10 December 2013

Liberia: Still a Fragile State - UN Maintains Sanctions On Post-War Nation

Photo: Liberia Government
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf addresses the UN General Assembly (file photo).

The United Nations Security Council has alarmed that while significant progress has been made in Liberia since the end of the civil war, the situation in the post-war nation Liberia remains fragile and continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region.

In the same vein, the council voted unanimously to maintain an arms embargo on the post-war nation, which was battered by back-to-back civil wars from 1989 to 2003; a travel ban on named individuals, and an asset freeze against former Liberian president Charles Taylor, his key allies and associated companies. The resolution adopted however requested the committee monitoring sanctions to review all those subject to the asset freeze within 90 days and determine whether they should still be subject to sanctions.

The resolution ordered the panel to renew the measures on travel imposed by paragraph 4 of resolution 1521 (2003); (b) To renew the measures on arms, previously imposed by paragraph 2 of resolution 1521 (2003) and modified by paragraphs I 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), and by paragraph 3 of resolution 196l (2010), and to modify the associated notification requirements as follows: (i) Notification for non-lethal materials and associated training is no longer required."

According to the council, the Liberian authorities shall have the primary responsibility to notify to the Committee at least five days in advance of the shipment of any supplies of lethal arms and related materiel, or any provision of assistance, advice or training related to military or other security sector activities for the Government of Liberia.

The council also ordered a review of all sanctions in six months "with a view to modifying or lifting all or part of the measures" depending on Liberia's progress toward disarming combatants, reforming its security sector, fully implementing a peace agreement, and maintaining stability throughout the country.

The council, acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, decided in a resolution Tuesday to extend the mandate of the Panel of Experts appointed pursuant to paragraph 9 of resolution 1903 (2009) for a period of 12 months from the date of adoption of this resolution to undertake among other things, the conducting of two follow-up assessment missions to Liberia and neighboring States, to investigate and compile a midterm and a final report on the implementation, and any violations, of the measures on arms as amended by resolution 1903 (2009), and including the various sources of financing for the illicit trade of arms, on progress in the security and legal sectors with respect to the Government of Liberia's ability to effectively monitor and control arms and border issues, and on the Government of Liberia's progress on meeting notification requirements.

The council requested the Government of Liberia to conduct a needs-based assessment, with the assistance of UNMIL and any other relevant actors, for any future weapons purchases, and ensure that weapons purchased are strictly necessary for the security operations of government agencies.

The council encouraged the Governments of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d'lvoire and Guinea, within the framework of the Mano River Union, to intensify coordination and exchange of information with regard to cross-border threats to peace and security as well as illicit arms trafficking at both the political and operational levels. "Urges the Government of Liberia to expedite the adoption and implementation of appropriate legislation and take any other steps to establish the necessary legal framework to combat the illicit trafficking of arms and ammunition."

Recognizing that the Government of Liberia has taken important steps towards better management and protection of Liberia's forests and other natural resources, the council stressed that further steps are needed to be taken to protect and properly manage Liberia's natural resources transparently, effectively and in a manner that maximizes the social and economic benefits to the community and protects the rights of the Liberian people.

The council encouraged the government of Liberia to continue to make progress through effective implementation and enforcement of the National Forestry Reform Law and other new legislation related to revenue transparency (the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Act) and resolution of land and tenure rights (Community Rights Law with respect to Forest Lands and Lands Commission Act),

The council acknowledged the contributions and continued importance of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) in improving security throughout Liberia and helping the Government establish its authority throughout the country, particularly in population centers, border areas and Liberia's diamond, gold, timber, and other natural resources.

The council also encouraged the Government of Liberia to collaborate with UNMIL to improve the institutional capacity of the Liberia National Police and customs authorities to effectively monitor the borders and ports of entry, and conduct investigations and, in this regard, stressing the importance of adopting and implementing the Police Act, Taking note of the report of the United Nations Panel of Experts on Liberia (S/2013/683),

The council urged Liberian leaders to promote meaningful reconciliation and inclusive dialogue to consolidate peace and advance Liberia's democratic development and underlined its determination to support the Government of Liberia in its efforts to meet the conditions of resolution 1521 (2003).

The resolution came a day after a top Pakistani diplomat told the council Monday that Liberia has come a long way in its quest to restore peace, security and stability after years of civil war that ended in 2003. "With the support of the United Nations, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the country has made substantial progress," Ambassador Masood Khan said in his capacity as chairman of the 15-member body's committee concerning Liberia and the Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations. The Liberian civil war ended with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2003 and the exile of President Charles Taylor in Nigeria.

Briefing the Council on the gains and challenges ahead, he said Pakistan was proud of its engagement with Liberia, as the largest troop contributor and twice as the committee chairman.

The Committee's Panel of Experts, the Pakistani envoy said, had found that a majority of the individuals and entities listed for asset freeze and travelbans did not pose a threat to peace and security in Liberia or the region. However, he noted that the Panel had identified "huge" institutional capacity deficits in Liberia, including the legal framework for preventing illicit arms, accountability in the forest sector and control of diamond trafficking. Given that, the Council's decision to lift the sanctions should be based on collective political judgement. "Scale back, but do not lower your guard," he advised. Although no country wanted to remain under sanctions indeterminately, Liberia still faced enormous challenges, including a frail State security apparatus and ineffective natural resource management.

Turning to the Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations "one of the Council's principal subsidiary bodies, Masood Khan said, "We started off in 2013 with the adoption of Security Council Resolution 2086 in January, under Pakistan's Presidency." The resolution focused on multi-dimensional missions based on a comprehensive approach to address complex crises involving security, political, humanitarian and development aspects.

In February, he said, the Group had brought together representatives of the African Union, troop-contributing countries and senior leaders from the Secretariat to discuss the situation in Somalia. Utilizing modern technologies in United Nations peacekeeping operations, the Working Group had held a rich exchange of views on the related legal and administrative aspects, the Pakistani envoy said. In November, it had held the first-ever meeting dedicated to United Nations police. Going forward, the Group would look into issues related to force generation and mission start-up at its final substantive meeting on 20 December

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