The story of UNMIL [Book]: Inter-mission cooperation
The United Nations peacekeeping presence in West Africa entered a new phase at the end of 2005, when the UN mission UNAMSIL was envisaged to leave peaceful but fragile Sierra Leone. The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), deployed from late 2003, was still addressing the initial challenges of stabilization and peace consolidation. At the same time, the UN Mission in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) was facing a divided country in full conflict, which was projecting instability into Liberia and the sub-region.
To deal with this complex situation on the sub-regional scale, Secretary-General Kofi Annan in early 2005 proposed to the Security Council a series of recommendations that would allow the limited use of peacekeeping resources to address challenges in all three countries through an inter-mission cooperation, a significant innovation in UN peacekeeping practice at the time.
These recommendations were endorsed by the Security Council in resolution 1609 (2005).
One of the first challenges was the need to continue providing security to the Special Court for Sierra Leone, an ad hoc tribunal that was prosecuting crimes committed during the country’s civil war. The Court continued its activities after the departure of the UNAMSIL peacekeepers. A solution was found with the deployment of a small UNMIL contingent to Freetown, Sierra Leone. To achieve this without risk to Liberia, the Security Council increased UNMIL’s troop ceiling slightly to ensure that the support provided to the Court didn’t reduce UNMIL’s capabilities during the period of political transition in Liberia. The Council also mandated that UNMIL, if and when needed, evacuate its military personnel deployed to Sierra Leone, in the event of a security crisis. The UN Integrated Office for Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL) which was established at the conclusion of UNAMSIL, provided logistical support to the UNMIL troops. This arrangement lasted until 2012 when the Court completed the substantive part of its mandate.
Inter-mission cooperation also allowed the missions in Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire (UNMIL and UNOCI) to closely cooperate through joint activities, especially in addressing security challenges in the border areas between the two countries, as well as in support of peace consolidation activities by the Mano River Union countries and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). This cooperation has since been replicated and developed further in West and Central Africa.