Daily Archives: April 20, 2018

Security Council Press Statement on Passing Away of Ambassador Bernard Tanoh-Boutchoue

The following Security Council press statement was issued today by Council President Gustavo Meza-Cuadra (Peru):

The members of the Security Council were deeply saddened to learn the sudden passing of Ambassador Bernard Tanoh-Boutchoue, prominent Ivoirian diplomat and Permanent Representative of CAte d’Ivoire to the United Nations, on 18 April 2018.

The members of the Security Council mourned the loss of a great professional who served his country for more than 40 years with immense knowledge, dedication and diplomatic skills, as well as of a colleague whose wisdom, spirit and kindness will be greatly missed.

They saluted his commitment to the cause of peace and security in Africa and around the world.

The members of the Security Council expressed their deepest condolences and sympathy to the family of the Ambassador as well as to the Permanent Mission, the Government and the people of CAte d’Ivoire.

Source: United Nations

Swearing-in ceremony of the 23rd Class of Attaches at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

In the presence of the President of the Republic, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Kotzias, the graduation ceremony of the 23rd Class of Embassy Attache Candidates will take place at 11:00 on Monday, 23 April, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (5 Vas. Sofias Ave.)

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic

S.Africa riots force new president to hurry home

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday returned early from a summit in London to rush to the scene of violent demonstrations in North West province, where at least 23 people have been arrested.

Ramaphosa, who took power in February, expressed “serious concern” over the clashes between police and protesters, and called for calm as he faced one of the first major challenges of his presidency.

Violent protests are common in South Africa, but North West province has been a hotbed of unrest due to boiling frustration over lack of housing, health services and jobs.

Television images aired by the SABC state broadcaster showed thick smoke rising into the air at the site of the unrest in and around the provincial capital Mahikeng, while crowds of protesters looted shops and burned vehicles overnight.

Ramaphosa called for “all aggrieved parties to express their grievances through peaceful means and engagement rather than violence and anarchy.”

He also urged security forces to “exercise maximum restraint”.

The broadcaster said one person was thought to have died in the demonstrations.

Police reportedly used tear gas and rubber bullets to try and quell the protests, which erupted earlier this week.

Local media said that the trigger for the unrest was the death on Tuesday of two patients at a health clinic that was closed due to a month-long dispute over health workers’ salaries and contracts.

– Anger over graft –

Much of the anger has been directed at Supra Mahumapelo, the provincial premier, who is accused of involvement in the government graft scandals that have engulfed the ruling ANC (African National Congress) party.

The border to neighbouring Botswana was closed due to the violence, according to Botswanan officials, while schools, shops, offices and government services across North West province were shut on Friday.

“We are doing our best to keep the situation under control,” police spokesman Sabata Mokgwabone told ENCA television, saying the situation was calm on Friday morning.

“We asked for reinforcement from other provinces and head offices,” he added.

Ramaphosa had been attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London where he was leading a government delegation.

He was due to address an urgent meeting in Mahikeng at 12pm (1000 GMT) alongside other senior ANC officials.

– New leadership –

Ramaphosa, who took over as leader of the ruling African National Congress in December, replaced Jacob Zuma as national president earlier this year.

Zuma’s nine-year tenure saddled South Africa with weak growth, ballooning national debt, depressed investor confidence and record unemployment.

The ANC forced Zuma from office in February largely due to his mounting legal challenges and multiple corruption scandals, and the party has distanced itself from its former leader.

Ramaphosa has vowed to crack down on government corruption, which he has admitted is a serious problem, and improve South Africa’s ability to attract foreign investment.

Unemployment is at a record high of about 28 percent, with youth unemployment reaching over 50 percent in many areas.

Zuma appeared in court earlier this month at a preliminary hearing on graft charges that he denies.

Source: National News Agency

Abu Ghazaleh participates in the Research and Education Network for West and Central Africa

The Arab States Research and Education Network (ASREN) chaired by HE Dr. Talal Abu-Ghazaleh participated in the Fourth Annual Conference of the West and Central African Research and Education Network (WACREN) held in Lome, Togo’s capital City, 15-16 March 2018.

The main theme of the conference was “Unleashing Potentials” with subthemes on advanced networks, applications and services, trust, identity and security in addition to NRENs and communities.

