20 September 2000


Press Release
SC/6925



SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS SIERRA LEONE MISSION UNTIL 31 DECEMBER, BY UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1321 (2000)

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Will Review Situation by 31 October, Including Recommendations for Increase in Troop Strength

The Security Council this morning decided to extend the present mandate of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) until 31 December.

The Council took that action by unanimously adopting resolution 1321 (2000), by whose terms it also decided to review the situation no later than 31 October.

The meeting began at 12.14 p.m. and adjourned at 12.18 p.m.

Resolution

The full text of resolution 1321 (2000) reads as follows:

"The Security Council,

"Recalling its resolutions 1270 (1999) of 22 October 1999, 1289 (2000) of 7 February 2000, 1313 ((2000) of 4 August 2000, 1317 (2000) of 5 September 2000 and all other relevant resolutions and the statements of its President concerning the situation in Sierra Leone,

"1. Decides to extend the present mandate of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone until 31 December 2000;

"2. Decides also to review the situation no later than 31 October 2000;

"3. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”


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* Meeting Nos. 4197 and 4198 are closed.


Security Council - 2 - Press Release SC/6925 4199th Meeting (AM) 20 September 2000

Secretary-General’s Report

When the Security Council met this morning it had before it the sixth report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) (document S/2000/832), dated 24 August, and a related addendum (S/2000/832/Add.1) dated 12 September. The report contains a description of the tasks that would be required of UNAMSIL in Sierra Leone, its concept of operations and the necessary resources, as well as a recommendation for a six-month extension of its mandate. The addendum outlines the financial implications of expanding UNAMSIL beyond its current budgeted strength.

According to the report, Security Council resolution 1313 (2000) observed that the widespread and serious violations of the Lomé Peace Agreement by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) constituted a breakdown of the prior generally permissive environment, which was based on the Agreement and predicated on the cooperation of the parties. The Council also noted that there would continue to be a threat to UNAMSIL and to the security of Sierra Leone until conditions had been established that would allow a peaceful resolution of the conflict. In order to counter that threat, the Council noted that the structure, capability, resources and mandate of the Mission required appropriate strengthening.

In that regard, continues the Secretary-General, the Council indicated its intention to strengthen the Mission's current mandate with a number of priority tasks. Accordingly, the main elements of the Mission's mandated tasks would be:

-- To maintain the security of the Lungi and Freetown peninsulas and their major approach routes;

-- To deter and counter the threat of RUF attacks by responding to any hostile actions or threat of imminent and direct use of force;

-- To deploy progressively in a coherent operational structure and in sufficient numbers and density at key strategic locations and main population centres;

-- To assist, in coordination with the Government of Sierra Leone, through the presence of UNAMSIL and within the framework of its mandate, the efforts of that Government to extend State authority, restore law and order and further stabilize the situation throughout the country;

-- Within its capabilities and areas of deployment, to afford protection to civilians under threat of physical violence;

-- To actively patrol main access routes to the capital, in order to dominate ground, ensure freedom of movement and facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance;

-- To assist in the promotion of the political process leading to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration where possible.

In addition, continues the Secretary-General, UNAMSIL may be required to provide assistance and support to the special court in Sierra Leone to be set up on the basis of negotiations and consultations with the Government of Sierra Leone. The UNAMSIL will also be expected to continue to play a key role in supporting the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme and the disposal of weapons.

The Secretary-General states that, in reviewing the resources required by UNAMSIL to implement the above-mentioned tasks, due account should be taken of the precarious security environment in which it has to operate, the continued threat posed by RUF and the regional dimension of the conflict. In addition, it should be emphasized that Sierra Leone's infrastructure, especially in the areas under RUF control, has suffered tremendous damage. Consequently, movement in various areas of Sierra Leone is slow.

According to the report, at present, the most urgent tasks for UNAMSIL are restructuring the Force, strengthening the Force headquarters, fully equipping its infantry battalions and strengthening deployment at areas close to RUF positions.

Addressing the main objectives of the Mission, the Secretary-General notes that, in addition to the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of all combatants, the key elements of a political process towards durable peace in Sierra Leone include: restoration of civil authority and the establishment and strengthening of national institutions.

According to the Secretary-General, these goals, however, cannot be achieved through the deployment of a peacekeeping force alone. The main focus of the international community's efforts should, therefore, be on strong political efforts towards a durable peace in Sierra Leone. At the same time, achieving the above objectives will depend critically on the level of security in the country. Hence, a robust military presence by the international community will remain essential for the foreseeable future.

