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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Liberia: UN Peacekeeping

Africa Policy E-Journal
September 28, 2003 (030928)

Liberia: UN Peacekeeping
(Reposted from sources cited below)

The United Nations is expected to assume responsibility for peacekeeping in Liberia on October 1, incorporating the approximately 3,500 West Africa troops of ECOMIL into a new UNMIL operation. News reports indicate that the US offshore force of about 2,500 is expected to depart within a few weeks. The 150 US marines stationed on the ground to support the West African force withdrew at the end of August. West African reinforcements arriving the following week included 250 troops from Mali, 250 troops from Senegal, and 150 troops from Gambia, which has a population of 1.5 million, compared to the US population of 290 million.

Washington, however, seems unwilling to make a commitment even to match the Gambian troop commitment to UNMIL. Worldwide, the US ranks 23rd in contributions of troops and civilian police to UN peacekeeping operations, with 453 of the total 36,948 deployed as of the end of August 2003. Those countries ranking ahead of the US in total troop and police contributions include Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, and Ghana, each with over 2,000 troops and police committed. Among African countries, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, Morocco, and Senegal also each contribute more troops to UN missions than does the US.

Retired US air force general Jacques Paul Klein was appointed the head of UNMIL. But non-governmental organizations and other critics deplored the failure of his home country to take up its fair share of responsibility for addressing continued violence and humanitarian needs in Liberia. While the US committed $10 million to support the West African force, the resources needed, whether for troops or for funds, are far greater. In September the UN raised its estimates of humanitarian needs in Liberia from $69 million to $100 million. Of the $47 million of that needed for calendar year 2003, only $ 9 million, roughly 19%, had been raised by September 28 [see]

UNMIL falls under the regular UN peacekeeping budget, and expects to receive troops from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Russia, South Africa, Ethiopia, Namibia, and Ireland, as well as West African countries. The US owes $529 million in arrears on peacekeeping to the United Nations, representing 48% of the peacekeeping arrears from member states [see]

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Security Council Approves 16,000 Peacekeepers

UN Integrated Regional Information Network

September 19, 2003


The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved the creation of a 15,000-strong peacekeeping force for Liberia to take over from a much smaller West African force which is currently struggling to impose peace and security after 14 years of civil war.

The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) will be formally created on October 1, two weeks before a new broad-based transitional government takes power in Monrovia to guide the country to fresh elections in October 2005.

UN officials reckon it will take about six months to work up to full strength.

UNMIL was given an initial mandate of 12 months to enforce an 18 August peace agreement between the Liberian government and two rebel movements. The Security Council also charged it with helping the new transitional government to assert its authority throughout the country.

The peacekeepers will be backed up by an international force of 1,115 civilian police officers.

Retired US air force general, Jacques Paul Klein was appointed head of UNMIL, which will be the second largest UN peacekeeping mission in the world after the one sent to neighboring Sierra Leone three years ago.

Klein was appointed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as his Special Representative in Liberia in July. He was formerly head of the UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Klein told the Security Council on Tuesday: "We have an obligation to assist in putting an end to a cycle of brutality, violence, corruption and instability that has destroyed the social fabric of Liberian society and has spilled over the borders of Liberia and profoundly affected the region."

He said the UN had received offers of troops for Liberia from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Russia, South Africa, Ethiopia, Namibia and Ireland.

UNMIL will monitor the implementation of the cease-fire between the Liberian government, which was headed until last month by warlord Charles Taylor, and two rebel groups; Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) and the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL).

The UN force will assist in the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, and repatriation of thousands of fighters roaming the villages of Liberia. It will also and provide security at key government installations such as ports and airports, and protect UN staff, facilities and civilians.

UNMIL will also assist in humanitarian work and will help to enforce respect for human rights "with particular attention to vulnerable groups including refugees, returning refugees and internally displaced persons, women, children, and demobilized child soldiers," the UN said.

It will help the transitional government restructure the police force and create a new professional army.

