SECURITY COUNCIL AUTHORIZES MULTINATIONAL FORCE TO SUPPORT CEASEFIRE IN LIBERIA

1 August 2003
SC/7836

SECURITY COUNCIL AUTHORIZES MULTINATIONAL FORCE TO SUPPORT CEASEFIRE IN LIBERIA

01/08/2003
Press ReleaseSC/7836

Security Council

4803rd Meeting (Evening)

SECURITY COUNCIL AUTHORIZES MULTINATIONAL FORCE TO SUPPORT CEASEFIRE IN LIBERIA

Resolution 1497 (2003) Adopted by 12-0-3 (France, Germany, Mexico);

Also Declares Readiness to Deploy UN Peacekeeping Force by 1 October

Deeply concerned over the deteriorating situation in Liberia and consequent tragic loss of countless innocent lives, the Security Council this evening authorized a Multinational Force to support implementation of the 17 June ceasefire agreement there using “all necessary measures”, and declared its readiness to deploy a United Nations peacekeeping force by 1 October to assist in reaching a comprehensive peace agreement.

Adopting resolution 1497 (2003) in a vote of 12 in favour to none against, with three abstaining (France, Germany, Mexico), and acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Council also authorized the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), to extend logistical support for up to 30 days to the forward Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) elements of the Multinational Force.

The Multinational Force’s mandate will include maintaining security in the period after departure of the current President Charles Taylor, and the installation of a successor authority, securing the environment for delivery of humanitarian assistance, establishing conditions for initial stages of disarmament and demobilization, and preparing for the longer term United Nations stabilization force to relieve it.  The Council requested the Secretary-General to submit recommendations for the size, structure and mandate of the Force preferably by 15 August.

Stressing that the Force’s expenses would be borne by the participating Member States and other voluntary contributions, the Council called on Member States to contribute personnel, equipment, and other resources.

By the terms of the resolution, which was submitted by the United States, the Council also decided under operative paragraph 7 that current or former officials or personnel from a contributing State which was not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) would be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of that contributing State for all alleged acts or omissions arising out of, or related to, the Multinational Force or the United Nations stabilization force.

The Council also demanded that all States in the region refrain from any action that might contribute to instability in Liberia or on the borders between Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire.  It further stressed that all parties to the ceasefire agreement agree as soon as possible to an all-inclusive framework for a transitional government until such time when free and fair elections can be held and noted that President Taylor’s departure from the country was critical to that endeavour.

The Council will review the resolution’s implementation within 30 days.

The representative of the United States said his country’s sponsorship of the resolution reflected the importance the United States placed on finding the right and effective means to bring peace to Liberia.  The United States would do its part to support the intensive involvement by ECOWAS and the international community.  The Multinational Force was a “crucial short-term bridge” to putting United Nations peacekeepers on the ground.  He could not emphasize how crucial it was for President Charles Taylor to leave now.

The representatives of Germany, France and Mexico stated that, while they supported quick deployment of a Multination Force in Liberia because of the catastrophic situation there, they abstained in the vote because of the inclusion of operative paragraph 7 in the text.

The representatives of China and Chile also spoke.

The meeting, which started at 7:38 p.m., was adjourned at 8:20 p.m.

Background

When the Security Council met this evening to discuss the situation in Liberia, it had before it a letter from the Secretary-General addressed to the Council President, dated 29 July (document S/2003/769).  In it, he expresses his deep concern at the “dramatic deterioration” of the situation on the ground in Liberia, following renewed fighting in Monrovia on 18 July.

He says, therefore, that it is “absolutely essential” to accelerate the deployment of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) “vanguard force” to Monrovia to pave the way for the early deployment of the multinational force, which he proposed in his letter of 28 June to the Council.  He is encouraged by the determination of ECOWAS and the Security Council to take the necessary steps to that end.

As recalled in the letter, it had been decided by the ECOWAS Defence and Security Commission, and the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council at their meeting in Dakar, Senegal on 22 July, that the vanguard force would be comprised of two battalions from Nigeria (one of which would be transferred from the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone -- UNAMSIL), and a third made up of troops contributed by Ghana, Mali and Senegal.

The Nigerian Government has indicated its willingness to begin deploying its two battalions to Liberia immediately, provided the necessary logistical support is made available by the international community, the letter states.  In this connection, on 25 July, the United States announced that it will position appropriate military capabilities off the coast of Liberia to support the deployment of the ECOWAS forces.

