recovery and development in Sierra Leone;
"19. Requests the Secretary-General to submit an initial report to the Council within 30 days of the adoption of this resolution and every 60 days thereafter on the deployment of UNOMSIL and on the progress of UNOMSIL in carrying out its mandate, and also to inform the Council on plans for the later phases of the deployment of UNOMSIL when security conditions permit these to be implemented;
"20. Decides to remain seized of the matter."
HANS PETER MANZ (Austria) spoke for the European Union and Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Cyprus. Liechtenstein and Norway aligned themselves with the statement.
He said the European Union warmly welcomed the establishment of a United Nations observer mission in Sierra Leone. It also fully agreed that, through the deployment of military observers, civilian police staff and human rights officers, much-needed impetus could be lent to the vital but still fragile peace and reconciliation process in that country, which deserved the international community's full support.
The Union welcomed the significant actions taken by the Government of Sierra Leone towards stabilizing the country and embarking on the central task of national reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation, he said. The Government's recent announcement to grant amnesty to all child soldiers was also welcome.
He said that, despite promising developments, the Union remained deeply concerned about the continued presence of remnants of the ousted junta and members of the Revolutionary United Front in the eastern part, as well as in some areas of the north of Sierra Leone. It also condemned the continued resistance of those elements against the legitimate Government, and joined the Secretary-General in calling on them to lay down their arms and to surrender immediately.
The Union strongly condemned the mutilations, rapes, looting and all other atrocities carried out by the rebels, and called for an immediate end to
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all violence carried out by them, he went on. Any military support being provided to the rebels had to cease. In that context, the Union stressed the importance that the provisions of resolution 1132 (1997) and resolution 1171 (1998) be strictly observed, and that any action that might destabilize the situation be avoided.
STEPHEN GOMERSALL (United Kingdom) said the mission was a crucial opportunity for Sierra Leone giving it a new chance to contribute to a peaceful settlement of a crisis which had lasted far too long. The presence of United Nations observers in support of ECOMOG's disarmament activities should help to guarantee the impartiality of the national disarmament and demobilization plan and boost confidence in its successful implementation in encouraging fighters to come out of the bush, give up their weapons and be reintegrated into the fabric of Sierra Leonean society.
The resolution and the establishment of a peacekeeping operation, however, was not enough, he said. The Government of Sierra Leone was doing its part, and he commended ECOWAS and ECOMOG for what they had achieved in the country. They and the Government needed greater support from the international community if the combined strategy for peace and rehabilitation were to succeed. The United Kingdom had donated £2 million to the United Nations Trust Fund in support of peacekeeping activities in Sierra Leone. It had also supplied two military officers to the Special Envoy and was considering further support. He urged other members to contribute to the trust fund. The United Kingdom pledged its full support to the convening of a high-level special political conference on Sierra Leone.
IBRAHIM GAMBARI (Nigeria) said the adoption of the resolution was a unique milestone in constructing a relationship between the United Nations and ECOWAS in efforts to restore peace and stability to Sierra Leone. While the restoration of a legitimate government on 10 March was indeed remarkable, much more needed to be done in terms of urgent and concrete financial support to enable ECOMOG to defeat the remnants of the junta. Considerable humanitarian assistance was also needed, as well as for neighbouring countries which continued to host large numbers of refugees.
He said the meeting in Nigeria on 2 July between President Kabbah and President Charles Ghankay Taylor of Liberia had addressed a number of regional and subregional issues, including ways in which security and cooperation between the neighbouring States of Liberia and Sierra Leone could be further improved. The role that could be played by ECOWAS was also considered, as well as the way in which the United Nations could support those efforts.
He said that the timely United Nations proposed conference on Sierra Leone, scheduled for 30 July, would be an appropriate forum to sensitize the international community to peacekeeping activities and to encourage their donation of humanitarian and emergency assistance. The Trust Fund in support
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of peacekeeping efforts in Sierra Leone still required substantial contributions from Member States.
