SECURITY COUNCIL CAN DO WHAT IS JUST AND RIGHT FOR LIBERIA, SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE SAYS IN URGING UN FORCE

16 September 2003
SC/7874

SECURITY COUNCIL CAN DO WHAT IS JUST AND RIGHT FOR LIBERIA, SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE SAYS IN URGING UN FORCE

16/09/2003
Press Release
SC/7874


Security Council

4826th Meeting* (AM)


SECURITY COUNCIL CAN DO WHAT IS JUST AND RIGHT FOR LIBERIA,


SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE SAYS IN URGING UN FORCE


Calls for Focused, Impartial, Experienced, Professional Operation


Jacques Paul Klein, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Liberia, called this morning for a credible, well trained United Nations force to replace the current multinational force in Liberia on 1 October. 


Introducing the Secretary-General’s report on Liberia to the Security Council, he praised the rapid deployment of the Economic Community of West African States' Mission to Liberia (ECOMIL) which, he said, had begun to restore stability in and around Monrovia in conjunction with support from the United States.  The leadership of the United Nations force that would replace it must be focused, impartial, experienced and professional, he added.  With the right mandate and the right tools, he assured the Council that it could do what was just and right in Liberia.


Emphasizing that the international community must make a strong commitment of resources and personnel to rebuilding Liberia, in partnership with its people, he said priorities included disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, establishment of a safe environment for refugee return, law and order, gender issues and ending cross-border criminal activities.  It was also essential to bring to justice those who hade committed violations of international law.


Regarding disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of all ex-combatants, he said that United Nations experiences in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mozambique should serve as lessons learned.  Firstly, there could be no disarmament or demobilization without rehabilitation and reinsertion into society.  He stressed, therefore, the critical need for adequate and secure financing.  Particular attention should be focused on child and female ex-combatants, as well as the medical rehabilitation of all former combatants. 


Another high priority was reforming and restructuring the criminal justice system to better reflect the communities they serve and to provide confidence for returnees, he said.  It was also vital to ensure that police performance met international standards of policing and human rights.  The key to self-sustaining police reform was professional training, he noted, adding that the aim was to create an effective educational infrastructure within one year so that the local police could become self-sustaining in their training programmes, thus freeing up resources for the more extensive programme of co-location.


He said he would also work to ensure objectivity in the judicial system, which had been rendered dysfunctional by political intimidation and lack of resources.  Only when citizens believed that the courts were truly independent bodies with enforceable decisions and supported by an effective police force trained in international standards of policing and human rights could the rule of law be guaranteed.  In terms of reforming the prison system, efforts would centre on the training and development of prison service personnel.  Reform of the criminal justice system would not come cheap, he said, noting that to accomplish those goals, funding of civil institutions was crucial.  He proposed a conference of potential donors.


Stressing that the conflict had resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe, he said emergency programmes were beginning to resurface.  Carolyn McAskie, Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator and Humanitarian Envoy for the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, the United Nations Country Team to Monrovia, non-governmental organizations and the Red Cross movement were providing emergency interventions, particularly in the food, health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education and protection sectors.  To ensure a coordinated and effective response to humanitarian assistance, proper funding was critical, he stressed. 


Urging the international community to rise to the challenge of Liberia, he quoted Albert Schweitzer:  “We are not free to choose whether we will or will not do the right thing in Africa; we owe it to them.  The good which we do is not an act of charity; indeed, after we’ve done everything there is in our power to do, we shall have repaid only a small part of the mistakes committed against them in the past.”


The meeting, which began at 10:45 a.m., adjourned at 11:11 a.m.


Background


Meeting this morning to consider the situation in Liberia, the Security Council had before it the report of the Secretary-General (document S/2003/875), in which he recommends that the Council, acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, authorize the deployment of a multidimensional United Nations peacekeeping operation with a troop strength of up to 15,000, including 250 military observers, 160 staff officers, up to 875 civilian police officers and an additional five armed formed units each comprising 120 officers, and a significant civilian component and necessary support staff. 


The Secretary-General recommends in paragraph 51 the establishment of a peacekeeping operation with a mandate to support the National Transitional Government of Liberia and the other parties in the effective and timely implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement; to monitor adherence to the ceasefire agreement of 17 June; to assist the National Transitional Government in extending State authority throughout Liberia; to provide security at key government installations, in particular, ports, airports and other vital infrastructure; to ensure the security and freedom of movement of United Nations personnel; to facilitate the free movement of people, humanitarian assistance and goods; to support the safe and sustainable return of refugees and internally displaced persons; and to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence in the areas of immediate deployment of United Nations formed military units.


