7 February 2000


Press Release
SC/6801



SECURITY COUNCIL EXPANDS MANDATE, NUMBERS OF SIERRA LEONE FORCE, ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1289 (2000) UNANIMOUSLY

20000207

The Security Council this afternoon to expanded the military component of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) to a maximum of 11,100, including the 260 military observers already deployed, and extended UNAMSIL’s mandate for a further six months from today.

Unanimously adopting resolution 1289 (2000), the Council stated the expansion of the force would be subject to a periodic review in the light of conditions on the ground and the progress made in the peace process, in particular, in the disarmament, demobilization and the reintegration programme.

Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Council decided further to revise UNAMSIL’s mandate to include the following additional tasks: to provide security at key locations and government buildings, in particular in Freetown, important intersections and major airports, including Lungi airport; facilitate the free flow of people, goods and humanitarian assistance along specified thoroughfares; provide security in and at all sites of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme; coordinate with and assist, in common areas of deployment, the Sierra Leone law enforcement authorities in the discharge of their responsibilities; and guard weapons, ammunition and other military equipment collected from ex-combatants and to assist in their subsequent disposal or destruction. It took note of comments by the Secretary- General in his report, that there would be need for robust new rules of engagement in the light of UNAMSIL’s new tasks.

By other terms of the text, the Council authorized UNAMSIL to take the necessary action to fulfil its additional tasks. That included ensuring the security and freedom of movement of its personnel and providing protection to civilians –- in its areas of deployment -- under imminent threat of physical violence, taking into account the responsibilities of the Government of Sierra Leone.

In other action, the Council authorized the increases in the civil affairs, civilian police, administrative and technical personnel of UNAMSIL proposed by the Secretary-General. It welcomed the Secretary-General’s intention to establish within UNAMSIL a landmine action office responsible for awareness training of UNAMSIL personnel and for the coordination of mine-action activities of non-governmental organizations and humanitarian agencies operating in Sierra Leone.


Security Council - 1a - Press Release SC/6801 4099th Meeting (PM) 7 February 2000

The Council stressed the importance of a smooth transition between the Military Observer Group of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOMOG) and UNAMSIL for the successful implementation of the Peace Agreement and the stability of Sierra Leone. Accordingly, all those concerned were urged by the Council to consult over the timing of troop movements and withdrawals.

The Council reiterated the importance of the safety, security and freedom of movement of United Nations and associated personnel, noting that the Government of Sierra Leone and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) had agreed to provide guarantees towards that end. The Council called upon all the parties in Sierra Leone to respect fully the status of the United Nations and associate personnel.

The Council urged the Government of Sierra Leone, specialized agencies, other multilateral organizations, civil society and Member States to accelerate their efforts to establish the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Human Rights Commission and the Commission for the Consolidation of Peace as fully functioning and effective institutions, as provided for under the Peace Agreement. It also emphasized the importance of the exercise by the Government of Sierra Leone of full control over the exploitation of gold, diamonds and other resources for the benefit of the people of the country and in accordance with article VII, paragraph 6, of the Peace Agreement. Accordingly, the Council called for the early and effective operation of the Commission of the Management of Strategic Resources, National Reconstruction and Development.

The Secretary-General was asked to continue to report to Council every 45 days to provide, among other things, assessments of security conditions on the ground so that troop levels and the tasks to be performed by UNAMSIL could be kept under review.

Statements were made by the representatives of Sierra Leone, United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Ukraine and China.

The meeting, which began at 1 p.m., was adjourned at 1:40 p.m.


Council Work Programme

The Security Council met this afternoon to consider the situation in Sierra Leone. It had before it a report of the Secretary-General (documents S/2000/13 and Add.1) of 13 January, as well as a letter from the Secretary General to the Council (document S/1999/1285) of 28 December 1999 (summarized in Press Release SC/6800 issued today).

