Frequently Asked Questions

1. When was UNMIL established?
On 19 September 2003, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1509 welcoming the Secretary-General’s report of 11 September 2003 and its recommendations. It decided that UNMIL would consist of United Nations military personnel, including military observers and staff officers, and UN police officers, including advisors and formed units, to assist in the maintenance of law and order throughout Liberia, as well as, an appropriate civilian component. The Council requested the Secretary-General to transfer authority to UNMIL from forces led by ECOWAS on 1 October 2003, having commended the regional organization for its rapid and professional deployment. Among other things, the Council also took note of the intention of the Secretary-General to terminate the mandate of UNOL and to transfer the major functions performed by that office to UNMIL.

2. Where is UNMIL located in Liberia?
The Headquarters of UNMIL is Monrovia with 15 Field offices in the county capitals of Liberia’s 15 counties.
3. What is the authorized strength of UNMIL for 2013-14?
Strength: 9,387 total, including

  • Uniformed personnel: 7,711
    • Troops: 5,783
    • Military Observers: 133
  • Police: 1,795 (Formed Police Units + UNPOL advisors)
  • Civilians: 1,439
    • International staff members: 485
    • National staff members: 954
  • UN Volunteers: 237

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4. What do formed police units do?
There are currently 8 Formed Police Units (FPU) in Liberia coming from Jordan, Nepal, India and Nigeria. These are armed police units who respond to civil disorder and provide backup to the Liberia National Police, when necessary. UNMIL currently has authorization for 10 FPUs, reflecting the additional three authorized by Security Council resolution 2066 (2012). The first of the additional units, from Nepal, deployed in March 2013 and the second, from China, deployed in October 2013.  The third of the additional units, from Bangladesh, is slated to deploy in May 2014.
5. Where are the Formed Police Units deployed?
Jordan 1- based in Monrovia and covering Montserrado County
Jordan 2- based in Voinjama and covering Lofa County
Nepal  1- based in Monrovia and covering Montserrado County
Nepal  2- based in Buchanan, and covering Grand Bassa, Rivercess and Sinoe counties
Nepal  3- based in Tubmanburg and covering Bomi, Gbarpolu and Grand Cape Mount Counties
India   1- based in Monrovia and covering Montserrado County
India   2- based in Zwedru and covering River Gee, Grand Gedeh, Grand Kru, and  Maryland Counties
Nigeria1- based in Gbarnga and covering Bong, Margibi and Nimba Counties
Chinese FPU - based in Greenville and covers Sinoe and Grand Kru counties
6. Are there other UN police in Liberia?
Yes. In addition to the formed police units there are 498 UN Police Advisors, among them 53 are women. 293 of these advisors work in Monrovia serving as mentors and providing daily advisory services to the Liberian National Police Headquarters and Training Academy, as well as being co-located with individual police stations around Monrovia.  180 UNPOL advisors work in the rest of the country, providing mentorship and some logistics support to Liberia National Police stations throughout the rest of Liberia’s 14 counties. Among these advisors are also officers working specifically with Liberia’s Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization to improve border security.  The Mission also has 32 Corrections Advisors who are co-located with national corrections officers in prisons and other corrections facilities throughout the country.
7. What do military observers do?
Military Observers are unarmed military officers who analyze the situation in their areas of responsibility while building the confidence of local communities. They serve as eyes and ears of the Mission. Currently, there are 133 deployed in 11 team sites throughout the country.
8. What was UNMIL’s initial strength?
UNMIL was initially authorized by Security Council resolution 1509 in September 2003 to have:

15,000 military personnel: 250 military observers and 160 staff officers; 1,115 police officers, including formed police units; and an appropriate civilian component.  UNMIL’m military component was adjusted in 2006, and an initial drawdown was conducted from 2007 to 2010, reducing the Mission’s troop strength from 15,250 military personnel to 7,952. The police component stood at 1,375 police personnel, including formed police units.

