The situation in Africa
|President:||Baroness Valerie Amos
|(The Presidency changes each month to the next member in alphabetical order)|
|Mr. Wang Yingfan
|Mr. Aguilar Zinser
Adoption of the agenda
The situation in Africa
I should like to inform the Council that I have received letters from the representatives of Denmark, Japan, Morocco and Sierra Leone, in which they request to be invited to participate in the discussion of the item on the Council’s agenda. In accordance with the usual practice, I propose, with the consent of the Council, to invite those representatives to participate in the discussion without the right to vote, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter and rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure.
There being no objection, it is so decided.
On behalf of the Council, I extend a warm welcome to His Excellency Mr. Momodu Koroma, Foreign Minister of Sierra Leone.
In accordance with the understanding reached in the Council’s prior consultations, and in the absence of objection, I shall take it that the Council agrees to extend an invitation under rule 39 of its provisional rules of procedure to Mr. Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations.
It is so decided. I invite Mr. Guéhenno to take a seat at the Council table.
In accordance with the understanding reached in the Council’s prior consultations, and in the absence of objection, I shall take it that the Council agrees to extend an invitation under rule 39 of its provisional rules of procedure to Ms. Carolyn McAskie, Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator.
It is so decided. I invite Ms. McAskie to take a seat at the Council table.
In accordance with the understanding reached in the Council’s prior consultations, and in the absence of objection, I shall take it that the Security Council agrees to extend an invitation under rule 39 of its provisional rules of procedure to Mr. Ivan Simonovi, President of the Economic and Social Council.
It is so decided. I invite Mr. Simonovi to take a seat at the Council table.
I should like to inform the Council that I have received a letter dated 15 July 2002 from the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations that reads as follows:
“I have the honour to request that the Security Council extend an invitation to Mr. Sylvian Ngung, Deputy Permanent Observer of the African Union to the United Nations, to address the Council under rule 39 of the provisional rules of procedure of the Security Council during its consideration of the Mano River Union on 18 July.”
That letter will be published as a document of the Security Council under the symbol S/2002/761.
If I hear no objection, I shall take it that the Council agrees to extend an invitation under rule 39 to Mr. Sylvian Ngung.
It is so decided. I invite Mr. Ngung to take the seat reserved for him at the side of the Council Chamber.
The Security Council will now begin its consideration of the item on its agenda. The Council is meeting in accordance with the understanding reached in its prior consultations.
That concludes the formal opening of this Security Council meeting. What I would like to do now is just to briefly explain the format of today’s workshop.
The workshop is divided into three parts. First of all, I am honoured to welcome Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who will open the workshop. Then the Foreign Minister of Sierra Leone and the Foreign Minister of Guinea will speak. After this introductory session, we shall move on to the first topic of the workshop, which is “Lessons learned in Sierra Leone”. Two keynote speakers will address us, after which members of the Council and invited speakers will take the floor according to the speakers’ list before us. I will encourage everyone to keep their introductory remarks brief, because what I would really like to facilitate this morning and this afternoon is plenty of time for real debate, discussion and exchange of views.
Today is about learning the lessons from Sierra Leone, but it is also about giving the Security Council an opportunity to look forward and to think about the ways in which we can use the lessons we have learned in Sierra Leone, to apply them in other parts of Africa, and also to reflect on what we need to do to encourage regional peace in the Mano River Union. I hope you will forgive me if today I am a more interactive and informal chair than is normal for Security Council meetings. I hope that a more informal style will facilitate the kind of debate and discussion that is more normal in a seminar format. On that basis, I hope you will also forgive me if, if any of you begin to run overtime, I respectfully ask you to keep your remarks brief. I will do my best to do that in as charming a way as possible.
The afternoon session will focus on the way forward for the Mano River Union and will have exactly the same format. I shall endeavour to end the workshop at 6 p.m. by summing up some of the main points that will have been made and by indicating, I hope, some kind of action plan that will take us forward. To facilitate the discussion, I would like to make a few introductory remarks, but I will keep them brief, to try to give some kind of lead for the rest of the day.
I think it is very important that we acknowledge that the international community has brought peace to Sierra Leone. Just two years ago it looked as if all the efforts that we were making in Sierra Leone were on the brink of collapse, and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) controlled half of Sierra Leone, including the diamond fields. But now we have a Sierra Leone that is stable and democratic; peaceful elections were held in May; and the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) is carrying out its mandate confidently and effectively. What we want to see is that peaceful situation enshrined so that the fragile peace that we now have is not disrupted.
A lot remains to be done. There are enormous post-conflict challenges. We need to manage the transition from peacekeeping to peace-building. And we need to ensure that the international community’s investment is not wasted. So the objectives that we have set ourselves today are to learn the lessons from the United Nations experience in Sierra Leone that might be relevant to other conflict situations, to consider how the United Nations can focus more on peace-building in Sierra Leone, and to examine what more the United Nations can do to help reduce subregional instability and end fighting in Liberia.
Others will talk in more detail about the lessons we have learned from Sierra Leone, but I think the key issues are that conflict is complex and that there are no easy solutions. In learning the lessons from Sierra Leone, I hope that we will be honest and as open as possible about where we think we did the right thing, as well as where we think we made mistakes.
With respect to the situation in the Mano River Union, it is a region that is inherently unstable and where there has been a cycle of conflict, with significant refugee flows between countries. What we need to do today is to look at ways in which we can work with the countries in the Mano River Union to support a regional approach, but also to think about how the United Nations can raise its profile, particularly in the context of the crisis in Liberia, and facilitate and coordinate a peace process. As I said, I will say more as the day progresses. But I would like to stop there.
I have great pleasure in asking the Secretary-General to make some opening remarks.
Madam President, let me begin by welcoming you to United Nations Headquarters. I am very glad that you are with us today as we review the situation in Africa and in the Mano River subregion, and the lessons to be learned from our experiences in Sierra Leone. Indeed, if the prospects for Sierra Leone look so much more promising today than they did two years ago, that is in large measure due to the timely intervention by your own country, which helped to stabilize the situation. I too will be very brief, because I see that the head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations is joining the Council in this seminar, and if I say too much, he either will have to repeat what I have said or will have nothing to say.
I think, Madam, that your initiative today in organizing a workshop on lessons learned in Sierra Leone and on how to develop a coordinated approach to the situation in that part of Africa is no less timely, and is extremely welcome. It comes at a critical juncture, when the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) is about to begin a new phase of its operations there but when, at the same time, the escalating conflict in Liberia threatens to destabilize the whole area.
The United Nations peacekeeping experience in Sierra Leone offers invaluable lessons, not only because of the success achieved so far but also, particularly, because of the trials encountered in the early stages of the Mission and how they were dealt with. The combination of early command-and-control challenges experienced by the Mission, mistakes made in taking over from a subregional peacekeeping operation, lack of adequate preparation and an attempt to implement an ambitious mandate without adequate resources resulted in a costly crisis in May 2000. Lessons were learned the hard way from that tragic experience. But, thank goodness, the international community did not give up.
The Security Council, the Secretariat and the troop contributors, as well as regional partners and individual Member States — in particular, the United Kingdom — took swift concerted action to correct the situation. I think that one of the other main lessons we learned from this is that when we get into these operations — in these fluid and ambiguous situations — we have to be prepared for the unpredictable. Indeed, we should go in prepared for developments on the ground and have the stamina and the will to stay the course. I think that in Sierra Leone we did this. It holds lessons for us in other areas, too. Therefore, it is a question of effective preparation, adequate resources, enough analysis and information to anticipate how the crisis is likely to develop, and the resources and political will to stay the course until we have achieved our objectives.
I thank you, Mr. Secretary-General, for not only setting out so briefly some of the challenges that faced us in Sierra Leone but also for doing it with such style.
The next speaker on my list is the Foreign Minister of Sierra Leone, on whom I now call.
I would like to thank the United Kingdom Government for its initiative in convening this meeting in the form of a workshop. We are grateful that it will provide an opportunity for an interactive discussion and an exchange of views on the situation in the Mano River Union subregion.
