SECURITY COUNCIL ESTABLISHES UN MISSION FOR SIERRA LEONE TO AID WITH IMPLEMENTATION OF LOME PEACE AGREEMENT

22 October 1999
SC/6742

SECURITY COUNCIL ESTABLISHES UN MISSION FOR SIERRA LEONE TO AID WITH IMPLEMENTATION OF LOME PEACE AGREEMENT

22 October 1999

Press ReleaseSC/6742

SECURITY COUNCIL ESTABLISHES UN MISSION FOR SIERRA LEONE TO AID WITH IMPLEMENTATION OF LOME PEACE AGREEMENT

19991022

Resolution 1270 (1999) Adopted Unanimously

The Security Council this morning established the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) with immediate effect for an initial period of six months and, acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, decided that UNAMSIL could act to ensure the security and freedom of movement of its personnel and protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence, taking into account the responsibilities of the Government of Sierra Leone and the Economic Community of West African States' Monitoring Observer Group (ECOMOG).

As it unanimously adopted resolution 1270 (1999), the Council mandated the new mission to: cooperate with the Government of Sierra Leone and the other parties to the peace agreement that was signed in Lomé on 7 July; assist the Government of Sierra Leone in the implementation of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration plan; establish a presence at key locations throughout the territory of Sierra Leone; ensure the security and freedom of movement of United Nations personnel; and monitor adherence to the ceasefire.

The Council also decided that the military component of UNAMSIL shall comprise a maximum of 6,000 military personnel, including 260 military observers, subject to periodic review in the light of conditions on the ground and progress made in the peace process, in particular in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme. The Council further decided that UNAMSIL will take over the substantive civilian and military components and functions of the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL) as well as its assets. The mandate of UNOMSIL shall terminate immediately on the establishment of UNAMSIL.

According to the 27-operative paragraph resolution, the Council underlined the importance of including in UNAMSIL personnel with appropriate training in international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law, including child and gender-related provisions, negotiation and communication skills, cultural awareness and civilian-military coordination. The Council also emphasized that the plight of children is among the most pressing challenges facing Sierra Leone and welcomed the continued commitment of the Government to work with United Nations and other international agencies for the long-term rehabilitation of child combatants there.

Security Council - 1a - Press Release SC/6742 4054th Meeting (AM) 22 October 1999

Also under the terms of the resolution, the Council stressed the urgent need for substantial resources to finance the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, and called on all States, international and other organizations to contribute generously to the multi-donor trust fund established by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

The Council called on all the parties to fulfil their commitments under the Lomé peace agreement. It called on the Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone, the Civil Defence Forces, former Sierra Leone Armed Forces/Armed Forces Revolutionary Council and all other armed groups to disband, give up their arms and participate fully in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme.

It noted the intention of the Secretary-General to keep the situation under close review and to revert to the Council with additional proposals, if required. The Council also requested the Secretary-General to report to the Council every 45 days.

Under-Secretary-General Olara Otunnu, Special Representative of the Secretary- General for Children and Armed Conflict, made a statement. Statements were also made by the representatives of Sierra Leone, Nigeria, United Kingdom, United States, Malaysia, France, Gambia, Netherlands, China, Brazil, Argentina. Canada and Bahrain.

The meeting, which began at 11:41 a.m., was adjourned at 1:27 p.m..

Work Programme

The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Sierra Leone. It had before it a report by the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL) (document S/1999/1003), in which he recommends that the Council authorize the deployment of a United Nations force, which, together with the UNOMSIL military observers and civilian components, would be known as the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). The force would be large and capable and should operate on the basis of robust rules of engagement.

The Council, when it authorized the provisional expansion of UNOMSIL (resolution 1260(1999)), also requested the Secretary-General to make recommendations for the mandate and structure of the enhanced United Nations peacekeeping presence. The present report is submitted pursuant to that request.

The Secretary-General says the incorporation of officers and men from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries into the new United Nations mission will be indispensable for the success of the peace process. He renews his appeal to donors to contribute generously to the Economic Community of West African States' Monitoring Observer Group (ECOMOG), or directly to its troop- contributing countries, to ensure that they have the means to perform their tasks.

