SECURITY COUNCIL EXPANDS ROLE OF UNITED NATIONS IN SIERRA LEONE; MORE MILITARY PERSONNEL TO JOIN STRENGTHENED OBSERVER MISSION19990820
Resolution 1260 (1999), Adopted Unanimously, Urges Peace and National Reconciliation, Stressing Need for Accountability and Respect for Human Rights
The Security Council this morning authorized the provisional expansion of the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL) to up to 210 military observers. It also decided that they would operate for the time being under security provided by the Economic Community of West African States' Monitoring Observer Group (ECOMOG).
Unanimously adopting resolution 1260 (1999), the Council also authorized the strengthening of the political, civil affairs, information, human rights and child protection elements of UNOMSIL. It stressed the urgent need to promote peace and national reconciliation and to foster accountability and respect for human rights in Sierra Leone.
By further terms of the draft, the Council welcomed the signing of the peace agreement between the Government of Sierra Leone and the Revolutionary United Front in Lomé, Togo on 7 July. It also welcomed the provisions of that agreement on the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Human Rights Commission in Sierra Leone and called upon the Government and the Revolutionary United Front to ensure the prompt establishment of those commissions within the time-frame provided for in the peace agreement.
Also by the text, the Council stressed the need for the international community and the Government of Sierra Leone to design and implement programmes to address the special needs of war victims, in particular those who had suffered maiming and mutilation. It welcomed the Government's commitment in the peace agreement to establish a special fund for that purpose.
By other terms of the text, the Council stressed the urgent and substantial need for humanitarian assistance to the people of Sierra Leone in parts of the country hitherto inaccessible to relief agencies, and urged all States and international organizations to provide such assistance as aSecurity Council - 1a - Press Release SC/6714 4035th Meeting (AM) 20 August 1999
priority, in response to the revised consolidated inter-agency appeal issued in July.
Further by the draft, the Council called upon the Revolutionary United Front and all other armed groups to begin immediately to disband and give up their arms, and to participate fully in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme. It called upon all parties to ensure the safe and unhindered access of humanitarian assistance to those in need, to guarantee the safety and security of humanitarian personnel and to respect strictly the relevant provisions of international humanitarian law.
Underscoring the importance of the safety, security and freedom of movement of United Nations and associated personnel, the Council noted that the Government and the Revolutionary United Front had agreed to provide guarantees in that regard, and urged all parties to respect fully the status of those personnel.
The Council stressed the need for sustained and generous assistance for the longer-term reconstruction, economic and social recovery and development of Sierra Leone, and urged all States and international organizations to participate in and contribute actively to those efforts.
Addressing the Council before action on the draft, the representative of Sierra Leone said the Government had "gone the extra mile" in pursuit of peace. That effort was now seen in some circles as having given "far too much to those who had terrorized our people for over eight years". The Government's objective had not been to score a military victory, but to defend innocent Sierra Leoneans, including children, who had no means of defending themselves in what had been described as one of the most atrocious conflicts in Africa.
Other statements before action on the draft were made by the representatives of the United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Argentina, China, Malaysia, Gabon, Brazil, France, Gambia, Canada, Bahrain, Slovenia, Netherlands, United States and Namibia.
The meeting, which began at 11:20 a.m., adjourned at 12:40 p.m.
Security Council - 2 - Press Release SC/6714 4035th Meeting (AM) 20 August 1999
Council Work Programme
The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Sierra Leone.
A report of the Secretary-General before the Council (document S/1999/836 and Add.1), recalling that on 7 July representatives of the Government of Sierra Leone and the Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone (RUF/SL) signed a peace agreement in Lomé, sets out the main provisions of the agreement and contains recommendations for the immediate measures that should be taken to strengthen the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL). Such measures would enable the United Nations to provide initial support to the process of implementation. The Secretary-General states that following discussions with all interested parties, he intends to submit additional recommendations to the Council on the overall activities of the Organization, including the mandate and structure of a United Nations peacekeeping presence in the country.
According to the report, the main provisions of the Lomé Peace Agreement provide for the permanent cessation of hostilities, to be monitored at provincial and district levels through Ceasefire Monitoring Committees and, at the national level, through a Joint Monitoring Committee. The report states that governance provisions include the transformation of RUF/SL into a political party and its access to public office; the creation of a broad-based Government of National Unity through cabinet appointments for representatives of RUF/SL; the creation of a Commission for the Consolidation of Peace to supervise the implementation of the peace agreement; the establishment of a Commission for the Management of Strategic Resources, National Reconstruction and Development, to be chaired personally by the leader of RUF/SL, Corporal Foday Sankoh, with the status of Vice-President of Sierra Leone; and the establishment of a Council of Elders and Religious Leaders to mediate any disputes arising from differences in the interpretation of the agreement.