Madam President, if you will allow me, may I take this opportunity to recognize the presence of the Secretary-General. I bring you greetings, Sir, from His Excellency President Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, and I thank you for your statement during our inaugural state opening of Parliament.
This meeting is very timely. It comes at the end of a historic and successful phase in the search for peace and stability not only in the Mano River Union countries but also in the West African subregion as a whole. I refer to the situation in my country, Sierra Leone, where we have witnessed the end of a brutal war, the successful disarmament and demobilization of ex-combatants under the auspices of the leadership of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) and the holding of a violence-free and transparent election. Secondly, this meeting is timely because we can see patches of dark clouds floating around the radiance of the success we are celebrating in Sierra Leone. This is why we are delighted that the subject of the second session of this workshop is “The way forward: a coordinated Mano River Union action plan”.
The United Nations peace mission in Sierra Leone is the largest, but certainly not the first, undertaken by the Organization. It emerged and developed from more than four decades of experience by the United Nations in the deployment of troops and observers wearing the blue helmets of the United Nations to help maintain international peace and security. It benefited from the mistakes and successes of other peace operations.
However, the United Nations peace mission in Sierra Leone was, in many ways, unique. It had its own specific characteristics. And here I believe lies the first lesson learned in UNAMSIL. The Mission in Sierra Leone has taught us that, in deciding to deploy a peace operation, the United Nations should take into account the particular circumstances of the conflict it is about to help manage or contain; the political climate of the area surrounding the theatre of operation; and the capacity or capability of regional and subregional organizations to perform peacekeeping activities — the role of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) and its relations with the Security Council come into focus here. The United Nations should also take into consideration certain unique circumstances, such as the humanitarian dimension of the conflict, the role of natural resources in fuelling the conflict, the interaction between the Secretariat and troop-contributing countries and, of course, the special role of certain countries. By this, I mean, in our case, the role of the United Kingdom Government in assisting the United Nations deployment in Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone has over the years tested the capacity of the United Nations to operate large and complex peace operations, ranging from the disarmament and demobilization of ex-combatants, the facilitation of an electoral process and the establishment of a unique hybrid judicial process in addressing the question of impunity, which comprises the Special Court and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), each with its own specific mandate. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, for example, is a quasi-judicial non-punitive institution, whereas the Special Court operates under a dual judicial system that will indict and judge those persons who bear the greatest responsibility for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.
The United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone, for all intents and purposes, has lived up to expectation in the discharge of its mandate. Suffice it to say that UNAMSIL’s success did not come easy. There were many challenges. The uniqueness of the peace operations in Sierra Leone reflects the links among peacekeeping, peace-building, good governance, security and post-conflict concerns; the scope of United Nations offices in Sierra Leone also clearly reflects these concerns. The Mission further recognizes the cooperation between the United Nations and other regional and bilateral partners that are providing support. Examples of such bilateral and United Nations cooperation are the training of Sierra Leone’s military by the United Kingdom Government and the training of our police force. The success of UNAMSIL in achieving its objectives in Sierra Leone is due in large part to its acting in concert with those partners, and this could augur well for future United Nations peace operations in similar situations in countries of conflict elsewhere.
Having spoken about the lessons that the United Nations has learned, we should remind ourselves that it is important that these lessons be applied properly in the subregion because the subregion itself is still a region of conflict. The gains achieved in Sierra Leone will be temporary without security and stability in the subregion. The current situation in the subregion is indeed cause for concern, as the escalating violence in Liberia overshadows the recent success in Sierra Leone.
Neither should we forget that before the conflict in Liberia escalated there was conflict and much fighting in Guinea. The arms, the ammunition and those who were fighting in Guinea cannot be easily wished away. They are lurking somewhere, in some corner of the subregion, and they have not been located yet.
The droves of refugees now swarming into our border regions, escaping the violence and its attendant consequences in Liberia, no doubt give rise to speculation among members of the international community that conflict will re-emerge in Sierra Leone. But the mobilization of vast amounts of financial, material, technological and human resources to secure peace for our country must be seen by members of the international community as an act of faith in our nation’s survival. They must not lose hope in us as we strive to consolidate those gains. Our President, Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, has not lost sight of the need to hold continuous consultations with other heads of State of the subregion, namely those of Guinea and Liberia, concerning the peaceful resolution of the crisis in the region, because the fact of the matter is that crisis and conflict in one of the countries indirectly affect every other country.
One would therefore be tempted to ask at this point whether the vast amount of resources that have been committed to Sierra Leone would be wasted simply because we ignored the conflict in the subregion. One would also be tempted to ask whether the subregion itself is not a candidate for the testing of the lessons that the United Nations has learned in Sierra Leone.
The pacts and protocols initially signed among the member States of the Mano River Union to enhance the Union’s capability in promoting social, economic and political integration became inoperative during the periods of conflict in Liberia and in Sierra Leone. The ideal would be to revive the defunct institutions of the Union and effectively and efficiently to implement the existing protocols, especially those relating to security and defence. The deterioration of the security situation led to another meeting of heads of State of the Mano River Union subregion, held in February 2002 at Rabat, Morocco. The conclusions adopted in the communiqué have not been effectively implemented. Nor have we been able to revive the institutions of the Union effectively, simply because we lack the resources to do so.
Indeed it is now widely accepted that peace and stability in the Mano River Union area is a key factor for peace, stability and development in the West African subregion. Modalities have being worked out by countries members of the Mano River Union with a view to revitalizing the Union and to expanding its scope to include cooperation in the areas of politics, security, foreign affairs and defence. The signing on 9 May 2000 of the Fifteenth Protocol to the Mano River Union Declaration on Defence and Security has engendered a greater degree of confidence-building and security within the Union. Further initiatives structured to forge dialogue and cooperation among the States members of the Mano River Union have also been recommended by both the African Union and the subregional organization, the Economic Community of West African States. Sierra Leone supports these measures in principle, but what is lacking, of course, is the resources to fully implement the measures that can put the Union back in place.
I would like to conclude by saying that it must be noted that the countries of the subregion are faced with enormous financial constraints. Those constraints prevent the countries of the subregion from easily reviving the Union. My appeal is that this workshop consider ways in which the Mano River Union situation can be studied carefully with a view to securing cooperation among the United Nations, regional organizations and the countries of the Mano River Union subregion in order to ensure that there is support and assistance from the international community to help build a Union, which, of course, would take over the role of whatever organization is currently operating in the subregion when that organization leaves.
Mr. Minister, thank you for your very thoughtful analysis of the issues. Could I ask you two questions? First, could you say where you think mistakes on Sierra Leone were made by the international community in the years running up to the crisis and also in the last couple of years? As well, in your statement, you mentioned the particular situation of refugees and the ways in which you feel that this can continue to fuel instability. Could you say something about what you think the international community should be doing to support Sierra Leone and the other countries in the region with respect to the situation of refugees?
I believe the situation in Sierra Leone is not one in which you can easily single out mistakes, because it was a very fluid situation, a situation that was evolving as time went on. We are all aware of the teething problems that the United Nations encountered. One would say that this was probably one of the mistakes: it underestimated the extent of the combatants, their ability to cause havoc and their disregard for international protocols and regulations, except if they were forced to comply. One would say that if there was a mistake, that was the first. But we consider that to be a teething problem for the United Nations.
Afterwards, I think that the United Nations evolved a very comprehensive framework. It looked at the issue not only as an isolated security issue but also as a governance issue. There is the fact that diamonds were extensively considered by the United Nations; the fact that the travel ban was imposed on many people who were involved in the conflict in Sierra Leone; and the fact that the arms situation in the subregion was looked at: perhaps that is another area that needs careful consideration. Sierra Leone should not be treated as an island in these circumstances. We should look a little beyond Sierra Leone and try to see what we can do, using the lessons we have learned in Sierra Leone, to ensure that there is stability in the region. We all know that the boundaries that separate African countries are to a large extent artificial. So, apart from the boundaries being porous, the people are virtually the same in most of those countries. Therefore, containing conflict in one country alone might not be the answer.
