Security Council Terminates Sanctions Regime on Liberia, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2288 (2016)

SC/12373
25 May 2016
7695th Meeting (AM)

Security Council Terminates Sanctions Regime on Liberia, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2288 (2016)

The Security Council today terminated, with immediate effect, the sanctions regime on Liberia, including the arms restrictions that had remained following gradual lifting of measures as the Council deemed that progress had been made in emerging from the devastating civil conflict of past decades.

Through the unanimous adoption of resolution 2288 (2016), the Council also disbanded the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1521 (2003) concerning Liberia and its Panel of Experts, which were established in 2003 to monitor the measures.  Those measures, before the adoption of today’s resolution, consisted of an arms embargo on non-State actors and a requirement that the 1521 Committee be notified in advance of arms transfers to the Liberian Government.

Following the adoption of the text, Council members took the floor to welcome the action and commend the people of the country for their progress in the past 13 years, as well as encouraging them to continue to build effective and resilient national institutions. 

David Pressman (United States), who shepherded the drafting process, noted that the natural resources, arms and travel sanctions had all been established to support stabilization and, as that occurred, the Council had gradually lifted sanctions.  The process showed that for sanctions to be successful, the Council must be flexible, carefully tailoring measures to individual situations. 

It also showed that close monitoring was critical and that expert panels must be allowed to do their job despite sensitivities, he said.  As well, he emphasized, sanctions must be also linked to the full peace consolidation process and must be expeditiously lifted when they had achieved their purpose.  He encouraged further work by the Liberian Government, however, to improve its security institutions and laws, including enacting the important Firearms and Ammunition Control Act. 

Yoshifumi Okamura (Japan) commended Liberia on overcoming not only the threat of conflict but also the Ebola crisis.  Through national ownership and the support of the international community, including the Peacebuilding Commission, Liberia could serve as a model for overcoming fragility and building sound and resilient institutions, he stated. 

Yuriy Vitrenko (Ukraine), expressing pride over his country’s participation in many areas of the United Nations work on Liberia, stressed that the Council must remain vigilant towards emerging threats, including terrorism. 

Similarly, Shen Bo (China) expressed hope that the international community, while respecting the sovereignty of the country, would continue to provide support for development and other pressing needs.

George Patten (Liberia), expressing deep gratitude for the “unfaltering support” lent to his country over the years, noted that the usefulness of sanctions continued to be contested.  In the case of Liberia, however, the sanctions regime contributed, in large measure, to the stabilization of the country and also stimulated post-conflict economic recovery.  They accurately targeted activities and individuals that undermined peace in the country, including the illicit trade in natural resources, such as timber and diamonds.

Liberia, he said, was pleased to play its part in cooperating with the Council and the 1521 Committee over the past 13 years.  He acknowledged that in many instances, however, capacity constraints inhibited speedy progress.  In that regard, he announced that the Fire Arms and Ammunition Control Act had passed through both houses of the legislature a few days ago.  As a complement to that Act, the Police and Immigration Acts had also been passed.  Commending the 1521 Committee for its work, he noted that Liberia was now at a critical juncture with the upcoming transition from the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) in the next couple of weeks. 

The termination of sanctions would provide further motivation for the Government “to strengthen national security institutions as they assume their constitutional role of protecting lives and property and safeguarding the territorial integrity of the country.”

The meeting began at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 10:25 a.m.

Resolution

The full text of resolution 2288 (2016) reads as follows:

The Security Council,

Recalling its previous resolutions and statements by its President on the situation in Liberia,

Welcoming the sustained progress made by the Government of Liberia in rebuilding Liberia for the benefit of all Liberians,

Commending the work of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1521 (2003) (“the Committee”) and expressing its gratitude to the Panel of Experts established pursuant to paragraph 22 of resolution 1521 (2003),

Having considered the report of the United Nations Panel of Experts on Liberia (S/2016/348) as well as the briefing to the Security Council by the Chair of the Committee on 13 May 2016,

Having also considered the Secretary-General’s letter, dated 31 July 2015 (S/2015/590), updating the Security Council on progress made by the Government of Liberia to implement the recommendations on the proper management of arms and ammunition, including enacting the necessary laws, and on facilitating the effective monitoring and management of the border regions between Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire, while stressing the need that such progress continue in order to further contribute to the peace and stability of Liberia, 

Recalling that responsibility for controlling the circulation of small arms within the territory of Liberia and between Liberia and neighbouring States rests with the relevant governmental authorities in accordance with their obligations under the Economic Community of West African States Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons of 2006,

Encouraging the Government of Liberia to expedite the adoption and implementation of remaining appropriate arms and ammunition management legislation and to continue to take other necessary and appropriate steps to establish the necessary legal and administrative framework to combat the illicit trafficking of arms and ammunition,

Noting the positive role that the Security Council’s imposition of targeted measures has played in responding to the conflict in Liberia and supporting Liberia’s stabilization,

Affirming that the Government of Liberia bears primary responsibility for protecting all populations within its territory, stressing that lasting stability in Liberia will require the Government of Liberia to sustain effective and accountable government institutions, particularly in the rule of law and security sectors, including capable, professional, and efficient military, police and border security forces, and, in this regard, welcoming the relevant assistance of bilateral partners and multilateral organizations,

Underlining that the transparent and effective management of natural resources is critical for Liberia’s sustainable peace and security,

Recalling the Council’s readiness to terminate the measures imposed by paragraphs 2 (a) and (b) of resolution 1521 (2003) upon its determination that the ceasefire in Liberia is being fully respected and maintained, disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, repatriation and restructuring of the security sector have been completed, the provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement are being fully implemented, and significant progress has been made in establishing and maintaining stability in Liberia and the subregion, and determining that those conditions have been met,

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

“1.   Decides to terminate, with immediate effect, the measures on arms, previously imposed by paragraph 2 of resolution 1521 (2003) and modified by paragraphs 1 and 2 of resolution 1683 (2006), by paragraph 1 (b) of resolution 1731 (2006), by paragraphs 3, 4, 5 and 6 of resolution 1903 (2009), by paragraph 3 of resolution 1961 (2010), and by paragraph 2 (b) of resolution 2128 (2013);

“2.   Decides further to dissolve, with immediate effect, the Committee established by paragraph 21 of resolution 1521 (2003) and the Panel of Experts established pursuant to paragraph 22 of resolution 1521 (2003), and subsequently modified and extended, including in paragraphs 3 and 4 of resolution 2237 (2015).”

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