4 June 2004
Chairman of Transitional Government Asks Security Council to Lift Sanctions on Liberia
Council Members Highlight Importance of Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration Process in Furthering Peace, Stability
NEW YORK, 3 June (UN Headquarters) -- The Chairman of the National Transitional Government of Liberia, Charles Gyude Bryant, pleaded with the Security Council this morning to lift the timber and diamond sanctions on his country, which would contribute to economic revival, the successful disarmament and demobilization of ex-combatants and the transition from conflict to peace.
Briefing the Council on the situation in his country, Mr. Bryant said there were two critical needs associated with the process of disarming and demobilizing combatants in Liberia -- the need to rehabilitate ex-combatants, many of whom were lacking in economic survival skills, and to reintegrate them into local communities. Accordingly, there was an urgent need to revive the economy and create jobs in support of the reintegration of ex-combatants and internally displaced persons.
The sanctions imposed by the Council under resolution 1521 (2003) contributed to the perception that Liberia was very unsafe and dangerous, he said. There was a surcharge on everything imported into the country, thus raising the cost of living for his people. That had adverse implications for an orderly transition from conflict to peace. The forestry sector held one of the greatest short-term promises for job creation and the fostering of economic recovery.
Likewise, he said, diamond sales were a foreign exchange earner for Liberia. He made the case for the lifting of sanctions, saying the Government had made tremendous progress in satisfying the demands of the Security Council with regard to both the timber and diamond sanctions, and outlined the measures taken in that regard.
Also briefing the Council this morning was the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Liberia and Coordinator of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Jacques Paul Klein, who stressed that Liberias long-term security and stability would only come with an economy that could create steady employment for young adult males, supported by a credible, democratic, and accountable government.
As part of its mandate, he said UNMIL had continued to monitor progress made by the Transitional Government to put in place mechanisms to ensure proper management of the diamond and timber industries. He urged the international community to provide all the necessary support to enable the Transitional Government to meet the requirements of resolution 1521, noting that its capacity to deliver services and extend its authority throughout the country remained very limited.
The Mission, he also noted, had made substantial progress in achieving its most pressing priorities -- stabilizing the country through the progressive deployment of troops and disarming of armed groups, while simultaneously commencing the restructuring of law and order institutions. With disarmament and demobilization progressing smoothly, UNMILs main focus now was on preparations for the reintegration of the disarmed combatants. Noting the fragile state of the progress achieved thus far, he said ensuring a complete weapons handover remained a priority for UNMIL.
He added that preparations were under way for the October 2005 elections, noting that Liberia must take ownership of the electoral process with UNMIL expecting to play a key role in availing the National Elections Commission of material, human and technical resources. He urged the Council to reiterate its support for the October 2005 election date and its insistence that elections be held as scheduled.
In the discussion that followed, Council members agreed that peace and stability in Liberia was the guarantee for the same throughout the region. In that regard, it was hoped that the Government would further strengthen cooperation with its neighbours. Speakers also expressed satisfaction with efforts to coordinate United Nations efforts in the subregion, and looked forward to the forthcoming mission of the Security Council to West Africa putting forth recommendations on cross-border issues.
Frances representative said that sharing information and logistical resources, working on common issues and coordinating disarmament, demobilization and reintegration was necessary to enhance the effectiveness of United Nations peacekeeping operations in Liberia, Côte dIvoire and Sierra Leone.
Delegations also took note of the case made by Chairman Bryant for the lifting of sanctions, which would serve as an important input to the Councils upcoming discussion on the issue. The United States representative noted the initial steps taken by the Government to institute control over government revenue. The time had come for the Government to establish transparent accounting and auditing mechanisms to ensure that all government revenues were not used to fuel conflict, but employed to improve the lives of all Liberians. Modifying or lifting sanctions should be closely linked to the achievement of those clearly defined conditions set forth in resolution 1521.
Regarding the reintegration of ex-combatants, which was crucial to the efforts being made in Liberia, the representative of the United Kingdom emphasized that concerted action was needed to ensure that necessary finances and programmes were in place for long-term rehabilitation and reintegration. In addition, Germanys representative stressed the need to ensure that female former combatants were also included in reintegration programmes.
Also participating in the discussion were the representatives of Brazil, China, Algeria, Spain, Russian Federation, Angola, Benin, Pakistan, Romania and Chile. Also, the representative of the Philippines, who holds the presidency of the Council this month, spoke in his national capacity.
The meeting began at 10:12 a.m. and ended at 12:53 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Liberia, for which it had before it two reports. The report of the Secretary-General pursuant to Security Council resolution 1521 (2003) regarding Liberia (document S/2004/428) states that since its establishment on 14 October 2003, the National Transitional Government of Liberia has made some encouraging progress towards meeting the objectives contained in paragraphs 5, 7 and 11 of resolution 1521 (2003), notwithstanding a number of serious resource and operational constraints.