That leads me to the second question: what can we do to ameliorate the refugee situation? First of all, Sierra Leone lost all its infrastructure. It does not have the money to contain the situation right now. Apart from the fact that we did not bring all our refugees back to Sierra Leone after the conflict, the fact remains that our infrastructure is completely down. The flow of Liberians into Sierra Leone is putting a heavy burden on the little that we have left and will compound the situation even further. There remains a need for a continued United Nations humanitarian presence in Sierra Leone to ensure that the refugee situation can be handled. But the refugee situation is not only a humanitarian situation; it is a security situation. It is a fact that there is conflict in Liberia and that there was conflict in Guinea at one point. That is why the situation exists. Therefore, the more we look at it in a very comprehensive manner, the better it is for the Council and for the United Nations system in general.
The next speaker is the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guinea. I welcome Minister Fall and give him the floor.
Madam President, I am very happy to be here this morning to attend this meeting. The holding of this workshop is the fulfilment of a promise made in this very Chamber last January during the public debate on the situation in Africa, and attests to your country’s continuing commitment to the quest for peace in the Mano River Union Basin. I am therefore extremely pleased to see you presiding over this important meeting.
I also welcome the Secretary-General’s presence here at the opening of the meeting, and I welcome also the guests who have been invited to make their valuable contributions to the success of our work.
As is well known, the peacekeeping operation in Sierra Leone is rightly regarded as a unqualified success for the United Nations. The gradual restoration of peace in Sierra Leone was possible only because of the resolve of the international community and because of the considerable resources that were made available.
Our first conclusion, therefore, is that this United Nations Mission was given a clear and precise mandate and the appropriate resources were provided. My delegation believes that these are the factors that contributed to the success of the operation.
We believe that what was done in Sierra Leone can be done also elsewhere in Africa — for example, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo — if we base ourselves on the success of that first operation. We welcome the important achievements that have been registered, but my delegation continues to believe that the situation in Sierra Leone remains fragile. Stability and the prospects for development in Sierra Leone depend on the resolution of several problems that still face that country.
I believe also that it must be stressed that our Organization must continue to promote peace-building in Sierra Leone. Some of the measures that might be considered include the following.
The first measure could be the establishment of a civic and political information programme for the army, including those RUF elements that have rejoined the army, so as to create a genuine spirit of support for the country within the Sierra Leonean army. We believe that this is very important.
Secondly, a restructuring of the army and of the police could be considered, in order to ensure that they are of a multi-ethnic character.
When the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) gradually withdraws, it must do so in a manner that is in keeping with the capacity of the Sierra Leonean army and police to take over and to guarantee security in the country. A hasty withdrawal of UNAMSIL today on the basis of what has been achieved to date is not something that we would advise.
State authority must also be extended through decentralization, with a primary role for women in all sectors. We have seen the role that women have played in the resolution of the conflict in Sierra Leone and also in the Mano River Union Basin.
The promotion of good governance is also important. This involves a restructuring of the judiciary — its human resources and premises — and the promotion of human rights is also essential, because the country has witnessed serious human rights violations, including mutilations.
An international conference of donors for recovery and reconstruction in Sierra Leone should be convened. Self-sustaining projects should be identified — projects that should be quick-impact or at least effective in the medium term. For instance, a better policy is needed for operating and managing the diamond sector, so that resources from that sector can be used in agriculture to ensure food self-sufficiency.
There must also be a programme to combat poverty. We cannot say this often enough: poverty is one of the basic reasons for conflicts in Africa. Indeed, the war has plunged the Mano River Union countries and Sierra Leone into what can only be described as utter poverty.
While everybody seems to agree that encouraging results have been achieved in Sierra Leone, despite the problems I have just mentioned, it is a fact that the situation in neighbouring Liberia is still extremely worrisome. This is because, unlike what happened in Sierra Leone, the end of the war in Liberia was not accompanied by a real exit strategy. The absence of a policy for national reconciliation, of a programme for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of armed factions, and of an economic recovery programme following 10 years of fighting negated the immense sacrifices made by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to restore peace in Liberia.
It is true that today armed factions continue to fight inside the territory. These actions were condemned by ECOWAS and by the African Union, which, during the most recent meeting in Durban, called on the Liberian Government to begin negotiations with all of the factions and forces in order to begin a constructive dialogue to ensure a better future for the country.
Following the collapse of the Abuja and Ouagadougou meetings, in which all actors did not participate, the upcoming meeting to be held at Dakar, which will be held under the auspices of President Obasanjo of Nigeria and of President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, has given rise to great expectations. We hope that all parties will participate in this dialogue in order that peace may be restored to Liberia.
We believe that the following additional measures should be taken: a ceasefire throughout Liberian territory; continued inter-Liberian dialogue, with effective participation by all forces, including high-level Government authorities; adoption and implementation of a genuine disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme in Liberia; and adoption of a programme for economic recovery using primarily income from the lumber industry and from the maritime registry. External assistance could supplement the financing of this economic recovery programme. The authority of the Liberian Government must be extended to the entire territory, particularly in areas currently under rebel control, and along the borders.
Naturally, the international community must remain vigilant in monitoring political normalization and reconciliation in Liberia and the stability of the subregion. Accordingly, we believe that maintenance of the sanctions imposed by the Security Council is justified. These sanctions should be lifted only once the Liberian Government has discharged all of its commitments under the relevant resolutions of the Security Council. We believe that both of these aspects are important.
I should like to say a few words about the Rabat peace process and what has been done to follow it up.
The meeting was held on 27 February 2002 and chaired by His Majesty King Mohammed VI, with the participation of the Presidents of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Since then, several meetings were held simultaneously in Monrovia, Freetown, Conakry and Agadir to monitor recent developments. The recommendations emanating from those meetings include the need to respect the protocol on relations between the three countries — my brother from Sierra Leone spoke of this earlier — and the rapid deployment of joint border security and peace-building units. I am pleased to inform the Council that arrangements have already been made in this connection. A few weeks ago a Liberian delegation was in Conakry to witness the establishment of joint border patrols, which have already begun to play a role on the border between the two countries. There are, of course, the thorny issues of small arms and of dissidents in all three countries. Unfortunately, we see that as one of the key problems.
With regard to creating a favourable environment to encourage the return of refugees, I can inform the Council that significant progress has been made on the return of Sierra Leonean refugees but, unfortunately, given the fighting in some parts of Liberia, there has been a new influx of refugees into Guinea and into Sierra Leone. That has aggravated the situation in Liberia. The organization of a “caravan” to restore confidence among the three countries remains on the agenda. We also advocate the official reopening of borders and the free circulation of persons and goods among the three countries.
We believe that these sound initiatives should be encouraged and supported by the Council to promote the definitive return of peace and security to the Mano river basin. Contacts are now under way, at the initiative of Moroccan diplomacy, to hold a second Mano River Union summit to assess progress made since the Rabat meeting. The Economic Community of West African States is also working hard to follow up these matters.
I cannot conclude this short statement without noting our regret at the delay in opening the United Nations Office for West Africa at Dakar. All the States of the subregion are eagerly awaiting the opening of that Office, which we believe could speed up the peace process now under way in the subregion.
In conclusion, my delegation would like to thank you once again, Madam President, for having taken this very important initiative of organizing this workshop. I am sure that the recommendations will help mark the path to peace and harmony in the Mano River Union region.
I thank the representative of Guinea for his comments, particularly as they relate to the regional situation, and for the suggestions he made as to the way forward.
Mr. Minister, could I ask you two questions? Just because I asked the Foreign Minister of Sierra Leone two questions does not mean that I am going to have two questions for everybody. But there are two things that came out in your comments.
We have talked about the situation, particularly as it relates to refugees, but it would be helpful to have a sense of other areas where you think the situation in Sierra Leone has had a direct impact on Guinea. For example, what were the political reactions to the crisis in Sierra Leone? What kind of affect has there been on the economy in Sierra Leone?
The other issue that I would like to touch on is the role that Guinea has played and perhaps could have played. Do you have any thoughts, looking back on the situation, on whether Guinea could have been more proactive in terms of getting international help for the region, and if so, at what point in the crisis?