The Secretary-General states that the Government of Sierra Leone must, therefore, make full use of the security provided by the international community in building the institutions and the capacity needed to extend and maintain its authority throughout the country. Ideally, the Mission's deployment to areas where there is currently no State administration should be preceded by the development of the Government's capacity to expeditiously extend its authority to those areas.

The UNAMSIL, says the Secretary-General, would also be expected to continue to ensure its freedom of movement and to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid, as well as to protect civilians under threat of physical violence. In due course, the Government of Sierra Leone will have to assume full responsibility for its own security, since the international community's engagement cannot be open-ended. Therefore, the military training assistance provided to the armed forces of Sierra Leone by the United Kingdom and other Member States and the assistance provided by the Commonwealth for the training of the police force are welcomed.

The Secretary-General states that the proposed expansion of UNAMSIL would enable it to strengthen its capabilities and ensure its sustainability. The Mission would retain its international character and would continue to operate under the command and control of the United Nations. In view of the Mission's concept of operations, its organization should be kept flexible. Also, a high degree of coordination between sectors will be required in order to prevent gaps between tactical areas of deployment. Effective means of secure communication would be needed for this purpose.

The Secretary-General goes on to say that UNAMSIL troops will also require special equipment that is not usually associated with traditional peacekeeping duties -- surveillance and target-acquisition equipment, night vision equipment, laser range-finding and designation equipment, global positioning system equipment and radar. The implementation of the mandate therefore requires well- trained, fully equipped, well-led and motivated troops ready and willing to implement and defend the mandate.

The Secretary-General stresses that the international community must continue to bring economic, political as well as military pressure to bear on the RUF and other hostile groups and to urge them to commit themselves fully to the peace process. In that regard, the security provided through the Mission's military presence remains an essential element of the peace process in Sierra Leone. He therefore recommends that the mandate of UNAMSIL, which expires on 8 September, be extended for a period of six months.

At the same time, the report notes that to be able to perform its tasks, the strength of UNAMSIL should be significantly increased, as indicated by the Council. That would enable the Mission to enhance its operational structure and overall effectiveness and to deploy progressively forward to key areas in Sierra Leone. The Secretary-General, therefore, recommends that the Council authorize an increase in the Mission's military strength to a level of 20,500 military personnel, including 260 military observers, to enable it to achieve the first two phases of forward deployment.

The Secretary-General also urges the Government of Sierra Leone to continue, with the assistance of donor countries, to develop and implement its plans for the extension of its authority throughout the country and to consolidate its administration as soon as possible. That, needless to say, would greatly facilitate the work of UNAMSIL. Of particular importance is the urgent development of Sierra Leone's capacity to ensure its own security. The current training assistance provided to the Sierra Leone army and police forces under the leadership of the United Kingdom should be welcomed, and he hopes that other Member States will join in this crucial effort.

In view of the proposed increase in the United Nations military presence in Sierra Leone, the Secretary-General calls on Member States, in particular those able to provide specialized support units, to give consideration to participating in UNAMSIL. Those indispensable units should be fully prepared and equipped to function under United Nations command in the difficult and volatile environment of Sierra Leone. Assistance from Member States that have the capacity to train, equip or provide other support to current and future UNAMSIL troops will also be crucial.

According to the addendum the financial implications of the expansion of the Mission from 11,100 military personnel to 20,500, with the strength and tasks of the UNAMSIL military observers and civilian police unchanged, would entail additional requirements for the 2000-2001 financial period of some $305.5 million. This projection provides for the increase of the Force to a total of 18 infantry battalions supported by the additional logistics, communications and air transport units, as well as the necessary intelligence and command personnel. On that basis, the total estimated requirements for the operation of UNAMSIL for the 2000-2001 period would amount to some $782.2 million.

Should the Council approve the Secretary-General's recommendations for the expansion of the Mission and the extension of its mandate, the additional resources for the maintenance and operation of UNAMSIL will be sought from the General Assembly during the main part of its fifty-fifth session. In the interim, it is his intention to cover the immediate costs in connection with the deployment of additional military personnel, should the Council so decide, within the initial level of resources already approved by the Assembly for the 2000-2001 financial period. As of 15 August 2000, unpaid assessed contributions to the special account for UNAMSIL amounted to $169.4 million.

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