The Secretary-General states that the agreement also provides for the pardon of Corporal Foday Sankoh and a complete amnesty for any crimes committed by members of the fighting forces during the conflict from March 1991 up until the date of the signing of the agreement; a review of the present Constitution of Sierra Leone; and the holding of elections in line with the Constitution, to be directed by a National Electoral Commission. The Secretary-General also instructed his Special Representative to sign the agreement on behalf of the United Nations with the explicit proviso that the amnesty and pardon in article IX of the agreement shall not apply to international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian law.
Regarding post-conflict military and security issues, the report states that the agreement stipulates the revision of the mandate of the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG); a request for a new mandate for UNOMSIL; the encampment, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of combatants; the restructuring and training of a new Sierra Leone armed forces; and the withdrawal of mercenaries. The report also outlines how the agreement addresses disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, human rights, protection of children and humanitarian and socio-economic issues. It also details the political, military and security situation in the country.
The Secretary-General notes that signing of the agreement requires UNOMSIL to perform significantly expanded as well as new tasks, in close cooperation with ECOMOG, whose presence in Sierra Leone is indispensable. He says that in addition to the major disarmament and demobilization effort, the implementation of the agreement will require the presence of a substantial number of peacekeepers throughout the country, together with the deployment of additional United Nations military observers, in mutually supporting roles. In accordance with the agreement, the mandate of ECOMOG will need to be revised by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in consultation with the United Nations, and as appropriate with the parties.
Once these consultations have produced an understanding of the respective tasks, strengths and mandates of ECOMOG and the United Nations, the Secretary-General says he would be in a position to make comprehensive proposals to the Council concerning a new mandate and concept of operations for UNOMSIL. In the interim, however, it will be necessary to act expeditiously in order to offer maximum support to the parties and ECOMOG, and to maintain momentum in the peace process.
"I believe", he says, "that the most immediate and practical way of providing such support would be the deployment to Sierra Leone of additional United Nations military observers, along with the necessary equipment and administrative support." The number of UNOMSIL military observers required would increase to 210, based on an assessment of the tasks described in the report, including to extend UNOMSIL's ceasefire monitoring activities to a wider geographical area, security conditions permitting; and to work closely with humanitarian organizations to exchange information on security conditions with a view to ensuring the widest possible access for humanitarian assistance to populations in need.
It should be clearly understood, however, that the presence and operations of these observers alone would not be sufficient to ensure the implementation of the agreement, he goes on. For this, it will be necessary to deploy large numbers of peacekeepers throughout the country. He would also propose that UNOMSIL be strengthened with additional civilian staff in the fields of political and civil affairs, as well as human rights, to allow it to cope with the increased responsibilities which flow from the agreement.
Elaborating on those requirements, he states that in order to support the effective functioning of an expanded mission, it is critical that the necessary administrative and logistical support services are made available. To this end, an adequate increase in administrative and technical personnel as well as resources should be provided.
A key requirement to ensure enhanced logistical support for an expanded UNOMSIL would be the introduction of a second-line medical capability to provide basic and emergency health care, the report states. Such a capability would require up to 35 military (or civilian) medical personnel. It would also be crucial for an expanded UNOMSIL to have an aviation capability to provide 24-hour medical evacuation as well as daytime monitoring and observation.
Addressing political and civil affairs, the Secretary-General states that in view of the role of the Special Representative of the Secretary- General in the peace process and the increased responsibilities arising from an expanded UNOMSIL presence to assist the implementation of the peace agreement, it would be advisable to upgrade the level of that post. Accordingly, it is envisaged that the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General will be expanded to include a deputy Special Representative and additional staff for coordination, public information and legal affairs.
According to the report, the envisaged political affairs office of UNOMSIL would consist of up to eight officers and would be responsible for liaison with the parties; government ministers and parliament; United Nations programmes; non-governmental organizations; and provincial and district representatives of the Government of Sierra Leone. The political affairs office would also assist the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the development and implementation of the Strategic Framework for Sierra Leone, as described below.
The civil affairs component, which would consist of 10 civil affairs officers, would maintain nine field sites located in Freetown, the three provincial capitals and major towns such as Kabala, Kailahun, Kambia and Koidu. Offices would also maintain liaisons with provincial and district government representatives. In addition, the civil affairs component would also liaise with appropriate government bodies on matters relating to economic reconstruction and investment and monitor adherence to international law governing compensation in reference to article VII of the peace agreement. It is also envisaged that a small secretariat for the Joint Implementation Committee would be established to monitor respective areas of concern, mainly human rights, refugees and displaced persons, elections and education and health.