The Council had before it a draft resolution (document S/2000/34) which reads, as follows:

"The Security Council

"Recalling its resolutions 1171 (1998) of 5 June 1998, 1181 (1998) of 13 July 1998, 1231 (1999) of 11 March 1999, 1260 (1999) of 20 August 1999, 1265 (1999) of 17 September 1999 and 1270 (1999) of 22 October 1999 and other relevant resolutions and the statement of its President of 15 May 1999 (S/PRST/1999/13),

"Affirming the commitment of all States to respect the sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity of Sierra Leone,

"Recalling the relevant principles contained in the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel adopted on 9 December 1994,

"Welcoming and encouraging efforts by the United Nations to sensitize peacekeeping personnel in the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases in all its peacekeeping operations,

"Taking note of the letter to its President from the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Sierra Leone of 17 January 2000 (S/2000/31),

"Having considered the reports of the Secretary-General of 23 September 1999 (S/1999/1003), 6 December 1999 (S/1999/1223) and 11 January 2000 (S/2000/13) and the letter of the Secretary-General to its President of 23 December 1999 (S/1999/1285),

"Determining that the situation in Sierra Leone continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region,

"1. Notes that the deployment of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) as established by resolution 1270 (1999) is in the process of completion;

"2. Welcomes the efforts made by the Government of Sierra Leone, the leadership of the Revolutionary United Front Party of Sierra Leone, the Military Observer Group (ECOMOG) of the Economic Community of West African States and UNAMSIL towards the implementation of the Peace Agreement signed in Lomé on 7 July 1999 (S/1999/777);

"3. Reiterates its call upon the parties to fulfil all their commitments under the Peace Agreement to facilitate the restoration of peace, stability, national reconciliation and development in Sierra Leone, and stresses that the responsibility for the success of the peace process ultimately lies with the people and leaders of Sierra Leone;

"4. Notes with concern that, despite the progress that has been made, the peace process thus far has been marred by the limited and sporadic participation in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme, by the lack of progress on the release of abductees and child soldiers, and by continued hostage-taking and attacks on humanitarian personnel, and expresses its conviction that the expansion of UNAMSIL as provided for in paragraphs 9 to 12 below will create conditions under which all parties can work to ensure that the provisions of the Peace Agreement are implemented in full;

"5. Notes also with concern the continuing human rights violations against the civilian population of Sierra Leone, and emphasizes that the amnesty extended under the Peace Agreement does not extend to such violations committed after the date of its signing;

"6. Calls upon the parties and all others involved to take steps to ensure that the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme is fully implemented throughout the country, and in particular urges the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), the Civil Defence Forces, the former Sierra Leone Armed Forces/Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) and all other armed groups to participate fully in the programme and cooperate with all those responsible for its implementation;

"7. Takes note of the decision of the Governments of Nigeria, Guinea and Ghana to withdraw their remaining ECOMOG contingents from Sierra Leone, as reported in the letter of the Secretary-General of 23 December 1999;

"8. Expresses its appreciation to ECOMOG for its indispensable contribution towards the restoration of democracy and the maintenance of peace, security and stability in Sierra Leone, commends highly the forces and the Governments of its contributing States for their courage and sacrifice, and encourages all States to assist the contributing States further in meeting the costs they have incurred in making possible the deployment of ECOMOG forces in Sierra Leone;

"9. Decides that the military component of UNAMSIL shall be expanded to a maximum of 11,100 military personnel, including the 260 military observers already deployed, subject to periodic review in the light of conditions on the ground and the progress made in the peace process, in particular in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme, and takes note of paragraph 33 of the report of the Secretary-General of 11 January 2000;

"10. Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, decides further that the mandate of UNAMSIL shall be revised to include the following additional tasks, to be performed by UNAMSIL within its capabilities and areas of deployment and in the light of conditions on the ground:

“(a) To provide security at key locations and Government buildings, in particular in Freetown, important intersections and major airports, including Lungi airport;

“(b) To facilitate the free flow of people, goods and humanitarian assistance along specified thoroughfares;

“(c) To provide security in and at all sites of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme;

“(d) To coordinate with and assist, in common areas of deployment, the Sierra Leone law enforcement authorities in the discharge of their responsibilities;

“(e) To guard weapons, ammunition and other military equipment collected from ex-combatants and to assist in their subsequent disposal or destruction,

authorizes UNAMSIL to take the necessary action to fulfil the additional tasks set out above, and affirms that, in the discharge of its mandate, UNAMSIL may take the necessary action to ensure the security and freedom of movement of its personnel and, within its capabilities and areas of deployment, to afford protection to civilians under imminent threat of physical violence, taking into account the responsibilities of the Government of Sierra Leone;

"11. Decides further that the mandate of UNAMSIL, as revised, shall be extended for a period of six months from the date of adoption of this resolution;