The main purpose of the United Nations force, he says, would be to assist the Government to disarm and demobilize all former combatants and to create conditions of confidence and stability. The force would not be mandated to ensure the security of Freetown and the international airport at Lungi or to provide protection for the Government. Those tasks, as well as operations against rogue elements, would remain the responsibility of ECOMOG.

The United Nations force, which would deploy throughout Sierra Leone, would be led by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, assisted by a Force Commander with the rank of major-general. It would require assurances of freedom of movement and cooperation from all parties.

The Secretary-General recommends the following mandate for such a force: assisting the Government of Sierra Leone in the implementation of the disarmament, destabilization and reintegration plan; establishing a presence at key locations throughout the territory of Sierra Leone; ensuring the security and freedom of movement of United Nations personnel; monitoring adherence to the cease-fire; encouraging the parties to create confidence-building mechanisms; facilitating the delivery of humanitarian assistance; supporting the operations of United Nations civilian officials; and providing support, as requested, to the elections, which are to be held in accordance with the present Constitution of Sierra Leone.

The United Nations force should comprise six infantry battalions, and specialized support units, including logistics, communications, engineering and air and other transportation. The force should be provided with helicopters and armoured personnel carriers and the existing medical support unit should be increased in size. A helicopter-borne rapid reaction element would also form part of the force structure. It would be necessary to expand the number of military observers from the currently authorized 210 to 260. The total number of military personnel will be some 6,000.

The Secretary-General would seek troop-contributions for a significant part of the force from ECOWAS countries, in particular those currently contributing to ECOMOG. Such troops could be deployed rapidly to Sierra Leone, if they were not already there, as part of ECOMOG. Units provided by Member States outside the region should be inducted as soon as possible. As the overall security situation in the country improves, the Secretary-General would recommend a reduction of the force level.

Throughout the process, the Secretary-General declares, the question of security must remain paramount. The concept of operations is predicated upon ECOMOG remaining in Sierra Leone. If Nigerian troops withdraw, a reassessment of the security conditions will be required. In that case, the Secretary-General might make further proposals to strengthen the United Nations presence. If there is a full withdrawal by ECOMOG, a much stronger United Nations force of about 10 infantry battalions would be required.

The international community will not be able to maintain a major military presence in Sierra Leone indefinitely, the Secretary-General warns. He urges the Government of Sierra Leone to expedite the establishment and training of its national police and armed forces, without which it will not be possible to achieve long-term stability, national reconciliation and the reconstruction of the country. More immediately, however, Sierra Leone is in urgent need of security, the Secretary-General continues. He calls on Corporal Foday Sankoh, the leader of the Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone (RUF) Johnny Paul Koroma, the leader of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) to return without delay to Freetown to take part in the peace process.

The report which also reviews political developments, the military and security situation, human rights, humanitarian aspects, disarmament and demobilization, discusses cooperation between ECOMOG and the United Nations. It notes that, on 25 August, ECOWAS adopted a new mandate for ECOMOG, providing, among other things for the Military Observer Group to do the following: maintain peace and security of the Sierra Leonean State; provide protection for UNOMSIL and the personnel working in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme; provide security throughout the country for UNOMSIL military observers, human rights monitors, humanitarian aid workers and the staff of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme; and disarm all fighters of the RUF, Civil Defence Force, former Sierra Leone armed forces and paramilitary groups, in conjunction with UNOMSIL.

The Secretary-General advises that the withdrawal of Nigerian troops began on 31 August, but was suspended following a meeting between Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and the President of Sierra Leone, Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. The Government of Nigeria has indicated that the withdrawals will resume in October.. Even as it draws down its forces in Sierra Leone, however, ECOMOG intends to continue to provide security for the areas where it is currently located, in particular around Freetown and Lungi, and to proceed with at least the early stages of disarmament and demobilization.

On the question of financial aspects, the Secretary-General says he has obtained the concurrence of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Question (ACABQ) regarding the utilization of the amount of $5.5 million for the maintenance of the mission from 1 July to 31 October 1999. He has requested commitment authority from the Committee for $6.3 million to provide for the Mission’s immediate requirements in connection with the deployment of additional military and civilian personnel and equipment.