The Secretary-General states that following consultations with all relevant partners in the United Nations system, he has decided that a strategic framework be developed for Sierra Leone, encompassing political, assistance and human rights aspects. Through this framework, a mutually reinforcing comprehensive political strategy and assistance programme would be developed. Its development and implementation is envisaged as a primarily field-driven exercise, led by his Special Representative working in close consultation with national and international partners. A small United Nations mission visited Sierra Leone from 14 to 19 June to help launch the Framework. As a first step, a steering group has been set up in Freetown, chaired by the Special Representative, with representatives of the concerned United Nations entities. The establishment and implementation of the strategic framework will be facilitated at Headquarters under the guidance of the Deputy Secretary-General.
With the signing of the peace agreement, the increased dissemination of information will be crucial in sensitizing public opinion after eight years of civil war, says the Secretary-General. The present UNOMSIL information capacity should be expanded with three additional international staff and an appropriate number of local staff. The functions to be carried out include the production of radio programmes in indigenous languages for broadcast on the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service and other existing radio stations. United Nations radio programming for local distribution is also required. Consideration should also be given to video production for audiences in Sierra Leone, focusing on the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, as well as on issues affecting the population relating to the agreement.
The human rights component will continue to play a key role in the future operations of UNOMSIL and will strengthen its monitoring and reporting activities in all parts of Sierra Leone, the report goes on. This critical task will include a broad range of human rights issues that encompass the rights of women and children and economic and social rights. In particular, the human rights abuses suffered by women during the conflict will constitute a major focus of the work of human rights officers. In that regard, it will be necessary to expand the human rights component to enable it to cover all parts of the country, including the areas previously under RUF/SL control, to collect testimonies, document abuses and bring forward witnesses and survivors of atrocities. A thorough fact-finding process will be critical to the effective functioning of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and other efforts to consolidate peace in Sierra Leone.
In order to ensure that there will be appropriate accountability for serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law, the Security Council may wish to consider various steps to address this question, including the establishment in due course of a commission of inquiry, as recommended to the Government of Sierra Leone by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, says the Secretary-General. Such a commission would investigate and assess human rights and humanitarian law violations and abuses perpetrated by all parties since the commencement of the conflict in 1991. At the same time, technical cooperation will have to be increased to ensure that the judicial system resumes operations throughout the country and that human rights training is extended to public office holders of RUF/SL. Those additional functions will require a significant expansion in the current strength of the UNOMSIL human rights component to assist the parties in the implementation of the human rights provisions of the agreement.
Human rights technical cooperation programmes conducted by UNOMSIL, with support from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, will be directed towards the following sectors: (a) human rights training and skills development; (b) promotion of the rule of law; (c) support to and capacity-building for human rights institutions, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and civil society; (d) promotion of child rights; and (e) mainstreaming of attention to gender rights. Generous financial assistance from the international community will be required for the implementation of these activities.
To enable it to carry out an expanded role, it is proposed that the present human rights component be augmented immediately by 10 international human rights officers, including two child protection officers, the report states.
The protection of the rights of children will require immediate and special attention during the process of disarmament and demobilization and beyond, given the particular needs of child combatants during their rehabilitation and reintegration into society, the report stresses. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is playing a leading role, in close coordination with the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, in the protection of children and the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of child soldiers.
Among the many other pressing needs are the support of child victims of mutilations and sexual exploitation and the rehabilitation of primary health and educational services, the report adds. Additional financial, material and human resources will need to be mobilized by the relevant agencies in support of these activities. A child protection adviser should be added to the Mission to ensure that these issues are dealt with in a comprehensive manner and are given due attention at the national and international levels.
The signing of the Lomé Peace Agreement between the Government of Sierra Leone and the Revolutionary United Front is a great step forward for Sierra Leone, notes the Secretary-General. It provides the Sierra Leonean people with a unique opportunity to bring an end to the conflict. As in other peace accords, many compromises were necessary in the Lomé Peace Agreement. As a result, some of the terms under which this peace has been obtained, in particular the provisions on amnesty, are difficult to reconcile with the goal of ending the culture of impunity, which inspired the creation of the United Nations Tribunals for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia, and the future International Criminal Court.
According to the report, the reservation entered by the Secretary- General's Special Representative when he signed the peace agreement thus explicitly states that the amnesty cannot cover international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. At the same time, the Government and people of Sierra Leone should be allowed this opportunity to realize their best and only hope of ending their long and brutal conflict.