As a country neighbouring Sierra Leone, Guinea is certainly the first country to have suffered as a result of the crisis in Sierra Leone. We had asked the international community for a long time to do its best to stabilize the situation in Guinea, primarily because we are in an area that has been a conflict zone for 10 years: first, there was the protracted war in Liberia, which had an impact on Guinea. When we saw that the conflict was shifting towards Sierra Leone, we began sounding the alarm to warn that Guinea had to be helped to bear the burden of refugees and to stabilize its own situation.
Specifically on Sierra Leone, I would say that everything that happens in Sierra Leone is immediately felt in Guinea. At various times three former Presidents of Sierra Leone have found themselves in our capital, not because we wanted them, but just because we are close by. There are hundreds of thousands of refugees who cross the border because of our proximity and particularly because of the similarity between our two populations. We believe that the artificial border with Sierra Leone has not worked and Guinea has immediately found itself a major host country.
So we have felt the impact in terms of the economy, public expenditures, the environment, deforestation and health problems. We have had no shortage of security problems, because some of the refugees have settled along the border, contrary to international regulations, which has enabled rebels often to conduct raids in Guinea to seek supplies and even recruits among the refugees. Finally, what we had always said would happen did happen: the rebels attacked the country. Even now, despite the departure of a significant number of refugees, Guinea is still suffering the consequences of that situation.
Turning to Guinea’s role, we have always worked to restore peace in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Guinea worked with Nigeria and Ghana to stop the massacres in Liberia. Even before the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) arrived, those three countries intervened on a massive scale in Sierra Leone to restore peace. That was done through the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG). We represent a significant part of ECOMOG in Sierra Leone and we played a stabilizing role in Sierra Leone. We call on the international community to help stabilize the situation in Sierra Leone, because we know that whenever things go bad in Sierra Leone, Guinea is the first to suffer. We continue to play this role regarding Sierra Leone and Liberia.
That concludes the introductory remarks to our meeting. We now begin the first session of our workshop, which deals more specifically with the lessons learned in Sierra Leone. I would like to ask the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations to take the floor.
I am very pleased indeed to participate in this workshop and I should like to commend the President of the Council for this important initiative. But before turning to the lessons learned from the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), let me first say in the presence of the Foreign Minister of Sierra Leone that Sierra Leone is today moving away from war and towards peace because the largest share of the achievement belongs to the Sierra Leone Government and people, whose efforts are the foundation of any success that the United Nations may claim there.
The Secretary-General has already given a broad overview of the recent experience in Sierra Leone. I hope to provide some further detail in this meeting, particularly regarding the United Nations response to the grave challenge that UNAMSIL faced in May 2000. While all the lessons of such a complex operation cannot be captured in my short briefing today, I believe that the key ones can be found if one looks closely at three aspects of the experience: the adjustment of the UNAMSIL mandate; the provision of the means to achieve the new mandate; and the management of the Mission to implement the mandate and consolidate the gains made.
(Spoke in French)
When the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) precipitated the crisis of May 2000, many observers thought at that time that UNAMSIL had suffered grave setbacks from which it could not recover. It is all the more remarkable, therefore, that today, the fundamental lesson we can draw from that experience is that, with the necessary resolve, the Council, the troop-contributing countries, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations were able to work together to turn the situation around. The Council recognized that the credibility of the United Nations was at stake and that UNAMSIL could not be allowed to fail, or Sierra Leone be abandoned to the crisis. Of course, the challenges we have still to meet are formidable, but Sierra Leone is now on the path towards peace and stability.
How did this turnaround of the situation occur? The resolve of the Security Council to strengthen UNAMSIL’s mandate, to build up troop levels and the Mission’s structures, was a central factor. The new mandate provided the basis necessary for a robust peacekeeping force. The necessary resources were then put in place to carry out the mandate, and we are grateful to those Member States which heeded the United Nations call. This allowed the Mission to follow a two-track strategy: political engagement of the RUF, on one hand, while denying any military option, on the other.
It should be noted that that strategy was possible because the Council, the United Nations Secretariat and the troop-contributing countries demonstrated their unity and thus established absolute clarity concerning the implications of the new mandate and rules of engagement. If I may be frank, I believe in the previous period there had been some hesitation about the meaning and interpretation of UNAMSIL’s mandate and rules of engagement, some hesitation among actors in the field, in New York, and even among States concerned. But sustained efforts were made at that time to ensure that all key players had the same understanding of the mandate. I believe that this bore fruit and that there is here a basic lesson for peacekeeping operations. Unity among the key actors is a sine qua non for the success of any complex operation. This in fact translates into clarity of objectives, and clarity of objectives means also the clarity and efficiency in the operational activity of a mission.
As a final note on the question of the mandate, I believe that we should learn from the UNAMSIL experience that peacekeeping operations should always take into account the possibility of the worst-case scenario happening. Certainly, peacekeeping often requires that we take calculated risks, but planning and adequate resources take into account these risks.
(Spoke in English)
The early gaps in UNAMSIL’s strength and capacity deserve close attention. Initially, UNASMIL was particularly short on troops with significant capacity for self-sustainment and had to rely on troops with some relative limitations in training and equipment. For example, at one point, the Mission was joined by four battalions having only one truck and four jeeps per 800 soldiers. Also, UNASMIL faced command and control difficulties, which stemmed in part from the “re-hatting” of forces originally deployed through regional arrangements. Lines of command from UNASMIL headquarters to the field were not always strong enough, and some UNASMIL contingents continued to rely primarily on instructions from their national headquarters. However, the experience of “re-hatting” the troops demonstrated the importance of early and close coordination between the United Nations and the regional organization engaged in the areas of crisis.
The operational and logistic capabilities of various contingents were enhanced through innovative measures. Their equipment was supplemented directly from United Nations resources, as well as arrangements made with third parties. The United Kingdom played a decisive role in that respect; its valuable assistance must be acknowledged. Training provided under various bilateral arrangements also contributed to building a truly capable and credible force, and this will continue to be needed through the final phases of the Mission. This experience underlines the fact that we must think of the means available to a mission as more than simply the numbers of personnel. Their training, the support provided to them and the political guidance behind the mission will all determine whether a mission has the means to implement the mandate.
The May 2000 crisis was also characterized by the willingness, at all levels, to painstakingly review UNAMSIL’s performance and its structure and operations. The Council, the troop-contributing countries, the Secretariat and UNAMSIL each played a role in reassessing the Mission in light of the changed circumstances on the ground. An assessment mission, led by General Eisele, a former senior official of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, was dispatched at the end of May 2000 and made broad recommendations to the Secretary-General on strengthening the Mission. In addition, a review of the force command structure led to a more integrated field command. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General ensured that the Mission’s leadership understood and adhered to its two-track strategy of peace and strength. Deploying the limited number of troops thinly, or waging war on the RUF without the requisite mandates or equipment, might have had disastrous consequences.
UNAMSIL implemented a well-conceived strategy of negotiation and the progressive demonstration of deterrence, gradually deploying throughout the country, including in the economically vital diamond areas. UNAMSIL deployed in strength, and by so doing it gave concrete meaning to the concept of robust peacekeeping. The peacekeeping force was not deployed to wage war, but to close the option of war. A clear message was thus sent that the use of force was no longer a viable strategy for those tempted to destabilize the process. And thus, deterrence was achieved.
Non-military elements of the Mission were also restructured. A key element was the integration of various United Nations elements operating in the country through one Deputy Special Representative, who at the same time served as the United Nations Resident Coordinator. Another Deputy Special Representative focused on operational and management issues. Integration of all United Nations elements with a peace effort is now a general aim sought in all complex missions. UNAMSIL also took steps to strengthen its public information capacity. The use of the Trust Fund for quick impact projects also underlined the importance of confidence-building measures for the population.
More broadly, I would like to emphasize that the success that has so far been achieved is, in large part, the result of the integrated nature of the Mission. Peacekeepers could not have been successful if they had not been working side by side with human rights specialists, with development experts and with the humanitarian community. And we are proud to be part of that joint and integrated effort.
In this regard, I should like to emphasize another crucial point. The role played by your country, Madam President, must be seen as a key element of the international community’s response to May 2000. The rapid assistance of your country’s troops in critical locations on the ground, and later, the “Over the Horizon” presence, reinforced the message sent by UNAMSIL’s strengthened, robust force in a decisive way.