The recommendation of the Special Representative of the Secretary- General for Children in Armed Conflict, Olara Otunnu, that Sierra Leone be recognized as one of the pilot projects for a more effective response to the needs of children in post-conflict building, along with efforts by the Sierra Leonean Government, augured well for the welfare of children suffering as a result of violent conflicts. An even greater achievement would be the success of the international community in preventing the assault on children and putting an end to the phenomenon of child soldiers.
NJUGUNA M. MAHUGU (Kenya) said his Government demanded that the former junta members lay down their arms and let Sierra Leoneans return to their lives in peace and harmony. He was pleased to note that the resolution commended the positive role of ECOMOG, and that they had been receiving help from the international community, but more could be done.
He said the establishment of UNOMSIL would enhance the efforts of the Special Envoy whose leadership would enable the Mission to engage and implement policies for the immediate and long-term gain for the people of Sierra Leone. Kenya had already sent its sons to help in the effort. It stood ready as always to contribute military officers and civilian police to enable the United Nations to achieve its objective in maintaining international peace and security. He urged all profiteers to stop the evil trade of cross-border arms flows that was increasing the incredible loss of life in Sierra Leone.
DANILO TURK (Slovenia) said the draft resolution represented an appropriate response to the situation in Sierra Leone. It addressed the complexity of the problems facing the restored Government and it complemented the political and military assistance of ECOMOG and ECOWAS in their efforts to restore peace and normalcy in that country.
Disarmament and demobilization was a priority issue, he said. The reinstated Government inherited a country with no functioning army, but rather one with a large number of fragmented armed elements. The likelihood of further conflict would remain high unless real progress could be made to disarm and demobilize the combatants. In that context, Slovenia condemned the continued resistance of the deposed junta and the Revolutionary United Front, and joined the other members of the Council in demanding that they lay down their arms immediately.
Equally important was the question of reconciliation and reintegration, he said. That was a sensitive issue, especially in the light of the numerous child soldiers that had been forcibly recruited by the Front. A genuine, long-term process of reconciliation was needed to pull those children back into society. They were often forced by Front elements to brutalize or murder
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their own families. Slovenia, therefore, welcomed efforts to make Sierra Leone one of the pilot projects for a more concerted and effective response to the post-conflict needs of children.
MASAKI KONISHI (Japan) expressed concern about the continued resistance of the ousted junta and their serious violations of international humanitarian law. Reports of the violations of the rights of children were particularly disturbing. It was important that soldiers relinquish their weapons and be reintegrated into society for the restoration of peace and security and for the economic and social recovery of Sierra Leone.
He said his support of the draft resolution was based on the understanding that the role of UNOMSIL was to monitor disarmament and demobilization, as well as to provide necessary support for the maintenance of peace and security in the region. Japan had responded to the flash appeal by the UNHCR, contributing as much as it could to alleviate the deplorable delay in humanitarian assistance. He hoped that humanitarian activities could be carried out in the coming rainy season, so that further deterioration of the situation could be avoided.
BERND NIEHAUS (Costa Rica) said the people of Sierra Leone had travelled a long path since the military coup of 25 May 1997. In that time, the ECOWAS and ECOMOG had played a crucial role towards ensuring security. It was important that all links between the Security Council and the region and subregion were strengthened.
Costa Rica had supported the lifting of sanctions, which had shown that their meaning was specific and should not be permanent, he said. It had also supported the establishment of the United Nations observers mission for the six-month period. With preparation of an effective police corps vital to the maintenance of security, the component of the draft resolution that was designed to support that effort was indispensable.
The human rights component of the text was also extremely important to his country in light of the persistent destruction by rebel forces, he said. The number of casualties was extremely high, thereby requiring immediate resolution. In that connection, Costa Rica supported the Secretary-General's recommendation to enhance the human rights component of the Special Envoy's office. The situation of refugees and internally displaced persons fleeing daily in increasing numbers to camps in Guinea and Liberia was another source of concern.
CHEN GUOFANG (China) said the deployment of the peacekeeping operation demonstrated the interest the United Nations had in maintaining international peace and security in Africa, and the establishment of security and the restoration of economic stability in Sierra Leone.
