SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS UNOMSIL MANDATE BY SIX MONTHS

11 June 1999
SC/6688

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS UNOMSIL MANDATE BY SIX MONTHS

11 June 1999

Press ReleaseSC/6688

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS UNOMSIL MANDATE BY SIX MONTHS

19990611

Resolution 1245 (1999) Adopted Unanimously

Expressing its continued concern over the fragile situation in Sierra Leone, the Security Council today decided to extend the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL) by six months, until 13 December 1999.

Adopting resolution 1245 (1999) unanimously, the Council underlined that further eventual deployment of UNOMSIL should be considered, taking into account security conditions. It also took note of the Secretary-General's intention to revert to the Council with recommendations on an expanded UNOMSIL presence in Sierra Leone with a revised mandate and concept of operations, in the event of a successful outcome to negotiations between the Government of Sierra Leone and rebel representatives in Lomé, Togo.

The Council underlined its strong support for all those involved in United Nations mediation efforts within the Lomé process, in particular, the work of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to facilitate dialogue, and for the key role played by the President of Togo as current Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

By further terms of the draft, the Council stressed that an overall political settlement and national reconciliation are essential to achieving a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Sierra Leone.

Affirming the commitment of all States to respect Sierra Leone's sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity, the Council emphasized the strong commitment of the international community to support a sustainable peace settlement. It called upon all concerned to remain committed to the negotiation process and to demonstrate flexibility in their approach to that process.

The meeting, which began at 12:09 p.m., was adjourned at 12:13 p.m.

Draft Resolution

The full text of Security Council resolution 1245 (1999) reads as follows:

"The Security Council,

"Recalling its resolutions 1181 (1998) of 13 July 1998, 1220 (1999) of 12 January 1999 and 1231 (1999) of 11 March 1999 and the statements of its President of 7 January 1999 (S/PRST/1999/1) and 15 May 1999 (S/PRST/1999/13),

"Acknowledging the cooperation provided by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and its Military Observer Group (ECOMOG),

"Expressing its continued concern over the fragile situation in Sierra Leone,

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

"Having considered the sixth report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL) of 4 June 1999 (S/1999/645) and noting the recommendations contained therein,

"1. Decides to extend the mandate of UNOMSIL until 13 December 1999;

"2. Stresses that an overall political settlement and national reconciliation are essential to achieving a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Sierra Leone and welcomes the holding of talks in Lomé between the Government of Sierra Leone and rebel representatives;

"3. Calls upon all concerned to remain committed to the process of negotiation and to demonstrate flexibility in their approach to the process, underlines its strong support for all those involved in the mediation efforts of the United Nations within the Lomé process, in particular the work of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to facilitate dialogue, and for the key role being played by the President of Togo as current Chairman of ECOWAS, and emphasizes the strong commitment of the international community to support a sustainable peace settlement;

"4. Takes note of the intention of the Secretary-General, as set out in paragraphs 52 to 57 of his report, to revert to the Council with recommendations on an expanded UNOMSIL presence in Sierra Leone with a revised mandate and concept of operations, in the event of a successful outcome to the negotiations between the Government of Sierra Leone and rebel representatives in Lomé, and underlines that further eventual deployment of UNOMSIL should be considered taking into account security conditions; "5. Requests the Secretary-General to keep the Council closely informed on the situation in Sierra Leone;

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

Secretary-General's Report

When the Security Council met this afternoon, it had before it the report of the Secretary-General on UNOMSIL (document S/1999/645). Citing recent political developments, including the signing of a ceasefire agreement between the Government and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), and the critical need for UNOMSIL to assist the peace process in that country, the Secretary-General recommends in his report the extension of UNOMSIL's mandate for a further period of six months, until 13 December 1999. He adds that, within that time period, he hopes to be able to make further recommendations for an expanded mandate to implement a peace agreement.

In the report, the Secretary-General states that there has been significant progress in the pursuit of dialogue between the Government of Sierra Leone and the RUF. He welcomes the Government's readiness to open talks with the RUF, and calls upon the latter to show flexibility in the interest of peace. He welcomes the 18 May ceasefire agreement, which has helped to create an atmosphere conducive to the success of the peace talks, and reiterates his call to the concerned parties to adhere strictly to its terms.

Nevertheless, he says, the killings, mutilations and other human rights abuses perpetrated by rebel forces against the civilian population in Sierra Leone, as well as the widespread destruction of property wreaked on a country which already ranks among the poorest in the world, are deeply deplorable. To gain international legitimacy and recognition, any armed opposition must be prepared to renounce and atone for inflicting such suffering on non-combatants. The Secretary-General calls upon the RUF leadership to ensure the compliance of all its fighters with international human rights standards and humanitarian law, including the release of all abductees. He also calls on the RUF leadership to act on its stated intention to investigate abuses committed by its troops and to invite international observers to take part in this process.

Referring to increased international concern about human rights violations in Sierra Leone, the Secretary-General welcomes the stated intention of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, to examine the situation on the ground and to obtain tangible commitments regarding the prevention of abuses and accountability of perpetrators. He is also pleased by the proposal by Sierra Leone President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah to establish a national human rights commission and to create a truth and reconciliation mechanism as part of a peace agreement. These measures should be fully supported by the donor community, he says. In that context, the Secretary-General also commends the Economic Community of West African States' Monitoring Observer Group (ECOMOG) in establishing a civil-military relations committee to investigate allegations of human rights violations by pro-government forces. Representatives of all sectors of Sierra Leonean on society are participating in those investigations, with the United Nations in an international observer role. He calls on the international community to continue supporting ECOMOG logistically and also to assist the process of the rebuilding of Sierra Leone's armed forces.

Regarding the urgent need to resume the process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of the current ex- combatants and to prepare the groundwork for an expansion of such activities, the Secretary-General expresses the hope that the Government of Sierra Leone will continue to provide the necessary impetus to the national disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme and ensure its viability as an incentive for all rebel fighters willing to lay down their arms. It is also important, he says, for the Government to work closely with donors on the development of a revised disarmament, demobilization and reintegration plan, with a well-defined operational plan and clear-funding arrangements, to be put into effect in the context of a peace agreement.

The Secretary-General also calls attention to the need to consider how the RUF/Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) might be transformed into a legitimate political party, while reintegrating former combatants into society. He calls for an end to the recruitment of children as soldiers, and for the final peace agreement to embody commitments by all parties to demobilize their child participants immediately. Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes should consider giving priority to children under 18, he says.

Disturbed by persistent reports of arms supplies reaching the rebel forces, the Secretary-General says that any support for the RUF/AFRC by outside parties perpetuates the conflict. He reiterates his call to all States to comply strictly with the embargo on the sale or supply of arms and related matériel to non-governmental forces in Sierra Leone imposed by the Security Council in its resolution 1171 (1998).

Turning to dire humanitarian situation in the country, the Secretary-General stresses the need to establish mechanisms to ensure unhindered humanitarian access to all parts of the country and to promote effective coordination and cooperation between humanitarian agencies, the Government and the RUF. The delivery of humanitarian aid requires the protection of and respect for humanitarian relief workers, goods and properties. Noting that negotiations for humanitarian access should be guided by the code of conduct for humanitarian agencies operating in Sierra Leone, the Secretary-General urges the international community to continue to support dialogue to achieve unhindered humanitarian access to all areas of the country.

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For information media. Not an official record.