Draft Resolution

The Council also had before it a draft resolution (document S/1999/1069) 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 1260 (1999) of 20 August 1999 and other relevant resolutions and the statement of its President of 15 May 1999 (S/PRST/1999/13),

"Recalling also the report of the Secretary-General of 8 September 1999 (S/1999/957) and its resolution 1265 (1999) of 17 September 1999 on the protection of civilians in armed conflict,

"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 23 September 1999 (S/1999/1003),

"Determining that the situation in Sierra Leone continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region,

"1. Welcomes the important steps taken by the Government of Sierra Leone, the leadership of the Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone (RUF), the Military Observer Group (ECOMOG) of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL) towards implementation of the Peace Agreement (S/1999/777) since its signing in Lomé on 7 July 1999, and recognizes the important role of the Joint Implementation Committee established by the Peace Agreement under the chairmanship of the President of Togo;

"2. Calls upon the parties to fulfil all their commitments under the Peace Agreement to facilitate the restoration of peace, stability, national reconciliation and development in Sierra Leone;

"3. Takes note of the preparations made for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants, including child soldiers, by the Government of Sierra Leone through the National Committee for Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration, and urges all concerned to make every effort to ensure that all designated centres begin to function as soon as possible;

"4. Calls upon the RUF, the Civil Defence Forces, former Sierra Leone Armed Forces/Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) 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;

"5. Welcomes the return to Freetown of the leaders of the RUF and AFRC, and calls upon them to engage fully and responsibly in the implementation of the Peace Agreement and to direct the participation of all rebel groups in the disarmament and demobilization process without delay;

"6. Deplores the recent taking of hostages, including UNOMSIL and ECOMOG personnel, by rebel groups and calls upon those responsible to put an end to such practices immediately and to address their concerns about the terms of the Peace Agreement peacefully through dialogue with the parties concerned;

"7. Reiterates its appreciation for the indispensable role which ECOMOG forces continue to play in the maintenance of security and stability in and the protection of the people of Sierra Leone, and approves the new mandate for ECOMOG (S/1999/1073, annex) adopted by ECOWAS on 25 August 1999;

"8. Decides to establish the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) with immediate effect for an initial period of six months and with the following mandate:

“(a) To cooperate with the Government of Sierra Leone and the other parties to the Peace Agreement in the implementation of the Agreement;

“(b) To assist the Government of Sierra Leone in the implementation of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration plan;

“(c) To that end, to establish a presence at key locations throughout the territory of Sierra Leone, including at disarmament/reception centres and demobilization centres;

“(d) To ensure the security and freedom of movement of United Nations personnel;

“(e) To monitor adherence to the ceasefire in accordance with the ceasefire agreement of 18 May 1999 (S/1999/585, annex) through the structures provided for therein;

“(f) To encourage the parties to create confidence-building mechanisms and support their functioning;

“(g) To facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance;

“(h) To support the operations of United Nations civilian officials, including the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and his staff, human rights officers and civil affairs officers;

“(i) To provide support, as requested, to the elections, which are to be held in accordance with the present constitution of Sierra Leone;

"9. Decides also that the military component of UNAMSIL shall comprise a maximum of 6,000 military personnel, including 260 military observers, subject to periodic review in the light of conditions on the ground and the progress made in the peace process, in particular in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme, and takes note of paragraph 43 of the report of the Secretary-General of 23 September 1999;

"10. Decides further that UNAMSIL will take over the substantive civilian and military components and functions of UNOMSIL as well as its assets, and to that end decides that the mandate of UNOMSIL shall terminate immediately on the establishment of UNAMSIL;

"11. Commends the readiness of ECOMOG to continue to provide security for the areas where it is currently located, in particular around Freetown and Lungi, to provide protection for the Government of Sierra Leone, to conduct other operations in accordance with their mandate to ensure the implementation of the Peace Agreement, and to initiate and proceed with disarmament and demobilization in conjunction and full coordination with UNAMSIL;