By the terms of resolution 1521 (2003), the Council terminated its bans on the sale or supply of arms, diamonds and timber, as well as travel, and dissolved the Committee set up to monitor them. At the same time, it reapplied the measures under the watch of a new body set up by the resolution. Under a series of provisions in the wide-ranging resolution, the Council decided that all States should take the necessary measures to: prevent any provision to Liberia, by their nationals or from their territories, of technical training or assistance related to the provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of the above-mentioned items; prevent the entry into or transit through their territories of all individuals constituting a threat to the peace process; prevent the direct or indirect import of all rough diamonds from Liberia to their territory; and prevent the import into their territories of all round logs and timber products originating in Liberia.
At the same time, the report states, much remains to be done to rigorously apply and implement the recommendations for reform of the timber sector, made by the Timber Sanctions Review Committee, in a transparent and accountable manner. In this regard, the reform programme for the timber sector still needs to be developed into a comprehensive package, with fully defined recommendations, an implementation strategy and timelines. Although some steps have been taken -- such as a review of logging concessions -- there are still concerns about the current pace of the review process and about the way future concessions could be awarded by the National Transitional Government. In that connection, the Forestry Development Authority will need to ensure transparency in revising all forestry concession agreements to reflect international standards and sustainable forest management practices.
According to the report, the National Transitional Government does not yet have full authority and control over the timber-producing areas. However, with the steady deployment of United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) forces throughout the country, in particular, to key areas where logging activities take place, such as Buchanan, Greenville and Zwedru, and with increasing United Nations air and road patrols, the Governments capacity to gradually extend control to timber-producing areas will soon be enhanced. At the same time, however, there is little evidence to suggest that the Government will have sufficient capacity in the short term to assume full control of all timber-related activities. For instance, the Forestry Development Authority has formally declared its four regional offices in Bomi, Buchanan, Greenville and Zwedru open, but it has yet to deploy personnel to staff those offices. It will also take some time to establish local administration in forest areas.
It is important to note that as a result of 14 years of civil strife, a significant number of logging records have either been lost or have been only partially preserved, making it difficult to obtain a clear picture of the financial situation of the Forestry Development Authority. The most pressing concerns continue to be the lack of structure, oversight, and accountability in the financial management systems of the timber sector. The Forestry Development Authority will require significant assistance to be able to effectively manage the forestry revenues of Liberia and to prepare its financial and information systems before the forensic and systems audit, funded by the European Union, that is scheduled to take place in July 2004.
The report adds that in relation to the diamond sector, the National Transitional Government Liberia is making gradual progress in preparing its application to join the Kimberley Process, especially following the visit of a representative of the Diamond High Council of Belgium in April. In making the application, the Government will need to ensure transparency in its procedures and in its method for instituting controls over the export, import and transit of rough diamonds.
The report states that Council members may wish to consider what additional steps should be taken by the National Transitional Government and the international community to enhance Liberias compliance with the provisions of resolution 1521 (2003). In that regard, the Secretary-General acknowledges with appreciation the assistance that is being provided by some Member States and international organizations to the National Transitional Government in its efforts to reform the timber industry and adhere to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and would urge those in a position to do so to provide additional support.
Such assistance is vital to enable Liberia to make progress towards meeting the goals and objectives of resolution 1521 (2003), which could facilitate an early review of existing sanctions. It is hoped that, through the efforts of the Liberian Government and with the support of the international community, the development activities of the country will benefit fully in the future from the properly managed use of revenues derived from the countrys natural resources.
The third progress report of the Secretary-General on UNMIL (document S/2004/430) states that UNMIL continues to make steady progress in stabilizing Liberia and creating the necessary security conditions for the full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, as well as the delivery of humanitarian assistance and the commencement of the national recovery. The deployment of UNMIL troops throughout the country is almost complete, and the implementation of the disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration (DDRR) programme is now on track. In addition, the programme for the restructuring and retraining of the countrys security sector has made a good start with the establishment of an interim national police force and the launching of the selection of recruits for the new Liberian Police Service.
The efforts to rehabilitate the judiciary, reform the corrections system and facilitate the extension of State administration throughout Liberia are similarly making progress, the report states. In addition, the increasingly stable security situation has resulted in an improved human rights situation and facilitated wider humanitarian access. The mechanisms for monitoring the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which consist of the Joint Monitoring Committee, the Implementation Monitoring Committee, and the International Contact Group on Liberia, are also functioning more effectively.
