The Security Council today extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) for a final period until 30 March 2018.
In a vote of 12 in favour, with three abstentions (France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom), the Council adopted resolution 2333 (2016), acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. UNMIL’s mandate would include civilian protection, advising Liberia on the reform of justice and security institutions, supporting the Government in carrying out the promotion, protection and monitoring of human rights, as well as efforts to combat sexual and gender-based violence and to protect United Nations personnel, installations and equipment.
The Council further decided to reduce the Mission’s 1,240 military personnel to a ceiling of 434, and its police strength to 310 personnel.
The Council called on the Government to prioritize national reconciliation and economic recovery, to combat corruption and to promote efficiency and good governance, stressing the need to prepare for 2017 elections and calling upon all parties to ensure that the elections were free, fair, peaceful and transparent, including through the full participation of women.
The Council emphasized the need for expanded efforts by Liberian authorities to address the root causes of conflict, reinvigorate national and local reconciliation processes, promote land reform, advance constitutional and institutional reforms — especially of the rule of law and security sectors — and combat sexual and gender-based violence. It further emphasized women’s important role in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peace building.
Regarding regional and inter-mission cooperation, the Council called on the Governments of Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire to continue their cooperation, particularly on the border area, and to support the disarmament and repatriation of armed elements on both sides of the border and the voluntary return of refugees in safety and dignity.
The Council recalled the intention to transfer the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) quick reaction force to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), where it would continue to support UNMIL. It also recalled its authorization to the Secretary-General to deploy that unit to Liberia in the event of serious deterioration of the security situation.
After the vote, the representative of the United States, acknowledging that Liberia had taken more responsibility for functions and assumed full responsibility for security tasks, said that despite more than 12 years of peace, institutions were still fragile, and impunity and corruption were all too common. Recalling that there would be a peaceful transition of power in 2017 through free, fair and inclusive elections, she said the presence of UNMIL was necessary to assist the Government throughout those polls.
Explaining why his country had abstained from the vote, the representative of the Russian Federation said it was unacceptable to extend the mandate while “blue helmets” only had peacebuilding tasks. He did not understand why armed peacekeepers were necessary for carrying out peaceful duties. Stressing that the mandate extension would divert contingents and resources the Organization needed in other hot spots, he said the proposal to deploy the rapid reaction force from Mali had been ignored.
France’s representative, in comments echoed by the United Kingdom’s delegate, said he had abstained because, after a long period of peacekeeping, Liberia had now entered a period of peacebuilding. The draft, however, maintained a culture of dependence, and extended a military mission despite that there was no threat to international peace and stability posed by the country. If required for elections or other needs, the rapid reaction force stationed in Côte d’Ivoire could be deployed.
The representative of Liberia thanked the Council members, including those who had abstained. He had noted all the concerns expressed but recognized that today’s action would go a long way to consolidate the gains made by signalling the Council’s willingness to support success. A grateful nation looked forward to its continued engagement, to working with UNMIL, and to bringing that Mission to an end in one year.
The representatives of Angola, China, Uruguay, New Zealand and Spain also spoke.
The meeting started at 10:44 a.m. and finished at 11:13 a.m.
ISOBEL COLEMAN (United States) said Liberia had taken more responsibility for functions and assumed full responsibility for security tasks. Yet, despite more than 12 years of peace, institutions were still fragile, and impunity and corruption were all too common. Recalling that there would be a peaceful transition of power in 2017 through free, fair and inclusive elections, she said the presence of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) was necessary to assist the Government throughout those polls. While UNMIL would close in March 2018, the United Nations would continue its support, she said, noting that Liberia’s peace and prosperity depended on “getting the transition right”.
PETR V. ILIICHEV (Russian Federation) said he had abstained, because it was unacceptable to extend the mandate while “blue helmets” still had peacebuilding tasks. He did not understand why, for a peaceful task, armed peacekeepers were necessary. When developing its decisions, the Council should take into account all factors defining the situation in a country, he said, noting that the security situation in Liberia continued to be stable. Stressing that the Mission extension would divert contingents and resources that the Organization needed in other hot spots, he said the proposal to deploy the Rapid Reaction Force from Mali had been ignored.
FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) said he abstained because, after a long period of peacekeeping, Liberia had now entered a period of peacebuilding. He congratulated the country on its success. The draft, however, maintained a culture of dependence, and extended a military mission despite that the Council had recognized that there was no threat to international peace and stability posed by the country. If required for elections or other needs, the Rapid Reaction Force stationed in Côte d’Ivoire could be deployed. Blue helmets and resources that were being kept in Liberia were urgently needed in other situations. Unfortunately, his country’s multiple suggestions and flexibility in shaping a drawdown had not been heeded.
MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) said he had abstained because the draft did not propose an acceptable drawdown for UNMIL. He congratulated the Mission on its success, but stressed that peacekeeping resources must be used wisely. He welcomed the human rights and protection concerns of the draft, but added that such responsibilities should be now distributed in an orderly way to other components of the United Nations system in the country.
ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said that he had voted in favour of the resolution based on the request by the Government by Liberia and the need for stability in the country through the coming election period. He expressed regret that it had not been adopted unanimously and expressed hope that the Council would continue to engage fruitfully with the Government and people of Liberia through the critical period.
WU HAITAO (China) welcomed the positive developments in Liberia and called on the international community to continue to support the efforts of its people and Government. The will of the country must be respected. He welcomed the continued work of UNMIL in supporting capacity building and stability through the election period.
LUIS BERMÚDEZ (Uruguay) said he had voted in favour of the new mandate for the Mission as it was sensible to reduce the military and police components. Apart from that, there would also be a component that would deal with monitoring the human rights. However, there had been a lack of constructive spirit in the negotiations.
PHILLIP TAULA (New Zealand) said Liberia had made considerable progress by taking full responsibility for security. He saw merit in arguments for the United Nations to provide support to Liberia through 2017, including the elections period, and also in ending the current peacekeeping mission after 13 years. The Council had conveyed two messages to Liberia: it would continue to support the country; and UNMIL would withdraw in early 2018, given that Liberians had shown that a peacekeeping mission would no longer be warranted. He would have preferred a more flexible approach to preparing the resolution.
JUAN MANUEL GONZÁLEZ DE LINARES PALOU (Spain) said he had voted for the resolution believing that peacekeeping missions should not last forever and that the extension of the Mission’s mandate would be the last one.
JEREMIAH C. SULUNTEH (Liberia) thanked the Council members, including those who had abstained. He had noted all of the concerns expressed but recognized that today’s action would go a long way to consolidate the gains made by signalling that the Council continued to express a willingness to support success. A grateful nation looked forward to the Council’s continued engagement, to working with UNMIL, and to bringing that Mission to an end in one year.
The full text of resolution 2333 (2016) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Recalling its previous resolutions, in particular 1509 (2003), 2066 (2012), 2116 (2013), 2177 (2014), 2190 (2014), 2215 (2015), 2237 (2015), 2239 (2015) and 2308 (2016) concerning the situation in Liberia, and 2162 (2014), 2226 (2015) and 2295 (2016),
“Affirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and unity of Liberia and recalling the principles of good-neighbourliness, non-interference and regional cooperation,
“Welcoming the overall progress toward restoring peace, security and stability in Liberia, and commending the successful completion of the transfer of security responsibilities from the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to Liberia’s security services on 30 June 2016 and the commitment of the people and Government of Liberia to peace and to developing democratic processes and institutions and initiating important reform efforts,
“Affirming that the Government of Liberia bears primary responsibility for ensuring peace, stability and the protection of the civilian population in Liberia and for reforming and building the capacity of the security sector, particularly the Liberia National Police (LNP) and the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS),
“Stressing that lasting stability in Liberia will require the Government of Liberia to sustain well-functioning and accountable government institutions, especially in the security and justice sectors, to build the confidence of the people of Liberia, and urging the Government of Liberia to demonstrate substantive progress in the reform, restructuring and effective functioning of the security and justice sectors to provide for the protection of all the people of Liberia,