The challenges ahead are daunting, the Secretary-General states. Among those are: disarmament and demobilization of combatants; their reintegration into society; restoration of State authority in territories now held by rebel forces; addressing nationwide humanitarian needs; repatriation of refugees; institutional building; and the healing of the deep wounds caused by the civil war. Strict compliance with the terms of the agreement by both sides, as well as their supporters and all commanders and fighters in the field, is indispensable. The United Nations will exercise its responsibilities in an impartial manner, and calls on both sides to extend to UNOMSIL and ECOMOG their complete cooperation, the report stresses.
The international community and the United Nations have an important responsibility to assist Sierra Leone and to ensure that momentum is maintained, especially in the critical phase immediately after the signing of the agreement. He recommends that the Council approve, as an immediate first step, the provisional expansion of UNOMSIL, along the lines set out in the report.
The Secretary-General expresses the hope to revert to the Council as soon as possible with an additional report on the situation in Sierra Leone, which will include recommendations for the mandate and structure of the enhanced United Nations peacekeeping presence that may be required in the country.
The addendum to the report informs the Council that the full cost of the provisional expansion of UNOMSIL is estimated at some $24.3 million for a 10-month period ending 30 June 2000. The total projected cost of UNOMSIL for the 1999-2000 financial period would amount to $40.7 million, excluding additional requirements to be determined when the Secretary-General's recommendations for the mandate and structure of the enhanced United Nations peacekeeping presence in the country are finalized and submitted to the Council. A breakdown of the estimated cost by main categories of expenditure is annexed to the document.
Also before the Council was a draft resolution (document S/1999/874), which reads as follows:
"The Security Council,
"Recalling its resolutions 1171 (1998) of 5 June 1998, 1181 (1998) of 13 July 1998, 1231 (1999) of 11 March 1999 and other relevant resolutions and the statement of its President of 15 May 1999 (S/PRST/1999/13),
"Recalling also that in accordance with its resolution 1245 (1999) of 11 June 1999 the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL) extends until 13 December 1999,
"Affirming the commitment of all States to respect the sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity of Sierra Leone,
"Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 30 July 1999 (S/1999/836),
"1. Welcomes the signing of the Peace Agreement between the Government of Sierra Leone and the Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone (RUF) in Lomé on 7 July 1999 (S/1999/777), and commends the President of Togo, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and all those involved in facilitating the negotiations in Lomé on their contribution to this achievement;
"2. Commends the Government of Sierra Leone for its courageous efforts to achieve peace, including through legislative and other measures already taken towards implementation of the Peace Agreement, commends also the leadership of the RUF for taking this decisive step towards peace, and calls upon them both to ensure that the provisions of the Agreement are fully implemented;
"3. Commends also the Military Observer Group of ECOWAS (ECOMOG) on the outstanding contribution which it has made to the restoration of security and stability in Sierra Leone, the protection of civilians and the promotion of a peaceful settlement of the conflict, and urges all States to continue to provide technical, logistical and financial support to ECOMOG to help it to maintain its critical presence and continue to perform its role in Sierra Leone, including through the United Nations Trust Fund established to support peacekeeping and related activities in Sierra Leone;
"4. Authorizes the provisional expansion of UNOMSIL to up to 210 military observers along with the necessary equipment and administrative and medical support to perform the tasks set out in paragraph 38 of the report of the Secretary-General, and decides that these additional military observers shall be deployed as security conditions permit and shall operate for the time being under security provided by ECOMOG as indicated in paragraph 39 of the report;
"5. Underscores the importance of the safety, security and freedom of movement of United Nations and associated personnel, notes that the Government of Sierra Leone and the RUF have agreed in the Peace Agreement to provide guarantees in this regard, and urges all parties in Sierra Leone to respect fully the status of United Nations and associated personnel;
"6. Authorizes the strengthening of the political, civil affairs, information, human rights and child protection elements of UNOMSIL as set out in paragraphs 40 to 52 of the report of the Secretary-General, including through the appointment of a deputy Special Representative of the Secretary- General and the expansion of the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General;
"7. Encourages the ongoing consultations among the parties concerned on future peacekeeping arrangements in Sierra Leone including the respective tasks, strength and mandates of ECOMOG and the United Nations, and welcomes the intention of the Secretary-General to revert to the Council with comprehensive proposals concerning a new mandate and concept of operations for UNOMSIL;
"8. Calls upon the RUF and all other armed groups in Sierra Leone to begin immediately to disband and give up their arms in accordance with the provisions of the Peace Agreement, and to participate fully in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme in Sierra Leone;
