19/09/2003
Press Release
SC/7877



Security Council

4829th Meeting (AM)


SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS SIERRA LEONE MISSION UNTIL 31 MARCH 2004,

UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1508 (2003)


The Security Council this morning extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), which was to expire on 30 September, until 31 March 2004, welcoming the increasingly stable security situation there.


Unanimously adopting resolution 1508 (2003), the Council also welcomed the Secretary-General’s intention to adjust UNAMSIL’s size, composition and deployment, should the security environment remain favourable.  According to his suggestions, starting in November 2003, troop strength would be reduced to 11,500.  By the end of August, troop strength had been reduced from 16,900 to 12,311 personnel, and it is envisaged that by October 2004 troop strength will stand at 5,000.


The Council urged the Government of Sierra Leone to continue to strengthen its control over the regulation of diamond mining.  In that regard, it encouraged Member States to volunteer candidates for the post of “diamond mining police adviser”.


Strongly supporting efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) towards building peace in the subregion, the Council encouraged the Presidents of the Mano River Union member States [Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia] to resume dialogue and implement their commitments to building regional peace and security.


The meeting started at 10:45 a.m. and was adjourned at 10:48 a.m.


Resolution


The full text of resolution 1508 (2003) reads, as follows:


The Security Council,


Recalling its previous resolutions and the statements of its President concerning the situation in Sierra Leone,


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


Welcoming the increasingly stable security situation in Sierra Leone, while encouraging further progress towards strengthening the capacity of the Sierra Leone Police and armed forces to maintain security and stability independently,


Noting that lasting stability in Sierra Leone will depend on peace in the subregion, especially in Liberia, and emphasizing the importance of cooperation among the countries of the subregion to this end, as well as the need for coordination of United Nations efforts to contribute to the consolidation of peace and security in the subregion,


Reiterating the importance of the effective consolidation of stability and State authority throughout Sierra Leone, particularly in the diamond fields, the reintegration of ex-combatants, voluntary and unhindered return of refugees and internally displaced persons, and full respect for human rights and the rule of law, paying special attention to the protection of women and children, and stressing continued United Nations support to the Government of Sierra Leone in fulfilling these objectives,


Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 5 September 2003 (S/2003/863),


“1.      Decides that the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) shall be extended for a period of six months from 30 September 2003;


“2.Expresses its appreciation to those Member States providing troops, civilian police personnel and support elements to UNAMSIL and those who have made commitments to do so;


“3.      Commends UNAMSIL for the progress made to date in the adjustments to its size, composition and deployment, in accordance with Security Council resolutions 1436 (2002) and 1492 (2003), and welcomes the Secretary-General’s intention to continue with these adjustments, as outlined in paragraph 10 of his report;


“4.      Emphasizes that the development of the administrative capacities of the Government of Sierra Leone, particularly an effective and sustainable police force, army, penal system and independent judiciary, is essential to long-term peace and development, and urges the Government of Sierra Leone, with the assistance of donors and UNAMSIL, in accordance with its mandate, to accelerate the consolidation of civil authority and public services throughout the country, and to continue to strengthen the operational effectiveness and capabilities of the security sector;


“5.      Urges the Government of Sierra Leone to continue to strengthen its control over, and regulation of, diamond mining, including through the High Level Steering Committee, and encourages member States to volunteer candidates for the post of diamond mining police adviser;


“6.      Notes with serious concern the precarious financial situation of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, reiterates its appeal to States to contribute generously to the Court, as requested in the Secretary-General’s letter of 18 March 2003, and urges all States to cooperate fully with the Court;


“7.      Commends the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for its work, encourages States to contribute generously to it, and welcomes the intention of the Government of Sierra Leone to establish a Human Rights Commission;


“8.      Expresses its strong support for the efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) towards building peace in the subregion, and encourages the Presidents of the Mano River Union member States to resume dialogue and to implement their commitments to building regional peace and security;


“9.Welcomes the deployment of ECOWAS forces to Liberia, supported by UNAMSIL, reiterates its demand that armed groups in Liberia refrain from illegal incursions into Sierra Leone, and encourages the Sierra Leonean armed forces, together with UNAMSIL, to maintain intensive patrolling of the border with Liberia;


“10.      Encourages the continued support of UNAMSIL, within its capabilities and areas of deployment, for the voluntary return of refugees and displaced persons;

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“11.      Welcomes the Secretary-General’s intention to keep the security, political, humanitarian and human rights situation in Sierra Leone under close review and to report to the Council, after due consultations with troop-contributing countries and the Government of Sierra Leone, with any additional recommendations;


“12.      Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”


Background


The Security Council had before it the nineteenth report of the Secretary-General on UNAMSIl, which describes progress in security and peace consolidation in the country since 23 June 2003.


The report states that during the period under review, progress in those areas had enabled UNAMSIL to continue the progressive drawdown of its military component, completing the first stage of phase 3 of the drawdown plan.  Should the security environment remain favourable, the second stage of the phase would be implemented starting in November 2003, reducing troop strength to 11,500 as the repatriation of troops from Sector Centre continues.  In the third stage, from December 2003 to June 2004, the entire Sector Centre will be handed over to national security forces, and in the fourth stage -- called the most critical -- all UNAMSIL troops would be withdrawn from the eastern border area, leaving troop strength at 5,000 personnel.


Serious security problems persist, though, including the threat posed by the influx of young men to the diamond-mining areas of Kono and Kenema and the restiveness of some former elements of the Civil Defence Force, who are concerned, among other issues, about indictments by the Special Court for Sierra Leone.  Despite those problems, UNAMSIL believes there are no immediate internal threats to the security of the country.


The responsibility for national security in some parts of the country is already being shifted to the Government, and the report calls efforts to build capacity in the national police and armed forces “encouraging”.  Both, however, continued to lack adequate equipment and infrastructure, hampering their takeover in border areas.  In any case, the pre-war target level of 9,500 of national police may be achieved by 2005, a year after UNAMSIL is expected to leave, though it will continue to monitor the police and report on their effectiveness.


Despite what he calls “commendable” progress on the part of the Government to control diamond mining, the Secretary-General urges rapid action to ensure its effective regulation, pointing to the establishment of a computerized data bank on mining licences, a review of the remuneration of mining ministry field staff, and the use of banking channels for all diamond transactions as priorities.  Empowerment of the national police force to enforce diamond legislation is seen as equally important, and the Secretary-General also urges Member States to put forward qualified candidates for the post of diamond-mining police adviser.


As he has in previous reports, the Secretary-General continues to call for the dismantling of the Civil Defence Force structure, calling it a threat to stability.  He commends progress in the rule of law, particularly the Government’s decision to allow justices of the peace to fill in for magistrates.  At the same time, he calls for more funding in this critical area because of persistent problems in the justice system, and for support for the establishment of a National Human Rights Commission.  He also commends the progress made in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in Sierra Leone, saying that the process there, if completed on schedule, could serve as a useful example for Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire.


In the light of all the above and given the need to continue the gradual drawdown of UNAMSIL without jeopardizing security, the Secretary-General recommends that the Security Council extend the mandate of UNAMSIL for six months ending 31 March 2004.


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