On 13 June 2013, the Security Council met in closed consultations to draw up the balance sheet of the sanctions regime in Liberia. Despite the efforts deployed by the Liberian authorities to restore efficient state structures, arms trafficking and excessive exploitation of natural resources continued to destabilize the region.
The representative of France called for the strengthening of the cooperation between Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia to struggle against arms trafficking and he expressed his support for the maintenance of the arms embargo.
On 25 March 2013, the Security Council met to hear the report of Ms. Karin Landgren, Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Liberia and Mr Staffan Tilander, Chairman of the Peacebuilding Commission in Liberia. Both welcomed the significant progress of the country with regard to stability and development.
During the private consultations that followed, the Representative of France noted the progress in peacebuilding, noting that the country was still facing major structural challenges.
He stressed that the Security Council must remain engaged with the process of transition and transfer of tasks from UNMIL to the Liberian authorities.
Find the complete timeline of events here.
UNMIL - United Nations Mission in Liberia
From 1989 to 2003, Liberia was plagued by 15 years of civil war which had a devastating effect on the civilian populations as well as the country’s economy. Fighting between government forces and soldiers claiming to be from the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), led by Charles Taylor, began at the end of 1989. Charles Taylor came to power in 1997 but this did not put an end to the civil war. Fighting continued between the government forces and several warring factions until summer 2003. On 18 August 2003, the Liberian parties signed a comprehensive peace agreement in Accra.
In order to ensure compliance with the ceasefire, the Security Council decided to establish, through resolution 1509 of 19 September 2003, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) which was deployed in October 2003.
UNMIL, a multidimensional mission
UNMIL is composed of political, military and judicial components. Its principle missions are: to support the enforcement of the ceasefire agreement, to support the implementation of the peace process, to assist in security reform, to support the “Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration” program, to support humanitarian assistance and to contribute to international action aimed at defending and promoting human rights. The Mission also has an electoral component. Following Charles Taylor’s departure, the holding of presidential and legislative elections allowed a political transition to take place. The election campaign was conducted without apparent incident, notably thanks to the presence of UNMIL’s Blue Helmets. UNMIL is also assisting with preparations for the presidential and legislative elections scheduled to take place in October 2011.
The Security Council renewed the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Liberia for one year (until 30 September 2012) through resolution 2008.
UNMIL’s involvement in Sierra Leone
On 11 November 2005, the Security Council, by its resolution 1638, decided to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to include the following additional element: to apprehend and detain former President Charles Taylor in case he were to return to Liberia and to transfer him or facilitate his transfer to Sierra Leone for prosecution before the Special Court.
On 29 March 2006, former Liberian President Charles Taylor was handed over to the UNMIL authorities, who then referred him to the Special Court for Sierra Leone to be tried for crimes against humanity and for war crimes (see country file on Sierra Leone)
By its resolution 1971 of 3 March 2011, the Security Council decided to withdraw the last UNMIL contingent present in Sierra Leone which had been responsible for the security of the Special Tribunal for Sierra Leone since 2005, in accordance with resolution 1626. The Tribunal deemed that a military guard force was no longer necessary.
Support for UNOCI
The stabilization of the country meant that some UNMIL troops were able to support the UN Mission in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI). On 20 December 2010, the Security Council authorized, through resolution 1962, the extension of the temporary redeployment from UNMIL to UNOCI of three infantry companies and an aviation unit including two military transport helicopters.
Planning its withdrawal
UNMIL’s troop level has been gradually reduced since 2006, decreasing from 15,000 in 2003 to approximately 8,000 in 2011. In his report S/2010/429 of August 2010, the Secretary-General recommended to the Security Council that it should stabilize troops at this level in order to allow UNMIL to assume its full role during the presidential and legislative elections scheduled for October 2011.
The members of the Security Council completed their mission to Africa in May 2009 with a visit to Liberia. Following this visit, which aimed to reaffirm the Council’s support for the Liberian government and people, a report was published recommending, among other things, that “even if it is confirmed that there will not be a hasty UNMIL withdrawal, the Liberian government must nevertheless increase its efforts to strengthen its military and police capacities in order to assume all of the responsibilities associated with security once UNMIL has completed its mandate.”
The Security Council implemented a sanctions regime in Liberia through resolution 1521 (2003). These sanctions were gradually lifted (authorization for the export of diamonds, round logs and timber) but still included an arms embargo and individual measures (freezing of assets and travel bans). Resolution 1903 of 17 December 2009 lifted the arms embargo on the government (limiting it to "all non-governmental entities and individuals operating in the territory of Liberia") and renewed the sanctions against individuals for one year. The sanctions regime was extended for one year on 17 December 2010 by resolution 1961.
On 16 September 2010, the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) decided to include Liberia in its agenda and introduced special training devoted to this country, at the request of the country itself. Liberia expects support from the PBC in three main areas: strengthening of the rule of law, reform of the security sector and support for national reconciliation. The Peacebuilding Fund has allocated USD 15 million to Liberia.
16 September 2011 - Security Council - Liberia/UNMIL - Explanation of vote by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
12 December 2012 - Resolution 2079 - extending for one year sanctions regime in Liberia.
14 December 2011 - Resolution 2025 - renewing for one year the mandate of UNMIL
16 September 2011- Resolution 2008 - renewing the mandate for 12 months of the UNMIL
3 March 2011 - Resolution 1971 - withdraws the last UNMIL contingent present in Sierra Leone
17 December 2010 - Resolution 1961 - extends the sanctions regime
15 September 2010 - Resolution 1938 - extends UNMIL’s mandate
17 December 2009 - Resolution 1903 - extends the sanctions regime
15 September 2009 - Resolution 1885 - extends UNMIL’s mandate
19 December 2008 - Resolution 1854 - extends the sanctions regime
29 September 2008 - Resolution 1836 - extends UNMIL’s mandate
11 November 2005 - Resolution 1638 - includes the apprehension and detention of Charles Taylor in UNMIL’s mandate
22 December 2003 - Resolution 1521 - establishes the Sanctions Committee concerning Liberia
19 September 2003 - Resolution 1509 - establishes UNMIL
See file on the Peacebuilding Commission
Country file on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Website of the United Nations in Liberia
Website of the United Nations Mission in Liberia