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He said his Government would give positive consideration to dispatching military observers to the mission. He hoped the mission would pay full attention to the opinion of the Government and cooperate with ECOMOG.
EBRAHIM MUBARAK AL-DOSARI (Bahrain) said there were many problems that must be faced in Sierra Leone to ensure peace and security, including disarmament and demobilization. Innocent civilians were still in danger, and they faced a total violation of their human rights amid the commission of atrocities by rebel forces, which jeopardized peace and stability and impeded the realization of national reconciliation.
In view of the current security and social situation, his delegation hoped that the establishment of the United Nations mission would contribute to peace and security in Sierra Leone, in particular, and in the region, in general. The mission's task should complement efforts by ECOMOG. Bahrain, therefore, underlined the importance of a close coordination between the two missions, and called upon all concerned parties to guarantee their members' safety and security. The Secretary-General's decision to convene a high-level conference aimed at the rehabilitation of Sierra Leone was welcome. Bahrain would join consensus on the draft resolution.
DENIS NEANGUE REWAKA (Gabon) said the efforts of ECOWAS and ECOMOG for the re-establishment of constitutionality and the restoration of peace in Sierra Leone deserved to be not only commended, but supported by the international community. A democratically elected government would be a notable step in favour of reorganization of the administration and national reconciliation.
He praised the concrete contribution of the Secretary-General characterized by sending an observer mission which reinforced the objectives of peace and the reconstruction of Sierra Leone, and provided a fillip of the military and security situation, the supervision of disarmament and demobilization, as well as the application of international human rights. For those reasons, he would vote in favour of the draft resolution.
ANDERS LIDEN (Sweden) said today's decision was notable in that, in addition to monitoring the military and security situation and the process of disarmament and demobilization, the mission's mandate also included monitoring compliance with international humanitarian law and human rights.
The strongest imperative now for Sierra Leone was the cessation of hostilities, followed by disarmament and demobilization, he said. Equally important was the need for a wider perspective on how to reach a long-term solution. The emphasis in the text of the need to engage in a genuine process of national reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation was, therefore, essential as it sought to address the fundamental causes of the conflict.
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The Government of Sierra Leone should be commended for its actions aimed at stabilizing the country and strengthen its democratic institutions. Sweden strongly condemned the atrocities committed against the civilian population, and urged all parties involved to respect human rights and international humanitarian law.
ALAIN DEJAMMET (France) said he was pleased by initiatives taken by several members of the Council to organize and gain approval for the new mission. The decision was proof of the Council's interest in assisting Africa in averting and overcoming crises. The mission would handle both military and civilian aspects of the crisis. It was a promising and interesting experience of coordination with a regional organization and the United Nations, and he hailed the important contribution to the stabilization of the country. The success of the mission would depend on the success of the cooperation between ECOMOG and UNOMSIL.
He said UNOMSIL fitted within the new political framework for national reconciliation. He was gratified by the intentions put forward by the Government of Sierra Leone to re-establish the democratic process and to accelerate the reconstruction of the country.
JOSE TADEU SOARES (Portugal), aligning himself with the position of the European Union, said the consequences of the Sierra Leonean conflict, and what appeared to be the gradual emergence of a post-conflict situation, required a coordinated response by the international community and the Government. Without the political will in Sierra Leone to overcome the current political and economic challenges, and without assistance by the international community to its people, the consolidation of peace would remain illusory.
Portugal commended the efforts of the Sierra Leonean Government to re-establish the democratic process and to promote the tasks of national reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation, he said. The recent adoption by President Kabbah of a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration plan was particularly welcome.
The establishment of UNOMSIL was a meaningful step in the right direction, he said. Its carefully designed mandate was clear and required full respect by all the relevant actors. The ECOMOG's commitment to ensure the security of United Nations personnel was welcome, and security arrangements could be concluded before mission observers were sent to Sierra Leone.