9. What is UNMIL’s latest mandate according to Resolution 2116 (2013)?
-Continue to support the Government of Liberia to consolidate peace and stability in the country and protect civilians;

-Support the Government’s efforts, as appropriate, to achieve a successful transition of complete security responsibilities to the Liberia National Police (LNP) by strengthening the LNP’s institutional capacity nationwide, including its capacity to manage existing personnel and improve training programmes to expedite readiness to assume security responsibilities, as well as to coordinate these efforts with all partners, including the Government of Liberia, national police leadership and donor partners;

- Work with the Liberian Government for progress in the reform and restructuring of the Justice sector;

- Support the people and the Government of Liberia in taking forward identified priorities, including national reconciliation, constitutional reform and decentralization, while enhancing support for security sector and rule of law reforms;

- Support the Government of Liberia to continue to combat impunity for perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence and provide redress, support and protection to victims, including through the strengthening of LNP capacity in this area and by raising awareness of existing national legislation on sexual violence;

- Enhance inter-mission cooperation with the UN Mission in Côte d’Ivoire for the stabilization of the border area, including through the development of a shared, strategic vision and plan, in support of Liberian and Ivorian authorities;

- Continue to coordinate and collaborate with the Peace-building Commission (PBC) and support timely completion of the justice and security hubs;

10. What does resolution 2116 of September 2013 state about UNMIL’s military drawdown?
The extension of UNMIL’s mandate to September 2014 represents a strong commitment by the UN to maintain peace and security in Liberia. The Security Council authorized UNMIL to move ahead with the second phase of its military drawdown that runs until July 2014.   UNMIL will then begin the third phase of drawdown.  By  July 2015, UNMIL’s military strength will be at about 3,750 military personnel. The Council also decided to increase the Mission’s police strength by three formed police units, to ensure a smooth security transition by providing additional support to the Liberia National Police. The situation will continuously remain under review through ongoing assessments conducted in conjunction with the Government of Liberia.

The drawdown phase began in October 2012 when UNMIL military began to vacate some counties. As of June 2013, four counties -- Grand Bassa, Grand Kru, River Cess and Sinoe no longer have a fixed military presence. The Mission has now entered into Phase II of the drawdown, and by June 2014, Bomi, Gbarpolu and Grand Cape Mount counties will be added to the list of counties that UNMIL no longer maintains a fixed military presence. However, all of Liberia continues to be under UNMIL’s security umbrella, and civilian and UN Police personnel are still deployed to all county capitals to continue to provide mentoring and institutional strengthening at the local level, and to facilitate the process of decentralization.

11. There will be a decrease in military personnel so why is there talk of an increase in police personnel
While the Council decided to decrease UNMIL’s military strength, it also approved the recommendation, made by the Secretary-General after a Technical Assessment Mission in February 2012, to increase the Mission’s authorized number of formed police by a total of 420 officers, or three units. These formed police units are equipped to respond to public disorder incidents and ensure that UNMIL quickly and effectively responds to incidents that could cause major security challenges. Already one unit has joined the Mission from Nepal, and as planned.

12. Which countries contribute UNMIL troops and police?
Military personnel: Bangladesh, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Ghana, Indonesia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Mali, Moldova, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Togo, Ukraine, United States, Yemen, Germany , Myanmar, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Police personnel: Argentina, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, India, Jordan, Korea, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Uruguay, UK, United States, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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13. How will UNMIL cooperate with the Liberian National Police during transition?
UNMIL will continue its strong commitment to maintain peace and security in Liberia throughout the transition process and will remain vigilant in upholding this commitment by supporting the LNP through operational and advisory work. With specific respect to transition planning, the LNP are central partners in the Joint Transition Planning Working Group, which is a joint mechanism between the Mission and the Government to plan transition of security responsibilities across the country. The LNP are working closely with UNMIL to ensure that sufficient numbers of new recruits are trained at the National Police Academy and that they are trained to a high standard.

14. Is UNMIL the one to ensure security in country?
Since UNMIL’s deployment in 2003, the Mission has provided an umbrella of security in Liberia to allow the development of national security institutions, as well as to ensure a secure environment for economic and social recovery. This also enabled a secure environment for democratic elections to be held in 2005 and 2011. Currently, the Mission is progressively handing over security responsibility to government institutions, which are becoming increasingly engaged in operations throughout the country.
15. What is UNMIL’s view of the Liberian National Police’s capacity?
Significant progress has been made in building the capacity of the Liberia National Police since the reshaping of the force after the 2003 peace agreement. UNMIL has led efforts in the recruitment, training and mentoring of more than 4,000 new police officers, 18 per cent of them women. But challenges remain, including in enhancing the professionalism of the police and giving senior police officers further managerial training, as well as to ensure that the police are deployed effectively throughout the country.

16. What is UNMIL doing about the security in border areas?
The post-electoral conflict in Côte d’Ivoire presented a number of challenges along Liberia’s border, including both security and humanitarian. UNMIL is present in all border counties with both military and civilian personnel, and through cross-border cooperation and information sharing with its sister mission in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), UNMIL monitors the situation closely. Aside from working with local authorities, UNMIL conducts a range of patrolling, including by road, air and foot in border areas. The Mission also conducts joint border operations with UNOCI, as well as with security and border authorities from both countries.