There are important lessons to be drawn from this experience. Undoubtedly, in specific circumstances, the need for a lead nation, with the capacity to project forces quickly and convincingly, will arise again. However, I would also submit to the Council that the approach taken for UNAMSIL will not necessarily be applicable in all future situations. It is equally important to recognize that, while the United Kingdom so ably and so generously filled an urgent need for credible force projection, that need might not have arisen if UNAMSIL itself had had the requisite resources from the outset.
While the handover of peacekeeping duties from ECOMOG to UNAMSIL forces was done quickly, continuity of ECOWAS’s political engagement also proved absolutely vital. This subregional organization worked closely with UNAMSIL and brought critical influence to bear on the RUF in support of UNAMSIL goals.
There are important lessons to be learned about how peacekeeping missions must often be supported by a regional strategy. The pressure applied by the Council through sanctions and the ban on illegal diamond exports was also precedent-setting and contributed to the progress made in Sierra Leone. However, with a measure of self-criticism, I think it would be fair to say that greater and earlier attention could have been paid to developing a coherent international strategy to address the regional aspects. The conflict in Liberia, which the previous speakers have discussed, remains a serious threat to the Sierra Leone and the region, and will require a comprehensive strategy to avert regional destabilization.
I believe the Council is well aware of the advances that UNAMSIL was able to make in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process, which was formally completed last January. Forty-seven thousand combatants were disarmed and demobilized, and some 22,000 are now engaged in programmes to reintegrate into civilian life. But this leaves some 25,000 who need to be reintegrated if they are to make a living without a gun, in a normal economy. However, the reintegration programme currently faces a funding shortfall of $13.5 million. This weakness in the DDR process may in turn weaken the other gains made in Sierra Leone. The lesson here is that longer-term commitment, beyond the life of a peacekeeping mission, is necessary to consolidate the fragile peace gained and build upon it.
In the next stages of the Mission, a strategy must be developed to allow the Government and other partners to progressively take on UNAMSIL’s responsibilities in a sustainable manner, while consolidating the gains we have made. A progressive, staged drawdown of United Nations forces must be accompanied by a build-up of Sierra Leonean capacity. Here, also, the major contribution of the United Kingdom in building capacities in Sierra Leone must be acknowledged. While the United Kingdom-led International Military Assistance Training Team (IMATT) project has made considerable advances in training the national army, it is, however, not yet ready to fully take over from UNAMSIL. Therefore, a security-sector strategy must be developed with benchmarks linking UNAMSIL’s drawdown to the capacity of the national army and the police.
UNAMSIL is discussing options for developing the police with the Government, the police command and the Commonwealth. If the police are to be brought to a level capable of ensuring internal security, assistance will be needed to recruit an additional 2,500 personnel and train, equip and pay the force in a programme that the Government can sustain. UNAMSIL is discussing two options with the Government. One would have United Nations Civilian Police lead the project, and the other would involve a bilateral, IMATT-type arrangement, with a lead country pulling together the training team and resources. Further details on these proposals will be submitted in the report of the Secretary-General in September.
The question of how salaries are to be paid is also critical. Even the best-trained police cannot be expected to perform without pay. Also, we have learned from other operations that, ultimately, the police cannot provide for internal security unless their efforts are linked to judicial and penal institutions that can ensure that the rule of law is upheld.
In conclusion, let me say that with the national elections and the installation of President Kabbah, Sierra Leone has entered a new phase. It is only right that the Government now take on a progressively bigger share of the responsibility for peace, stability and development in Sierra Leone. Clearly, an extraordinary, unified effort has created a solid foundation where once the peacekeeping mission was in crisis. The exit strategy for UNAMSIL lies in ensuring that the Government can carry out the functions that peacekeepers and the international community have fulfilled.
We must now turn our attention towards supporting the Government’s efforts to achieve goals such as long-term development and the creation of a viable economy, effective and transparent control and administration of national resources, capacity-building, national reconciliation, security-sector development and the full reintegration of ex-combatants. Close coordination between the Government, international agencies and bilateral assistance will be vital.
Much, indeed, remains to be done. But the strength of resolve and spirit of partnership that the international community brought to bear on the crisis of May 2000 must be maintained. It will now have to be turned towards consolidating the gains made and securing regional stability. I am confident that if this is done, a peaceful Sierra Leone can finally fully emerge.
I thank Mr. Guéhenno for his very kind comments about the role that the United Kingdom played. I thank him for the honesty and frankness of the assessment that he made and his very constructive comments in terms of solutions.
Mr. Guéhenno, I was struck by the importance you gave to the clarity of the mandate and to coordination and the implications of that for the management of the operation overall. In that context, I would like to ask you about the relationship between the United Nations political, military and humanitarian wings, because it has been different in Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Afghanistan. It is now a live issue in Angola. Should we be looking for a single model, or should we be developing and learning from each of the countries and adapting to each context?
My other question relates to the point you made very early on, which was about the urgency which was introduced into the process after the recognition that the credibility of the United Nations was at stake. Collectively, as the Security Council, what can we do to get that sense of urgency into the situation at an earlier stage in the process, without getting to the point where we think the credibility of the United Nations is at stake?
Your first question was whether there a single model for the integration of the various efforts of the international community. I think there are degrees of integration; it will vary from one mission to the other. However, I do believe that in any peacekeeping or peace-building operation — and we see more and more that the two have to be closely linked — there has to be a unity of effort on the part of the international community. I think that the international community weakens its hand when it goes into a crisis situation in a scattered way, so to speak. I think part of the success achieved by the Afghanistan mission is very much linked to its integrated nature. It is often thought that it could be even more integrated.
In the case of Angola that is now being considered, there will also be a need for a major effort of the international community to support the reconstruction of a country that has been torn by many years of war. There, again, I would think that an integrated model is in order. The way in which one of the two number twos in the Mission federated the efforts of the development community and the humanitarian community has proved to be very effective in Sierra Leone. The various agencies, funds, and programmes provide the substantive backstopping with their expertise, but there is an operational integration that is of the essence and we see, for areas such as disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR), that the links among the political, military, humanitarian and economic are very close. How can you disarm combatants if you do not have an economic and reintegration strategy? So my answer to the question is that there are degrees of integration, but that certainly integration is the right answer.
The second question was how we can give the Council a greater sense of urgency. I think there we all share responsibility. As the Brahimi report said in an often quoted sentence, we should tell the Council what it needs to know, not what it wants to hear. There is a responsibility on the part of the Secretariat to call the attention of the Council to unfolding crisis situations. If I may say so, there is also a responsibility for Member States which have a particular understanding of a region to call the attention of Council members to an unfolding situation. In the case of Sierra Leone the proactive role taken by your country, Madam President, certainly helped focus the attention of the international community on the need to have a sustained effort in that part of West Africa.
I was struck, Mr. Guéhenno, by your comments on the need for wider security sector reform. I hope that will come up in the discussions we have following our next contribution, which will be from the Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ms. Carolyn McAskie. I ask Ms. McAskie to take the floor.
In accordance with your agenda today Madam President, I will focus my remarks mainly on issues relating to the protection of civilians. As the war in Sierra Leone painted a devastating picture of the changing nature of warfare, wherein civilians are not only incidental victims, but direct objects of attack; in fact, they are targeted with extreme violence, murder, widespread rape and sexual violence, amputations, mutilation, burning alive, conscription of children, forced labour, abduction, massive destruction and looting. The list is horrendous and endless. These tactics were used to terrorize, to prevent participation in the political process, and ultimately to control illegal exploitation of natural resources.
All the issues the Security Council has discussed on the protection of civilians come to the fore in any discussion on Sierra Leone, whether it is access to vulnerable populations or the impact of sanctions. Widespread and systematic violations of international human rights and humanitarian law underscores the importance of bringing to justice the perpetrators of these atrocities. Women and children in particular have been targeted in an unprecedented manner during the conflict. One of the questions asked in the background paper is whether or not there should be special gender provisions in the Special Court. I will return to that issue later in my remarks.