"12. Authorizes the increases in the civil affairs, civilian police, administrative and technical personnel of UNAMSIL proposed by the Secretary- General in his report of 11 January 2000;

"13. Welcomes the intention of the Secretary-General, as indicated in his report of 11 January 2000, to establish within UNAMSIL a landmine action office responsible for awareness training of UNAMSIL personnel and for the coordination of mine action activities of non-governmental organizations and humanitarian agencies operating in Sierra Leone;

"14. Stresses the importance of a smooth transition between ECOMOG and UNAMSIL for the successful implementation of the Peace Agreement and the stability of Sierra Leone, and in that regard urges all those concerned to consult over the timing of troop movements and withdrawals;

"15. Reiterates the importance of the safety, security and freedom of movement of United Nations and associated personnel, notes that the Government of Sierra Leone and the RUF have agreed in the Peace Agreement to provide guarantees in this regard, and calls upon all parties in Sierra Leone to respect fully the status of United Nations and associated personnel;

"16. Reiterates its request to the Government of Sierra Leone to conclude a status-of-forces agreement with the Secretary-General within 30 days of the adoption of this resolution, and recalls that pending the conclusion of such an agreement the model status-of-forces agreement dated 9 October 1990 (A/45/594) should apply provisionally;

"17. Reiterates also the continued need to promote peace and national reconciliation and to foster accountability and respect for human rights in Sierra Leone, and urges the Government of Sierra Leone, specialized agencies, other multilateral organizations, civil society and Member States to accelerate their efforts to establish the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Human Rights Commission and the Commission for the Consolidation of Peace as fully- functioning and effective institutions, as provided for under the Peace Agreement;

"18. Emphasizes the importance of the exercise by the Government of Sierra Leone of full control over the exploitation of gold, diamonds and other resources for the benefit of the people of the country and in accordance with Article VII, paragraph 6, of the Peace Agreement, and to that end calls for the early and effective operation of the Commission of the Management of Strategic Resources, National Reconstruction and Development;

"19. Welcomes the contributions that have been made to the multi-donor trust fund established by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development to finance the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, and urges all States and international and other organizations which have not yet done so to contribute generously to the fund so that the process is adequately financed and the provisions of the Peace Agreement can be fully implemented;

"20. Underlines the ultimate responsibility of the Government of Sierra Leone for the provision of adequate security forces in the country, calls upon it, in that regard, to take urgent steps towards the establishment of professional and accountable national police and armed forces, and stresses the importance to this objective of generous support and assistance from the international community;

"21. Reiterates the continued need for urgent and substantial assistance to the people of Sierra Leone, as well as for sustained and generous assistance for the longer terms tasks of peace-building, reconstruction, economic and social recovery and development in Sierra Leone, and urges all States and international and other organizations to provide such assistance as a priority;

"22. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to report to the Council every 45 days to provide, inter alia, assessments of security conditions on the ground so that troop levels and the tasks to be performed by UNAMSIL can be kept under review, as indicated in report of the Secretary-General of 11 January 2000;

"23. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."

Statements

IBRAHIM M’BABA KAMARA (Sierra Leone) said his country hoped the Council would take appropriate and concrete action to help resolve the various conflicts that it considered during the “Month of Africa”, before they escalated further. He hoped that the momentum generated during the month of January would be maintained as far as possible in the coming months. As an extension to the January meetings, he said the Council might wish to consider holding occasional joint sessions with the Economic and Social Council, whose functions touched on the very survival of peoples. Joint sessions on silent, but potentially deadly conflict-ridden phenomena, such as refugees, HIV/AIDS, malaria and malnutrition, would highlight the interrelationship between the roles of the two bodies.

He said the decision to authorize an expansion of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) was, so far, the most significant outcome of the “Month of Africa” in the Council. Highlighting African issues in open and formal meetings of the Council was useful. African States would welcome the adoption of action-oriented resolutions on those issues. For its part, Sierra Leone was grateful to the Council as a whole, and to those Member States which had helped lay the foundations for today’s action on the situation in the country.

He commended the Secretary-General for translating his knowledge of the peculiar circumstances in Sierra Leone and the subregion into bold and appropriate recommendations to the Security Council, especially since the signing of the Lomé Peace Agreement last July. His delegation also welcomed the recent stance taken by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Sierra Leone, in response to unwarranted remarks about the Secretary-General and the United Nations role in the peace process.

