UNMIL Pledges Support for Liberia as Security Transition Moves Forward

25 Mar 2013

UNMIL Pledges Support for Liberia as Security Transition Moves Forward

In her briefing on the twenty-fifth progress report of the Secretary-General on UNMIL, the SRSG noted that Liberia continues to make significant progress as it approaches the ten-year anniversary of its Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which was signed in August 2003 in Accra, Ghana. “Liberia has shown the world its commitment to lasting peace - and the world has shown its commitment to peace in Liberia. The resilience Liberians have demonstrated and their commitment to moving the country forward is inspiring, and bodes well for the hard work that still lies ahead,” SRSG Landgren said.

The UN envoy noted that the progressive transition of security responsibilities from the Mission to Liberian authorities had begun, explaining that for the first time since 2005, UNMIL’s military was no longer permanently deployed in all of Liberia’s 15 counties, with the military already having withdrawn from two and plans in place for its withdrawal from two more in the coming month. She also noted the hard work of the Joint UN/Government Transition Working Group, which has enabled this process by conducting the detailed planning behind the progressive handover of facilities and security functions from the Mission to national security actors.

The SRSG also highlighted the launch of Liberia’s first Justice and Security Hub last month in Gbarnga, Bong County as a sign of progress. “Justice and Security Hubs have the potential to bring Liberians significantly better access to justice and security services,” she said. With support from the UN Peacebuilding Commission, Liberia plans to build the next two Justice and Security Hubs in Grand Gedeh and Maryland counties, with the SRSG noting in her briefing that these would be pursued while taking into account lessons from the first Hub.

Referring to border security, SRSG Landgren explained that security along Liberia’s border with Côte d’Ivoire remained a significant focus for the Government and UNMIL. Despite a number of challenges, the SRSG noted the credibility and responsiveness of ‘Operation Restore Hope,’ a joint operation conducted between the Liberian National Police, Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization and Armed Forces of Liberia, along the border, which has continued since June 2012. She also highlighted increased inter-mission cooperation at all levels between UNMIL and its sister mission, the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), and the work of both missions to encourage the development of a shared border strategy between Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire that takes cooperation beyond immediate security measures.

The UN Envoy praised Liberia’s efforts over the past decade to recover from conflict, and noted that the progress reached has the potential to set the stage for a transformed nation. The UN envoy reported on the December 2012 launch of Liberia’s National Vision 2030 – a long-term political and economic agenda. She focused on the challenges outlined in the Vision, including reaching equitable growth and institutional development in Liberia, while drawing attention to the close links between reconciliation and development. “The challenges are considerable,” she said, while drawing particular attention to the importance of achieving fairness and accountability in Liberia’s race for resource extraction, given the potential of natural resources to act as a catalyst for conflict.

Ms Landgren also underlined the importance of maintaining and building on Liberia’s impressive progress. She said, “Many of Liberia’s underlying tensions are perpetuated by provisions of the Constitution, making it especially important to conduct an inclusive and participatory reform process.”

The UN envoy concluded by saying, “Lasting peace will require fairness and inclusion for all Liberians in their country's progress. It is more important than ever, as UNMIL draws down, to move swiftly to address the historic – and current – cleavages that are so widely acknowledged. The UN and all of Liberia’s partners continue to stand by in support of the legitimate and democratic aspirations of Liberians who also tell us, repeatedly, that they have no wish to return to war.”