|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5813th Meeting (AM)
SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF SIERRA LEONE OFFICE UNTIL 30 SEPTEMBER 2008,
UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1793 (2007)
The Security Council this morning extended the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL) until 30 September 2008, with an eye to terminating the mandate at that time.
Unanimously adopting resolution 1793 (2007), the Council requested the Secretary-General to submit by 31 January 2008 a completion strategy for the Office, including at least a 20 per cent reduction in staff by 31 March 2008; a continued mission at 80 per cent of the current strength until 30 June 2008; and the termination of UNIOSIL’s mandate by 30 September 2008.
By the terms of the text, the Council expressed its intention that, on the expiration of its mandate, UNIOSIL should be replaced by a United Nations integrated political office to carry forward the peacebuilding process, mobilize international donor support, support the work of the Peacebuilding Commission and Fund, promote national reconciliation and support the constitutional reform process. It requested the Secretary-General to submit specific proposals to that end in April 2008.
The Council called upon all parties in Sierra Leone to ensure that the 2008 local elections are peaceful, transparent, free and fair, and called upon the Government to provide the necessary support for the electoral institutions. It encouraged the Government to continue its close engagement with the Peacebuilding Commission, including through the regular monitoring of progress in the implementation of the Sierra Leone Peacebuilding Cooperation Framework.
Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, the Council decided to exempt from the travel ban measures imposed by paragraph 5 of resolution 1132 (1997) the travel of any witnesses whose presence at trial before the Special Court for Sierra Leone was required.
After the vote, the representative of Sierra Leone said the decision to extend the mandate of UNIOSIL marked an important phase in peacebuilding and came just nine days after the adoption by the Peacebuilding Commission of a Peacebuilding Cooperation Framework for Sierra Leone. In the next several months, the Council was expected to authorize creation of another type of office in the country. Those developments illustrated that despite many seemingly insurmountable challenges, Sierra Leone continued to make remarkable progress in consolidating peace after a devastating 11-year armed conflict and that the United Nations had not abandoned it and was therefore prepared to adapt its post-conflict presence and mandate in response to the emerging situation in the country. In his 22 October 2007 letter to the Security Council, President Ernest Bai Koroma acknowledged UNIOSIL’s important role during the past two years. He commended the Council for UNIOSIL’s valuable contribution to Sierra Leone’s recovery from conflict and to the country’s peace, security and development.
He welcomed the fact that the Council had emphasized, inter alia, the importance of UNIOSIL in providing assistance to national commissions and institutions to fulfil their respective duties, he said. There already was a large number of such bodies for elections, human rights promotion, including the rights of the child, and for constitutional review. They should be seen in the context of national ownership and were an integral part of the structure of peacebuilding and sustainable development. Accordingly, there was an urgent need to support and strengthen them. He noted with satisfaction the Council’s request that the Secretary-General ensure adequate capacity, expertise and resources within UNIOSIL to assist the various commissions and institutions. He acknowledged his Government’s primary responsibility for peacebuilding and long-term development, and said it was determined to step up efforts to ensure that the Sierra Leone population enjoyed peace dividends soon.
The meeting was called to order at 10:12 a.m. and adjourned at 10:20 a.m.
The full text of resolution 1793 (2007) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Reaffirming its previous resolutions and the statements of its President concerning the situation in Sierra Leone, in particular resolutions 1734 (2006), 1688 (2006) and 1620 (2005),
“Commending the valuable contribution that the United Nations Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL) has made to the recovery of Sierra Leone from conflict and to the country’s peace, security and development,
“Welcoming the report of the Secretary-General dated 4 December and the recommendation that the mandate of UNIOSIL is extended for a further nine months until 30 September 2008 with a view to providing continued peacebuilding assistance to the Government of Sierra Leone and preparing for the local elections in June 2008,
“Noting the letter of 22 October 2007 from the President of Sierra Leone to the Secretary-General requesting the extension of the mandate of UNIOSIL,
“Welcoming the holding of peaceful and democratic parliamentary and presidential elections in August and September 2007, and stressing that the wide acceptance of the local elections in June 2008 will be another important milestone in consolidating a sustainable peace in Sierra Leone,
“Emphasizing the importance of the continued support of the United Nations system and the international community for the long-term peace, security and development of Sierra Leone, particularly through strengthening the capacity of the Government of Sierra Leone,
“Welcoming the adoption on 12 December 2007 of the Peacebuilding Cooperation Framework highlighting inter alia five priority areas in the peace consolidation process to be addressed by the Government of Sierra Leone with the support of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), the United Nations system and bilateral and multi-national partners.