The Secretary-General says that, should it become necessary, and if authorized by the Council, UNAMSIL has the capacity to sustain the Nigerian battalions, for a limited period in Liberia, without adversely affecting the Mission’s operational capacity.  To that end, it may be within the Council’s jurisdiction to give UNAMSIL the necessary mandate to use its resources to provide full support for the deployment and sustainment of the ECOWAS vanguard force.  He, therefore, appeals to the Council to give this matter “urgent consideration”.

As the Council is aware, he further explains, the deployment of the ECOWAS vanguard force would be the first phase of an interlocking three-phase deployment.  The deployment of the full multinational force would constitute Phase 2, followed by a United Nations peacekeeping operation, which would be Phase 3.

He says that ECOWAS is currently finalizing the concept of operations of the vanguard force, whose priority task would be to stabilize the situation in Monrovia, as President Charles Taylor departs.  It would be important, however, to reinforce the vanguard force in a timely manner.  Also essential would be for the Council to authorize a robust mandate for the envisaged United Nations peacekeeping force, in order to ensure that it has a credible deterrence capability.

Continuing, he says that the United Nations peacekeepers would provide a security umbrella and create the necessary conditions for the holding of elections.  Other specific tasks to be performed by the military component would include assisting the interim government in disarming and demobilizing armed groups, providing security at key locations and government buildings, facilitating the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and protecting civilians facing violence in areas of its immediate deployment.

The size of the peacekeeping mission is likely to be driven by the need to support such key activities, he says.  The specific number of troops and other personnel would be determined by a multi-disciplinary assessment mission to Liberia, which he intends to dispatch once key areas of the country become accessible, following the deployment of the multinational force.

The Secretary-General concludes that, subject to guidance by the Security Council, it is his intention to proceed immediately with the necessary preparations for the envisaged United Nations operation in Liberia.

Draft Resolution

The Council also had before it the following draft resolution (document S/2003/784):

“The Security Council,

Deeply concerned over the conflict in Liberia and its effects on the humanitarian situation, including the tragic loss of countless innocent lives, in that country, and its destabilizing effect on the region,

Stressing the need to create a secure environment that enables respect for human rights, including the well-being and rehabilitation of children, protects the well-being of civilians, and supports the mission of humanitarian workers;

Reminding the parties of their obligations under the Liberian ceasefire agreement, signed in Accra, 17 June 2003,

Recalling that paragraph 4 of resolution 1343 (2001) demanded that all States take action to prevent armed groups and individuals and groups from using their territory to prepare and commit attacks on neighbouring countries and refrain from any action that might contribute to further destabilization on the borders between Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone,

Commending the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in particular its Chairman, President Kufuor of Ghana, for its leadership role in facilitating the achievement of the aforementioned ceasefire agreement, and recognizing the critically important role it has played and necessarily will continue to play in the Liberia peace process, consistent with Chapter VIII of the Charter of the United Nations,

Commending also Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo for his efforts to bring peace to Liberia,

Recalling further the 30 June 2003 request of the Secretary-General to the Security Council to authorize the deployment of a Multinational Force to Liberia,

Determining that the situation in Liberia constitutes a threat to international peace and security, to stability in the West Africa subregion, and to the peace process for Liberia;

Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,

“1.Authorizes Member States to establish a Multinational Force in Liberia to support the implementation of the 17 June 2003 ceasefire agreement, including establishing conditions for initial stages of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration activities, to help establish and maintain security in the period after the departure of the current President and the installation of a successor authority taking into account the agreements to be reached by the Liberian parties, and to secure the environment for the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and to prepare for the introduction of a longer-term United Nations stabilization force to relieve the Multinational Force;

“2.Declares its readiness to establish such a follow-on United Nations stabilization force to support the transitional government and to assist in the implementation of a comprehensive peace agreement for Liberia and requests the Secretary-General to submit to the Council recommendations for the size, structure, and mandate of this force preferably by 15 August 2003 and subsequent deployment of the United Nations force no later than 1 October 2003;

“3.Authorizes UNAMSIL to extend the necessary logistical support, for a limited period of up to 30 days, to the forward ECOWAS elements of the Multinational Force, without prejudicing UNAMSIL’s operational capability with respect to its mandate in Sierra Leone;

“4.Requests the Secretary-General, pending a decision by the Security Council on the establishment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation in Liberia, to take the necessary steps, including the necessary logistical support to the ECOWAS elements of the Multinational Force, and pre-positioning critical logistical and personnel requirements to facilitate the rapid deployment of the envisaged operation;

“5.Authorizes the Member States participating in the Multinational Force in Liberia to take all necessary measures to fulfil its mandate;