Yousef Torman, Executive Director of ASREN participated in the conference and workshops as well as several roundtable discussions and meetings.

He also chaired one of the main sessions and sent a goodwill message during the high level official opening ceremony in the presence of the Prime Minister of Togo.

On the first day of the conference, WACREN board, staff and conference attendees had the honor of receiving Togo’s Prime Minister Komi Selom Klassou’s blessing on the official launch of the WACREN network.

HE Dr. Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, Chairman of ASREN said: “I take this opportunity to congratulate our colleagues at WACREN for the launch of the new network at 10 Gbps bandwidth and for the success of the annual conference”.

He also thanked the European Commission and G?ANT for the AfricaConenct2 Project which brings the African regional networks WACREN, Ubuntunet Alliance and ASREN altogether.

WACREN is one of the three regional partners G?ANT cooperates with in the AfricaConnect2 project. Funded by the European Union and in collaboration with ASREN and the UbuntuNet Alliance, the project aims at supporting the development, consolidation and use of high-capacity national and regional R and E networks across Africa thus providing the African and European R and E communities with unrivalled opportunities for global collaboration.

Source: National News Agency

As Mission in Liberia Closes, Security Council Intends to Consider Best Practices in Ongoing Efforts to Enhance Effectiveness of Peacekeeping

Following the completion of the 14 year long mandate of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) on 30 March, the Security Council stressed today that the Organization would remain an important partner for the West African nation as it continued to consolidate peace and stability in the future.

By the terms of presidential statement S/PRST/2018/8 � presented by Gustavo Meza Cuadra (Peru), Council President for April � the Council commended the achievements and progress made by the people and Government of Liberia since UNMIL had been initially deployed in 2003. Those included significant improvements in social cohesion, the overall security situation, progress on respect for human rights and the preparation and execution of legislative and presidential elections. It also expressed appreciation to UNMIL personnel, especially those who gave their lives in its service, and commended their steadfastness during such particularly challenging periods as the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak.

Also by its terms, the Council requested the Secretary General to undertake within one year a study of the role of UNMIL in the resolution of conflicts and challenges in Liberia, which had allowed for the successful completion of its mandate and transition to the United Nations country team. It expressed its intention to consider options to take the best practices and lessons learned from the Mission’s experience into account in ongoing efforts to enhance the overall effectiveness of United Nations peacekeeping.

Following the statement’s adoption, the Council heard briefings by top peacekeeping and peacebuilding officials, as well as an entrepreneur with personal and business ties to Liberia, who provided a civil society perspective. It also considered the Secretary General’s final UNMIL progress report (document S/2018/344), which addressed Liberia’s recent political, security, human rights and economic developments, among others.

Alexander Zouev, Assistant Secretary General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, said today marked a historic milestone for Liberia. For nearly 25 years, the country’s situation had required a constant presence on the Council’s agenda, but it had now turned an important corner.

It would be no exaggeration to characterize the Liberia of 2003 as a country in ruins, with a traumatized population and a predatory State, he said. Spotlighting some elements of the Secretary General’s report, he said that while national institutions had demonstrated their ability to plan, organize and secure sensitive political events such as elections, the Government would still face the challenge of ensuring that those institutions received the necessary financial and other investments.

Irina Schoulgin Nyoni (Sweden), delivering remarks on behalf of Olof Skoog, Chair of the Liberia configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, said the Council had accompanied Liberia through the painful years of its civil war, challenging years of peacebuilding that followed and the trying times of the Ebola pandemic. UNMIL had been at the forefront of efforts to lay the critical foundation for peace in Liberia, having disarmed more than 100,000 combatants, protected millions of civilians, assisted in rebuilding the police, justice and security institutions, facilitated the provision of humanitarian aid and helped to promote and protect human rights. The Peacebuilding Commission would continue to push for renewed and sustained political leadership regarding key structural reforms that would help to address some of the root causes of conflict in the country.