The war in Sierra Leone was further characterized, as speakers before me have said, as an ongoing regional problem, and — particularly as far as humanitarian actors were concerned — an ongoing regional problem of massive population displacement. Again, amongst those displaced, women and dependent children were disproportionately represented. The estimates are as high as 80 per cent.
Unlike many other peacekeeping mandates, that of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) specifically authorized peacekeepers to take necessary measures to afford protection to civilians under imminent threat of physical violence — understandably, of course, within its capabilities and within its areas of deployment, and in accordance with Chapter VII of the Charter. The level of support UNAMSIL was able to give to fulfil its mandate was determined by troop strength, and much of the support to the protection of civilians became possible only when UNAMSIL reached full capacity, or close to it.
Because of the complexity of the task of the United Nations, I think we all agree that it was important in this case for the United Nations to adopt an integrated approach to this crisis. And, hopefully to be as frank as the preceding speaker, it is true there were concerns amongst the humanitarian community about such integration in the early days. Fears that the humanitarians would be “co-opted” by the political and military side led to great discussion amongst the organizations. The appointment of the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, was one of the issues causing the greatest discussion. I am pleased to say something I believed from the outset, that as it has turned out, many of those fears were unfounded; it has proven to be a good model and a good lesson. Under the current structure, the Humanitarian Coordinator is in a far better position to address humanitarian concerns within the mandate, within the Mission, and in fact has centralized humanitarian issues within the political and military decision-making of the Mission.
One of the issues we will need to look at, however, relates to learning from the way in which it was possible in general to preserve the humanitarian space and the independence of humanitarian workers, as appropriate. In fact, the May 2000 crisis, when peacekeepers were taken hostage, could provide a good example of the challenges. My colleague addressed this in his remarks. The humanitarians will of course be working very closely with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in the lessons-learned study.
Let me refer to the aide-memoire (S/PRST/2002/6, annex) which the Council has adopted on the protection of civilians and touch on some of its elements. Today’s workshop provides a welcome occasion to use the aide-memoire as it was intended, namely to facilitate due consideration of issues pertaining to the protection of civilians within the different phases of peacekeeping operations. As most participants know, the aide-memoire addresses 13 main objectives, ranging from access, to vulnerable populations, to the impact of natural resource exploitation. In fact, with the help of the Norwegian Government a very useful short pamphlet has been produced, but the print is so tiny that I wonder if the Norwegian Ambassador would tell us whether people in Norway have better eyesight than people in other parts of the world, as I need very good glasses to read it. But it is very handy to carry around.
UNAMSIL’s mandate was very good in terms of its comprehensiveness on the inclusion of issues and objectives relating to the protection of civilians in armed conflict, in comparison to previous peacekeeping mandates. Of the 13 main objectives contained in the aide-memoire, all of the relevant objectives were addressed in Security Council resolution 1270 (1999). In fact resolution 1270 (1999) is the most frequently referred-to resolution in the aide-memoire.
Let me touch on some points arising from the aide-memoire. The first is media and information. An important lesson that has been learned is the need for accurate management of information. Security and military information was crucial for the protection of both humanitarian personnel and civilians, and the establishment of the humanitarian information centre in UNAMSIL, following the model of Kosovo but expanded in this case to include UNAMSIL participation, played a key role in furthering that objective.
Secondly, on disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and rehabilitation (DDRR), particularly with regard to the effects on children, another important lesson comes from the successful demobilization of the 47,000 combatants, including almost 7,000 child soldiers. It was a critical lesson, that the creation of an official DDRR programme in Sierra Leone was in fact a central tenet of the Lomé Peace Accord, signed in July 1999. The Accord was the first such agreement to recognize the special needs of children in the DDRR process. UNICEF has drawn a number of important lessons from this experience; there have been integrated into its policy and programming efforts, and will continue to inform our ongoing work in this area.
As the mandate developed and matured, peacekeepers were able to play an important role in improving humanitarian access through the provision of security for humanitarian personnel and through securing safe areas for internally displaced persons and refugee returnees. That was not true at the outset, but the growing cooperation between humanitarians and peacekeepers led to some very useful outcomes.
Recently, UNAMSIL has cooperated with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, transporting returnees from the Liberia border areas to safer zones inside Sierra Leone. With respect to recent movements of internally displaced persons, almost 4,000 people have been transported by UNAMSIL and by the International Organization for Migration from western-area camps, where they have received resettlement packages. Approximately 12,000 internally displaced persons remain to be formally resettled, however, following the fourth phase of the resettlement process.
A fourth point from the aide-memoire is the effect on women and girls, and I shall touch on that at somewhat greater length. Another lesson that I would add here is that, in situations such as that in Sierra Leone, women and girls have suffered an extraordinary level of rape, including gang rape, and every possible form of sexual violence. UNAMSIL’s mandate could perhaps have been even more comprehensive had it referred specifically to the special protection and assistance needs of women and girls. That would include moving beyond the classic norms of gender sensitivity and mainstreaming, to include responses to endemic gender-based violence and sexual exploitation. This is an area about which we are all still learning, as the tragic events in West Africa have shown us, and we look forward to the study on the problems of sexual exploitation to point us in the right direction to deal with these matters.
When we talk about boys being taken as forced conscripts, we must also remember that an equal or larger number of girls were forced to become partners of combatants or were otherwise held as sexual slaves and forced to bear unwanted children at a young age. Many girls have suffered permanent physical harm. In Sierra Leone, UNICEF has supported the establishment and coordination of a network of services for girls who were abused during the war. The difficulty is in identifying the girls who have been victimized. Stigma, shame and lack of opportunity or resources keep many girls silent, and thousands of young girls who were abducted during the war were used for sexual purposes. We characterize Sierra Leone in terms of the horrors of the amputations, but, for every person with limbs amputated, 10 or 100 girls were abducted and abused. Many of them continue to stay with their commanders, while others have returned anonymously to their communities. In efforts to address those issues, the Government has acted extremely well, with a national sensitization campaign on rape being launched, with information on sexual abuse, on rape and on how to help victims.
I referred to the response to the crisis of sexual exploitation in West Africa. Let me also mention that, in Sierra Leone, a coordinating committee for the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse has been formed. Among many actions taken, the committee has adopted standards of accountability for humanitarian workers, which were launched in March by the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator, who himself is the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General. At the inter-agency level worldwide, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee has now produced a report on protection from sexual exploitation and abuse in humanitarian crises as well as a global plan of action, which has now been endorsed by all the heads of agencies.
It is important to note, however, that the mandate provided for training of UNAMSIL personnel in international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law, including child- and gender-related provisions. An important advance over previous mandates was the inclusion of human rights and civil affairs offices — a model that has been followed in subsequent peacekeeping operations. Those aspects should continue to be strengthened, even while the military component is phasing down.
My last point from the aide-memoire is the issue of justice and reconciliation. Here, the issue for the Special Court and for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission remains the issue of funding, as we are all aware. The President’s background paper, as I mentioned, asks the question of whether special attention could be given to gender-related issues. I think this is clearly a case in which rape was used as a war crime, and it should be so recognized. There will need to be special measures — including measures related to witness protection programmes — to enable women to come forward.
Let me close by saying a few words on the regional aspects, as others have. The Council will be dealing with that this afternoon, but I think we all agree on the extent to which cross-border activities have destabilized the region, and that the escalating conflict in Liberia is among the factors now posing the greatest threat to stability in Sierra Leone and in neighbouring countries.
Since the beginning of this year, Sierra Leone has already received some 40,000 Liberian refugees, Guinea more than 30,000 and Côte d’Ivoire an estimated 60,000. In anticipation of any gradual drawdown of UNAMSIL’s activities in Sierra Leone, due consideration could perhaps be given to enhancing the Sierra Leone Government’s capacity to maintain internal security and the security of its borders; it could also assist with the effective screening of incoming refugee populations, a task that has proved very difficult in the past.
In recognition of the importance of the regional approach, the United Nations regional Office for West Africa is in the process of being finalized, and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs will work very closely with it. In fact, we have already opened a regional office, which will focus most immediately on issues related to the Mano River Union.