The new timetable for the withdrawal of the remaining Nigerian contingent of the Economic Community of West African States' Monitoring Observer Group (ECOMOG), as well as the Security Council’s decision to expand the military component of UNAMSIL, should allay some of their fears about the security of Sierra Leone. The same applied to the Council’s decision to give UNAMSIL some of the functions performed by ECOMOG. The Sierra Leone Government accordingly welcomed the fact that the revised mandate and additional responsibilities of UNAMSIL were fully backed by Chapter VII of the Charter. His delegation regarded as one of the most significant provision of the resolution the Council’s decision to authorize UNAMSIL to afford protection to civilians under imminent threat of physical violence.

He assured the Council that, notwithstanding some problems and unfortunate events, the overwhelming majority of Sierra Leoneans who wanted genuine peace continued to have faith in the ability and commitment of ECOMOG to protect the nation. They were already developing the same degree of confidence in UNAMSIL to facilitate the disarmament and demobilization process. Timely implementation of the relevant provisions of today’s resolution should contribute immensely to the consolidation of peace in the country, he said.

Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said the text marked the international community’s readiness through the United Nations to take over ECOMOG’s role -- the full responsibility for the provision of security in Freetown and at the disarmament and demobilization camps, as well as for many other aspects of the Lomé peace process.

He said UNAMSIL was not a Chapter VII peace enforcement operation, but all recognized in formulating the mandate for the force, as set out in the resolution, that the task would require a robust and serious stance against possible threats. The UNAMSIL must act with the determination and the flexibility to see that through. He said the UNAMSIL Commander would need the full support of the Secretariat and all UNAMSIL troop contributors must ensure that their troops were of a high standard, ready and able to meet the challenges they faced.

He said that, without the Council’s continued determination and support, an expanded UNAMSIL force could not keep Sierra Leone on its current positive path. Sierra Leone would need sustained outside assistance for some time. The United Kingdom was committed to continuing to play a significant part. Since March 1998, the United Kingdom had contributed nearly $65 million to Sierra Leone and would press ahead with a substantial programme of assistance, which it had already established, in particular, in the security sector, rebuilding and retraining the Sierra Leone armed forces.

The international community also had a task in ensuring that the parties and Revolutionary United Front (RUF) leader Fonday Sankoh, in particular, fulfilled their commitments. He said the leaders of the West African region had a particular responsibility and influence. If properly implemented, the Lomé Agreement would enable the Government of Sierra Leone to establish control over the entire country.

Finally, he said the Council had, in the last few weeks, rightly insisted that the parties to the Democratic Republic of the Congo conflict prove their commitment to the Lusaka Peace Agreement before the United Nations could commit to playing its part. If the United Nations was not seen to act successfully in Sierra Leone, what chance would it have in demonstrating to the Lusaka parties that it had the capacity and would play a useful part in the Democratic Republic of the Congo? he asked.

NANCY SODERBERG (United States) said that, with ECOMOG’s decision to withdraw its forces, it was imperative to avoid a security gap. The peace process in Sierra Leone remained fragile, adding that it was in the interest of all to help ensure its success. The United States, therefore, supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation to expand UNAMSIL's mandate to take on the functions of the departing ECOMOG forces. It also supported the “re-hatting” -- incorporation into UNAMSIL -- of two battalions of Nigerian ECOMOG troops remaining in Sierra Leone.

She said the former rebels still held sway in much of the countryside and there were deeply disturbing reports that they had been intimidating UNAMSIL soldiers and seizing their weapons, placing the United Nations troops in the bizarre situation of being disarmed by the rebels, rather than the reverse. The United States strongly condemned all such actions, and called on RUF leader Foday Sankoh and the leaders of the ex-AFRC rebels to bring an immediate halt to those dangerous and reprehensible actions, she said.

The United States also called upon United Nations officials to address that problem quickly and effectively. While much progress had been made, she said the peace process in Sierra Leone was now at an especially sensitive stage. The process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration into society of the estimated 45,000 ex-combatants had taken much longer than hoped.

She said the United States would vote in favour of the resolution. Helping the Government and people of Sierra Leone consolidate peace after eight years of civil war was a high priority for the United States. Its principal interests were in helping to ensure a durable peace, building a climate of respect for human rights and the democratic process, holding those responsible for atrocities accountable under agreed mechanisms, and providing humanitarian relief to the population. A peaceful Sierra Leone was important also in contributing to stability in West Africa.