Chid Liberty, Chief Executive Officer of the fair trade company Liberty & Justice, said his family had sought refuge from Liberia’s escalating civil conflict when he was 5 years old. Today, however, Liberia was once again a truly peaceful country. Having returned to Liberia in 2009 to find an 80 per cent poverty rate, he and his business partners had decided to open a factory to provide formal jobs for women, eventually developing their own clothing brand. Security guards at the factory were all former child soldiers, now protecting the very women they had once victimized. I am here to mostly say thank you, he told the Council, stressing that the financial and other investments made in Liberia had not been easy, but they had not been made in vain.

Council members also took the floor, with many expressing gratitude to the Mission’s dedicated personnel. Some underscored the significant strides achieved since the time when UNMIL was the largest of the United Nations peacekeeping operations, citing its close relationship with the Liberian authorities as a major source of success. Others, however, said the United Nations could learn much from UNMIL about what to avoid in its future peace operations.

The representative of CAte d’Ivoire, noting that the conclusion of UNMIL operations marked the third United Nations mission closure in West Africa, following those in Sierra Leone and his own country, said today Liberia enjoyed positive relationships with other countries of the region. Describing strong political will on the part of the newly elected Government, he also warned the international community to continue its support and invest in Liberia’s future in order to prevent any backsliding. The United Nations country team and local actors must also work closely together, he said, pledging to share CAte d’Ivoire’s own post conflict experience with Liberia.

Highlighting lessons learned throughout the Mission’s decade and a half of work, the United Kingdom’s delegate said UNMIL had encouraged national ownership and supported local capacity, both key conditions for sustaining peace. While it had clear priorities, it had also stayed in Liberia for too long, creating a burden on the United Nations as well as funding gaps. Its mandate should have included benchmarks and timelines to better track its progress, he said, adding that the Council could have ensured a more realistic mandate with better clarity on what an end State looked like.

Liberia’s representative, also addressing the Council, said today’s meeting marked not only a historic moment, but one of pride and joy for Liberians. Expressing gratitude to the United Nations, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union, European Union and other partners, he said to the people of Liberia that your resilience has been a beacon of hope. While his country was not entering its new chapter without challenges � namely, decentralization, land ownership and disputes, corruption, violence against women and girls, a struggling economy and poor infrastructure � he pledged that his Government would keep those issues at the forefront of its work and called on all partners to continue to provide their unflinching support.

Also speaking today were the representatives of the United States, Russian Federation, Poland, Ethiopia, Sweden, France, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Bolivia, China, Equatorial Guinea, Netherlands and Peru.

The meeting began at 4:06 p.m. and ended at 6:00 p.m.

Briefings

ALEXANDER ZOUEV, Assistant Secretary General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, said today marked a historic milestone for Liberia, a founding member of the United Nations. For nearly 25 years, the country’s situation had required a constant presence on the Council’s agenda, but it had now turned an important corner. It would be no exaggeration to characterize the Liberia of 2003 as a country in ruins, with a traumatized population and a predatory State, he said. Describing the tragic human costs of 14 years of brutal civil war, he said that untold suffering had also led the entire region to fully appreciate the long path Liberia had travelled since the Council adopted resolution 1509 (2003) authorizing the United Nations to take over peacekeeping responsibilities in the country.

Presenting some elements of the Secretary General’s report (document S/2018/344), he said by elections originally scheduled for May 2018 to fill senatorial seats vacated by the President and Vice President had been deferred due to a lack of agreement between the National Elections Commission and the Government regarding budgets. While national institutions had demonstrated their ability to plan, organize and secure sensitive political events such as elections, the Government would still face the challenge of ensuring that those institutions received the necessary financial and other investments. President George Weah continued to consolidate the Government and advance his pro poor vision, having signed important memoranda of understanding with private sector firms to secure investments in Liberia. A declaration had also been signed committing the Government’s full support to press freedom, he said.

With the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL)’s mandate conclusion on 30 March, he said the people and Government now had important work before them to continue building a nation that was unified, reconciled, equitable, free of corruption and responsible for its own destiny. Though the Mission had ended, the United Nations remained in the country to support the people and the Government. Concluding, he expressed appreciation to the essential role played by the Council in restoring and consolidating Liberia’s peace, including by deploying UNMIL, as well as to the Mission’s civilian and uniformed personnel, United Nations agencies, funds and programmes that had provided support and Liberia’s many bilateral, regional and international partners.