"9. Urges all States and international organizations to provide resources to help ensure the successful conduct of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme, in particular through the Trust Fund established by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development for this purpose;
"10. Stresses the urgent need to promote peace and national reconciliation and to foster accountability and respect for human rights in Sierra Leone and, in this context, takes note of the views contained in paragraph 54 of the report of the Secretary-General, welcomes the provisions in the Peace Agreement on the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Human Rights Commission in Sierra Leone, and calls upon the Government of Sierra Leone and the RUF to ensure these Commissions will be established promptly within the time-frame provided for in the Peace Agreement;
"11. Welcomes the adoption of the Human Rights Manifesto by the parties concerned in Sierra Leone and stresses the need for international assistance to address the human rights issues in Sierra Leone as a step towards accountability in the country, as referred to in paragraph 20 of the report of the Secretary-General;
"12. Stresses the need for the international community and the Government of Sierra Leone to design and implement programmes to address the special needs of war victims, in particular those who have suffered maiming mutilation, and, in this regard, welcomes the commitment of the Government of Sierra Leone as set out in the Peace Agreement to establish a special fund for this purpose;
"13. Stresses the urgent and substantial need for humanitarian assistance to the people of Sierra Leone, in particular in the large proportion of the country hitherto inaccessible to relief agencies, and urges all States and international organizations to provide such assistance as a priority, in response to the revised consolidated inter-agency appeal issued in July 1999;
"14. Calls upon all parties to ensure the safe and unhindered access of humanitarian assistance to those in need in Sierra Leone, to guarantee the safety and security of humanitarian personnel and to respect strictly the relevant provisions of international humanitarian law;
"15. Stresses the need for sustained and generous assistance for the longer term tasks of reconstruction, economic and social recovery and development in Sierra Leone, and urges all States and international organizations to participate in and contribute actively to these efforts;
"16. Welcomes the commitment of the Government of Sierra Leone to work with the United Nations Children's Fund and the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and other international agencies to give particular attention to the long-term rehabilitation of child combatants in Sierra Leone, and encourages those involved also to address the special needs of all children affected by the conflict in Sierra Leone, including through the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and through support to child victims of mutilation, sexual exploitation and abduction, to the rehabilitation of health and education services, and to the recovery of traumatized children and the protection of unaccompanied children;
"17. Welcomes the decision of the Secretary-General that the United Nations develop a strategic framework approach for Sierra Leone in consultation with national and international partners, as indicated in paragraph 44 of his report;
"18. Requests the Secretary-General to keep the Council closely informed on the situation in Sierra Leone and to submit an additional report to the Council as soon as possible including recommendations for the mandate and structure of the enhanced United Nations peacekeeping presence that may be required in the country;
"19. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."
FODE DABOR (Sierra Leone) said President Kabbah's signature on the Lomé Peace Agreement, on behalf of the children of the country, was the culmination of his untiring and consistent determination to bring about lasting peace through dialogue. He took calculated risks to end a conflict which he had inherited. The President said that the Government went the "the extra mile". That effort was now seen in some circles as having given "far too much to those who had terrorized our people for over eight years". The Government's objective in the conflict was not to score military victory, but to defend innocent Sierra Leoneans, including children, who had no means of defending themselves in what had been described as one of the most atrocious conflicts in Africa.
He said that despite the destruction by rebels of life and property, and the maiming committed against the people of Sierra Leone, including children as young as six months, there was a desire to "bury the hatchet" for the sake of permanent peace. That was the price that had to be paid. His country therefore called on the international community to support the people of Sierra Leone in their search for peace. The security and safety of Sierra Leoneans were still vital. The agreement signed in Lomé would remain fragile until combatants were disarmed. Any inordinate delay in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration would render the entire agreement meaningless. The United Nations should take advantage of the momentum generated by the signing of the agreement by initiating the disarmament process without further delay, and before frustration and even resistance to disarmament began to develop among the combatants.
He said the Council in its present resolution had recognized the need to maintain the critical presence of ECOMOG in Sierra Leone. In the current post-conflict settlement programme, his country attached great importance to the welfare of ex-combatants. It also attached equal importance to the needs of the victims of the rebel war. Sierra Leone therefore welcomed the emphasis which the present resolution placed on the mobilization of international assistance for the special fund to enable the Government of his country to design and implement a programme which would address the special needs of war victims, in particular those who had suffered maiming and mutilation.