However, many daunting challenges still lie ahead, states the report. In particular, the security situation may again turn volatile until the disarmament and demobilization of combatants is completed and the programme for the longer-term, sustained reintegration of the former combatants gathers momentum. The capacity of the National Transitional Government of Liberia to deliver services and extend its authority throughout the country also remains extremely limited. Sustained efforts by the Transitional Government will be required to ensure an efficient and transparent management of the countrys national resources, in order to generate the revenue that is sorely needed for the enhancement of the Governments capacity.
The support provided by UNMIL and other partners is primarily intended to empower the National Transitional Government, according to the report. In this connection, it is gratifying to note that the Cabinet of the National Transitional Government is now meeting regularly and that most of the government positions have been filled. The appointment of a new National Elections Commission and the development of legislation relating to the establishment of an Independent National Human Rights Commission and a Truth and Reconciliation Commission are also encouraging developments.
The report notes that the National Transitional Government, together with UNMIL, aims to have a new Liberian Police Service with at least 1,800 personnel by the time national elections take place in October 2005. In this connection, the Secretary-General appeals to Member States to provide the requisite assistance for the expansion of the capacity of the police training school in Liberia and equipment for the restructured and reformed police service, including vehicles, communication equipment and uniforms, as well as the construction of police stations across the country. He also commends the United States for taking on the important task of leading in the provision of assistance for the restructuring and training of Liberias armed forces, and calls on other Member States to contribute to this effort.
The programme for the reintegration of former combatants and the repatriation of non-Liberian combatants will equally require the generous support of the international community, says the report. Without an effective reintegration programme, the entire DDRR programme could be seriously undermined, possibly resulting in renewed insecurity in the country. Similarly, lack of support for programmes targeting the issue of foreign combatants, particularly their repatriation and their reintegration in their countries of origin, could contribute to instability in the subregion.
The report concludes that, considering the numerous difficulties facing the electoral process, it is important that the preparations for the 2005 elections begin immediately. This would allow sufficient time to address the challenges relating to the creation of the necessary conditions for the elections and to mobilize the technical and material assistance required by the National Elections Commission. It is hoped that Member States and other international partners will come forward with such assistance in a timely manner.
JACQUES PAUL KLEIN, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Coordinator of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), said he was pleased to report that UNMIL had made substantial progress in achieving its most pressing priorities -- of stabilizing the country through the progressive deployment of troops and disarming the armed groups, while simultaneously commencing the restructuring of law and order institutions. The deployment of troops throughout Liberia had greatly improved security along its long and porous borders, and UNMILS civilian police component was gaining ground and had expanded considerably to areas beyond Monrovia.
Moreover, the relaunched DDRR programme was progressing without major obstacles, he said. As of 31 May, a total of 38,673 combatants had been disarmed, of whom 13 per cent were children and 18 per cent women. Together with those disarmed in December, this represented more than 70 per cent of an estimated 53,000 combatants. He added that a total of 16,065 weapons had been collected, along with 12,858 rounds of ordnance and more than 3,899,700 rounds of small ammunition that had been collected and destroyed. However, there were still worrying signs that some of the heavy weapons were not being turned in for the disarmament exercise. The UNMIL was determined to ensure that all such weapons would be surrendered.
With disarmament and demobilization progressing smoothly, UNMILs main focus was now on preparations for the reintegration of the disarmed combatants. The Transitional Government, United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other parties, including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the European Union, were collaborating to devise short-term bridging projects pending the availability of a long-term reintegration programme. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and its partners were currently developing a long-term capacity-building programme for 7,000 child ex-combatants, revolving around education, skills development, apprenticeships and community-based support.
He said UNMIL had also made considerable progress in assisting in the restoration of the judicial system. The United Nations civilian police component had also made progress in restructuring and retraining the Liberian National Police. The Transitional Government and UNMIL had jointly launched the recruitment process for the new police service, and training of new cadets was scheduled to begin on 1 July. He added that UNMIL was pleased that the United States had offered to take the lead in assisting and advising the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) on restructuring of the army.
Turning to the restoration of State authority, he said UNMIL had deployed civil affairs officers in various parts of the country and had deployed staff to the four sector headquarters in Tubmanburg, Buchanan, Zwedro, and Monrovia. In collaboration with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, a project proposal had been finalized for the return of government officials to their counties and districts immediately after the disarmament exercise.
He said preparations were under way for the October 2005 elections, noting that UNMIL maintained that Liberia must take ownership of the electoral process with the Mission expecting to play a key role in availing the National Elections Commission of material, human and technical resources.
He asked the Council to take note that there were indications some members of the NTGL/National Transitional Legislative Assembly (NTLA) were becoming comfortable in their positions and becoming less enthusiastic regarding the timing of the October 2005 elections. He urged the Council to reiterate its support for the October 2005 election date and its insistence that elections will be held as scheduled.