IRINA SCHOULGIN NYONI (Sweden), delivering remarks on behalf of Olof Skoog, Chair of the Liberia configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, said the final Council meeting on Liberia and UNMIL was a historic moment. Indeed, the Council had accompanied Liberia through the painful years of its civil war, challenging years of peacebuilding that followed, and the trying times of the Ebola pandemic. She commended the Peacebuilding Commission for its role in supporting the work of the Liberian Government and UNMIL in the development of a peacebuilding plan subsequent to Council resolution 2333 (2016). Over the course of its successful mission, UNMIL had been at the forefront of efforts to lay the critical foundation for peace in Liberia. In that vein, it had disarmed more than 100,000 combatants, protected millions of civilians, assisted in rebuilding the police, justice and security institutions, facilitated the provision of humanitarian aid and helped to promote and protect human rights. Recalling the 202 peacekeepers that had lost their lives in the service of peace, she said UNMIL’s efforts had not come without a cost.

Moving forward, sustainable development would be essential to building resilience, completing the transition and reducing the risk of violent conflict. Meanwhile, several of the root causes of the conflict remained. Addressing decentralization and land issues, she said increasing the capacity of security and justice sectors would be crucial for the consolidation of peace. The Peacebuilding Commission must continue to push for renewed and sustained political leadership regarding key structural reforms that would help to address some of the root causes of conflict in the country. At the same time, concrete progress regarding reforms was dependent on economic growth and financial capabilities. Noting that its President had lowered his salary by 25 per cent, the Government had indicated that it had the political will and energy needed to tackle a range of issues. Working alongside the Resident Coordinator and United Nations country team, the Commission would support the Government’s work through the development of Liberia’s national development plan and would explore a framework to ensure mutual accountability between the all three stakeholders.

CHID LIBERTY, Chief Executive Officer of the fair trade company Liberty & Justice, said his family had sought refuge from Liberia’s conflict when he was 5 years old. By the time I reached my teenage years here in the United States, Liberia had devolved into a full blown civil war, he said, adding that it had been characterized by the use of child soldiers and weaponized sexual violence. Today, however, Liberia was once again a truly peaceful country. In January 2018, it had completed the first transition from one democratically elected Government to another in 71 years. Our election wasn’t perfect, but it was a testament to the Liberian people’s commitment to our stable peace, he said. It was about more than just physical safety, he said, describing his emotional reaction to seeing children now march into schools as students, instead of as soldiers. Despite its low enrolment rates, Liberians were more committed than ever before to educating their next generation.

Returning to Liberia in 2009 to find his country with an 80 per cent poverty rate, he said that he and his business partners had been driven to open a factory to provide formal jobs for women, especially those who were internally displaced or vulnerable to chronic informal employment. With the help of investors, they had established Africa’s first fair trade certified factory, shipping orders for brands in the United States and eventually forming its own clothing brand, called UNIFORM. Security guards at the factory were all former child soldiers, now protecting the very women they had once victimized. Today, Liberia’s gross domestic product (GDP) had nearly recovered to pre war levels, despite major setbacks from the Ebola outbreak and a drastic slide of commodity prices. Sharing the personal stories of Liberian citizens, who had suffered through the war and later found safety, employment and happiness, he said, I am here to mostly say thank you. The financial and other investments made in Liberia had not been easy, but they had not been made in vain. While Liberia would continue to require support and increased investment, he emphasized that it represented a true post conflict success story. Mission accomplished, he concluded.

Statements

AMY NOEL TACHCO (United States) said the peacekeeping mission in Liberia had made an invaluable contribution to peace and security. After a brutal war, a comprehensive peace agreement finally produced a calm environment that had led to the arrival of UNMIL, which had been able to achieve so much and reflected the success that was possible when certain factors were in place. For example, the Mission enjoyed close collaboration with the Government as true partners and its objectives were realistic and achievable. Moreover, it had worked with partners that had helped to contribute to the successful execution of elections. Turning to reconciliation and human rights, she said that despite the passage of time, addressing those issues remained critical. She commended the Government for its National Reconciliation Conference held in March, which had helped to ensure that all stakeholders felt their voices were heard and that they were part of a common Liberian identity. She encouraged all of Liberia’s partners to stand beside the Government as it stood to unleash the potential of the country and its people.

DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) commended UNMIL and its efforts to successfully carry out peaceful elections. The Liberian people must resolve any differences that arose after the elections in a peaceful manner. He thanked those who had contributed to the Mission’s success and to the United Nations presence that had made a tangible contribution to the calm in the country in the post election period. While the democratic transfer of power that had taken place in early 2018 was key to State building, State institutions were needed to implement the provisions of the peacebuilding plan. Law enforcement and justice reform were also needed to enhance security throughout the country. The Government also needed to settle land and territorial disputes and build trust in its criminal justice system. It was also important to focus on the root causes of the conflict, particularly land use. At the same time, Liberia must cooperate with countries in the region, including CAte d’Ivoire, to achieve stability in border areas, which was ever more relevant with terrorist threats. While recognizing progress that had been made, mechanisms to prevent Ebola must not be weakened.

PAWEL RADOMSKI (Poland) said that 15 years ago, Liberia had been a failed State, with half of the population forcibly displaced. Despite that low starting point, the country went through a remarkable journey accompanied by UNMIL and was on the cusp of a new era. Recent elections were a milestone on that path, he said, commending Liberia for maintaining peace during recent elections and the role played by civil society. Nonetheless, Liberia still faced many challenges, including economic difficulties and structural inequalities. He welcomed the leadership of the new President to fight corruption, promote good governance and institute reconciliation initiatives. He also expressed appreciation for the Government’s efforts to set the Sustainable Development Goals as a top priority of its national development plan. The United Nations must remain closely engaged in helping Liberia to meet its challenges and had an obligation to help preserve UNMIL gains.

THA�ODORE DAH (CAte d’Ivoire) said the conclusion of UNMIL was the third United Nations mission closure in West Africa, following those in Sierra Leone and his own country. Commending UNMIL personnel, especially those who had lost their lives, he said today Liberia enjoyed positive relationships with other countries of the region, including CAte d’Ivoire. Drawing attention to important recent developments, including the holding of transparent and peaceful elections, he said there was strong political will on the part of the new Government. However, the international community should also continue to support those positive developments and invest in Liberia’s future in order to prevent any backsliding. The United Nations country team and local actors must also work closely together, he said, pledging to share CAte d’Ivoire’s own post conflict experience with Liberia.

DAWIT YIRGA WOLDEGERIMA (Ethiopia), commending Liberia for its peaceful elections and successful transfer of power, said UNMIL had ended its work at a time of great hope and optimism. Quoting President Weah, he said the United Nations had positively impacted the lives of all Liberians since its arrival in 2003. Recalling that Ethiopia had contributed three infantry battalions to UNMIL, he said the Mission’s experience must now be studied in an effort to improve the United Nations overall peacekeeping system. Liberia would also continue to require support, including for its national intuitions and for expanding its social services. Moving forward, Liberia should address the needs of its most vulnerable people and align its efforts with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Ms. SCHOULGIN NYONI (Sweden), speaking in her national capacity, said UNMIL had successfully delivered on its mandate by building trust with the Government and people of Liberia. The next generation of Liberians has high expectations and will hold the Government to account, she said, noting that many of the root causes of the conflict persisted. Critical areas included ensuring full respect for human rights, efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda, continued reform and the passage of pending legislation on land rights, local government, domestic violence and other pressing issues. Harnessing Liberia’s plentiful natural resources for the benefit of its people would require that they be managed in an open and transparent way. Describing Sweden’s Permanent Representative’s recent visit to Liberia, she said he had participated in the Liberia Moment Conference, marking both a farewell to UNMIL and the beginning of a consultation process to design a new national development plan. There was a real risk that the Government might not be able to meet the people’s high expectations for clear and quick results, she said, underlining the need for continued support. It is essential that international attention on Liberia does not wane.