“6.Calls upon Member States to contribute personnel, equipment, and other resources to the Multinational Force; and stresses that the expenses of the Multinational Force will be borne by the participating Member States and other voluntary contributions;

“7.Decides that current or former officials or personnel from a contributing State, which is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of that contributing State for all alleged acts or omissions arising out of or related to the Multinational Force or United Nations stabilization force in Liberia, unless such exclusive jurisdiction has been expressly waived by that contributing State;

“8.Decides that the measures imposed by paragraphs 5 (a) and 5 (b) of resolution 1343 (2001) shall not apply to supplies of arms and related materiel and technical training and assistance intended solely for support of and use by the Multinational Force;

“9.Demands that all States in the region refrain from any action that might contribute to instability in Liberia or on the borders between Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire;

“10.Calls on the Liberian parties to cooperate with the Joint Verification Team and Joint Monitoring Commission as established under the 17 June 2003 ceasefire agreement;

“11.Further calls on all Liberian parties and Member States to cooperate fully with the Multinational Force in Liberia in the execution of its mandate and to respect the security and freedom of movement of the Multinational Force, as well as to ensure the safe and unimpeded access of international humanitarian personnel to populations in need in Liberia;

“12.Stresses the urgent need for all Liberian parties who are signatories to the 17 June ceasefire agreement, in particular the LURD and MODEL leadership, immediately and scrupulously to uphold the 17 June ceasefire agreement, to cease using violent means and to agree as soon as possible to an all-inclusive political framework for a transitional government until such a time when free and fair elections can be held and notes that critical to this endeavour is the fulfilment of the commitment to depart from Liberia made by President Charles Taylor;

“13.Urges the LURD and MODEL to refrain from any attempt to seize power by force, bearing in mind the position of the African Union on unconstitutional changes of government as stated in the 1999 Algiers Decision and the 2000 Lome Declaration;

“14.Decides to review the implementation of this resolution within 30 days of adoption to consider the report and recommendations of the Secretary-General called for in paragraph 2 and consider further steps that might be necessary;

“15.Requests that the Secretary-General through his Special Representative to report to the Council periodically on the situation in Liberia in relation to the implementation of this resolution, including information on implementation by the Multinational Force of its mandate;

“16.Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”

Statements before Vote

ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) said that his delegation had decided to abstain in the vote on the draft resolution, as he would have wished to have a paragraph-by-paragraph vote take place.  He had requested such a vote, but the sponsor of the text had not agreed to it.  He had requested such a vote to express clearly that the only reason why he would abstain was because he did not agree with operative paragraph 7 of the resolution, while fully supporting all the other provisions.

In the negotiations, Mexico had proposed leaving that paragraph out and had, like others, submitted various formulations for achieving consensus.  Paragraph 7 set a serious precedent, and specifically contravened Mexico’s laws.  Article 4 of Mexico’s penal code stated that crimes committed abroad against a Mexican would be prosecuted by Mexico, provided that the perpetrator was not prosecuted abroad.  To uphold Mexico’s laws and the principles of international law, he had decided to abstain.

Ever since Mexico became a member of the Council, it had been careful to deal with peace in Liberia, as well as the humanitarian situation in that country.  Mexico had never agreed with the passive contention strategy that had been adopted for so long in the case of Liberia.  Mexico had also sought to have the Council give special attention to the problems of West Africa and deal with them in a regional approach.  Peace in Liberia was a key component of peace in the entire region.  In recent weeks, Mexico had continued to insist that the Council act.  He was convinced that had the Council acted in time, many lives could have been saved.  Although the resolution came a bit late, it must be a starting point for the transitional process to bring peace to Liberia.

GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany) said the constant deaths of civilians was to be deplored and the Council must react swiftly.  Germany supported quick deployment of a multinational force.  He was, therefore, in favour of all parts of the resolution pertaining to the mission in Liberia, although he would have liked to see an operative paragraph pertaining to the well-being of children.  He called on all parties to ensure the well-being of children, in accordance with international law and relevant Security Council resolutions.

However, he said, his country did not agree with operative paragraph 7 of the resolution, which went far beyond resolution 1487 (2003), on which his country had abstained.  Paragraph 7 limited not only the International Criminal Court, but also the jurisdiction of third countries.  It would mean that if a German was killed in Liberia, no German court could prosecute.  Prosecution of international crimes such as trafficking in human beings, prosecuted in German courts no matter where it happened, would not be possible.  There was no precedent for that provision and no reason to limit the national jurisdiction of third countries.  Therefore, the paragraph was not in accordance with international and German law.  For that reason, Germany had to abstain from voting, although it supported wholeheartedly the rest of resolution.  He would have preferred to vote paragraph-by-paragraph.

