Development of security, legal institutions major challenge for Liberia – UN report

The Emergency Response Unit of the Liberia National Police

22 February 2010 – More than a decade after its civil war, Liberia is heading towards reconciliation but significant challenges remain in the development of its security and legal institutions, which will impact the future of the United Nations mission there, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a new report.

Noting the need to ensure that the Liberian National Police are independently operational and that Liberia redoubles its efforts in the area of rule of law, the Secretary-General identified financial resources as a requirement for continued progress in Liberia.

“I urge the Government to also take steps to adopt legislation to institutionalize the national security architecture,” Mr. Ban wrote in his latest report to the Security Council on the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).

“Ensuring successful security sector reform in Liberia will require sustained donor support for the Liberian National Police and other security agencies,” the Secretary-General added, noting that little concrete assistance has materialized from the Justice and Security Partners’ Forum held in New York in September 2009.

Among the areas that need sustained donor support, as highlighted by the Secretary-General, is the establishment of an efficient communications system, provision of technical assistance in key operational areas, including women and child protection, and the construction of a new Monrovia Central Prison to replace the existing structure which is “overcrowded and dilapidated.”

Mr. Ban called on the Government to assume greater responsibilities for the development of the Armed Forces of Liberia, calling it a “major step towards the progressive assumption of responsibilities for security by national authorities.” With this as a goal, he highlighted the need for an effective management and regulatory framework which would be “rigorously, transparently and fairly enforced at all levels.”

Among the challenges to security is the increased illegal cross-border activities at the Mano River which forms part of the border with Sierra Leone, the Secretary-General noted.

“Instability could spread across borders to destabilize the fragile subregion and, combined with the likely humanitarian consequences of a large population movement, could impede much of Liberia’s peacebuilding and development efforts,” he wrote, noting that Liberia will have to cooperate with its neighbours to address these issues as UNMIL draws down.

On the political front, the Secretary-General welcomed the release of the final edited version of the report by the Parliament-enacted Truth and Reconciliation Commission ordered to investigate and report on gross human violations that occurred in Liberia between January 1979 and 14 October 2003.

“The time has come for Liberia to define the road it will take towards reconciliation,” he wrote. “I urge continued constructive dialogue within Liberian society on the road ahead regarding the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”

As a component of the follow-up on the implementation of the Commission’s recommendation, the Secretary-General urged the Liberian Senate to formally establish the planned Independent National Commission on Human Rights, urging the Liberian Senate to act on the nominees “as soon as possible.”

Furthermore, he wrote that more action is required to tackle corruption in Liberia, including through prosecution, when required. He noted that the public’s perception of corruption among officials undermined “confidence in the Government’s commitment to good governance and the rule of law.” This is especially pertinent ahead of preparations for the 2011 general and presidential elections which will be under the full charge of Liberians, with international assistance.


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