“Welcoming the progress made in reforming the security sector in Sierra Leone and, in particular, the developing professionalism of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces and police, and urging further strengthening and rationalizing of the security architecture so that the police and Armed Forces are sustainable in the long term and able to carry out their tasks effectively,
“Reiterating its appreciation for the work of the Special Court for Sierra Leone and its vital contribution to reconciliation and the rule of law in Sierra Leone and the subregion, reiterating its expectation that the Court will finish its work expeditiously, and calling upon Member States to contribute generously to the Court,
“Welcoming the role played by ECOWAS and encouraging the Member States of the Mano River Union and other organizations to continue their efforts aimed at building regional and subregional peace and security,
“1. Decides to extend the mandate of UNIOSIL, as outlined in resolution 1620 (2005), until 30 September 2008;
“2. Requests the Secretary-General to submit by 31 January 2008, and for the Council’s consideration, a completion strategy for UNIOSIL including:
-- at least a 20 per cent reduction in staff numbers by 31 March 2008;
-- a continued mission at 80 per cent of the current strength until 30 June 2008; and
-- the termination of UNIOSIL’s mandate by 30 September 2008;
“3. Emphasizes the importance of UNIOSIL focusing, in particular, on providing assistance to the local elections scheduled for 21 June 2008, and to national commissions and institutions for the promotion of good governance and human rights, and actively supporting the work of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund; and, in this regard, requests the Secretary-General to ensure there is adequate capacity, expertise and resources within UNIOSIL;
“4. Expresses its intention that, on the expiration of its mandate, UNIOSIL should be replaced by a United Nations integrated political office to focus on carrying forward the peacebuilding process, mobilizing international donor support, supporting the work of the Peacebuilding Commission and Fund, and completing any residual tasks left over from UNIOSIL’s mandate, in particular promoting national reconciliation and supporting the constitutional reform process; and requests the Secretary-General to submit specific proposals on the mandate, structure and strength of the successor office in his next report to the Council in April 2008;
“5. Calls upon all parties in Sierra Leone to ensure that the 2008 local elections are peaceful, transparent, free and fair; further calls upon the Government of Sierra Leone to provide the necessary support for the electoral institutions; and urges Member States and relevant international and regional organizations to provide technical and material support;
“6. Emphasizes that the Government of Sierra Leone bears the primary responsibility for peacebuilding, security and long-term development in the country, and encourages the Government of Sierra Leone to continue its close engagement with the Peacebuilding Commission, including through the regular monitoring of progress in the implementation of the Sierra Leone Peacebuilding Cooperation Framework, and international donors to continue to provide support to the Government;
“7. Calls upon the Government of Sierra Leone, UNIOSIL and all other stakeholders in the country to increase their efforts to promote good governance, including through continued measures to combat corruption, improve accountability, promote the development of the private sector to generate wealth and employment opportunities, strengthen the judiciary and promote human rights;
“8. Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, decides to exempt from the measures imposed by paragraph 5 of resolution 1132 (1997) the travel of any witnesses whose presence at trial before the Special Court for Sierra Leone is required;
“9. Emphasizes the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peacebuilding, as recognized in resolution 1325 (2000), underlines that a gender perspective should be taken into account in implementing all aspects of the mandate of UNIOSIL, encourages UNIOSIL to work with the Government of Sierra Leone in this area, and requests the Secretary-General to ensure there is adequate capacity, expertise and resources within UNIOSIL to carry out this work and, where appropriate, to include in his reporting to the Council progress on gender mainstreaming throughout UNIOSIL and all other aspects relating to the situation of women and girls, especially in relation to the need to protect them from gender-based violence;
“10. Welcomes the efforts undertaken by UNIOSIL to implement the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse to ensure full compliance of its personnel with the United Nations code of conduct;
“11. Requests that the Secretary-General keep the Council regularly informed of progress made in the implementation of the mandate of UNIOSIL and this resolution;
“12. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”
The Council had before it the fifth report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL)(document S/2007/704), which gives an update of major developments of the interdepartmental technical assessment mission led by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations that visited Sierra Leone from 15 to 25 October. The report also lists the Secretary-General’s recommendations on the mission’s exit strategy and the future United Nations presence in the country.