FRANCOIS DELATTRE (France), welcoming the conclusion of UNMIL, underscored that its mission had been achieved, representing a new success for peacekeeping for the Council and the United Nations as a whole. Without a doubt, UNMIL had contributed to stabilization in Liberia, he said, honouring the memory of the peacekeepers that had lost their lives in the country. Liberia should be a source of inspiration for the Council and a reminder that the key to success in peacekeeping resided equally in the strength of the Council and the implementation of a genuine reconciliation process on the ground. A new chapter and form of support from the United Nations would be in place going forward to meet the needs of the people. In that regard, it was crucial for the international community to continue to support Liberia alongside the renewed United Nations mechanism to sustain the remarkable results achieved thus far. Recent elections were a major achievement and emblematic that Liberia had turned the page and achieved democratic maturity. Indeed, it was a historic, watershed moment. He called on Council members to support the new national development plan, while warning them not to underestimate the challenges Liberia faced ahead on the path to sustainable development and peace.

KANAT TUMYSH (Kazakhstan) commended Liberia for the historic transfer of power and the conclusion of UNMIL. Encouraged by its new President’s pledge to address future challenges through the promotion of good governance and national reconciliation, he welcomed Liberia’s new human centred national development agenda and commended its alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals. Noting that sustainable financial assistance was required to meet development needs, he expressed hope that the international community would respond generously to the appeal for funds for the implementation of the peacebuilding plan. Equally important was the need to bring about reconciliation, transitional justice and respect for human rights. He welcomed the Council’s presidential statement and paid tribute to all peacekeepers that had lost their lives in pursuit of peace. Lastly, he expressed hope that the lessons learned in Liberia would improve the effectiveness of other peacekeeping missions.

BADER ABDULLAH N. M. ALMUNAYEKH (Kuwait) said since the establishment of the Mission 15 years ago, UNMIL had successfully withdrawn from the country, a moment the international community hoped would be repeated in other peacekeeping missions. Indeed, it was the perfect example of local, regional and international partners engaged and working together. He welcomed the sustained support of the Peacebuilding Commission, while highlighting the heightened importance of the United Nations country team after the Mission’s withdrawal. In that regard, he called for increased support for the implementation of projects to achieve sustainable development. While Liberians would face challenges, they were ready to face them. He thanked UNMIL and its personnel, especially those who had given their lives for the sake of peace in the country, and all others who had helped make Liberia a success story in Africa. However, he noted, the success of Liberia would not have been possible without the determination of its people.

PEDRO LUIS INCHAUSTE JORDA�N (Bolivia), welcoming Liberia’s social and political stability, said UNMIL and support from other partners had made the building of peace and stability possible while protecting civilians, supporting the 2017 electoral process and training local officers. Underlining the need to further promote Liberia’s post conflict development, he said building peace is a daily effort that required the work of Liberians as well as partners around the world. Spotlighting good political practices on the part of such leaders as former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, inclusive dialogue and support from regional organizations such as the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), he cited as one important example the 2017 signing of the Farmington River Declaration, through which various political parties had committed to reject all forms of violence and ensure the peaceful conduct of elections.

WU HAITAO (China) said UNMIL and missions like it were important tools to support countries in conflict and post conflict situations. At the same time, it was critical to fully respect the will of the countries concerned and work closely with regional and subregional organizations. He called on Liberia’s international partners to enhance cooperation and on the Peacebuilding Commission to continue its provision of assistance. Recalling that China had stood alongside Liberia throughout its years of conflict, he noted that in 2017, Chinese peacekeepers had received a national medal for their efforts. Going forward, China would continue to work alongside Liberia in line with the principles of partnership and friendship.

ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea), noting that his country shared many similarities with Liberia, recalled that it had contributed $3 million to the recovery of the three nations affected by the 2014 Ebola crisis. Liberia’s progress had been made possible by the work of UNMIL, ECOWAS, the African Union and other partners. Noting that its success demonstrated the importance of regional engagement in the resolution of conflicts, he also called on the international community and donors to honour their pledges to support Liberia’s national development efforts. This story should fill the Council with optimism, he said. Pointing to positive signs emerging from nearby Guinea Bissau, he hoped it would follow in Liberia’s steps by holding peaceful and transparent elections later in 2018.