“Noting the potential security challenges during the preparation for, and the period leading up to, October 2017 presidential and legislative elections in Liberia, urging the Government of Liberia to accelerate efforts to resolve longstanding land rights, reconciliation, accountability and transparency matters to bolster public confidence in its government in advance of Liberia’s scheduled 2017 presidential and legislative elections and transfer of power, and stressing the need for the Government of Liberia to build on the successful transfer of security responsibilities, completed on 30 June 2016, to its security forces in preparation for both the conduct and outcome of elections, and calling on international partners to support the Liberian authorities in ensuring the credibility of those elections, including through the deployment of international electoral observers,
“Looking forward to a comprehensive, inclusive constitutional review process as well as the implementation of the National Reconciliation Roadmap, and urging efforts to strengthen the Independent National Commission on Human Rights, which has a key role as a publicly accessible human rights institution and as a mechanism to monitor and follow up on the implementation of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,
“Emphasizing the integral role of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in evaluating the human rights situation in Liberia as it meets its commitments outlined in the country recommendations for Liberia from its 2015 Universal Periodic Review,
“Stressing that the responsibility for the preparation, security and conduct of free, fair and transparent 2017 presidential and legislative elections rests with the Liberian authorities,
“Noting with concern the potential for conflict over Liberia’s natural resources and disputes related to land ownership, and also noting that issues related to corruption continue to threaten to undermine stability and the effectiveness of government institutions,
“Commending the continued efforts of the Government of Liberia to strengthen security cooperation in the sub-region, notably with the governments of Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea and Sierra Leone,
“Expressing appreciation for the continued assistance provided by the people and Government of Liberia to Ivorian refugees in eastern Liberia and toward their voluntary repatriation to Côte d’Ivoire,
“Commending the continued contribution, commitment and resolve of United Nations personnel, as well as of the troop- and police-contributing countries of UNMIL, to assist in consolidating peace and stability in Liberia,
“Expressing appreciation to the international community for its support to consolidate peace, security and stability in Liberia, welcoming, in particular, the contributions of bilateral partners and multilateral organizations, as well as the Peacebuilding Commission, to support Liberia’s efforts on security sector reform, rule of law and national reconciliation, strongly encouraging the continued contributions of the international community in this regard, including the full implementation of the Statement of Mutual Commitments, recognizing that key peacebuilding priorities must be fully integrated into Liberia’s development strategy, including revitalizing socioeconomic development, and emphasizing the need for coherence between, and integration of, peacekeeping, peacebuilding and development to achieve an effective response to post-conflict situations,
“Recognizing the significant challenges that remain across all sectors, including continuing problems with violent crime, in particular the high rates of sexual and gender-based violence, especially involving children,
“Recalling its resolutions 1325 (2000), 1820 (2008), 1888 (2009), 1889 (2009), 1960 (2010), 2106 (2013), 2122 (2013) and 2242 (2015) on women, peace and security, and emphasizing that persistent barriers to the full implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) will only be dismantled through dedicated commitment to women’s empowerment, participation and human rights and accountability for acts of sexual and gender-based violence and through concerted leadership, consistent information and action and support to build women’s engagement in all levels of decision-making,
“Taking note of the 15 November 2016 report of the Secretary-General (S/2016/968) and the recommendations contained therein on the adjustments to the mandate and composition of UNMIL in line with the scheduled 2017 elections and 2018 transfer of power,
“Mindful of its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security under the Charter of the United Nations,
“Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,
“Governance, National Reconciliation, Rule of Law, and Security Sector Reform
“1. Calls upon the Government of Liberia to prioritize national reconciliation and economic recovery, to combat corruption and to promote efficiency and good governance, in particular by continuing to strengthen transparency and accountability, including by effectively managing Liberia’s natural resources for the benefit of all the people of Liberia, emphasizes the importance of pursuing a national reconciliation and social cohesion strategy through concrete measures to promote national healing, justice and reconciliation at all levels and involving all Liberian stakeholders, and recognizes the efforts of the Government of Liberia to support enhancement of the participation of women in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peacebuilding, including in decision-making roles in post-conflict governance institutions and the broad range of reform efforts;
“2. Stresses the responsibility of and the need for the Liberian government to prepare for 2017 elections, including through support for electoral institutions, calls upon all parties to ensure that the elections are free, fair, peaceful and transparent, including through the full participation of women, and requests the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to assist the Liberian parties to this end;