STEWART EIDON (United Kingdom) said that the inclusion in the 7 July Lomé Peace Agreement of a blanket amnesty for those who had committed appalling atrocities had rightly caused concern. But that was one of the many hard choices which the Government of Sierra Leone had had to make in the interests of securing a workable agreement. Now the international community must help ensure that the agreement promoted accountability and an end to impunity and began the long process of national reconciliation. While the steps taken by the Government to realize the agreement were welcomed, the lack of momentum on its overall implementation threatened to undermine the peace.
He said that delay in the immediate start of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme risked a descent into wider lawlessness. Beginning the programme would also help alleviate the dire humanitarian situation in certain parts of the country. The United Kingdom urged the World Bank, the Government of Sierra Leone, the ECOMOG and the United Nations to use available resources to get the programme under way immediately. Urgent contributions were also needed for the World Bank Trust Fund to help sustain the programme.
He said Foday Sankoh must return to Freetown and assume his responsibilities under the peace agreement with the absolute minimum of delay. He must ensure that his followers understood and adhered to the agreement and persuade them to release all remaining detainees, including children.
A full United Nations peacekeeping presence operation to assist in the implementation of the peace agreement and to help create a climate of confidence was necessary, he said. The larger observer mission being established today was only a stop-gap. The recent hostage-taking only highlighted the urgent need to address the security of United Nations military observers. Until the peace was secure, the continuing presence of ECOMOG would be vital to the success of an enhanced United Nations peacekeeping presence.
ANDREI GRANOVSKY (Russian Federation) said the Council was making an important contribution to finding a settlement to the situation in Sierra Leone. The peace was still fragile and it was absolutely essential that the interested parties did everything to consolidate the gains made at Lomé. The belligerent forces must scrupulously abide by the terms of the recently signed peace agreement. The Russian Federation supported the Secretary General's proposal to establish a strategic framework for the establishment of peace. He pledged his country's support for the people of Sierra Leone.
FERNANDO ENRIQUE PETRELLA (Argentina) said that the signing of the Lomé Peace Agreement had marked a decisive moment in Sierra Leone's recent history. Its implementation would be difficult and would require considerable resources for reconciliation and reconstruction. That was where the international community, the United Nations and in particular the Security Council, must focus their efforts. It was not enough merely to send military observers and civilian staff, but also to establish the basis for the rule of law.
He said that programmes must be set up for special education directed at children and youth mutilated during the conflict. It was from among them that the country's future leaders must emerge. They understood better than others the horror of war.
Granting a wide-ranging general amnesty raised very important question marks, he said. Argentina could understand that it had been a very sensitive decision and that only the parties involved could understand the reasons for it as well as shoulder the inherent responsibility. The draft resolution was well balanced. Argentina was convinced that the United Nations had an irreplaceable role for maintaining and consolidating peace in Sierra Leone.
CHEN XU (China) said the peace in Sierra Leone was just beginning and everything had to begin from scratch. As such it needed urgent assistance. China had always supported the country's popularly elected Government and the peace process. Through different channels, his country had also always provided various forms of assistance. It was clear that the present peace in Sierra Leone was still very fragile. China called on the international community to support the peace agreement on the basis of forward-looking principles and to begin economic reconstruction in the country. After the signing of Lomé agreement, the United Nations, including the Council, should respond expeditiously with concrete actions to support the peace process. There was a new role for UNOMSIL in monitoring the ceasefire as well as in handling disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants.
He said China supported the resolution. He hoped the Secretariat could make the necessary provisions as soon as possible for the expansion of UNOMSIL. An expanded mission could fully listen to the views of the Government of Sierra Leone, closely cooperate with ECOMOG and play a role in the consolidation of peace. The expansion of UNOMSIL at present was only a provisional measure. Its strength still fell short of the actual need. He hoped that recommendations put to the Council would address the final role and strength of UNOMSIL.
MOHAMMAD KAMAL YAN YAHAYA (Malaysia) said his delegation would vote in favour of the draft resolution as it believed that early and decisive action from the Security Council was necessary in order to support the Government and people of Sierra Leone following the signing of the peace agreement. The immediate priority in Sierra Leone was to consolidate peace, and the peace agreement afforded a unique opportunity to bring an end to the conflict. The international community must endeavour to continue assisting Sierra Leone in its national reconciliation efforts and in the reconstruction of its devastated economy.
He said Malaysia would give utmost consideration to providing additional military observers to UNOMSIL despite the recent hostage-taking incident involving a Malaysian military observer. That incident, in which UNOMSIL and ECOMOG personnel had been held, was a grim reminder of the still fragile and precarious situation in Sierra Leone. Nevertheless, the international community and the United Nations had an important responsibility to assist Sierra Leone and to ensure that momentum was maintained in the peace process.