In addition, the force would advise, train and assist the Liberian law enforcement authorities and other criminal justice institutions; assist the National Transitional Government in the implementation of a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme; guard weapons, ammunition and other military equipment collected from ex-combatants and assist in their subsequent disposal or destruction; assist in the preparation of elections; monitor and report on the human rights situation and provide training and capacity-building in the field of human rights and child protection; provide support for gender mainstreaming, including training; support the establishment and operations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; and cooperate with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union and the United Nations on cross-cutting political and security issues.


The report is submitted pursuant to Council resolution 1497 (2003) of 1 August, by which the Council authorized the deployment of a multinational force in Liberia and declared its readiness to establish a follow-on United Nations stabilization force to support the Transitional Government and to assist in the implementation of a comprehensive peace agreement for the country.  The Secretary-General subsequently dispatched a multidisciplinary mission to assess the situation on the ground and consult with the Liberian parties and other stakeholders.


According to the report, the transfer of power from President Charles Taylor to Vice-President Moses Blah and the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement by the Liberian parties offer a unique window of opportunity to end the suffering inflicted on the people of Liberia and to find a peaceful solution to a conflict that has been the epicentre of instability in the subregion.  The road to lasting peace and security in Liberia is still fraught with multiple and formidable challenges.  While the United Nations and the international community at large stand ready to support the Liberian peace process, the effective and successful implementation of the Peace Agreement remains the primary responsibility of the Liberian parties themselves. 


The report calls on the parties to support the transitional agreements and to cooperate fully with the ECOMIL forces on the ground, as well as with the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and the proposed United Nations peacekeeping mission.  It also calls on former President Taylor to abide by the terms of the agreement reached with Nigeria regarding his exile and to disengage completely from Liberian politics.


Once fully established and operational, the National Transitional Government should indicate how it intends to perform the tasks envisaged for it in the implementation timetable of the Peace Agreement, the report says.  Indeed, substantial resources would need to be mobilized to help the Transitional Government implement relief and recovery programmes, including the return, repatriation and resettlement of internally displaces persons and refugees, by organizing, among other things, a reconstruction conference within a year.  The Secretary-General calls on Member States to provide all possible political and financial support to the Transitional Government.


Enhancing the overall security situation should greatly facilitate freedom of movement for persons and goods, and help to give humanitarian agencies safe and unhindered access to the civilian population in dire need of relief assistance, the report further states.  The gross violations of human rights in Liberia require that special attention be paid to the protection of civilians, in particular, the response to the widespread sexual violence against woman and children.  Furthermore, the early establishment of a functional national capacity for the protection and promotion of human rights and transitional justice mechanisms would greatly help to address the question of impunity and respond to past abuses and human rights violations. 


Regarding the need for timely funding for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, the report stresses that unless the reintegration problem is addressed early and effectively, the thousands of disarmed youth, in a dire economic situation, are likely to return to the bush and become hired guns, not only inside the country but also in a subregion already awash with small arms and mercenaries.  It is imperative, therefore, that not only disarmament and demobilization, but also the initial phases of reintegration be funded from the assessed peacekeeping budget.  The reintegration programme should be undertaken with a long-term view.  Adequate and sustainable resources will be required to ensure its completion.


According to the report, the subregional dimensions of the Liberian conflict, particularly with regard to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, should be kept under close review because they have the potential to destabilize the entire subregion.  Particular attention should be paid to the interlinkages between the conflict in Liberia and developments in Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire.  Consideration should also be given to developing a subregional programme for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.  The Secretary-General calls on Member States, particularly the neighbouring countries, to cease any support that may have been given to armed groups in Liberia and to ensure that their national territories are not used by armed groups to destabilize the country. 


The success of the United Nations mission in Liberia will depend on the availability of adequate financial and logistical resources, not only for the implementation of key provisions of the Peace Agreement, but also for creating a conducive environment for Liberians to reconstruct their lives, the report says.  The Secretary-General strongly recommends that substantial provisions be made in the budget of the mission for the implementation of quick-impact projects.  He also recommends the establishment of a trust fund to support the implementation of various aspects of the Peace Agreement that may require considerable funding. 


In addition, the report says that consideration should be given to the need for resources for the equipping and remuneration of the national police force to be provided through a trust fund.  Furthermore, the United Nations should, insofar as possible, provide ECOWAS and its Special Representative for Liberia with all necessary support, including through the possible provision of logistics assistance and funding for personnel. 


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*     The 4825th meeting of 15 September was closed.

For information media. Not an official record.