“3. Emphasizes that the Government of Liberia bears primary and ultimate responsibility for security and the protection of its population with special attention to combatting sexual and gender-based violence and combatting impunity for perpetrators of such crimes, and urges the Government to prioritize the effective and rapid development of the security agencies, especially the LNP, which is the priority law enforcement agency tasked with civilian policing responsibilities, including through the timely provision of sufficient financial resources and other support, adequate training and development of senior management;
“4. Emphasizes the need for expanded efforts by the Liberian authorities to address the root causes of conflict, reinvigorate national and local reconciliation processes, promote land reform, advance constitutional and institutional reforms, especially of the rule of law and security sectors, combat sexual and gender-based violence, and build trust between Liberian citizens and state institutions and processes, and requests the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to assist such efforts through the use of his good offices and political support;
“5. Urges the Government of Liberia to prioritize resourcing for critical gaps to improve the capacity and capability of the LNP and LIS, as well as the justice sector, including courts and prisons, enabling the promotion of human rights and reconciliation, effective oversight, professionalism, transparency and accountability across all security institutions and strengthening democratic institutions and extension of state authority and services throughout the country for the benefit of all Liberians;
“6. Calls on the Government of Liberia to accelerate its efforts to enhance the capacity of its security sector, especially the leadership, coordination, monitoring, resources and oversight mechanisms, as well as to swiftly and fully implement the new Police and Immigration Acts and further reform of the promotion and manpower policies, with a view to decentralizing the national security institutions, particularly the LNP, to provide security for all people throughout Liberia, and urges the Government of Liberia to accelerate efforts to implement measures on the proper management of arms and ammunition, including enacting the appropriate domestic laws, the effective monitoring and management of Liberia’s border regions and the registering and tracking of arms and material used and imported by its security forces;
“7. Underscores the importance of the Government of Liberia continuing to develop national security and rule of law institutions that are fully and independently operational, and to this end, encourages accelerated coordinated progress on the implementation of the Security and Justice Development Plans and the National Human Rights Action Plan, and urges the effective, transparent and efficient management by the Government of Liberia of assistance, including from bilateral and multilateral partners, to support the reform of the justice and security sectors;
“8. 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 UNMIL, encourages UNMIL to work with the Government of Liberia in this area until its closure and requests the Secretary-General and other relevant actors to ensure that transition planning and implementation fully integrates a gender perspective and to include in reporting to the Council progress in this area and all other aspects relating to the situation of women and girls, especially regarding protection from sexual and gender-based violence;
“9. Expresses its continued concern that women and girls in Liberia continue to face a high incidence of sexual and gender-based violence, reiterates its call on the Government of Liberia to continue to combat sexual violence, particularly against children, and gender-based violence, to combat impunity for perpetrators of such crimes, to provide redress, support and protection to victims, including through public information campaigns and by continuing to strengthen national police capacity in this area and to raise awareness of existing national legislation on sexual violence, and encourages the Government to reinforce its commitment in this regard, including by funding the implementation of its national action plan on sexual and gender-based violence and improving women and girls’ access to justice;
“10. Decides to extend the mandate of UNMIL as set out in paragraph 11 for a final period until 30 March 2018, and requests the Secretary-General to complete by 30 April 2018 the withdrawal of all uniformed and civilian UNMIL components, other than those required to complete the Mission’s liquidation;
“11. Decides that until 30 March 2018, the mandate of UNMIL shall be the following:
(a) Protection of Civilians
(i) To protect the civilian population from threat of physical violence within its capabilities and areas of deployment, particularly in the event of a deterioration of the security situation that could risk a strategic reversal of peace and stability in the country, without prejudice to the primary responsibility of the Liberian authorities for the security and protection of its population;
(b) Reform of Justice and Security Institutions
(i) To advise the Government of Liberia in developing the leadership, internal management, professionalization and accountability mechanisms of the LNP, with a particular focus on elections security;
(c) Human Rights Promotion and Protection
(i) To support the Government of Liberia in carrying out promotion, protection and monitoring activities of human rights in Liberia, with special attention to violations and abuses committed against children and women;
