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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 http://www.reliefweb.int/fts]
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 http://www.globalpolicy.org/finance/tables]
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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)
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
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
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
Date distributed (ymd): 030928
Region: West Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +economy/development+
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