"12. Stresses the need for close cooperation and coordination between ECOMOG and UNAMSIL in carrying out their respective tasks, and welcomes the intended establishment of joint operations centres at headquarters and, if necessary, also at subordinate levels in the field;

"13. Reiterates 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 calls upon all parties in Sierra Leone to respect fully the status of United Nations and associated personnel;

"14. Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, decides that in the discharge of its mandate UNAMSIL may take the necessary action to ensure the security and freedom of movement of its personnel and, within its capabilities and areas of deployment, to afford protection to civilians under imminent threat of physical violence, taking into account the responsibilities of the Government of Sierra Leone and ECOMOG;

"15. Underlines the importance of including in UNAMSIL personnel with appropriate training in international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law, including child and gender-related provisions, negotiation and communication skills, cultural awareness and civilian-military coordination;

"16. Requests the Government of Sierra Leone to conclude a status-of-forces agreement with the Secretary-General within 30 days of the adoption of this resolution, and recalls that pending the conclusion of such an agreement the model status-of-forces agreement dated 9 October 1990 (A/45/594) should apply provisionally;

"17. Stresses the urgent need to promote peace and national reconciliation and to foster accountability and respect for human rights in Sierra Leone, underlines in this context the key role of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Human Rights Commission and the Commission for the Consolidation of Peace established under the Peace Agreement, and urges the Government of Sierra Leone to ensure the prompt establishment and effective functioning of these bodies with the full participation of all parties and drawing on the relevant experience and support of Member States, specialized bodies, other multilateral organizations and civil society;

"18. Emphasizes that the plight of children is among the most pressing challenges facing Sierra Leone, welcomes the continued commitment of the Government of Sierra Leone to work with the United Nations Children's Fund, 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 reiterates its encouragement of those involved to address the special needs of all children affected by the conflict;

"19. Urges all parties concerned to ensure that refugees and internally displaced persons are protected and are enabled to return voluntarily and in safety to their homes, and encourages States and international organizations to provide urgent assistance to that end;

"20. Stresses the urgent need for substantial additional resources to finance the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, and calls upon all States, international and other organizations to contribute generously to the multidonor trust fund established by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development for this purpose;

"21. Stresses also the continued need for urgent and substantial humanitarian assistance to the people of Sierra Leone, as well as for sustained and generous assistance for the longer term tasks of peace-building, reconstruction, economic and social recovery and development in Sierra Leone, and urges all States and international and other organizations to provide such assistance as a priority;

"22. Calls upon all parties to ensure 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 and human rights law;

"23. Urges the Government of Sierra Leone to expedite the formation of professional and accountable national police and armed forces, including through their restructuring and training, without which it will not be possible to achieve long-term stability, national reconciliation and the reconstruction of the country, and underlines the importance of support and assistance from the international community in this regard;

"24. Welcomes the continued work by the United Nations on the development of the Strategic Framework for Sierra Leone aimed at enhancing effective collaboration and coordination within the United Nations system and between the United Nations and its national and international partners in Sierra Leone;

"25. Notes the intention of the Secretary-General to keep the situation in Sierra Leone under close review and to revert to the Council with additional proposals if required;

"26. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council every 45 days to provide updates on the status of the peace process, on security conditions on the ground and on the continued level of deployment of ECOMOG personnel, so that troop levels and the tasks to be performed can be evaluated as outlined in paragraphs 49 and 50 of the report of the Secretary-General of 23 September 1999;

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

Statements

OLARA A. OTUNNU, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said Sierra Leoneans wanted to be sure that the war was finally over and see the re-establishment of security. That meant, above all, the disarming of combatants. The most daunting challenge was the "crisis of young people" -- the desperate conditions of young children and adolescents. The children of Sierra Leone had suffered beyond belief. Many had been deliberately maimed, with their limbs brutally cut off. An estimated 60 per cent of abducted children were girls, the vast majority of whom were reported to have been sexually abused. Thousands of children had been serving as soldiers in the three main fighting groups.

