Posted by: APO | 16 April 2008

Progress needed in security, rule of law, governance and development to consolidate peace in Liberia, UN Envoy tells Security Council

Press Release, 15 April 2008                                 UNMIL/PIO/PR/27


Progress needed in security, rule of law, governance and development to consolidate peace in Liberia, UN Envoy tells Security Council


New York – The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), Ms. Ellen Margrethe Løj, has told the Security Council that despite significant progress made in maintaining peace in Liberia, further progress is needed in some critical areas in order to truly consolidate the peace. Ms. Løj was briefing the Council on the 16th Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).


“Liberia today is a place of hope, characterized by many positive developments,” she stated, but warned that the security of the country still relied heavily on the presence of UNMIL military and police forces. “This is clear evidence that peace has not taken roots and it is not yet time to declare victory and leave the country.”


SRSG Løj identified the critical areas as, the reform of the Security Sector, including the Liberia National Police, LNP, reform of the Rule of Law institutions and the effective implementation of the new Poverty Reduction Strategy.


On the current drawdown plan being implemented by UNMIL, Ms Løj stated that this is being carried out in a well planned manner so as to minimize any threats to the security of the Liberian state. The process, she added, will also ensure that UNMIL is able to assist the Government in dealing with any serious disruption or civil disturbances, while providing the time and space needed for Liberia to build up its own police and military forces and progressively assume full responsibility for national security.


On the current security situation, SRSG Løj cited occasional violent incidents on rubber plantations and in diamond mining areas as sources of concern. She highlighted cases of armed robbery and rape, which remain high. UNMIL and the Government of Liberia have launched anti-crime and anti-rape campaigns across the country to deal with these challenges. Additionally, Ms. Løj stated that there have been a number of incidents of mob violence, including attacks on police personnel and police stations by angry crowds who sometimes want to assault and even kill crime suspects being detained by the police. She pointed out that such resort to violence could be a sign of the public’s lack of trust in the security and justice system. However, SRSG Løj underscored the need to address this comprehensively as the government finalises the ongoing national security strategy and the reforms of the security institutions. “Any further delays will make it impossible for the new army to be fully operational before late 2009, and would impact directly on the timeline for UNMIL’s drawdown plan,” she said.


Noting that the reform of the Liberia National Police (LNP) constitutes a significant challenge, the UN Envoy updated members of the Council about ongoing efforts to improve the quality and professionalism of the individual police officers, enhance the LNP’s management structure and provide the force with the necessary equipment and resources to perform effectively.


On the rule of law, the Ms. Løj said that despite efforts by the Government of Liberia, deficiencies in the justice system continue to pose serious challenges to the administration of justice country-wide. She mentioned the lack of adequate funding, shortage of qualified judicial officials, the lack of infrastructure, including courts and prisons, poor case management, low salaries and corruption as some key challenges that are being addressed. She warned that these deficiencies, if unaddressed, could cause some Liberians to lose confidence in the justice system.


The UN Envoy informed the Security Council that though the Truth and Reconciliation Commission had launched public hearings, to date none of the major actors have testified. She reiterated the Secretary-General’s call for all Liberians to cooperate with the Commission. She also urged the international community to continue to provide necessary support to the Commission so that it may fulfill its mandate.


SRSG Løj spoke of the recently completed national poverty reduction strategy, PRS, in positive terms. But for the PRS to succeed, she observed, renewed efforts were required to bolster the limited national implementation capacity currently available. She added that economic growth was urgently needed in order to reduce the high unemployment rate, which also constitutes a security concern.


To address a funding gap in achieving the ambitious economic growth targets, the SRSG said the Government will still require support from international partners. She noted the opportunity for further discussions on this matter that is offered by the upcoming Partners Forum, expected to be held in late June in Berlin. Ms. Løj then called on all of Liberia’s development partners to use the PRS as the framework for their activities.


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