HENRIQUE VALLE (Brazil) said the restoration of democracy in Sierra Leone was not followed by peace. The criminal resistance presented by the junta and its allies in the Revolutionary United Front continued to cause untold suffering among the Sierra Leoneans. Despite the three other Security Council resolutions recently adopted on the situation there, and despite energetic actions by ECOMOG in dealing with the rebels, resistance and human
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suffering persisted in certain areas. The Front continued to kill, maim and destroy, thereby causing a flow of refugees to Liberia and Guinea.
He hoped today's draft resolution would promote reconciliation, assist ECOWAS in ending the fighting, and help to implement disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. The observance of humanitarian law was a precondition to durable peace, just as upholding human rights was a prerequisite for a functioning democracy. The training and restructuring of the police force would improve public security. The forthcoming conference on Sierra Leone should prompt a much-needed increase in humanitarian assistance.
BABOUCARR-BLAISE ISMAILAJAGNE (Gambia) said that the Mission would complement the efforts of ECOMOG and would be seen as a mutually reinforcing partnership in the implementation of the plan for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. Its success would depend largely on the strength of ECOMOG, both quantitatively and qualitatively. The establishment of UNOMSIL was a welcome development that should give a moral boost to the Government and people of Sierra Leone.
He went on to say that the convening of the high-level conference to mobilize assistance for Sierra Leone would send the right signals to all Sierra Leoneans, to speed up the process of national reconciliation. That did not exclude the rebels or the remnants of the ousted junta who should now seize the opportunity to lay down their arms and contribute to the rebirth of their nation.
BILL RICHARDSON (United States) said the United States was extremely concerned by continued fighting in the Sierra Leone countryside, the massacres and maiming of civilians, reports of cross-border weapons flows to the rebels, and the large numbers of refugees and displaced persons. The humanitarian situation urgently called for the attention of the international community. The United States would contribute more than $55 million in assistance to Sierra Leone and refugees in neighbouring countries, but more was needed.
The military observers of ECOMOG carried the hopes of all the people of Sierra Leone who wished to live in peace under a democratic government, he said. The ECOMOG had performed admirably in its efforts to provide such security, and the leading role played by ECOWAS in that regard should also be commended. However, ECOMOG faced a bigger challenge than anyone expected, and it needed additional troops, and better transport and logistical support in order to protect civilians from the ravages of the rebels and the former junta.
He said that today's resolution was a vital part of that assistance. The United Nations military observers would augment ECOMOG by monitoring the disarmament and demobilization of former combatants, assessing the security situation, and reporting on both military operations and human rights. Their presence should build confidence in the demobilization process, which would be
Security Council - 15 - Press Release SC/6544 3902nd Meeting (PM) 13 July 1998
limited at first, given the current security situation. However, the resolution provided flexibility in the observers' deployment, and demobilization could take place in the new secure zones expanded by ECOMOG.
The Secretary-General's personal engagement on issue was welcome, as well as the recent meetings between Presidents Taylor and Kabbah in Abuja. The United States joined them and the Secretary-General in deploring the atrocities carried out in Sierra Leone. His country demanded an immediate halt to outside support to the rebels and former junta, from whatever source.
He said the United States had reservations about the proposal for border monitors under current circumstances. Preventing cross-border arms flows was a worthy idea, but ECOMOG was already over-stretched and did not have the capability to take on that responsibility.
The United States supported efforts to make Sierra Leone a pilot project for addressing the needs of children in post-conflict peace-building, he said. As the Secretary-General's report on conflict in Africa outlined so well, coordination and planning among a variety of agencies and entities was critical to the success of conflict resolution and peace-building. The United States hoped that the successful model of international cooperation in assisting Liberia in its election and democratic transition last year would be further developed for Sierra Leone.
SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said his Government condemned the inhumane acts of violence being committed in Sierra Leone and demanded their immediate cessation. The draft resolution attested to the importance which the Council attached to the restoration of peace in Sierra Leone. It was an example of the strengthening of coordination between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations in the maintenance of international peace and security.
He said the Russian Federation would be ready to provide military observers for the Mission.
Action on the draft
The Council then adopted the draft resolution unanimously as resolution 1181 (1998).
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