Recognizing the need for Liberia’s newly trained security forces to assume greater responsibility for national security, the United Nations Security Council today partially lifted the arms embargo it imposed over two years ago to allow weapons to be used by members of the Government, police and security forces as they struggle to rebuild and restore order after years of bloody conflict.
In a unanimous resolution, the 15-member Council decided that Liberia’s Special Security Service could keep the weapons and ammunition already provided to them, and also that the embargo would not apply to limited supplies of weapons – approved on a case-by-case basis – for members of the police and security forces “who have been vetted and trained since the inception of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) in October 2003.”
Among related provisions, the Council also decided that the Liberian Government should submit a request to use such supplies of arms to the UN Sanctions Committee and should also maintain a registry of the materiel.
The importance of UNMIL and its “continuing assistance” to the Government was further emphasized in today’s resolution, which also included a request that the UN Mission inspect all such weapons and ammunition provided to the authorities.
UNMIL has nearly 16,000 uniformed personnel as well as civilian staff in the West African country as it recovers from a vicious decade-long civil war.
In a recent report Secretary-General Kofi Annan recommended reductions in UNMIL's military component, but also advocated police strength be increased at the same time, to provide a “reliable security umbrella” for the new Government led by Ellen Sirleaf Johnson to fully establish its authority and to give the Liberian Police Support Unit experience it needs to eventually take over from the UN Mission.