The improved security situation in recent months had enabled humanitarian agencies and human rights groups to extend their activities to areas that were formerly inaccessible. Displaced people and refugees were returning to their former homes, he said, noting that almost 80,000 internally displaced persons out of a caseload of 316,000 had returned spontaneously. The main challenge for the humanitarian agencies was the lack of resources for moving quickly with relief assistance to the newly accessible areas.
Turning to the Secretary-Generals report, he said that as part of its mandate, UNMIL had continued to monitor progress made by the Transitional Government to put in place mechanisms to ensure proper management of the diamond and timber industries, which were both under United Nations sanctions. He stressed that the NTGL was in critical need of reliable sources of revenue in order to function effectively. Liberias long-term security and stability would come only with an economy that could create steady employment for young adult males, supported by a credible, democratic, and accountable government. He urged the international community to provide all the necessary support to enable the Transitional Government to meet the requirements of Security Council resolution 1521, noting that its capacity to deliver services and extend its authority throughout the country remained very limited.
Noting the fragile state of the progress thus far achieved, he said ensuring a complete weapons handover remained a priority for UNMIL and that until disarmament and troop deployment were complete, inter- and intra-factional conflict might persist in remote parts of the country.
CHARLES GYUDE BRYANT, Chairman of the National Transitional Government of Liberia, said he was here today for one primary reason -- to plead with the Council to lift the sanctions on his country. There were two critical needs associated with the process of disarming and demobilizing combatants in Liberia. First, there was the need to rehabilitate ex-combatants, many of whom were lacking in economic survival skills. Second, there was the need to reintegrate them into local communities. Accordingly, there was an urgent need to revive the economy and create jobs in support of the reintegration of ex-combatants and the internally displaced.
In that regard, he appealed to the Council to lift the sanctions on timber and diamonds. The sanctions contributed to the perception that Liberia was very unsafe and dangerous. There was a surcharge on everything imported into the country, thus raising the cost of living for his people. That had adverse implications for an orderly transition from conflict to peace. The forestry sector held one of the greatest short-term promises for job creation and the fostering of economic recovery. The sector used to provide over 7,000 jobs, contributed 20 per cent of government revenues, and accounted for approximately 50 per cent of its foreign exchange earnings.
The sanctions on timber continue to hurt us, he stated. Sanctions were imposed on Liberian timber for five direct and indirect reasons. The primary reason was that timber resources were being used to purchase arms by the erstwhile government for the purposes of fuelling conflict within the subregion and suppressing its people. On that issue, he was pleased to report that the war was over, and Liberia was now at peace with her neighbours. The Transitional Government, rather than purchasing arms, was currently disarming combatants.
He noted that United Nations forces were being deployed throughout the country; they had visible presence at all sea and airports; and they were patrolling the countrys borders to ensure that weapons did not re-enter the territory. The Transitional Government was committed to the rule of law, human rights and social justice. That Government was not in the business of suppressing its own people. Ours was indeed a government of peace, reconciliation and national renewal.
The second concern of the Council was the lack of transparency in the awarding of concession agreements, he said. On that critical issue, 30 concession agreements were being examined. A number of recommendations had been made and endorsed in that regard. Of the 30 concessionaires, 24 had been cleared and would be recertified to recommence operations following their settlement of financial obligations to the Forest Development Authority and to the Government. Additionally, six of the concessionaires had not been cleared due to past gross irregularities and were slated for further investigation and/or legal revocation.
The third concern, he said, was that timber revenues were not used for the benefit of the Liberian people. Since its incumbency, the Transitional Government had taken measures to ensure that its resources were utilized for the benefit of all its people. Among other measures, the Government had in place Executive Order Number Two, which centralized the collection of all government revenues under the authority of the Ministry of Finance and the deposit of all such revenues into the Governments account at the Central Bank of Liberia. In addition, because Liberians were so dependent on and interacted so closely with their local forest resources, the Government was fostering a forest sector reform programme that restored the connection between forest and community.
The fourth area of concern, he continued, was the low capacity of the Forest Development Authority in regulating the sector. A programme to enhance the Authoritys capacity had been put in place in which, among other things, the Board of Directors had been reconstituted as recommended by the Sanctions Review Committee.
The fifth area of concern had been the lack of appreciation for the environment, conservation and biodiversity in forestry operations, he went on. To address those fundamental concerns, the Governments reform programmes now accentuated the environment in the operations of the Authority. Primarily, it had adopted a triple C policy (conservation, community and commercial) to, henceforth, guide the country in the exploitation of its forests. That policy sought to strike a balance between the competing interests of community development, conservation and commercialization.
In that context, he said, the Authority had endorsed the initiatives of Conservation International along with 13 NGOs and had given those organizations unequivocal access to the Authority and its operations. Also, the Government would, henceforth, vigorously enforce laws and regulations. In addition, in concert with international partners, Liberia would continue to review and implement a strategy of long-term sustainable forest management. He invited the Council to have its experts visit Liberia within the next 90 days to validate its performance.
