UN Security Council Renews Sanctions on Liberia

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The UN Security Council on Tuesday renewed the sanctions on Liberia for another nine months since it has determined the situation in the country remains fragile and constitutes a threat to international peace and security in the region.

In a unanimously adopted resolution, the Security Council renewed a set of measures on travel ban and arms embargo for nine months, and also extended the mandate of the panel of experts tasked with monitoring compliance with the measures for ten months, beginning on Tuesday.

The Security Council also expressed in the draft resolution its intent to scale back and terminate the remaining sanctions in a prudent manner as the council recognizes that the peace-building and development gains in Liberia could be reversed in light of the Ebola outbreak.

The Security Council "decides further to maintain all of the above measures under continuous review with a view to modifying or lifting all or part of the measures of the sanctions regime dependent upon Liberia's progress towards meeting the conditions set out in resolution 1521 (2003) for terminating those measures and in light of the threat to peace and security in Liberia posed by the Ebola virus," according to the resolution.

The sanctions imposed a decade ago, was due to expire on December 12, 2014.

The arms embargo and other sanctions were imposed by the Security Council more than a decade ago as a response to the continued civil war in Liberia, where warring parties were involved in illegal arms traffic and diamond trade.

According to resolution 1521 which was adopted in 2003, the criteria for termination of these sanctions include a ceasefire in the country, completing disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, repatriation and restructuring of the security sector, implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and making progress towards stability.

The draft resolution was put in blue on 3 December, following one meeting at the expert level. A day earlier, Council members held consultations on Liberia sanctions where the final report of the Panel of Experts (PoE) transmitted to the Council on 19 November (S/2014/831) was discussed and the following day the Council held a meeting with troop-contributing-countries (TCCs) for the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).

Negotiations on the draft resolution, which essentially constituted a technical roll-over as recommended in the Secretary-General’s letter of 29 September (S/2014/707), were uncontroversial. The draft resolution renews for a period of nine months the arms embargo on Liberia, which was first imposed with resolution 1521 in 2003 and was modified to become a partial arms embargo on non-state actors with resolution 1903 in 2009.

It also renewed for nine months the targeted travel ban initially imposed with resolution 1521. The draft resolution further reaffirmed the asset freeze on former president Charles Taylor, his family and associates imposed by resolution 1532 in 2004, which is not time-limited. The draft resolution also renewed the mandate of the PoE for a period of ten months, with an update to the Committee due no later than 23 April and a final report due by 1 August.

The draft resolution identified two specific areas which remained a problem in Liberia: the proper management of arms and ammunition by the Liberian government, including enacting a necessary legislative framework, and effective monitoring and management of the border regions between Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire. These recurring issues had been previously highlighted in the Secretary-General’s assessment of the Liberia sanctions regime conveyed to the Council on 29 September and in the final report of the PoE (as well as previous PoE reports). The draft resolution requests the Secretary-General to provide an update to the Council by 1 August on progress made by the government of Liberia with regard to arms and ammunition management and border control.

And prior to the Council’s announcement, the meeting concluded earlier provided an opportunity for UNMIL TCCs that provided input prior to an adoption scheduled for 18 December renewing the peacekeeping operation’s mandate. Due to the uncertainty caused by the Ebola outbreak, the Council last renewed UNMIL’s mandate on 15 September with resolution 2176 for an interim period up to 31 December.

It requested an update from the Secretary-General by 15 November and also expressed its intention to further extend UNMIL’s mandate to 30 September 2015. On 12 November, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous and Ambassador Per Thðresson (Sweden), representative of the chair of the Liberia configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission briefed the Council (S/PV.7310). Ladsous recommended deferring consideration of a drawdown of troops and police from UNMIL until the Ebola crisis has ended. Tomorrow, TCC representatives are likely to be interested in how UNMIL’s mandate may be modified due to the Ebola outbreak and what implications this may have for their personnel.

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