The transitional government is headed by businessman Gyude Bryant, who was chosen by the signatories to last month's peace agreement. It will replace an interim administration led by Moses Blah. He took over the reins of power on 11 August when Taylor was forced by international pressure to step down and go into exile in Nigeria.

The Security Council resolution mandates UNMIL to help Bryant's administration to rebuild the structure of government in Liberia. The country's hospitals and schools are in ruins, its courts have ceased to function and its civil servants have been unpaid for years.

UNMIL will to develop a new system of courts and prisons and will assist the government to reestablish the proper administration of natural resources. The country is rich in timber, rubber, diamonds and iron ore and is believed to have offshore oil waiting to be developed.

The Security Council demanded that all parties cease hostilities throughout Liberia and fulfill their obligations under the peace and cease-fire agreements signed in Accra. It also demanded that they cooperate with UNMIL and ensure the safety, security and freedom of movement of UN personnel throughout the country.

UNMIL will also help to coordinate the voluntary return of hundreds of thousands of refugees in neighboring countries and internally displaced persons within Liberia.

In a report to the Council on Tuesday, Annan said: "With the recent political and military developments in Monrovia, the security situation in the country continues to improve. Liberia remains highly unstable, however, as armed groups, militia and criminal elements operate throughout the country."

Annan said the Liberian conflict had unleashed armed groups and criminal gangs which had destabilised the entire sub-region.

"The armed conflict in Liberia resulted in serious abuses of human rights and humanitarian law, including deliberate and arbitrary killings, disappearances, torture, widespread rape and sexual violence, arbitrary arrests, forced conscription, use of child soldiers, systematic and forced displacement and indiscriminate targeting of civilians," Annan said.

Some 250,000 people are believed to have died in war-related circumstances in Liberia since 1989 - about one in 12 of the country's three million population. At least half were civilian non-combatants.

Meanwhile the UN is increasing its emergency appeal for Liberia from US $69 million to $100 million to meet increased relief needs, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

Initially, the UN had asked for $69 million, but raised only half of it. The extra funds were needed because relief agencies were now able to reach areas of the country under rebel-control that had previously been inaccessible, OCHA said.

Top UN Envoy Calls For Sufficient Personnel And Funds To Resurrect Liberia

United Nations (New York)

September 16, 2003

[Excerpts only: Full text is available at:]

Seeking 15,000 United Nations peacekeepers and 900 police to bring war-shattered Liberia back from "hellish limbo," the top UN envoy for the West African country appealed to the international committee today to commit the resources and personnel needed to end the "cycle of brutality, violence, corruption and instability."

"Give us the mandate and the tools and I assure you we will do what is just and what is right," Jacques Paul Klein, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative, told the Security Council in an open briefing, presenting Mr. Annan's first report since the 15-member body last month authorized a multinational force for Liberia and declared its readiness to set up a follow-on UN stabilization force. ...

He said he planned to call an international donors conference, if the Council approves the mandate, to help a country where three-quarters of the population lives below the poverty line, 85 per cent are unemployed and many thousands do not have access to life's basic necessities of shelter, water, food or even rudimentary medical care. ...

TEXT: Briefing to the Security Council by Jacques Paul Klein, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Liberia - New York


Liberia's massive humanitarian and political crisis calls for immediate intervention. Thousands of its citizens do not have access to life's basic necessities of shelter, water, food or even rudimentary medical care. Their suffering echoes the words of the scriptures - " Eloi, Eloi, lamma sabacthani! My God, my God why hast Thou forsaken us".

For the past twelve years they have lived in hellish limbo, suffering at the whim of warlords and despots, exploited by a criminal kleptocracy without help or relief in sight. Their lives and their country are held hostage by armed drugged thugs who destroy the state and engulfed the region in chaos. The ravages of self-centred political and criminal ideologies spread the conflict beyond Liberia's borders and caused enormous suffering and havoc in the neighboring states.