In the report, the mission recommends that UNIOSIL be extended for a final period of nine months and that, during that period, UNIOSIL would continue to assist the new Government in supporting the 2008 local elections and constitutional reform, enhancing democratic governance, including anti-corruption efforts, and facilitating Sierra Leone’s engagement with the Peacebuilding Commission. UNIOSIL also continued efforts to strengthen the security sector; help national and local institutions strengthen their capacity to manage, mediate and resolve conflicts nationally and locally; help build capacity of critical institutions, including the National Human Rights Commission; support reform of the judicial and corrections sector; promote human rights; strengthen women’s participation in the political process; complete the transition from United Nations Radio to a national independent public radio service; and support Government efforts to address the root causes of the conflict, as identified by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The mission also recommends that, when UNIOSIL’s mandate expires in September 2008, it be replaced by a leaner integrated political office, that would focus on carrying forward the peace-consolidation process, mobilizing international donor support, supporting the work of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund and completing any residual tasks left over from UNIOSIL’s mandate, particularly promoting national reconciliation and supporting the constitutional reform process. That integrated office should be led by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and should continue to integrate the efforts of the United Nations in Sierra Leone, the head of the office also serving as UNDP Resident Representative and United Nations Resident Coordinator. The office should also be given adequate resources to ensure that it can effectively carry out its mandate.
According to the report, UNIOSIL continued to make steady progress in implementing its mandate to support efforts of Sierra Leone’s Government to consolidate peace in the country and ensure an integrated approach to address challenges related to good governance, security, human rights and development. It played a significant role in building the National Electoral Commission’s capacity to conduct the 11 August presidential and parliamentary elections; strengthening the Political Parties Registration Commission; supporting creation of the National Human Rights Commission; strengthening the security sector; promoting human rights; supporting reform of the judicial and corrections sectors; developing initiatives to protect women, children and young people; promoting a culture of peace and reconciliation; and supporting the work of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund. UNIOSIL had also supported the Government’s efforts to promote good governance, fight corruption, develop a national action plan for human rights, build the capacity of State institutions to provide basic services and address the conflict’s root causes.
Regrettably, the country continued to face daunting challenges, the report says. The economic situation was still very difficult, poverty was widespread, food prices were rising and youth unemployment was worsening. A viable economy that could create jobs and sustainable public revenue had yet to be created. The new Government had inherited an empty treasury due to corruption and mismanagement of resources and was currently seeking donor assistance to fund up to 80 per cent of its national budget. It must immediately take steps to fight corruption. The release of the public accounts audited reports, the newly elected President’s pledge to declare his assets and that all nominees for public service positions do the same, as well as his plans to strengthen the Anti-Corruption Commission were encouraging.
The recent elections highlighted deep-seated political tensions and cleavages among the Sierra Leone population along ethnic and geographical lines that had the potential to escalate in the period leading up to the 2008 local government elections. Moreover, despite its remarkable success in the 2007 general elections, the National Electoral Commission still lacked the required capacity to conduct the 2008 local council elections and, therefore, needed United Nations assistance.
In the security sector, despite considerable progress in enhancing professionalism and effectiveness of the country’s Armed Forces and police, both were plagued by logistical deficiencies and inadequate Government funding. The Government was still unable to sustain the army and police force on its own. Given the ongoing political tensions and lack of economic progress, the fragile peace could unravel if those deficiencies were not addressed on a priority basis.
In his report, the Secretary-General, taking into account the many complex challenges confronting Sierra Leone and the 22 October 2007 letter from President Koroma requesting further United Nations assistance, recommends extending UNIOSIL’s mandate for a final period of nine months to enable it to perform the tasks highlighted in paragraph 54 of the present report. During that period, UNIOSOL would take steps to progressively reduce its strength in order to complete the mandate by September 2008. The Secretary-General said he would submit, in his April 2008 report on UNIOSIL to the Council, proposals concerning drawing down the mission and on the mandate, structure and strength of the successor office, as mentioned in paragraph 55 of the present report.
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