ALFRED MOUNGARA-MOUSSOTSI (Gabon) said his delegation was aware of the major challenges that lay ahead for the final normalization of the situation in Sierra Leone. It therefore expressed support for the draft resolution and counted on the assistance of donors to address all the critical issues. The United Nations would have a major role to play in mobilizing support for the peace agreements and reconstruction. Ongoing logistical support for ECOMOG was also important, he stressed. He hoped Corporal Sankoh and his comrades would take the opportunity offered by the Lomé agreement to give the people of Sierra Leone the peace and freedom they deserved.
LUIZ TUPY CALDAS DE MOURA (Brazil) said his delegation did not associate itself with the draft resolution's expressions of commendation directed towards the leadership of the Revolutionary United Front. Brazil supported the peace accord and commended the democratically elected Government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, as well as the Parliament and people of Sierra Leone for concluding the peace accord, and the countries of ECOWAS for fostering it.
He said that in order not to fail in its collective responsibility to the people of Sierra Leone, the Security Council would have to assure a robust and multi-disciplinary medium-term presence of the United Nations. That was the only way to assure that the heinous acts against the human rights of Sierra Leone's people would not be repeated and that true reconciliation would take place. Member States would have to provide the Secretariat with the necessary tools to do that job.
YVES DOUTRIAUX (France) said the Lomé Peace Agreement gave the people of Sierra Leone the long-awaited opportunity to end the conflict that had afflicted the country for many years. His delegation welcomed the tolerance of all those who had worked to achieve the agreement. France also expressed its satisfaction that a decisive step had been taken to achieve peace and called upon all parties concerned to ensure that the terms of the agreement were implemented. The ECOMOG had shown that Africans had the capability to end an atrocious war. The United Nations was now called upon to support such efforts. There should be no double standard in the Organization with regard to peacekeeping in the world. France would therefore vote in favour of the resolution.
BABOUCARR-BLAISE ISMAILA JAGNE (Gambia) said the ceasefire agreement in Sierra Leone was holding, but the security situation was fragile. Everything should be done to make sure that it held permanently. The international community must therefore continue to show its solidarity with the Government and the people of Sierra Leone in "this trying moment". It had to be said, however, that the people of that country bore the ultimate responsibility for ensuring peace in their war ravaged country. Every effort should also be made to address the violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
He said that like most delegations, his was concerned about the blanket amnesty granted to the Revolutionary United Front. While that might not foster justice, "we understand the circumstances under which it was granted". The people of Sierra Leone had played their part; the rest of the international community should now play its part. It was for them to pursue and bring to justice those accused of war crimes. The disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants was crucial to the peace process, he stressed. It was understood that some rebels were assembled in Makeni waiting to be disarmed. "We should act swiftly, to ensure that the disarmament centres are opened quickly and for disarmament work to commence." Durable peace would be unattainable if there were no successful disarmament of the ex-combatants. In a region awash with small arms, the need to act swiftly could not be over-emphasized.
He said that the victims of the war, in particular those who had suffered maiming and mutilation, required special assistance. The special needs of women and children should also be given top priority. It was understood that over 2000 children were abducted by the Revolutionary United Front. Although a few hundred had been released, "we urge them to release all the remaining abductees in their custody". The challenges with which Sierra Leone was confronted were enormous and diverse. A comprehensive political strategy and assistance programme was required.
MICHEL DUVAL (Canada) said his Government welcomed today's decision to expand UNOMSIL, which signalled support by the international community for the Lomé Peace Agreement. Canada was pleased that this resolution incorporated many of the themes developed during the Security Council's open debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict held in February, like access to humanitarian assistance, the special needs of children and the importance of human rights and humanitarian law.
Effective disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of the rebel forces would be critical for peace and stability in Sierra Leone, he said. The successful reintegration of child combatants and war-affected children into a normal life so that they could become active citizens in the reconstruction of their country would also be critical.
He said that gross human rights abuses, including torture, amputation, rape and the forcible recruitment of children as combatants had torn the social fabric of Sierra Leone apart. The continued commitment and engagement of the international community and the mobilization of significant resources would be critical if peace was to take hold in Sierra Leone.
JASSIM MOHAMMED BUALLAY (Bahrain) said the peace agreement was a positive milestone in the effort to achieve national reconciliation. It was necessary to respect the agreement in order to move forward. The international community should support the Government of Sierra Leone and provide the necessary economic and humanitarian assistance.