JONATHAN GUY ALLEN (United Kingdom) said the Liberia of today had changed significantly since 2003, having been able to keep the peace, which was no easy feat given its history of violence. Highlighting lessons learned, he noted that UNMIL had encouraged national ownership and supported local capacity, both being key conditions for sustaining peace. It had also coordinated effectively with regional actors, including ECOWAS. It also had clear and shared priorities, with the Peacebuilding Commission playing an invaluable role. However, the Mission had stayed for too long, creating a burden on the United Nations and funding gaps. UNMIL should have included benchmarks and timelines to better track its progress. Furthermore, the Council could have ensured a more realistic mandate with better clarity on what an end State looked like. Looking ahead, the United Nations must be careful to provide support, but not assume the new Government’s responsibilities. While Liberia had faced its fair share of challenges, today we should celebrate that with the help of the United Nations, the people of Liberia had overcome them, he said, before expressing hope that, with firm determination, the Council could see more Liberias on its agenda.

LISE GREGOIRE VAN HAAREN (Netherlands) said that during the 14 years UNMIL operated in Liberia, the country had made significant progress. Expressing hope that President Weah continued to build on the work of the previous administration, she said young people like Mr. Liberty were part of a new generation that was essential for Liberia’s future. However, the root causes of the conflict must continue to be addressed, including a stagnant economy, human rights violations and land reform, especially now that UNMIL had ended its mandate. The role of the United Nations country team would be crucial, she said, adding the lessons learned from the Mission’s experience should guide future exit strategies. The Liberia Peacebuilding, Plan, the first of its kind requested by the Security Council, provided a solid basis for a common vision for the country, she said, underlining the importance to drafting a realistic exit plan. In the future, she suggested considering an exit strategy that provided more room after elections and a transition of power to ensure positive results.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru), speaking in his national capacity, said Liberia was a shining example of peacebuilding. He highlighted the importance of support from the international community, Peacebuilding Commission and regional actors such as ECOWAS. He applauded the closure of UNMIL and highlighted the work of its personnel. Yet, challenges remained, among them building sustainable peace in the country’s next chapter. National reconciliation was needed to expedite the implementation of the peacebuilding plan, he said, underlining the importance of respecting human rights and ensuring women’s equal participation. Addressing institutional reforms, he emphasized a need to work on institutions that guaranteed social cohesion, human rights and expanded the presence of the State throughout the country. Welcoming the new national development plan, he commended programmes for Liberian youth promoted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Recalling that Liberia was the first African country to elect a woman President, he called for more women in Africa to play a high profile role in their countries and communities.

ISRAEL CHOKO DAVIES (Liberia) said today’s meeting marked not only a historic moment, but one of pride and joy for Liberians. Eight years ago, the Government had requested the Secretary General to place Liberia on the Peacebuilding Commission’s agenda, which had received a positive response. Expressing gratitude to the United Nations, ECOWAS, African Union, European Union and other partners, he said to the people of Liberia that your resilience has been a beacon of hope. His country was not entering a new chapter without challenges, he said, spotlighting such issues as decentralization, land ownership and disputes, corruption, violence against women and girls, a struggling economy and poor infrastructure. Pledging that his Government would keep those challenges at the forefront of its work, he said it would continue to require the unflinching support not only from traditional donors, but from everyone.

Presidential Statement

The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2018/8 reads as follows:

As the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) completed its mandate on 30 March 2018, the Security Council commends the remarkable achievements and notable progress made by the people and Government of Liberia to consolidate lasting peace and stability since 2003 and their continued commitment to respect and develop democratic processes and institutions. The Security Council underlines significant improvements in social cohesion, the overall security situation in Liberia and progress on respect for human rights, all of which play crucial roles in consolidating peace and stability.

In this regard, the Security Council commends Liberia’s Government for its preparation and execution of the 2017 legislative and presidential elections and peaceful resolution of disputes, which have helped to build the resilience of Liberia’s democratic institutions. The Security Council expresses appreciation to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union and all international, regional and domestic election observation missions for their contributions to the transparency of the electoral process and timely assessments. The Council commends UNMIL’s multifaceted assistance provided to the 2017 elections process.

The Security Council expresses its appreciation for the important contribution of UNMIL, and its civilian and uniformed personnel, particularly those who gave their lives while serving to promote peace, stability and development throughout UNMIL’s more than 14 year operation in Liberia. The Security Council also takes this opportunity to express its appreciation for the efforts of the Secretary General, his Special Representative, Mr. Farid Zarif, and all the preceding Special Representatives for Liberia. The Security Council commends the steadfastness of UNMIL personnel in the execution of their duties during especially challenging periods, including the 2014 outbreak of the Ebola virus. The Security Council commends the contribution of troop- and police contributing countries and donors in support of UNMIL’s mandates.