17. What does UNMIL’s transition mean for Liberia?
The gradual reduction of UNMIL forces in the transition process is a sign of progress. UNMIL’s military drawdown does not mean a total withdrawal of UN staff. The UN has been in Liberia for decades. The 16 UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes, and the World Bank will continue to work in Liberia in the years ahead.

An integrated UN, driven by a common vision, ensures greater cohesion at the country level, allowing the UN to deliver in a more coordinated and consistent fashion for the benefit of the Liberian people.

18. What is the difference between drawdown and withdrawal?
Many people appear to associate the words “drawdown” and “withdrawal” with “premature exit” or “departure.” What UNMIL is going through is an “adjustment,” and “restructuring,” as recommended by an inter-agency United Nations Technical Assessment Mission, conducted in February 2012. UNMIL is restructuring and readjusting to better serve Liberia, as the country’s institutions develop and Liberia’s security agencies in particular become increasingly capable to take on additional security responsibilities.

19. When will the UN in Liberia leave?
The UN family is committed to Liberia and UNMIL’s transition does not mean that the UN is leaving the country. As UNMIL decreases its presence throughout the country, it is working closely with other UN agencies to ensure that agencies’ engagement is complementary and takes the work of the Mission into the future. UNMIL is a fully integrated mission, with all parts of the UN system in Liberia working together as one under the leadership of the SRSG (and Coordinator of UN operations in Liberia). An adjustment in the presence and focus of the Mission is being made to enable a gradual and calibrated transition. Although the number of peacekeepers will be decreasing, the Mission will remain on the ground for time to come, and UNDP, UNICEF, UNHCR, WFP, WHO and other UN bodies will remain strong and committed in Liberia well into the future.
20. What will happen to UNMIL’s equipment and facilities when it leaves?
As UNMIL undertakes its transition, serviceable equipment, such as generators, air conditioning units, and prefabricated structures will be reused in other locations in accordance with Department of Peacekeeping Operations' regulations. Some infrastructure can be handed over to the Government, in line with regulations.

For the possible handover of any equipment owned by the various contingents, an agreement must be reached between the Government of Liberia and the troop contributing country.
21. What are some of the remaining challenges in Liberia that the UN will work on?
Continued strengthening of the Liberian National Police and security agencies; Peace consolidation and support to reconciliation initiatives; Consolidation of state authority, including support to the Government’s decentralization policy; Support to constitutional reform and other measures to address structural imbalances that led to Liberia’s conflict; A high level of development and reconstruction needs, particularly in infrastructure; Reform of the Judiciary and extension of the rule of law throughout Liberia; Criminality and violence surrounding the exploitation of Liberia’s natural resources; and Sexual and gender-based violence.
22. What does UNMIL do about Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA)?

The UN has a policy of zero-tolerance for any form of SEA by its personnel, and takes all allegations of sexual misconduct seriously. The vast majority of troops conduct themselves in a professional manner, but there are instances in which misconduct occurs. This is simply unacceptable when you serve under the UN flag.
We convey this message in every interaction we have with UNMIL peacekeepers, civilian, military and police. This includes during induction training upon their arrival and on various occasions throughout their stay, they are reminded of the UN Secretary General’s Zero tolerance policy against SEA.

The UN conducts independent investigations when allegations are filed. The UN works with the member governments as well as the governments of troop-contributing countries (TCCs) and police contributing countries (PCCs) to ensure that individual cases of SEA are investigated and, where appropriate, prosecuted within those countries.

23. What is Delivering as One?
Delivering as One (DaO) is the UN system’s response to the global reform process on aid effectiveness, and reshapes the way that UN agencies work together on the ground. It aims to strengthen Liberian ownership of development priorities, and to increase the UN’s strategic impact at the country level. Delivering as One will build on the UN’s achievements in Liberia, and position the UN more strategically in areas where it has a distinct advantage, ensuring that UNMIL’s transition is adequately planned and carried out.
Liberia is the first post-conflict country with an integrated mission to implement DaO – and can serve as an example to others.

In Liberia, the main objective of ‘Delivering as One’ is to enhance the UN system’s impact by increasing government ownership, delivering more coordinated, effective and efficient assistance to the country, and ensuring a smooth transition of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).

Given the presence of an active peacekeeping mission led by a Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), the SRSG will remain the Coordinator of UN activities in Liberia.