In his first report to the Security Council on Liberia's compliance with Council demands for an immediate end to Monrovia's ties with a Sierra Leone rebel group, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has "strongly" suggested that the international community remain engaged with Liberia and its people, whatever course of action the Council chooses to follow.
"External pressure without dialogue may not have a lasting impact on a country that is battling its own armed insurgency and is mired in deep political, economic and social problems," Secretary-General Kofi Annan writes in the just released report, which was commissioned in March by a UN Security Council resolution demanding that Liberia halt its support of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and other armed rebel groups in the region.
By resolution 1343, adopted on 7 March, the Council resolved that, unless it decides otherwise, sanctions against Liberia would go into effect on 7 May. The resolution called on Liberia to expel all RUF members, cease financial and military support for the movement, stop importing uncertified Sierra Leonean diamonds, freeze funds for the RUF and update its aircraft registry.
The Secretary-General notes that Liberia provided the UN and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) -- which dispatched a fact-finding mission in April -- with detailed information on its activity to implement the Council demands. He observes, however, that in the absence of an independent verification mechanism it is difficult to ascertain the "veracity or otherwise of that information."
Mr. Annan also writes that the Security Council may wish to follow-up on the ECOWAS suggestion that the UN deploy observers to the Liberian border with Sierra Leone to monitor activity there and notes that he shares ECOWAS' dismay at the "untidy manner" in which the Government handled the expulsion of RUF members.
The Secretary-General adds that unverified information reaching the UN Secretariat indicates that Sam Bockarie, an RUF member, is still living in Liberia and that the Government has not severed its relations with RUF in Sierra Leone.
Mr. Annan concludes by urging the Security Council to continue to work with ECOWAS to avoid a rift that could be "exploited by the enemies of peace in a region that has seen more than its share of suffering."