It is hard to assess the psychological effects of these crimes against justice and humanity. The matter becomes more complex when we think of it as something which a nation has absorbed into its very being - a sort of virus which, through channels of circulation - has infected the entire body politic. The result - the fearful economic waste; the untimely death of no small part of the population; a measure of terror and pain that can only be partially conceived and estimated; and the collective national consciousness of having been witness to enormous crimes.

This is a fearful legacy to be left to future generations. Life becomes cheap; nothing is absolutely safe or sure; deeds of injustice and violence become common facts in daily life; and there is the ever-present fear of imminent war. Events however revolting, are soon forgotten in our often-tempo centric world. "Bernard Shaw wrote that the worst sin toward our fellow man is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them - that is the essence of inhumanity.

The decent and good people of Liberia, and there are many of them, deserve better from us. Liberia was a founding member of the United Nations. It played a key and critical role in the fight against fascism - Roberts field was built as an entrepot for allied aircraft transiting to Europe; Liberia also produced the majority of the free world's rubber supplies that ensured allied victory after the plantations of Southeast Asia were overrun. Time and again when Liberia was called upon for help or assistance, it gave - does it deserve no less now that they need our help?

Today Liberia is not even listed on the UNDP human development index. Seventy-five percent of its citizens are living below the poverty line; the unemployment rate is eighty-five percent; literacy is at thirty-eight percent; fifty percent of the population is under fifteen years of age. Added to this is that seventy percent of the belligerents are child soldiers, coerced, psychologically traumatized, manipulated and exploited by self-appointed military leaders. We have a phenomenon not known elsewhere in the world where the younger population is less well educated than their parents.

We have an obligation to assist in putting an end to this cycle of brutality, violence, corruption and instability that has destroyed the social fabric of society and has also spilled over the borders of Liberia and profoundly affected the region. This effort will require dramatic, engaged and bold solutions. Liberia and the region need to be stabilized and brought into a larger African framework where it can be given the political support, the encouragement and mentoring required to help it become a stable and self-sustaining member of Africa and the international community.

The first steps have already been taken. We need to pay a special tribute to the courage and diligence of President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Nigerian Foreign Minister Olugemi Adeniji, Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, General Abdulsalami Abubakar and to the staff who supported the recent peace talks in Ghana. ECOWAS has played the lead role in creating the conditions for peace in Liberia. Through concerted political action and the commitment of troops, ECOWAS has underscored its importance and its energy as the regional organization committed to ensuring peace, stability and development in West Africa.

To build on the efforts of ECOWAS, the international community must make a strong commitment, now, to Liberia. From disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, establishing a safe and secure environment for refugee return; addressing law and order issues; gender issues; seriously attacking cross-border criminal activities. These efforts if successful will transform Liberia from a failed state at war with itself to a nation at peace. Despite the multitude of challenges facing us, there is room for hope. Progress can be made but it will be expensive, arduous and at times frustrating. At a time of many calls on the attention and resources of the international community, it is necessary to plan next steps not only in Liberia but also in the context of the region on the basis of objective analysis.

We cannot be timid and handicap ourselves from the outset of this enterprise, as we did in Sierra Leone. The international community must be prepared to commit the resources and the personnel needed to help the people of Liberia rebuild their country. And, whilst the international community must provide the resources, this must also be a partnership with the citizens of Liberia for they ultimately have the responsibility for ending the conflict and healing and rebuilding their nation.

An essential part of the healing and rebuilding process is the bringing to justice of those who have committed violations of international law. Without justice, there can be no healing. Without justice, those who believe that they can act with impunity will be tempted to do so again. Without justice, Liberia cannot bring to closure this dark past and look to a brighter future. Ultimately, until you punish the guilty, you cannot absolve the innocent. ...

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Date distributed (ymd): 030928
Region: West Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +economy/development+ +security/peace+

The Africa Policy E-Journal is a free information service provided by Africa Action, including both original commentary and reposted documents. Africa Action provides this information and analysis in order to promote U.S. and international policies toward Africa that advance economic, political and social justice and the full spectrum of human rights.

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