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UNSCODuty of care

Political missions:


The main tasks for UN political missions, which are run by the Department of Political Affairs, are to prevent or resolve deadly conflicts around the globe and to consolidate peace in societies emerging from war.


In May, the UN Mission of Support in Timor-Leste (UNMISET) completed its mandate after six years of steering the country’s independence from Indonesia. In its report released in July, the Commission of Experts set up to review the prosecution of serious crimes in Timor-Leste recommended that Indonesia review its prosecutions and that some cases of abuse be reopened.


As a testimony of UNMISET’s success and the country’s political stability, its successor, the UN Office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL), did not have peacekeeping troops. The international community had recognized that Timor-Leste was safe and peaceful and that its authorities were able to take over the responsibility for maintaining internal and external security.


UNOTIL’s mandate included support in capacity building to Timor-Leste’s state institutions, such as the national police. In December, as evidence of the transformation of the world’s newest nation from a beneficiary to a contributor to UN peacekeeping operations, 10 UNOTIL-trained police officers from the Timor-Leste national police were deployed for peacekeeping duties with the UN police contingents in Kosovo.


Meanwhile, Timor-Leste’s relations with Indonesia continued to improve.


The UN Observer Mission in Bougainville (UNOMB) ended in June with the swearing in of Bougainville’s first autonomous provincial government. The mission had helped to end violence in the province of Bougainville Island which had fought a long secessionist struggle against Papua New Guinea. During its stay in the region, the UN was instrumental in negotiating, mediating and facilitating the resolution of the decade-long conflict that ended in 1998. The UN also supervised the collection and destruction of some 2,000 weapons, pushed the parties to meet agreed preelection deadlines and ultimately facilitated the election itself.


With The Central African Republic gradually returning to a path of peace, economic recovery, reconstruction and sustainable development, the UN Peacebuilding Support Office (BONUCA) continued to pursue its mandate to strengthen political dialogue and promote the rule of law.


However, the country’s economic recovery was hindered by an upsurge in cross-border banditry and the proliferation of weapons in the sub-region.


The UN Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS) supported the country’s presidential elections in June and the runoff held in July. On 1 October, the winner, João Bernardo Vieira, was sworn into office as President, ending three decades of coups and countercoups. With the swearing in of a new leader, the country hoped to move away from the divisions of the past towards a more harmonious and constructive future.


However, political tensions along personality and party lines continued to cast a shadow on the prospects for stability. Meanwhile, UNOGBIS continued to promote the rule of law and human rights, consolidate peace and assist national authorities in drafting legislation on the prevention, treatment and control of HIV/AIDS.


The UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) provided intensive support to the Somali National Reconciliation Conference held in Nairobi, Kenya, under the auspices of the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and worked with international partners to help Somali leaders agree on a transitional administration.


By early 2005, the Conference had produced a broad-based Transitional Federal Government which moved back to Somalia in mid-2005 from its temporary base in Nairobi.


Somalia continued to be beset by serious political problems, including an assassination attempt in November against Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Gedi in Mogadishu, and an increased inflow of illegal weapons inside the country in violation of the UN arms embargo and political violence.


The UN Tajikistan Office of Peacebuilding (UNTOP) was instrumental in helping to build democratic institutions and foster peace in the country during the vulnerable postcivil war period. It provided technical assistance for the parliamentary elections in February 2005.


UNTOP’s human rights information resource centre became popular with Tajiks who were able to use it for studying human rights, accessing the internet and receiving legal consultations.


By the end of the year, UNTOP, with support from UNDP, had trained 1,100 police officers on human rights. More than 300 people from 41 district commissions and 3,000 local election commission members took part in a series of seminars on international election standards, election laws and procedures in Tajikistan.


The UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA) was active in promoting cooperation among UN peacekeeping and political missions based in the region. There was visible progress in maintaining political stability in Sierra Leone, and in Liberia, where elections led to the election of the first women head of state in Africa, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.


The situation in Togo stabilized after days of violence caused by the death of former President Eyadema. However, a political stalemate in Côte d’Ivoire caused the postponement of the country’s elections.


Regional challenges included the flow of small arms and light weapons in the region; disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants; the fight against HIV/AIDS; refugees and displaced persons and youth unemployment.


Prepared by the Peace and Security Section, United Nations Department of Public Information.

© United Nations 2006