Turning to diamond sanctions, he said that diamond sales were a foreign exchange earner for Liberia. Diamond production, alongside the exploitation of gold, was an economic mainstay for a substantial number of its people. The Government had made tremendous progress in satisfying the demands of the Security Council. It had submitted itself wholeheartedly to the internationally recognized Kimberly Certification Process, which required participating countries to enact legislation that clearly defined procedures aimed at promoting transparency in the production, sales, import, transit and export of rough diamonds.
As further assurance to the Council of its total compliance with the Kimberly Process, the Government had agreed with the Sanctions Review Committee that immediately upon the lifting of sanctions on diamonds, Liberia would temporarily impose a voluntary embargo on the sale, import and export of rough diamonds until Liberia was Kimberly certified. While it was awaiting the decision of the Council to lift sanctions on diamonds, the Government took cognizance of, and extended its appreciation to, the United States for its decision to unilaterally lift sanctions on the import of diamonds from Liberia.
Finally, he assured the Council that through the support and assistance of the international community, Liberia was breaking through: a failed State was being transformed into an emerging democracy; a lawless State was being transformed into a nation that respected human values and was committed to the rule of law; a pariah State was being accepted into the comity of decent nations; and a conflict-prone State was being transformed into a nation of peace -- at peace with herself, her neighbours and with the international community.
STUART HOLLIDAY (United States) said that much progress had been made since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Accra. But the calm and stability in Liberia remained fragile. He welcomed indications that UNMIL peacekeepers would work with peacekeepers from neighbouring Côte dIvoire and Sierra Leone. Close collaboration between the three missions would serve the interests of all three peacekeeping operations. He also took note of the meetings between the respective Special Representatives of the Secretary-General and hoped continuing exchanges would develop concrete plans for cross-border activities and sharing of resources.
Noting that civilian staffing for UNMIL lagged behind, he stated that the Mission should have all necessary resources to carry out its work. A key task for UNMIL had been the disarmament and demobilization of combatants, whose successful completion would be key to the lasting stability of Liberia and for the political process to go ahead. It was also necessary to be sensitive to the needs of returning refugees and internally displaced persons, as well as to the needs of the communities to which they were returning. It was necessary to devote resources and energy to assisting all war-affected groups.
He was concerned about the gap between disarmament and demobilization, on the one hand, and rehabilitation and reintegration, on the other. He encouraged collaboration with NGOs and others with relevant experience in the disarmament and demobilization phase. He also urged Liberian factions to do their part for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process. The Secretary-Generals report had noted that while over 30,000 ex-combatants had been disarmed, many were still reluctant to give up their weapons, relying on them for security and livelihood. It was necessary to consider how to ensure those weapons were permanently out of circulation.
The United States was taking the lead on security sector reform, and had sent an assessment team which was now drafting recommendations for a reform plan. Security sector reform was a large task, and he encouraged other donors to work with the United States in that area. Liberia needed short-term humanitarian and long-term development assistance, he added. In that regard, he urged donors to stand by their commitments and coordinate their efforts.
He also noted the initial steps taken by the Transitional Government to institute control over government revenue. While those were welcome developments, there would be no lasting change in Liberia absent the establishment of values that reflected honesty, trust, service, transparency and accountability. The time had come for the Government to establish transparent accounting and auditing mechanisms to ensure that all government revenues were not used to fuel conflict, but employed to improve the lives of all Liberians. The time for modifying or lifting sanctions should be closely linked to the achievement of those clearly defined conditions set forth in resolution 1521. He added that Charles Taylor continued to remain a threat to Liberia and should appear before the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
HENRIQUE VALLE (Brazil) said his delegation welcomed the progress achieved in the implementation of the peace agreement signed in Accra in August 2003. He commended UNMIL for the positive developments that had taken place within the period under review, including the improved conditions for the delivery of humanitarian assistance and for the beginning of national recovery, the establishment of an interim national police force, the progress in judicial reform, and in the promotion of the rule of law throughout Liberia.
He said UNMIL had been central in providing adequate security conditions for the implementation of the Accra Agreement, and his delegation was pleased that UNMIL had successfully relaunched its DDRR programme. It was particularly gratifying that an intensive public information programme had contributed decisively to that end. His delegation remained concerned, however, that arms trafficking had not been dismantled and that factions could easily re-arm. He said the complete deployment of UNMIL, along with the cooperation among peacekeeping operations in the region, could contribute to address that threat.
It was heartening that the human rights situation and access to humanitarian assistance had improved, he said. The continuous training of law enforcement agencies would contribute further to this end. He appealed to donor countries to help the National Elections Commission in mobilizing material and human resources needed for the elections scheduled for October next year. He said the risks involved in postponing democratic elections would be too high to be ignored.