The Security Council requests the Secretary General to undertake within a year, and within existing resources, a study of the role of UNMIL in the resolution of conflicts and challenges in Liberia through the contributions of good offices, political mediation and the sanctions regime, as well as other relevant factors as appropriate, that allowed for the successful completion of UNMIL’s mandate and transition to the United Nations country team. The Security Council looks forward to the results of this study, including further lessons learned and recommendations on the best practices of United Nations peacekeeping missions in transition, and expresses its intention to consider options for taking them into account in the context of its ongoing work to enhance the overall effectiveness of United Nations peacekeeping.

The Security Council welcomes the continued implementation of the Liberia Peacebuilding Plan, entitled “Sustaining Peace and Securing Development’ (document S/2017/282), submitted by the Secretary General to the Council pursuant to Security Council resolution 2333 (2016) after development through close consultation among the United Nations, the Government of Liberia and partners. The Security Council notes actions undertaken during phase I of the plan and the beginning of phase II in support of the Government of Liberia’s commitment to develop durable national capacities critical to sustain peace, and, in this regard, encourages all stakeholders to enhance efforts to fulfil their commitments and provide their support for successful implementation. The Security Council emphasizes the need for expanded efforts by the Liberian authorities to address the root causes of conflict, reinvigorate reconciliation processes, promote land reform, advance constitutional and institutional reforms, especially in the justice and security sectors, promote women’s and youths’ active participation in peacebuilding, extend State authority and social services throughout the country, continue to improve respect for human rights and build trust between Liberian citizens and the Government institutions.

The Security Council welcomes the Government’s plans to engage citizens as it finalizes a national development agenda, and further welcomes the positive alignment between the Government’s pro poor vision with the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which would address poverty in Liberia and improve the economic status of persons in vulnerable situations, most notably women and youth.

The Security Council requests the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) to make available its good offices, as necessary, to the Government of Liberia and the United Nations Resident Coordinator.

The Security Council recalls its high level review of resolution 1325 (2000) and its commitments through resolution 2242 (2015), which reaffirms the important role of women in peacebuilding, reiterates the substantial link between women’s meaningful involvement in efforts to prevent, resolve and rebuild from conflict and those efforts’ effectiveness and long term sustainability, and stresses, in this regard, the importance of women’s empowerment and equal participation in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security in Liberia.

The Security Council expresses its continued concern that women and girls in Liberia continue to face a high incidence of sexual and gender-based violence, and reiterates its call on the Government of Liberia to address the urgent and imperative need to combat impunity and hold accountable all perpetrators responsible for such crimes, to reinforce its commitment in this regard, including through the implementation of its national action plan on sexual and gender based violence and improving women and girls’ access to justice.

The Security Council underscores that sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeepers is unacceptable and affirms its support for the United Nations zero tolerance policy on all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse. The Security Council welcomes steps taken by UNMIL to address sexual exploitation and abuse and encourages the United Nations country team to strengthen the effectiveness of existing safeguards, to ensure that beneficiaries are always put first and to facilitate a system wide process of improving standards and restoring trust. It further calls upon the United Nations country team to ensure, as described in S/2018/344, that pending allegations as of 30 June 2018 are transferred to the regional conduct and discipline team based in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), and new allegations routed through the Resident Coordinator’s office before transfer to the MINUSMA conduct and discipline team and the Department of Field Support, for appropriate review and follow up actions.

The Security Council stresses that the United Nations will continue to be an important partner of Liberia after the closing of UNMIL. The Security Council recognizes the March 23 communique of the Liberia Moment Conference and the United Nations’ continuing commitment to Liberia by maintaining a robust United Nations country team comprised of 16 agencies, funds, and programmes.

The Security Council underscores the importance of the continued support of bilateral and multilateral partners to Liberia as it embarks on the next stage of its development, beyond UNMIL, and encourages the United Nations, African Union, ECOWAS and the Mano River Union to continue to play a significant role in support of building and sustaining peace in Liberia. The Security Council recognizes the important role of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission in Liberia and encourages its continued active engagement.

Source: United Nations