1 July 2005
Security Council Extends Sierra Leone Mission for Final Six Months, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 1610 (2005)
Drawdown to Begin Mid-August, Completed by 31 December; Requests Plan for Integrated UN Presence After Troop Withdrawal
NEW YORK, 30 June (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council today extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) for final six months, until the end of 2005, noting with approval the Secretary-General’s recommendation that the drawdown should begin in mid-August and be completed by 31 December.
Acting under Chapter VII, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1610 (2005), by which it also asked the Secretary-General to finalize plans for an integrated United Nations system presence in Sierra Leone after UNAMSIL’s withdrawal, with the capacity and expertise to coordinate the activities of the agencies, funds and programmes, to cooperate with the donor community, and to continue to support the Government’s efforts at peace consolidation and long-term development.
Under a related provision, the Council recalled that the Sierra Leone security forces should effectively assume full responsibility for security in the country after UNAMSIL’s withdrawal. It also underlined the importance of providing effective security for the Special Court for Sierra Leone after the Mission’s withdrawal, and asked the Secretary-General to make recommendations to the Council on that as soon as possible.
The Council urged the Government to continue its efforts to develop an effective, affordable and sustainable police force, armed forces, penal system and independent judiciary, and to further promote good governance and strengthen mechanisms to tackle corruption. It encouraged donors and UNAMSIL to assist the Government in that regard, as well as in restoring public services in the country.
By a further term of the text, the Council welcomed UNAMSIL’s efforts to implement the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse and to ensure full compliance of its personnel with the United Nations code of conduct. It asked the Secretary-General to continue to take all necessary action in that regard and to keep the Council informed.
The Council also welcomed the Secretary-General’s intention to keep the security, political, humanitarian and human rights situation under close review and to report regularly to the Council, after due consultations with troop-contributing countries and the Government of Sierra Leone.
The meeting, which began at 10:15 a.m., adjourned at 10:18 a.m.
The full text of resolution 1610 (2005) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Recalling its previous resolutions and the statements of its President concerning the situation in Sierra Leone,
“Affirming the commitment of all States to respect the sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity of Sierra Leone,
“Emphasizing the importance of the continued support of the United Nations and the international community for the long-term security and development of Sierra Leone,
“Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 26 April 2005 (S/2005/273), and noting with approval his observations in paragraph 65 on the drawdown schedule of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) and in paragraphs 63 to 64 on the need for a strong United Nations system presence in Sierra Leone after the withdrawal of UNAMSIL,
“Commending the work of the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission and encouraging the Government of Sierra Leone to disseminate widely the Commission’s report and the Government’s response to it,
“Expressing its appreciation for the essential work of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, noting its vital contribution to the establishment of the rule of law in Sierra Leone, and in this regard underlining the importance of ensuring that all those indicted by the Court appear before it, in order to strengthen the stability of Sierra Leone and the subregion and to bring an end to impunity, and encouraging all States to cooperate fully with the Court,
“Determining that the situation in Sierra Leone 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 UNAMSIL shall be extended for a final period of six months until 31 December 2005;
“2. Requests the Secretary-General to finalize the necessary planning for an appropriate integrated United Nations system presence in Sierra Leone, as recommended in paragraphs 63 to 64 of the Secretary-General’s report, with the capacity and expertise to coordinate the activities of United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, to cooperate with the donor community, and to continue to support the efforts of the Government of Sierra Leone at peace consolidation and long-term development, after UNAMSIL has withdrawn;
“3. Encourages UNAMSIL and the United Nations country team in Sierra Leone to continue their close collaboration to ensure a seamless transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding, including through the implementation of their joint Transition Plan;
“4. Recalls that the Sierra Leone security forces shall effectively assume full responsibility for security in the country after the withdrawal of UNAMSIL;
“5. Underlines also the importance of providing effective security for the Special Court for Sierra Leone after UNAMSIL has withdrawn, and requests the Secretary-General to make recommendations on this to the Security Council as soon as possible;
“6. Urges the Government of Sierra Leone to continue its efforts to develop an effective, affordable and sustainable police force, armed forces, penal system and independent judiciary, and further to promote good governance and strengthen mechanisms to tackle corruption, and encourages donors and UNAMSIL, in accordance with its mandate, to assist the Government in this regard, as well as in restoring public services throughout the country;
“7. Encourages the United Nations missions in the region to continue their efforts towards enhancing inter-mission cooperation, especially in the prevention of movements of arms and combatants across borders and in the implementation of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes;
“8. Welcomes the efforts undertaken by UNAMSIL to implement the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse and to ensure full compliance of its personnel with the United Nations code of conduct, requests the Secretary-General to continue to take all necessary action in this regard and to keep the Security Council informed, and urges troop-contributing countries to take appropriate preventive action, including the conduct of pre-deployment awareness training, and to take disciplinary action and other action to ensure that such acts are properly investigated and punished in cases involving their personnel;
“9. Welcomes the Secretary-General’s intention to keep the security, political, humanitarian and human rights situation in Sierra Leone under close review and to report regularly to the Council, after due consultations with troop-contributing countries and the Government of Sierra Leone;
“10. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”
The Security Council had before it the twenty-fifth report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) (document S/2005/273), which states that the generally calm political and security situation in Sierra Leone has allowed for further progress to be made towards consolidating peace in the country. With the support of UNAMSIL and development partners, the Government of Sierra Leone has advanced towards accomplishing the benchmarks for stabilization in the country and for the withdrawal of the residual UNAMSIL presence. In particular, the Sierra Leone armed forces and police have both continued to build up their capacities to ensure effective responsibility for the security of the country.