As a senior humanitarian, I should be remiss if I did not use this occasion to close by reminding us all that the Secretary-General, in his recent report to the Security Council, highlighted the fact that resources are still required to finalize the uncompleted aspects of the peace process. Only one third of the funding for the Consolidated Appeals for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone has been collected. That critical funding shortfall throughout the region will seriously hamper humanitarian agencies in their desire to meet basic standards of humanitarian assistance and also to move from relief to recovery, as agencies will be forced to limit programming to the most urgent lifesaving assistance. This is particularly critical at a time when the United Nations, along with the donors and other partners and, of course, the countries of the region themselves — the most important players in all of this — move from relief through transition and into development. The United Nations is gearing up on that aspect.
Let me close by thanking you, Madam President, for the opportunity to address the Council on the important issue of the protection of civilians.
Thank you very much indeed, Ms. McAskie, for that very comprehensive briefing. It has been drawn to my attention that I am already failing to meet my own standards in terms of timekeeping, because I am asking too many questions, but I should like to ask you one question. In a way, I think you answered it in your last point, about resources. It relates to the way in which donors have responded to the humanitarian crisis. That has been a priority for the United Nations, but do you consider the donor response to have been effective and adequate?
I am sorry that your troubles with time did not spare me, Madam President, but I am delighted to answer your question. The international community has been very generous worldwide, and I would not say that Sierra Leone has suffered any more than other countries in crisis. But if I were to say that there was a serious shortfall in Sierra Leone, I would have to say that there were serious shortfalls in many other crises as well. I think we could have done a lot much sooner if more resources had been available, but I would also say that it is also up to the international agencies to be organized earlier. If one looks at our response to more recent crises, the lesson that we have learned is that we cannot allow these things to drag on for years and years before we do something about them. I think the response in Sierra Leone was horribly slow on all levels; that is a major lesson we have learned.
I would now like to call on Ambassador Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, who is the Chairman of the Sierra Leone sanctions Committee.
Madam President, I am very gratified at your presence in the Security Council, and I would like to take this opportunity to express my country’s congratulations and commendation to the United Kingdom for the extraordinarily generous and responsible effort that it has made in the Mano River region, and in Sierra Leone in particular.
This event presents an opportunity to reflect upon lessons learned, and the very focus of this seminar is already a lesson learned. For my country, the key to the peace process in the Mano River region is the regional approach. All national efforts that we may make to promote peace must have a regional dimension. No country acting alone in the Mano River region can create the conditions necessary to guarantee peace, security, stability and development.
Accordingly, what is needed is an international regional effort. The increasingly violent situation in Liberia demonstrates this fact. If the international community fails to give proper attention to the humanitarian situation and the violence in Liberia, then the efforts that we may make in other countries of the region, particularly in Sierra Leone, may well prove to be reversible.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guinea, much better than any of us, has described the regional dimension of the problems of peace, security, economic development, protection of the environment and social security in the Mano River region. For this reason, my country feels that the Rabat process is a key factor in fostering mutual trust among the countries of the region. However difficult the situation may be when it comes to building trust among the countries of the Mano River region, we would appeal for a firm commitment on the part of the three Governments to carry out the practical measures agreed at the summit meeting held under the auspices of the King of Morocco and in the subsequent technical meetings mainly devoted to security.
Another key factor for the Mano River region is institutionalizing the political processes through the strengthening of democratic institutions and the creation of modes of representation to enable the various political actors to find the right channels through which to act on the political scene — particularly during elections, because this is where the power struggle should be acted out. A large national and international effort is needed to guarantee freedom of expression, freedom of the press, political parties, non-governmental organizations and the force of public opinion.
In Sierra Leone we have precisely the combination of will and factors. We have the United Nations plus these factors: the United Kingdom, as a fundamental ally of Sierra Leone and the United Nations in seeking peace in the region; the neighbouring countries, some of which have made a significant contribution to achieving that peace; the international community as a whole; and, no less important, the far-reaching role of Sierra Leone society, its non-governmental organizations and civil organizations and — let us state very clearly — the women of Sierra Leone, who have been a decisive factor in making this process fruitful.
In Mexico, we agree on the factors for success, as already described by Under-Secretary-General Guéhenno. The factors of success to be learned from the situation in Sierra Leone are in the first place certainly the clarity of the objectives. The main objective has been dismantling the structures of violence and restoring a new constitutional political order. With regard to his goal, there has been great intensity in establishing the major commitments of the United Nations and of the international community on a scale commensurate with the objectives. The resources applied were also consonant with the scale of those objectives.
The continuity of these endeavours is now the next lesson to learn in order to be certain that the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) is really a success story. The Security Council must proceed to a gradual and orderly withdrawal of the Mission, while at the same time ensuring that the Government of Sierra Leone is in a position to control effectively its territory and to assure its physical integrity, internal and external defence and social security.
The integrated nature of efforts in Sierra Leone’s political, security, humanitarian assistance and economic and social development areas are central factors in its success. The international community’s support has focused not only on advances made in the political process, but also on meeting the population’s basic needs, as well as on the demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants and on the humanitarian situation of refugees and internally displaced persons. Here we should definitely take into account Mr. Guéhenno’s recommendations concerning sustained efforts to reintegrate ex-combatants and the recommendations concerning the need to continue working hard to combat persistent sexual abuse, exploitation and violence, which, as we have seen, have been major features of the war in Sierra Leone.
One central aspect of the lessons learned is the coordination and integration of efforts among all the agencies concerned.
I would like to note that, in the particular case of Sierra Leone, we have seen quite clearly that the Security Council must pay much greater interest and attention in its communications with the personnel of United Nations agencies working in the field. The Secretary-General’s reports fully comply with their purpose, but the views, appraisals and comments of the personnel in daily contact with the region’s problems might assist the Council in better understanding the decision-making process on the basic issues that face us.
I would like to refer briefly to some of the lessons learned with respect to the sanctions applied in Sierra Leone by the Committee which I chair. First, the population must perceive the sanctions as mechanisms for contributing to peace and security and not as acts of reprisal or of political reprimand. It is very important to have the support of the population if the sanctions are to be effective. An additional effort by the United Nations is required to explain to the population the nature of the sanctions imposed. In the specific case of Liberia, in the Mano River region, the population perceives the sanctions to be unjust and not a means of bringing about change in the behaviour of its political leaders and rebel groups.
Secondly, in the case of Sierra Leone, the arms embargo has had a limited impact, because the actual presence of UNAMSIL forces and the successful disarmament process have, in fact, led to the eradication of the circulation of weapons in the country.
The sanctions are not — and will not be — a guarantee that weapons do not pass back into Sierra Leone. Accordingly, compliance with the sanctions by third parties must be emphasized, so that weapons do not get back into the hands of former combatants or those who might wish to use them to disrupt order. Thus, an additional effort is needed on the part of the community of nations to identify the origin of the weapons circulating in the Mano River region and to put an end to the trafficking in small arms and light weapons. None of the countries of the subregion has the capacity in itself to curb these illicit flows. The commitment by the States of the region and outside of the region is necessary in order to enforce the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) moratorium and effectively to apply the national, regional and international measures provided for in the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.
Sanctions regimes have the objective and temporary function of achieving the peace objectives set by the Council. In the case of the arms embargoes in the Mano river region, it is necessary to establish the appropriate mechanisms, beyond sanctions, to institutionalize the prohibition of illicit flows of weapons. Those mechanisms should possess the means to ensure their observance, even after the ending of sanctions.
The lesson learned from the diamond embargoes in the Mano river region is that the embargoes cannot in themselves necessarily have the desired consequences and that they have yielded mixed results. In some aspects these are positive, while in others they are limited and even counterproductive. Given the nature of diamonds, which are easily traded and which easily evade controls, embargoes must be only the starting point for a regional and international effort to create certification systems that will regulate the diamond industry to the benefit of the economic development of peoples, sparing them from the fomenting of violence. If there is no regional system for the certification of origin for diamonds, they will continue to flow from one country to another, escaping controls. Such a system must also be part of the efforts carried out through the Kimberly Process. In the diamond-trading sector, it is necessary to strengthen government monitoring structures to eradicate corruption.
Guided by national criteria and norms, the international community should increase capital investment in modern methods of diamond production, creating employment opportunities for local populations. The gradual eradication of traditional diamond mining methods — taking into account the circumstances in each country — should be pursued to favour the rational economic exploitation of those resources.