In view of what he had witnessed in Sierra Leone, he had proposed a special "Agenda for Action for the Children of Sierra Leone", he said. It included a National Commission for Children of Sierra Leone to ensure that their protection and welfare would be a central concern in the aftermath of the war. A lot of support from the international community would be required. The Agenda for Action would incorporate child protection into the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) mandate. A senior child protection advocate should always be attached to each United Nations peace operation. Such child protection advisers should be drawn from the ranks of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights or relevant non-governmental organizations.

He said a special programme was needed for the rehabilitation of child amputees in Sierra Leone and for the special needs of sexually abused children. Other important items on the Agenda for the children of Sierra Leone were access to and the release of abducted children, the demobilization of child combatants; displaced children; and the rehabilitation of basic educational and medical services. There was an urgent need for the establishment of the special fund for war victims agreed on under the Lomé Peace Agreement. He appealed to the political leaders to demonstrate their commitment to peace by taking bold and concrete measures to implement the Agreement. He also appealed to the international community not to let down the children of Sierra Leone by again adopting a "wait and see" attitude.

IBRAHIM M. KAMARA (Sierra Leone) said the adoption of the draft resolution would erase the perception that the Council had relegated concern for the situation in Sierra Leone to the bottom of its agenda. The draft resolution provided an additional and more durable security blanket for all Sierra Leoneans. The fact that under its mandate, UNAMSIL might take measures to protect United Nations personnel and civilians was an insurance policy for both international peacekeepers and innocent civilians. It sent a clear message to any potential gross human rights violator that the international community would not turn a blind eye when innocent civilians were under threat of physical violence.

He said the draft also underscored the efficacy of practical cooperation between the United Nations and African Regional or sub-regional organizations in the peacekeeping activities. The continued presence of the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Observer Group (ECOMOG) in Sierra Leone was crucial to the successful implementation of the Lomé agreement and the consolidation of peace in Sierra Leone. The concept of the new force to be approved by the Council was predicated on ECOMOG continued presence. He appealed to the Council to do everything in its power to ensure that ECOMOG remained in Sierra Leone

He said the people of Sierra Leone were grateful for the Council decision to provide a more durable security blanket for them but the question now was “how soon”? Would it take as long as the deployment of the 210 observers approved by the Council several months ago? he asked. Two days ago the government had launched the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration programme with the hope that the United Nations would act quickly and deploy the new peacekeeping force. No more time should be wasted in the disarmament process.

ARTHUR C.I. MBANEFO (Nigeria) said the adoption of the draft resolution establishing UNAMSIL would be a landmark development in the search for peace in Sierra Leone, with impact on the United Nations, ECOWAS, Nigeria and Sierra Leone itself. For the United Nations, it was an opportunity to fulfil its primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. It also represented a concrete attempt to assist the West African subregion in resolving a local conflict. The ECOWAS could today breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the United Nations had finally taken concrete steps to assume its responsibility to maintain peace and security in the subregion. For Nigeria, the creation of UNAMSIL vindicated its conviction that the crisis in Sierra Leone was a threat to international peace and security, and also relieved it of a disproportionate burden in human and material resources. The people of Sierra Leone were the biggest beneficiaries of the Council’s decision -- after years of destruction and deprivation, they could now aspire to a normal life of peace and stability, necessary for socio-economic development.

The process leading to today’s decision had been long and tortuous, he said. The ECOWAS monitoring group had taken on the Sierra Leone assignment at a time when the initiative attracted very little international attention and had been able to contain the crisis. He paid tribute to the leadership of ECOWAS for their perseverance in the face of daunting difficulties. Nigeria’s commitment to international peace and security was clean. In the subregion, it had deployed enormous human and material resources to the search for enduring solutions to conflicts. Its efforts in Liberia and in Sierra Leone bore testimony to its devotion to the principle of international responsibility, and its conviction that meaningful development could not take place without peace and stability. Nigeria stood ready to play its part in UNAMSIL to facilitate implementation of the Lomé accord.

The UNAMSIL represented a rare form of cooperation between the United Nations and a subregional organization, he said. Nigeria supported and commended that development, and hoped the United Nations would employ a similar approach with other regional and subregional organizations in the pursuit of international peace and security. He urged the United Nations and the entire international community to commit to the faithful implementation of today’s text for the people of Sierra Leone. Nigeria hoped that the successful implementation of the resolution would lead to post-conflict peace-building, ensuring lasting peace, stability and socio- economic development, for Sierra Leone and the entire subregion.

STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom) said that with the establishment of UNAMSIL, the United Nations was making a major contribution to ensuring that the Lomé agreement could succeed. The international community must move quickly to support the continuing implementation of the peace agreement. Without the support of the international community, the agreement would fail, with devastating consequences for the people of Sierra Leone. The current situation in Sierra Leone would be seen by many as a litmus test of the commitment of the international community to resolving conflict. Establishing UNAMSIL provided a clear opportunity for the Council to demonstrate that its commitment to conflict resolution applied as much to Africa, as to other trouble spots around the world.

It was vital that the decisions taken today were implemented quickly, he continued. The force had a crucial role to play in implementation of the Lomé agreement. Its early deployment would create the necessary climate of confidence and renew momentum in the peace process. It would facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to areas in dire need. All parties must ensure the safety and free movement of humanitarian convoys. A crucial element of UNAMSIL’s role in Sierra Leone would be assisting the Government with disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. Political will by the parties was needed to get the programme fully under way. But practical and financial support was also urgently needed. He called on all States to make urgent contributions to the World Bank Trust Fund to help sustain that programme.

All remaining detainees held by rebel groups should be released immediately, he said. The UNAMSIL must be able to protect the security and free movement of its personnel in the discharge of its mandate. It should be prepared to act to defend civilians when and where it was able to do so. But, ultimately, ECOMOG and the Government of Sierra Leone were responsible for security under the Lomé agreement. The success of UNAMSIL would depend on joint deployment and close cooperation with ECOMOG, which would have a vital role in maintaining security, particularly around Freetown and Lungi, and in the disarmament and demobilization process with UNAMSIL.

RICHARD C. HOLBROOKE (United States) said the car bomb attack earlier today in Banja Luka was a cowardly attack showing that in Bosnia, where progress had been made, the forces of darkness were still active. The attack was a reminder that there was need to work for peace throughout the world. By adopting today’s resolution, the Council would be acknowledging the end of one of the most brutal civil wars and the beginning of one of the most well-deserved transitions to peace. The Council would be embracing the historic accord signed in Lomé, Togo, and demonstrating its readiness to stand with the people of Sierra Leone as they rebuilt their shattered country and shattered lives. While three months had elapsed since the peace agreement had been signed, the situation remained fragile. The momentum of the peace process could easily be lost without prompt, robust action by the international community.

Resolving this conflict was a high priority for the United States Government, he said. Over the past two years, it had provided over $100 million to meet humanitarian needs resulting from the war, and some $15.6 million in logistical and other non-lethal support to ECOMOG for its role in implementing the peace agreement. He hoped the Lomé Agreement succeeded and said his Government was prepared to provide support to that end. Like the Secretary-General, however, it was concerned by the provisions for amnesty in the Agreement. The United States was committed to justice and accountability. It was working to help the Government establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Human Rights Commission, called for by the Agreement. The United States supported an international fact- finding mission to assist the work of those two Commissions, which should help bring healing and reconciliation to Sierra Leone.

The United States remained committed to the pursuit of accountability for serious violations of international humanitarian law, wherever those occurred, he continued. It also recognized the need to allow the peace agreement to bear fruit. Successful implementation of the peace agreement was essential to the establishment of peace, political order and stability in Sierra Leone. The United States fully supported the resolution to establish UNAMSIL, because it was committed to working with Africans to make African peacekeeping work.

HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said the presence of UNAMSIL would create the climate of confidence necessary for the consolidation of peace and reconciliation. He strongly supported the deployment of a strong United Nations force in Sierra Leone, but the implementation of the Lomé peace agreement could not be placed solely on the shoulders of UNAMSIL. It was also the responsibility of the people and, particularly, of the leaders of Sierra Leone. The success of UNAMSIL might have a bearing on future peacekeeping missions in other conflict areas in Africa. It was important that UNAMSIL be given the tools to ensure that it had a fair chance to carry out its mission successfully.