WANG GUANGYA (China) said that the past year had been very eventful for Liberia. With the assistance of the international community, the long period of war and turmoil had ended, and peace and stability had arrived. Since the establishment of the Transitional Government, serious efforts had been put forward to implement the peace agreement. Liberia was embarking on a new historical phase of development. He was gratified to see the positive changes in the country, and hoped that all sides in Liberia would seize the opportunity to promote the stability and development of the nation.
He noted a number of priority tasks. The first was the need to extend the Governments authority throughout the territory of the country. The second was to ensure effective control over national resources. Chairman Bryant had asked that the sanctions be lifted. He understood that wish, and was supportive of the idea that the Council take a decision on that matter as soon as possible. The UNMIL had overcome difficulties and had nurtured and safeguarded peace and stability in Liberia. He commended UNMIL and hoped it would further strengthen coordination and cooperation with the Transitional Government.
He called on the international community to expeditiously fulfil its commitments to assist Liberia achieve development. The countrys peace and stability had a bearing on the whole region. He hoped the Government would further strengthen cooperation with its neighbours. He looked forward to the upcoming Council mission to West Africa coming up with recommendations for cross-border issues. China had actively supported the peace process in Liberia and post-conflict reconstruction. It was prepared to work with the international community to continue efforts towards comprehensive and lasting peace and stability in the region.
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said the challenges still confronting Liberia and the healing process from war was a long and arduous one and would require tremendous efforts and huge resources. The news was encouraging, however, and success was well within reach. His delegation was very impressed by the improvement of the security situation and by the fact that transitional institutions were operating smoothly. The international community continued to be supportive of all these developments and was fully aware that there was no alternative, but to succeed in Liberia. Failure would have dramatic consequences, not just for the Liberian people but for the security and stability of the entire West African region.
He said Algeria was fully aware of the importance that Liberia attached to the lifting of sanctions and understood the economic impact of sanctions. It was his delegations view that the issue of sanctions should no longer be a source of controversy.
JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE (France) said that what he had heard this morning was encouraging for three reasons. First, because UNMIL was today in a position to deploy through the territory of Liberia. It was also encouraging because the disarmament process had resumed. The number of ex-combatants had opened up new prospects for stability and development. It was also encouraging because reform of the security sector had begun. As for the sanctions on Liberia, he noted with interest the activities undertaken by the Government and UNMIL for restoring State control over natural resources. The Council would follow closely progress achieved regarding the implementation of resolution 1521.
He noted three challenges to achieving long-term stability in Liberia. First, the DDR process was coming up against obstacles. In that regard, it was necessary to reduce the number of weapons in circulation. It was also necessary to reintegrate ex-combatants, which required long-standing efforts by the international community. The second challenge was the rebuilding of State institutions and basic services. The third challenge was the organization of free and transparent elections in 2005, which was the only safeguard for the countrys emergence from crisis.
A solid peace process in Liberia was the guarantee for peace and stability throughout the region, he said. He expressed satisfaction with efforts to coordinate United Nations efforts in West Africa. He had always felt that sharing information and logistical resources, and working on common issues and coordinating disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, was necessary to enhance the effectiveness of the three peacekeeping operations.
IÑIGO DE PALACIO (Spain) said his delegation took note with satisfaction the positive developments currently under way in Liberia. Spain appreciated the efforts carried out thus far by the Transitional Government to implement the needed political, economic and social reforms. It was gratifying to see that the cabinet of the Transitional Government was meeting regularly and that most government positions had been filled. The fundamental priority now was the stabilization of the security situation, namely, to achieve full deployment of UNMIL throughout the country, the continuation of the DDR process, as well as the reform of the State security institutions.
He said his delegation was pleased with the progress achieved with deployment and disarmament, but was concerned about the low number of weapons turned in thus far. Spain also noted with satisfaction the recruitment of new members of police. The restructuring of the armed forces would be critical as the DDRR process moved forward.
Despite the definite achievements thus far, there were still major challenges for the peace process in Liberia, particularly for the success of the DDRR programme, the stabilization of the security situation and the preparation for elections in October 2005, which should take place as scheduled without any delay. All those challenges required a firm commitment by the Transitional Government, backed by the support of the international community.
VADIM SMIRNOV (Russian Federation) said that serious tasks remained in Liberias path to lasting peace and stability. He supported the efforts of the Transitional Government to establish lasting peace and stability. Priority tasks in that regard included questions relating to security, the DDR process and preparations for the 2005 elections. He wanted to know how the Government was dealing with the establishment of a new national army. What elements would enter into it and approximately what would be its size? Also, the Secretary-Generals report had made a reference to the transport of heavy weapons throughout the country. He requested further information on that matter.
ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said his delegation welcomed the progress achieved in Liberia, which had so far exceeded expectations. However, there was still much to be done to ensure the consolidation of peace in the country, which was largely dependent on the achievements of the Government. The challenges faced by Liberia were enormous, given the overwhelming destruction of the infrastructure and social fabric. The key transition from war to peace, and from relief to recovery, could only be achieved if the political will and efforts of the Government were complemented by the support of the international community.
He commended the Transitional Government for sparing no effort to build peace in Liberia. The fundamental question now was how to make the peace process irreversible in such a fragile situation. That would require the commitment of the international community and the fulfilment of the pledges made during the International Reconstruction Conference on Liberia held in New York in February. He said Liberia was a complex crisis where the link between peace and development must remain at the core of the international response.
Noting that Liberia was endowed with natural resources that could significantly contribute to its economic development, he said the assistance of the international community should be focused on helping Liberia exploit those resources for the benefit of its people. He added that the Transitional Governments establishment of a task force to deal with the sanctions of the Security Council called for the adequate attention of the Security Council.
GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany) welcomed the fact that UNMIL had been able to deploy throughout the country, contributing to the improvement of a still fragile security situation. The UNMIL could become a model for the new multidimensional peacekeeping operation that the Council had been aiming at. Quick impact projects had appeared to be a useful tool. In addition, the successful first phase of DDR was a crucial step towards further stabilization. The next step must be the swift reintegration of ex-combatants. He drew attention to the situation of female former combatants, and hoped that the situation witnessed in the DDR programme in Sierra Leone could be avoided. In Sierra Leone, a significant number of female former combatants were excluded from the reintegration programme of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL).
On cooperation between the United Nations missions in West Africa, he welcomed the joint operations in the border regions and encouraged further steps in that direction. He also hoped that progress could be made in pooling resources, so as to ease burdens on Member States. On sanctions, he would take the comments made into consideration during the upcoming mid-term review.
JEAN-FRANCIS REGIS ZINSOU (Benin) said his delegation welcomed the successful relaunching of the DDRR programme and urged all Liberian parties to mobilize to consolidate the peace process throughout the country and to cooperate honestly with the Mission in order to facilitate the disarmament and demobilization of combatants. The success of the DDRR programme, he said, was essential for Liberias recovery. The efforts of UNMIL should be supported more intensively by the international community. Assistance was urgently needed to establish essential services, such as electricity, water, and public health care, through the development and implementation of quick-impact projects. The improved security situation in the country would help to improve the living conditions, but the limited financial means of the Transitional Government to face this challenge required the swift mobilization of resources from the international community.
He stressed the need to ensure that there would be true political parties and to eliminate every regionalist or tribal tendency. Financial aid could be considered within the framework of activities to promote good governance and was a means of encouraging national reconciliation.
With respect to sanctions, he said his delegation was sensitive to Chairman Bryants argument to lift sanctions. However, an assessment of their effects on individuals was necessary. From a regional point of view, Benin was pleased with the activities and measures taken by UNMIL to implement its mandate. It would continue to work closely with all parties towards the objective of a lasting peace.
EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom) said the Council owed UNMIL, Special Representative of the Secretary-General Klein, and the Transitional Government a particular debt for achieving the progress recorded today. The Council could take pride in what the United Nations had been able to contribute to those developments. He would be able to see those developments first hand, when he led the Council mission to West Africa in the coming weeks. He welcomed the progress on security sector reform. Against a fragile situation in Liberia, the security situation was holding. He also welcomed the establishment of a rule of law implementation committee. The progress so far was basic in taking a State, like Liberia, towards the intended destination. To support that, rapid agreement was needed on the restructuring of the armed forces.
He also welcomed UNMILs progress on disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation, resettlement and reintegration, which was crucial to the efforts being made in Liberia. Concerted effort were needed to ensure that necessary finances and programmes were in place for long-term rehabilitation and reintegration. Turning to sanctions, he said he had heard an impressive case on why the sanctions should be lifted, which had been endorsed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General. At the same time, he was conscious of history and why the sanctions were needed in the first place. It was necessary to recognize progress and to give encouragement, on the one hand, while ensuring that there was no abuse, on the other. The United Kingdom would actively participate in the process of review of that issue.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said his delegation recognized the fundamental requirements to achieve peace -- namely, security, a viable peace process, and economic reconstruction. He said Liberia was on sound footing as far as the first two requirements, and he commended UNMIL for having transformed a difficult situation into a manageable one. He added that Pakistans participation in the Mission was a matter of pride and reflected its commitment to peace efforts in Liberia and in the region.
He stressed Liberias critical need for resources and institutional capacity to meet the requirements of post-conflict peace-building and reconstruction. He said resources were dependent on adequate and sustained international assistance and noted with concern that 75 per cent of the pledges made in February were yet to be redeemed.