He said that by reinforcing peace institutions, a resumption of the conflict would be avoided. The peace process was self-evident and Bahrain, accordingly, supported the draft resolution.
SAMUEL ZBOGAR (Slovenia) said that by taking action on the draft resolution before it and authorizing the provisional expansion of UNOMSIL, the Council would make its first concrete contribution to the implementation of the Lomé Peace Agreement. While some notable progress had already been made since the signing of the agreement, the bulk of the work, however, had yet to be completed. The source of his delegation's greatest concern during the critical phase was the serious delay in disarming combatants. It was estimated that six weeks after the signing of the agreement, only a few hundred of an estimated 20,000 rebel fighters had turned in their weapons. Some combatants had even returned home without reporting to demobilization centres.
The current situation in Sierra Leone called for more active involvement by the international community and the United Nations in the peace process, he said. It was important to remember that the deployment of additional military observers alone would not be sufficient for the implementation of the provisions of the peace accords. "We therefore look forward to the forthcoming comprehensive proposals by the Secretary-General regarding a new mandate and a concept of operations for UNOMSIL", he added.
ARNOLD PETER VAN WALSUM (Netherlands) said there could be no doubt that the widespread, systematic killings, rape and amputations committed against civilians in Sierra Leone constituted massive violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. As noted by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the reservation attached to his signature of the Lomé accord, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian law could not be covered by the Accord's amnesty provisions.
He noted that paragraph 54 of the Secretary-General's report had placed his reservations in the wider context of the goal of ending the culture of impunity. International tribunals had been set up, or were being set up, precisely to remedy that culture of impunity and the Security Council owed it to the people of Sierra Leone to allow them recourse to the same remedies now open to victims of similar crimes elsewhere.
There was no peace without justice, he said. Without accountability for the heinous crimes committed in Sierra Leone, there would be no lasting peace in that country. It was hoped that the Commission of Inquiry recommended by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission foreseen in the Lomé accord, would help bring forward the day when the people of Sierra Leone could confidently expect peace with justice.
PETER BURLEIGH (United States) said the Security Council, the United Nations and the international community must help the people of Sierra Leone in the process of rebuilding their lives and their country. The peace established in Lomé, Togo, on 7 July was a fragile one, yet it symbolized the hope that Sierra Leone finally had embarked on the path towards national reconciliation and reconstruction. To help promote the implementation of the peace accord, it was absolutely essential that the Revolutionary United Front leader, Foday Sankoh, return to Freetown.
The United States remained steadfast in its support for the Lomé agreement and stood ready to assist in its implementation, he continued. It had been a leading provider of emergency humanitarian and refugee assistance to Sierra Leone and was prepared to consider additional help, as required. The United States also remained committed to supporting the efforts of ECOMOG in implementing the Lomé agreement.
The objective of the United States was to promote a regional peace that would end the conflict, relieve the suffering of the Sierra Leonean people and foster peace and national reconciliation, he said. While fully supporting the agreement, his Government was concerned, as was the Secretary-General, by the agreement's provisions for amnesty. It was eager to see the early establishment of a credible Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as called for by the agreement. The United States also remained open to the possible establishment of an objective international fact-finding mission to document evidence of atrocities and provide information to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a basis for its work.
The United States remained committed to the pursuit of accountability for serious violations of international humanitarian law, wherever they occurred, he said. At the same time, it recognized the need to allow the Lomé agreement to bear fruit. The best guarantee for an end to the immense suffering of the people of Sierra Leone and a beginning of reconciliation was for the agreement to succeed. The United States supported the deployment of additional United Nations military observers, medical personnel and other
support staff to help implement the Lomé Peace Agreement, as called for in the resolution before the Council.
MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said that looking back into history, it should be evident that a new culture had to be learned -- a culture without impunity and adaptive to a new governance and the rule of law. Sierra Leone's leaders needed to make a conscious effort to inculcate democratic values and belief in the worth and dignity of the human person, and diligently dispel temptations to resort to the politics of revenge.
There was a pressing need for genuine solutions to the profound problems that were seen to have been the cause of the conflict, he said. It was hoped that there would be the necessary political will to address them. The social costs of resettling and rehabilitating displaced people, refugees, amputees and demobilized ex-combatants would be astronomical and the task daunting.
He reiterated the call that the Revolutionary United Front transform itself into a political party to share equitably the burden of nation-building with other compatriots as a dependable partner with no crisis of credibility Only then could it contribute to reconciliation and peace.
Action on Draft Resolution
The Council then unanimously adopted resolution 1260 (1999).
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