He welcomed the continued presence of ECOMOG in Sierra Leone and urged the international community to continue to assist ECOMOG. He stressed the need for close cooperation and coordination between ECOMOG and UNAMSIL.

Continuing, he said the cynical and manipulative use of children for purposes of war must be strongly condemned and never repeated anywhere else in the world. Rebel leaders must turn words into deeds. They must reign in their supporters and ensure that they were disarmed and disbanded, fully and without delay. He called on the parties to fulfil their commitments. Sierra Leone must cement peace and embark on political, social and economic reconstruction and rehabilitation. During that effort, the special needs of the traumatized children of Sierra Leone should be addressed early and adequately.

ALAIN DEJAMMET (France) said the international community must not let the opportunity to lay the basis for peace slip away. New prospects for peace were developing and those who had made that development possible must be thanked, especially the African countries that had participated and in particular, Nigeria, which had played a leading role in the return to peace. He urged all parties to respect the commitments they had undertaken at Lomé in good faith.

He said the Lomé agreement represented a positive development for peace and security in West Africa. The Council needed to equip itself with the measures to implement the agreement, including significant levels of personnel and robust rules of engagement for the mission. The Council would also consider a resolution that envisaged the establishment of a mission in the Central African Republic. Those were signs of a genuine openness and response to the aspirations of Africa. The Council must stand side by side with Africans to facilitate the implementation and fulfilment of the prospects for the peaceful settlement of conflicts in Africa. He hoped it would be followed up in other regions of Africa, particularly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

BABOUCARR-BLAISE ISMAILA JAGNE (Gambia) said it was clear today that the Council’s interest in Africa had not been lost. All agreed that it had been a long and arduous task to get to today. The unprecedented show of international support for Sierra Leone provided a unique opportunity. It must be seized by the people of Sierra Leone to restore their beautiful country to the vibrant nation it once was. To achieve that, the parties must fulfil their commitment to the peace agreement. The process of disarming, demobilizing and rehabilitating must be accelerated. The new mandate adopted by ECOMOG illustrated the positive evolution of the situation. It was necessary to establish close cooperation and coordination with ECOMOG.

The situation in Sierra Leone was still fragile, he said. The ECOMOG could not disarm and demobilize the parties alone. The United Nations could not subcontract its responsibility for international peace and security. Lack of finances was no excuse for abdicating responsibility.

He noted that the plight of children was among the most pressing challenges facing Sierra Leone and welcomed the commitment of the Government of Sierra Leone, UNAMSIL and others to addressing the situation. On the whole, the draft addressed the most important issues facing Sierra Leone, and his delegation would vote in favour. The people of Sierra Leone now had a chance to repair the damage done to their country in this long and fratricidal conflict. That was what the draft was offering.

ALPHONS HAMER (Netherlands) said the success of the Lomé peace agreement was ultimately in the hands of the parties themselves and of critical importance were disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. Success in those efforts would be an important indicator of the success of the peace process as a whole. All efforts should be made by all parties to make sure the fighters disbanded and gave up their arms, and were reintegrated into civil life. Special attention must be given to child soldiers, who were often both victim and perpetrator.

For peace to be lasting in Sierra Leone, those responsible for the sufferings that had occurred during the eight-year civil war must not go unpunished, he said. Peace without accountability would not last. The work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission should start as soon as possible and receive all the support it needed, from the parties themselves, and from the international community. Progress in that field would be another test of the success of the peace process. The Netherlands was prepared to continue and renew its support for ECOMOG.

SHEN GUOFANG (China) said that, after the signing of the Lomé agreement, it was essential that the United Nations act as quickly as possible to support the peace process. The Council had quickly drafted the resolution and reached agreement after many rounds of negotiations. Today’s draft was the first such to be adopted since the Council’s open debate on Africa last month. It was comprehensive, balanced and reflected the Council’s serious intentions on behalf of Africa.

China hoped the Secretariat would, at the earliest opportunity, begin practical consultations with the Government of Sierra Leone, and hoped UNAMSIL would work closely with ECOMOG, he said. The people of Sierra Leone sought peace and an early healing of wounds rendered by eight years of civil war. Today’s text would provide new impetus to the peace process in Sierra Leone and contribute positively to promoting economic development and stabilization. China would vote in favour of the text.