Action

The Security Council then adopted resolution 1497 (2003) in a vote of 13 in favour to none against, with 3 abstentions (France, Germany, Mexico).

Statements after Vote

JOHN NEGROPONTE (United States) was gratified by the swift action taken by the Council on Liberia.  His country’s sponsorship of the resolution reflected the importance the United States placed on finding the right and effective means to bring peace to Liberia.  An effective response demanded intensive involvement by ECOWAS and the international community.  The United States would do its part to support that endeavour.  He requested all Member States to show support by contributing to the Multinational Force and the United Nations mission to follow.  The resolution would allow for the deployment of the Force and set in motion the deployment of the United Nations mission.

The resolution authorized the peacekeeping forces in Sierra Leone to provide support to the initial phase of the ECOWAS deployment, without jeopardizing UNAMSIL’s mission, and authorized the Secretary-General to begin steps to deploy a follow-on United Nations mission.  Both the deployment of the Force and the follow-on mission went hand-in-hand.  The Multinational Force was a “crucial short-term bridge” to putting United Nations peacekeepers on the ground.  He took note of the Nigerian’s commitment of two battalions for immediate deployment.  The United States would provide support for those units.

A United States Marine force would shortly reach the coast of Liberia, he continued.  As part of the ECOWAS vanguard force, a first Nigerian battalion was set to move into Monrovia as soon as Monday.  Therefore, there was manifest need for the Council to adopt the resolution immediately.  Peacekeepers on the ground would secure the environment for the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and support the implementation of the 7 June ceasefire agreement.  Peacekeepers would also safeguard security in the wake of Charles Taylor’s departure.  He could not emphasize how crucial it was for Taylor to leave now.

Also, it was imperative that all Liberian parties to the ceasefire agreement, particularly the LURD and the MODEL, immediately adhere to and uphold that agreement.  All Liberian parties must cooperate fully with the Multinational Force and ensure its safety in Liberia.  That Force could now deploy, confident of the support of the Council.  To deal with the demands of the urgent situation, he asked the Secretary-General to direct his Special Representative to establish a presence in Liberia as soon as possible.

ZHANG YISHAN (China) said he was deeply concerned with the situation in Liberia and hoped that all parties would step up constructive negotiations on arrangements for a transitional government.  He welcomed the adopted resolution, which had demonstrated the United Nations’ determination to seek a solution.

He had taken note of concerns of certain members regarding operative paragraph 7 and regretted that there had been no compromise.  However, he hoped the resolution could contribute to stabilizing the situation in Liberia and promote a peaceful solution.

HERALDO MUNOZ (Chile) said the international community and public opinion had demanded swift action of the Council because of the situation in Liberia.  That was the principal reason for his country to vote in favour of the resolution.  Regarding operative paragraph 7, he noted that United Nations personnel enjoyed some immunity, such as immunity from criminal prosecution, and that Statute of Forces agreements also often granted immunities.  He was concerned that by granting exceptions, the harmonious development of international law might be impeded.  His country, however, had supported the resolution, as its priority was to save lives and to give an appropriate response to a humanitarian crisis that brooked no further delay.

MICHEL DUCLOS (France) said that everyone was familiar with the tragic situation prevailing in Liberia.  France totally supported the thrust of the resolution adopted, whose purpose was to authorize the speedy deployment of the Multinational Force and subsequently that of the follow-on United Nations mission.  He welcomed the fact that the resolution was adopted so speedily.  He was also grateful to the United States for taking the initiative for it.  The contribution of ECOWAS was, and continued to be, decisive for opening up the possibility of resolving the crisis in Liberia.  He welcomed in particular the role played by ECOWAS leaders.  It was crucial that ECOWAS enjoy the necessary support from the international community.

He stated that France, unfortunately, was not able to vote in favour of the text due to a provision which was “alien” to the situation in Liberia.  The scope of jurisdictional immunity was not compatible with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the norms of French law or the principles of international law.  Furthermore, that provision caused a problem of consistency at a time when the Council sought to reject impunity in all its forms.

On the vote itself, he, like others, had made suggestions to make it possible to allow the Council to retain unity.  He regretted that those initiatives had not been agreed to.  Notwithstanding the disagreement, he welcomed the commitment of the United States to Liberia through the framework of the United Nations.  His country was prepared to work closely with all those who contributed to the security of the region, to see to it that West Africa could embark on a path to peace and security.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.