Further progress needed for Liberia to consolidate hard-won peace – UN report
The Liberian Government continues to make progress as it rebuilds after a devastating civil war, including the start of economic recovery and the restoration of basic services, but significant challenges such as poverty and high unemployment remain to be addressed, according to a United Nations report released today.
Despite some encouraging developments, “a number of tasks that are critical to the sustainability of peace and stability still have to be fully implemented,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon writes in his latest report to the Security Council on the activities of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
Mr. Ban cites the need for the reform of the legal and judicial system, the reintegration of war-affected populations and the extension of the rule of law throughout the country. In addition, Liberia still faces significant reconstruction and development challenges, including pervasive poverty, corruption, food insecurity, high unemployment, massive illiteracy and poor infrastructure.
Last August Mr. Ban outlined a drawdown plan for both the military and police component of UNMIL to be carried out in several stages, resulting in 9,750 peacekeeping troops and UN police on the ground in Liberia at the end of 2010. One of the benchmarks for the drawdown is the creation of a 500-person quick reaction force in the country’s National Police, set to be established by July 2009.
In the present report, the Secretary-General notes that some progress was made in meeting the indicators of progress identified under the four key benchmarks of security, the rule of law and governance, economic revitalization, and basic services and infrastructure. At the same time, progress was slow in some areas, particularly in the strengthening of the justice sector and the establishment of an independent national human rights commission.
While significant progress has been made in the restructuring and training of the police, the deployment and operations of the force are still hampered by a lack of vehicles, communications equipment and accommodation. Mr. Ban appeals to donors to generously support the equipment and deployment needs of the Liberian National Police.
He also notes that the training of the new Armed Forces of Liberia is advancing and the training of the new police Emergency Response Unit has begun. He recommends that the Government speed up the development of its security strategy, “which will enable it to set out a coherent road map for assuming security responsibility for the country.”
Although the Government has taken encouraging steps to reform the judicial sector and to strengthen the rule of law, much more needs to be done to ensure a fair and effective judicial system, the Secretary-General notes, urging international partners to support Liberia’s efforts for a major overhaul of the judicial and corrections system.
In addition, Mr. Ban calls for the creation of sustainable job opportunities, particularly for the large number of unemployed youth in the country, including former combatants, who continue to pose a potential threat to stability.
Regarding the country’s natural resources, Mr. Ban commends the Government for regaining control of diamond mining. At the same time, further measures are needed to ensure that the diamond industry is effectively regulated, to establish a computerized data bank for mining licences and to ensure that banking channels are used for all diamond transactions.
Noting that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has begun its public hearings after almost six months of suspension of its work, Mr. Ban calls on Liberians to attend the hearings and provide the Commission with their testimonies. “It is my hope that this process will form part of a broader national reconciliation process that will also address past human rights abuses,” he writes, as he urges the international community to provide funding for the Commission to complete its work.