Backing Sierra Leone's peace efforts, Security Council extends UN mission for 6 months

Backing Sierra Leone's peace efforts, Security Council extends UN mission for 6 months

In a bid to support the Government of Sierra Leone's efforts to continuing building on the peace process, the Security Council today extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission in the country (UNAMSIL) for six months.

In a bid to support the Government of Sierra Leone's efforts to continuing building on the peace process, the Security Council today extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission in the country (UNAMSIL) for six months.

The Council's action follows on the heels of recent proposals by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to adjust the mandate of the Mission, which was to expire on 30 September, and eventually downsize the operation as the first step towards a gradual handover of security and other responsibilities to the country's Government.

In today's unanimously adopted resolution, the Council urged UNAMSIL, guided by an evaluation of the current circumstances and the Government's capacity to take responsibility for security, to complete the first two phases of the Secretary-General's plan, including a reduction of 4,500 UN peacekeepers within eight months, taking into account the necessary arrangements that need to be completed.

The Council also emphasized that the development of the administrative capacities of the Government of Sierra Leone, particularly an effective and sustainable police force, army, penal system and independent judiciary, was essential to long-term peace and development. It urged the Government, with the assistance of donors and UNAMSIL, to accelerate the consolidation of civil authority and public services throughout the country, and to strengthen its operational effectiveness in the security sector.

Meanwhile, amid concerns over ongoing fighting in neighbouring Liberia and regional instability, the Council encouraged the Presidents of the Mano River Union - Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone - to continue dialogue and to implement their commitments to building regional peace and security. The resolution also encouraged the renewed efforts of the Economic Community of West African States and Morocco towards a settlement of the crisis in the region.

As for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which will deal with war crimes committed during the country's decade-long civil war, the Council welcomed the start of the tribunal's operations, and encouraged donors to contribute generously to the court's Trust Fund and to disburse existing pledges rapidly. UNAMSIL was also urged to negotiate rapidly a memorandum of understanding with the Special Court in order to promptly provide all necessary administrative and related support.