The United States urged the utmost efforts by all concerned to carry to a successful conclusion the disarmament, demobilization and the reintegration programme while conditions on the ground were still conducive to success. The United Nations must move quickly to ensure the success of that important programme, which would pave the way for the consolidation of the peace process. The programme was a crucial element in encouraging refugees and the internally displaced to return to their homes. The United States was especially concerned with the plight of the internally displaced, who outnumbered the 50,000 Sierra Leone refugees and suffered many of the same vulnerabilities, but were often out of reach of effective humanitarian access.

The United States wanted the Lomé Agreement to succeed, she said. The provisions for amnesty in the Agreement represented a difficult choice, taken by the signatories in order to end the fighting. The United States remained committed to justice and accountability for serious violations of international humanitarian law. It looked forward to helping the Government of Sierra Leone establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as well as the Human Rights Commission that was called for by the Agreement. It also favoured an international fact-finding mission to support the work and proceedings of the Commissions.

ROBERT R. FOWLER (Canada) said his country would vote in favour of the resolution, which gave expression to the international community’s commitment to peace in Sierra Leone. Canada recognized with gratitude the sacrifices made by ECOMOG.

He said the next phase of UNAMSIL would take on some of the heavy responsibilities that had, to this point, been ECOMOG’s, notably support for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme, maintenance of law and order in the main centres and protection of key facilities. In discharging those critical tasks, the Mission would have the benefit of a strong mandate that provided for the protection of civilians and personnel levels equal to the task. He believed that was a sign that the Council was learning from past mistakes, and that current and future peacekeeping missions in Africa would be able to count on the full support of the international community.

For Sierra Leone, that commitment was both timely and necessary, he said. More than 30,000 former combatants were yet to be disarmed. Some 4,000 children abducted during the war were still missing. Large areas of the country remained inaccessible to aid agencies, and the humanitarian and human rights situation in those areas could only be guessed. Banditry was a constant menace. The next phase of UNAMSIL ought to provide much-needed stability and security, ensuring improved humanitarian access and vital support to the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, as well as the reintegration of war- affected children. Canada was pleased to contribute military observers to UNAMSIL.

The inclusion of provisions in the resolution for landmine action and for conscientious management of Sierra Leone’s natural resources represented an innovation in the crafting of peacekeeping mandates. It also showed a great awareness of the fact that human security remained a constant challenge, even after the guns fell silent. It was his country’s hope that that commitment would be acknowledged and replicated by the parties to the conflict. The United Nations, with the resolution, was poised to make a significant contribution, and Canada encouraged all the leaders of Sierra Leone to work with the Security Council and bring the suffering of their people to an end.

VOLODYMYR YEL’CHENKO (Ukraine) said his country appreciated the courage and responsibility of Sierra Leoneans in the momentous decision to bring an end to the civil war in their country. The Lomé Peace Agreement of 7 July 1999 launched the opportunity for the people of Sierra Leone to return to the path of reconciliation. At the same time, he said his country did not want to conceal its judgement that the Agreement was far from perfect. The blanket amnesty provisions contained in the document was the major cause for reservations. He fully associated himself with the United Nations’ position that amnesty and pardon in the Agreement would not apply to international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. Ukraine acknowledged the major contribution of the African States, first and foremost, members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Ukraine attached particular importance to the success of the process, since it could have an inspirational influence on the restoration of peace in other parts of the continent.

The United Nations should take the enhanced responsibility -- following withdrawal of ECOMOG troops -- to ensure that the security vacuum was filled. Ukraine was willing to make practical contribution to the peacemaking efforts of the United Nations. He announced that his Government had indicated its intention to provide an MI-24 helicopter unit for the expanded UNAMSIL. He reiterated its support for the draft resolution.

SHEN GUOFANG (China) said he continued to be disquieted by humanitarian and human rights situation in Sierra Leone. He hoped the establishment of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration activities continued in a timely fashion.

He said that China had advocated timely action in support of the peace process in Sierra Leone. He supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation to expand UNAMSIL and to expand its mandate. He was also gratified that the first phase of deployment was being speeded up. He hoped the Secretariat would move quickly to implement the draft resolution.

The Council then voted unanimously to adopt Security Council resolution 1289 (2000).

* *** *