GELSON FONSECA (Brazil) said the international community must give consistent attention to the plight of children throughout the world. He commended the contact group for its role in the peace process and hoped the people of Sierra Leone would sustain the peace process. He supported the terms of the draft resolution and thanked the leadership of the British delegation in the process leading to the resolution.

At such a critical juncture in the conflict in Sierra Leone, he said there was a need to emphasize rehabilitation and reconstruction. The international community, through the coordinated efforts of the United Nations system, must develop a long-term strategy that included security, political, economic, social and humanitarian aspects, as well as support for regional actors and organizations. Taking into account the violations of human rights perpetrated during the war, the prompt establishment and funding of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Human Rights Commission were crucial for the consolidation of peace and national reconciliation. The necessary political conditions should be put in place, so that vigorous peacekeeping operations could be put into other regions in Africa.

FERNANDO PETRELLA (Argentina) said that after nine years of struggle the people of Sierra Leone could look forward to peace. The Lomé agreement marked a decisive moment. He hoped today’s action would effectively contribute to its implementation.

He said maintaining the safety and security of peacekeeping personnel was essential. Improving security was not a luxury, but an essential operating cost. It was appropriate that the draft resolution strengthened UNAMSIL’s rules of engagement with the additional authority of Chapter VII of the Charter. The protection of civilians under Chapter VII was a pertinent development. It introduced a new fundamental legal and moral dimension. It indicated that the Council had learned from its own experiences and would not be unresponsive when innocent civilians were attacked.

The draft established objective geographical and functional limits. It would not overlap the responsibilities of ECOWAS. With regard to the resolution’s paragraph concerning the rehabilitation of child soldiers, UNAMSIL should give to that provision the scope it required. The UNAMSIL was the first of a series of large scale operations that the Council would be acting on in the coming weeks. If they were to fulfil their mandates, the United Nations must have the necessary resources.

ROBERT FOWLER (Canada) said there was no more fitting reminder to what the Council was attempting to achieve than the description presented by Under- Secretary-General Otunnu. He supported the draft resolution and thanked the British delegation for its efforts to accommodate the views of all the Council members. The resolution would send a strong message of commitment to implementation of the peace process.

Referring to the growing number of casualties among peacekeeping operations, he said the establishment of a United Nations-funded peacekeeping operation would ensure that much of the financial load would be assumed by the international community. He regretted that some of the soldiers serving in Sierra Leone would not be funded on that basis and would have to rely on funds that were slow in coming.

The conflict in Sierra Leone had had a tragic impact, he said. The people of that impoverished nation had been subjected to unspeakable tragedies. He was pleased that UNAMSIL's mandate included provisions for the protection of civilians. United Nations peacekeepers had the authority to act decisively and forcefully in the face of threats to civilians. It would play an important role in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of the rebels.

He was pleased that an important process had been launched. It was essential that UNAMSIL and ECOMOG coordinate their efforts to carry out their mandates successfully. While the commitment of the international community was key, so too was that of the people of Sierra Leone. He urged all parties to respect fully the provisions of the Lomé accord. The incorporation of former opposition leaders in the Government was an important step.

RASHID AL-DOSARI (Bahrain) said the civil war in Sierra Leone had had a devastating effect on the country and caused unspeakable suffering, particularly to women and children. The abuses had been carried out by the rebel forces. Under-Secretary-General Otunnu's report had shed light on those abuses. There was a need to provide adequate protection for innocent civilians.

The mission must not be transformed into a new political setback. He called on all the signatories of the Lomé agreement to scrupulously abide by its provisions, as it was the only instrument to return peace to Sierra Leone. He welcomed the return of the rebel leaders to Freetown and hoped the new mission would contribute to the implementation of the Lomé agreement. He supported the draft resolution and its insistence on the need for the parties to respect the freedom of movement of United Nations staff.

The Council then unanimously adopted resolution 1270 (1999). * *** *

For information media. Not an official record.