It has been encouraging to note that there have been no security incidents requiring UNAMSIL support since the Mission handed over primary responsibility for security throughout the country to the Government in September 2004. Also, with regard to the benchmarks, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has now consolidated its deployment throughout Liberia, including in the areas bordering Sierra Leone. This, coupled with the continued deployment of UNAMSIL in the eastern Province, has contributed to an improvement in security in the border areas of the country. It is the general view that currently Sierra Leone is not facing any significant external security threats.
The situation in Sierra Leone remains fragile, however, and much remains to be done to address the underlying causes of the conflict in the country, in order to attain durable stability and long-term national recovery. The strengthening of the security sector needs special, long-term attention. Despite assistance from donors, the Sierra Leone armed forces and police are still experiencing serious equipment shortfalls and full deployment of the police in the provinces has yet to be attained. In addition, the Government needs to take further steps towards the restoration of the rule of law, including by implementing a comprehensive reform of the penal and judicial systems and building the capacity of an independent and impartial judiciary, which will effectively contribute to peace consolidation and the protection of human rights.
Progress made in the area of the protection of human rights, with the assistance of UNAMSIL and other partners, needs to be built on, including through the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission. The Government should be encouraged to follow up on implementing the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which submitted its report in October 2004. Continuous monitoring of the human rights situation and reporting of violations will be a crucial element in consolidating peace in Sierra Leone. Meanwhile, electoral reform issues should be urgently addressed if the 2007 elections are to be free and fair and held in accordance with international standards. At the same time, the work of the Special Court has proceeded satisfactorily.
The economic recovery in the country in the post-conflict period has been limited, and the living standards of the majority of the population remain poor. Poverty, including massive youth unemployment, and public discontent over slow progress made by the Government in the fight against corruption and the improvement of management of State revenues, are issues that urgently need to be addressed in order to sustain stability.
The further stabilization of the situation in Liberia has had a positive impact on the overall situation in the subregion. However, developments in the country before the October elections and during the period leading to the inauguration of the new Government in January 2006 will need to be monitored carefully with regard to any possible spillover effects on Sierra Leone. It is hoped that progress will be made in Côte d’Ivoire towards the full and unconditional implementation of the Pretoria Agreement of 7 April. Clearly, a continuation of the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire or instability in Guinea could have a destabilizing effect on the subregion, including Sierra Leone.
Having carefully assessed the situation, the Secretary-General believes that the outstanding challenges in ensuring peace consolidation would be best addressed by the Government with the support of United Nations agencies and programmes, as well as bilateral donors, which are most suited for post-conflict capacity-building. Therefore, an adjustment in the strategy of the United Nations involvement in Sierra Leone is warranted, and he recommends that the Council extend the UNAMSIL’s mandate for a final period of six months, until the end of 2005. The Government should make full use of the unique window of opportunity provided by the continuing presence of UNAMSIL to further consolidate the security sector, in order to ensure effective security throughout the country, supported by the timely provision of the required assistance, and to address other outstanding challenges.
The Secretary-General also recommends that the drawdown of the UNAMSIL presence commence in mid-August 2005 and be essentially completed by 31 December 2005. However, the last infantry battalion and air assets should remain fully operational until the end of November, by which time the results of the elections in Liberia will be known. In order to allow for the timely planning and logistical preparations for an orderly withdrawal of UNAMSIL, an early decision of the Council would be essential. Furthermore, should a serious threat in the subregional or internal security situation in Sierra Leone arise in the coming months, the Secretary-General will revert to the Council with appropriate recommendations, including the possibility of adjustments in the schedule of the Mission’s withdrawal.
The Council also had before it a 29 June letter from the Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone (document S/2005/419).
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