(ii) To support the strengthening of efforts by the Government of Liberia to combat sexual and gender-based violence, including its efforts to combat impunity for perpetrators of such crimes;
(d) Public Information
(i) To continue to communicate, including through UNMIL Radio, with the people and Government of Liberia to promote sustainable peace through the October 2017 elections and 2018 transfer of power and also to raise awareness about UNMIL’s transformation, eventual closure and the United Nations’ continuing engagement in Liberia;
(e) Protection of United Nations Personnel
(i) To protect the United Nations personnel, installations and equipment and to ensure the security and freedom of movement of United Nations and associated personnel;
“12. Authorizes UNMIL to assist as requested and within its capabilities, bearing in mind the responsibility of the Liberian Government, with logistical support, including aviation support, to meet urgent gaps in Liberia’s capabilities for the 2017 presidential and legislative electoral process, including voter registration, in particular to facilitate access to remote areas;
“13. Requests the Secretary-General prepare a report for the Security Council within 90 days of the adoption of this resolution that sets out a well-developed peacebuilding plan to direct the role of the United Nations system and other relevant partners, including multilateral and bilateral actors, in supporting Liberia’s transition, emphasizes in this regard the important convening role of the Peacebuilding Commission in the process of developing this plan, further requests that UNMIL work closely with the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) and its component United Nations agencies to implement the results of the UNCT’s mapping exercise to identify ways to address gaps in capabilities to accelerate preparations for UNMIL’s drawdown and closure, in particular the transfer of UNMIL’s tasks on human rights monitoring, rule of law, national reconciliation and security sector reform to the government and the UNCT to ensure continued progress in those areas, urges the Government of Liberia, UNMIL, and the UNCT to coordinate closely in the transfer of these responsibilities, and encourages the international community and donors to support the activities of the UNCT in assisting Liberia’s continued efforts to achieve sustainable peace;
“14. Requests the Secretary-General direct UNMIL with support of international partners to facilitate the sustainable transfer of UNMIL Radio’s capabilities and equipment by 30 March 2018 to an independent entity;
“15. Requests UNMIL to ensure that any support provided to non-United Nations security forces is provided in strict compliance with the Human Rights Due Diligence Policy on United Nations Support to non-United Nations Security Forces (S/2013/110);
“16. Decides to reduce UNMIL’s remaining 1,240 military personnel to a ceiling of 434, comprising one company and appropriate enablers, including aviation assets, and to decrease UNMIL’s authorized police strength to 310 police personnel, including two formed police units and individual police officers required for the implementation of the mandate, by 28 February 2017;
“17. Requests the Secretary-General to ensure that the police component has the requisite professional skills and experience to develop the leadership, internal management, professionalization and accountability mechanisms of the LNP;
“Regional and Inter-Mission Cooperation
“18. Calls on the Governments of Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire to continue reinforcing their cooperation, particularly with respect to the border area, including through increased monitoring, information sharing, and coordinated actions, and in implementing the shared border strategy to, inter alia, support the disarmament and repatriation of armed elements on both sides of the border and the voluntary return of refugees in safety and dignity, as well as to address the root causes of conflict and tension;
“19. Recalls the intention to transfer the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) quick reaction force established by resolution 2162 (2014) and as defined in paragraph 41 of resolution 2295 (2016) to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) where it will continue to support UNMIL as defined in paragraph 33 of resolution 2226 (2015), while recognizing that this unit will become primarily a MINUSMA asset;
“20. Recalls its authorization, pursuant to its resolutions 2162 (2014) and 2226 (2015), to the Secretary-General to deploy this unit to Liberia, subject to the consent of the troop-contributing countries concerned and the Government of Liberia, in the event of a serious deterioration of the security situation on the ground in order to temporarily reinforce UNMIL with the sole purpose of implementing its mandate and further recalls its requests to the Secretary-General to inform the Security Council immediately of any deployment of this unit to Liberia and to obtain Security Council authorization for any such deployment for a period that exceeds 90 days;
“21. Requests the Secretary-General to keep it regularly informed of the situation in Liberia and the implementation of the mandate of UNMIL and to provide a report on the situation on the ground and implementation of this resolution no later than 15 June 2017, with an oral update for the Security Council on elections preparation no later than 31 August 2017 and another oral update after elections no later than 15 December 2017, with a concluding report by 15 April 2018;
“22. Decides to remain seized of the matter.”