3 April 2006

Security Council Extends UN Mission in Liberia until 30 September, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 1667 (2006)

Reaffirms Intention to Authorize Secretary-General to Redeploy Troops between UN Mission in Liberia and Operation in Côte d'Ivoire as Needed

NEW YORK, 31 March (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council today, acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) until 30 September.

Unanimously adopting resolution 1667 (2006), the Council also extended the temporary increase in UNMIL's personnel ceiling to a total of 15,250 military personnel until 30 September to ensure that the support provided to the Court in Sierra Leone did not reduce UNMIL's capabilities in Liberia during its period of political transition.

The Council reaffirmed its intention to authorize the Secretary-General to redeploy troops between UNMIL and the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) on a temporary basis as needed, and expressed its determination to review the tasks and the troop level of UNOCI by the end of April, with a view to a decision on its reinforcement.

Further, the Council requested the Secretary-General to review his recommendations for a drawdown plan for UNMIL and to present further recommendations in his next regular report to the Council.

In explanation of vote, French Ambassador Jean-Marc De La Sablière said his country was deeply dedicated to the stability and development of the African continent.  France was shouldering all its responsibilities towards Africa, particularly in Côte d'Ivoire, which was a source of continuing concern.  The Council must act on that matter in recognition of the fact that the stability of West Africa was a single, integrated whole and that any attempt to distinguish the Liberian situation from that in Côte d'Ivoire would make no sense.  On the other hand, there must be complete unity on the part of the international community.  The Council must pay particular heed to what the Africans were saying and what the Secretary-General was recommending.

It was for that reason, he said, that France, like the majority of the Council, supported the gradual and reasonable reduction of UNMIL, as recommended by the Secretary-General and, most importantly, the strengthening of UNOCI's military and police components.  France had finally agreed to vote in favour of the resolution, which contained a double commitment.  On the one hand, it would be possible to benefit immediately from the backing and reinforcements provided by UNMIL.  On the other hand, the Council would be taking action at the end of April on strengthening UNOCI, which was, now more than ever, indispensable in supporting the Ivorian peace process, which was now entering its most delicate phase.  That must be authorized as soon as possible, as the security situation in Côte d'Ivoire remained particularly volatile.  Investing in peace for Côte d'Ivoire would help ensure the stability of Liberia, to which all Council members were committed.

The meeting began at 5:20 p.m. and ended at 5:30 p.m.

Council Resolution

The full text of resolution 1667 (2006) reads, as follows:

"The Security Council,

"Recalling its previous resolutions and statements by its President concerning the situations in Liberia and the subregion, in particular its resolutions 1626 of 19 September 2005 and 1638 of 11 November 2005,

"Welcoming the Secretary-General's report of 14 March 2006 (S/2006/159),

"Welcoming the inauguration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the installation of the newly elected Liberian Government,

"Emphasizing that significant challenges remain in completing reintegration and repatriation of ex-combatants and restructuring of the Liberian security sector, as well as maintaining stability in Liberia and the subregion,

"Expressing its appreciation for the continuing support of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU) for the Liberian Peace process, as well as for financial and other assistance provided by the international community,

"Welcoming the transfer of former President Charles Taylor to the custody of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and renewing its expression of appreciation to Nigeria and its President, Olusegun Obasanjo, for providing for former President Taylor's temporary stay in Nigeria,

"Determining that the situation in Liberia continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region,

"Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,

"1. Decides that the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) shall be extended until 30 September 2006;

"2. Decides to extend the provisions of paragraph 6 of resolution 1626 (2005) for the period specified in paragraph 1 above;

"3. Reaffirms its intention to authorize the Secretary-General to redeploy troops between UNMIL and UNOCI on a temporary basis in accordance with the provisions of resolution 1609 (2005), as may be needed;

"4. Takes note of the letter of the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council dated 22 March 2006 (S/2006/184), and expresses its determination to review the tasks and the troop level of the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) by the end of April 2006, with a view to a decision on its reinforcement;

"5. Requests the Secretary-General to review his recommendations for a drawdown plan for UNMIL and to present further recommendations in his next regular report to the Council on UNMIL's progress with the implementation of its mandate;

"6. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."


When the Security Council met today, it had before it the tenth progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) (document S/2006/159), which contains an update on major developments, as well as recommendations on a drawdown plan for the Mission.

The installation of the new democratically elected Government of Liberia on 16 January, states the report, marked the completion of the two-year transition process set out in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed by the Liberian parties in August 2003.  During the transition period, UNMIL completed many of its initially assigned tasks.  The National Transitional Government of Liberia, with the support of UNMIL, the United Nations agencies and other international partners, also successfully implemented most of the key provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

However, the report continued, a number of tasks that are critical to the sustainability of peace and stability in Liberia have yet to be fully implemented.  These include the reintegration of ex-combatants, the resettlement of internally displaced persons and returning refugees, the restructuring and reform of the armed forces and police service, the consolidation of State authority throughout the country and the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  In addition, the Transitional Government was not able to meet the conditions for the lifting of timber and diamond sanctions.

Despite considerable overall improvement, the security situation in the country remains fragile and continues to be anchored on the presence of UNMIL, as the new police service is still in its formative stages and the recruitment for the new armed forces is just beginning.  Continued efforts are required to manage the internal potential threats to stability, in particular possible violent reactions from elements that stand to lose from the Government's far-reaching reform programme, disgruntled ex-combatants, former members of the armed forces and police service, and frustrated unemployed youth.  Increased monitoring of Liberia's borders is also essential, given the volatile situation in the subregion, particularly the conflict in Côte d'Ivoire.

For those reasons, the continued presence of UNMIL remains indispensable during the consolidation phase, states the Secretary-General.  Therefore, he recommends the extension of the Mission's mandate for one year, until 31 March 2007.  He also recommends that the Council approve the adjustments to UNMIL, and its mandate, proposed in the report.  The proposals include reducing troop strength by 250 troops by 31 March, and increasing police strength by one formed police unit.  The proposed adjustments would ensure that UNMIL retains sufficient capacity to provide a reliable security umbrella for the new Government to fully establish its authority and take the necessary measures, with the support of its international partners, to safeguard and build on the gains made so far. It is the Secretary-General's intention to submit a timetable for a calibrated drawdown of UNMIL, with specific benchmarks and timelines in due course.  The Mission is currently in the process of elaborating this timetable.

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