Regarding Chairman Bryants plea to lift sanctions, his delegation agreed that sanctions had a punitive impact on the efforts of the Transitional Government to bring stability to the country. Pakistan had emphasized the distinction between the arms and travel ban, on one hand, and timber and diamonds sanctions, on the other. It looked forward in the months ahead to the completion of the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and rehabilitation programme and to a comprehensive review of sanctions, with a view to lifting them as soon as possible. Pakistan also looked forward to the full commitment of resources pledged by the international community for Liberias reconstruction.
MIHNEA MOTOC (Romania) said he was pleased to acknowledge the progress towards sustained peace and reconstruction in Liberia. He noted that any gap between the disarmament and demobilization phase and the reintegration phase of the DDR programme could have serious destabilizing consequences on the ground. In that context, he asked Mr. Klein if the reintegration capabilities corresponded to the very high caseload of demobilized combatants.
Also, the security situation in the timber-producing areas of Liberia seemed to still be highly precarious, impeding the proper functioning of the Forestry Development Authority at the regional level. He was interested in hearing from Mr. Klein about improving that situation after the full deployment of UNMIL, in parallel with the plans for gradual establishment of civil authority throughout Liberia. In addition, he wanted to hear Mr. Kleins assessment of the meeting of the representatives from the three United Nations missions in West Africa.
HERALDO MUÑOZ (Chile) said he was pleased to note that the deployment of UNMIL was about to be completed as planned and would reach the authorized level by the end of the month. He noted that disputes between factions continued to pose threats to security but, luckily, had not endangered the peace process. Disarmament and demobilization was a prerequisite to carry out the reintegration of ex-combatants. It was advisable, he added, that preparations begin immediately for the 2005 elections.
The regional approach in West Africa had already begun with meetings between the three missions, he noted. Along those lines, he was pleased to see the heads of State meeting in Conakry on 20 May to reactivate the Mano River Union. He hoped the Council mission would develop concrete recommendations concerning the regional approach. He had taken note of the important measures taken by the Transitional Government and wished Liberia every success.
Council President LAURO L. BAJA (Philippines), speaking in his national capacity, said the important and comprehensive views presented today were significant inputs for the Councils discussion next week on Liberia. He was pleased that UNMIL continued to make progress in the security of Liberia. The deployment of troops throughout the country augured well for the DDR programme. He hoped that UNMILs support would assist the Government in performing its functions.
He had consistently maintained that the regional approach was critical in achieving peace and stability in Africa, particularly in West Africa. He welcomed the efforts taken in that regard, such as the participation of Chairman Bryant in the Mano River Union Summit on 20 May in Conakry. He expected that the Council mission to West Africa would dwell on the regional approach and come up with recommendations in that regard. How inter-operable were the three missions in cases where cross-border operations had to be mounted?
Response to Questions
Responding to questions posed by Council members, Mr. KLIEN noted there were presently 89 nationalities represented in UNMIL, making it truly a United Nations mission.
Regarding the disarmament process, he said UNMIL had made a decision to count women and children as part of the combatant force.
Regarding reintegration, he said that in a country with an unemployment rate of 85 per cent, it was critical for reintegration programmes to provide basic training skills and apprenticeship programmes for young people.
He said UNMILs relationship with its contiguous neighbours had been excellent. Many personnel had come from UNAMSIL, and there had been an exchange of military and civilian programmes with UNAMSIL, as well as Côte dIvoire.
As for concerns regarding weapons, rumours were ongoing, but UNMIL had not seen any major movement of weapons. He said once the majority of weapons were in the Missions hands, it would initiate an intensive programme to find out where the other weapons might be. He added that UNMIL continued to work with local commanders in its efforts to achieve quick disarmament and demobilization.
He said the Liberian defence structure must ultimately be decided by the Liberian Government. It was critical to determine the mission of the army, as that would define the military budget, personnel, and weapons. He added that if the military was structured properly, it could be an important tool for nation-building.
Turning to the question of sanctions, he said the sanctions were put in place in order to penalize the previous Government for egregious wrongdoings. With the old government now gone, it was up to the new Government to demonstrate transparency and accountability. If the new Government could do this, then he agreed that the sanctions should go so as not to deprive Liberia of the tools it needs to rebuild its economy.
Mr. BRYANT noted that relations with Liberias neighbours were very good, which was thousands of miles from where the situation was 18 months ago. Also, Liberia and its neighbours were resolved to live in peace and to initiate common security measures to ensure no more cross-border incursions and illegal weapons flows, which would hamper the development of West Africa. While he had supported the imposition of sanctions on Liberia, due to the practices of the former Government, he assured the Council that the situation had changed. The children that were being disarmed wanted to go to school, and resources were needed in that connection.
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