A review and updating of the lists of individuals subject to travel restrictions under Security Council sanctions should be carried out to stimulate political processes in the countries of the Mano river region. In the case of Sierra Leone, former combatants from rebel groups who have disarmed, joined political organizations, taken part in recent elections and accepted the election results should benefit from the process. Their participation in Sierra Leone’s political life and their commitment not to take up arms again are factors that should be taken into account by the members of the Security Council in implementing such sanctions.
I wish to conclude by saying, as Under-Secretary-General Guéhenno has said, that much remains to be done in Sierra Leone. But the international effort made so far is a guarantee that in Sierra Leone and in the rest of the Mano river region, with the participation of the international community and the active participation of the societies of those three countries, it will be possible to establish an order of peace, security and sustainable development.
I thank you very much, Ambassador Aguilar Zinser, for reflecting on learning points related to sanctions issues.
We are now going to move on to a number of speakers all of whom have been allocated five minutes — of which I am gently reminding our speakers before they start. I would like to welcome very warmly the President of the Economic and Social Council. The fact that he is addressing us today is a very good example of the kind of coordination that we have been talking about, and I give him the floor.
On behalf of the Economic and Social Council, I cordially welcome the convening of this workshop, the range of issues on its agenda, the breadth of participation, and its format, which favours interaction.
I would also like to use this opportunity to note that during the United Kingdom presidency of the Security Council, the level of cooperation between the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council has been unprecedented. Ambassador Greenstock, in his capacity of President of the Security Council, has addressed the Economic and Social Council. I was invited here today to the Security Council workshop. I am also invited to participate in the work of the Security Council’s Ad Hoc Working Group on Africa, which will be addressing the issue of Guinea-Bissau during the course of next week.
On Monday the Economic and Social Council established its ad hoc advisory group on African countries emerging from conflict. After receiving requests from interested countries, additional ad hoc advisory groups dealing with individual countries or regions will be established. It is envisaged that the ad hoc groups of the Security Council and of the Economic and Social Council will work together closely.
Finally, during the course of this month, we had a semi-informal meeting of three Presidents: the Presidents of the General Assembly, of the Security Council and of the Economic and Social Council. There was a firm commitment to continue such coordination and semi-informal meetings. One of the issues on which we certainly want to cooperate is the issue of peace-building and sustainable peace and development in Africa. I thank the United Kingdom for its strong support and leadership in fostering the cooperation of which I have spoken.
In order to stay within my time limit, I will refer briefly to lessons learned in Sierra Leone from the particular viewpoint of the Economic and Social Council. First, it is quite clear from the example of Sierra Leone that even the most difficult situations are solvable if there is enough commitment and enough resources.
Secondly, although we have recently allocated almost $700 million for peacekeeping in Sierra Leone for the next 12 months, it is quite clear that peacekeeping has proved to be much cheaper than conflict. From Foreign Minister Koroma, we were able to hear some data on the material costs of the conflict in Sierra Leone. However, conflict prevention is much cheaper than peacekeeping itself. In that respect, I would like to emphasize that post-conflict peace-building represents a form of prevention of the recurrence of conflict.
In view of our experience — also confirmed by the words of both ministers — for peace to be sustainable there is a need for a comprehensive approach. Every speaker today emphasized that regional and subregional comprehensiveness is absolutely necessary to end conflicts and to prevent their recurrence. However, I would like to add that comprehensiveness includes other elements as well. Peacekeeping should be accompanied from the outset by political and humanitarian measures and should be immediately succeeded by peace-building, including the strengthening of security and the rule of law, and economic recovery.
Demilitarization, which has been mentioned many times, is sustainable if job opportunities are created. The reintegration of ex-combatants into society relies heavily on job availability. Also, in Sierra Leone, infrastructure should be rehabilitated, and health and education systems should be substantially improved. As the Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator clearly indicated, the strengthening of the overall security and justice system is essential for post-conflict peace-building in Sierra Leone and elsewhere. Civilians who have been deliberately targeted during hostilities require assurances if they are to return to their homes. The establishment of tribunals with an international element and of truth and reconciliation commissions, both of which are being launched in Sierra Leone, are encouraging in that respect.
Experience teaches us that investments in the rehabilitation of the justice system and in the rule of law are productive investments for a country. In the first phase, it facilitates the return of refugees and displaced persons as well as reconciliation, but it also helps to attract more bilateral and multilateral assistance. In the second phase, however, it is also very instrumental to track foreign direct investment when the time comes.
In order to stay within the time limit, I will conclude by saying that the Economic and Social Council has great potential because of its coordination function, which encompasses the entire United Nations system. We can bring all United Nations agencies, funds and programmes on board. Our recently enhanced cooperation with the Bretton Woods institutions as well as our capacity to engage donor countries and other stakeholders such as non-governmental organizations and the private sector provide great potential for the Council to mobilize key players. That potential has yet to be put to its best use.
I thank Mr. Simonovi for his comments, which, I think, completely match the issues which have already been raised this morning.
Let me begin, Madam President, by thanking you and the United Kingdom presidency of the Security Council for organizing this Council workshop today. The importance of our discussions is evidenced by the presence with us this morning of the Secretary-General. We are honoured to have Foreign Minister Koroma of Sierra Leone here as well, and it is a particular pleasure to have our former colleague and good friend, Foreign Minister François Fall of Guinea, back in New York this morning to join us once again around this table.
The United States delegation looks forward to a useful discussion of the lessons to be learned from Sierra Leone and of the way forward in the Mano River Union. The wars and civil unrest in the Mano River Union region have taken a terrible toll in lost life, human suffering and lost opportunities. There have been unconscionable abuses of women and children. There have been mutilations, murders and terror, as well as the systematic trampling of basic human rights. Tragically, civilians indeed were the deliberate targets of a great many of these horrible acts of violence and abuse.
The remarks of our opening speakers have gotten us off to a good start, and I thank both Under-Secretary-General Guéhenno and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator McAskie for their insights this morning.
Let me start by asking whether there are, in fact, any overarching lessons to be learned from Sierra Leone and how the United Nations and the Security Council can resolve the other conflicts on our agenda. As we begin our discussion, we need to keep in mind the fact that each conflict situation on the Security Council’s agenda has its own causes, its own unique personality and its own geopolitical variables. The successful resolution of any conflict is a matter of these variables aligning in such a way that, if the Security Council is focused and united but realistic about its abilities, the Security Council and the United Nations can help the parties themselves see a hinge of history and push open the door towards lasting peace.
But let me be clear: the United Nations and the Council rarely have the ability themselves to ensure a successful peace process. Seldom can the United Nations on its own impose a successful solution. In most cases, the parties themselves must create facts on the ground that will allow the United Nations to contribute to a lasting peace.
We neither strengthen the United Nations and the Security Council nor help bring peace to any conflict by overpromising, raising unrealistic expectations or overextending the capacity of the United Nations to deliver on the ground. What the Security Council and the United Nations can do is to stand ready, so that, when the external factors fall into place, we can support the parties’ own efforts to make peace. The United Nations and the Security Council also can help to foster an environment that permits peace to take root if the parties want it.
In Sierra Leone the crucial factors behind our current success range from the commitment of the United Kingdom to provide military training to the Sierra Leone army to the military weakness of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) following its miscalculation in invading Guinean territory.
Other factors were the Security Council sanctions on President Taylor as well as, and most important and decisively, the courage and dedication of the people of Sierra Leone to end violence and to restore democracy.
All of these external factors came together in a way that created an opportunity for a stable peace and for the United Nations and the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) to play an important but supporting role.
As we look at our experience in Sierra Leone, we can review what those external factors were for guidance and historical understanding, but we are making a mistake if we too readily embrace the view that the events in Sierra Leone provide universal lessons for the United Nations that automatically can be imposed on other situations. To a large degree, each must be tailor-made and adapted to the unique situations of each conflict.
Nonetheless, it is important to learn from experience, and therefore let me thank the United Kingdom once again for its leadership in presiding over this workshop. In my delegation’s view, what we can learn from our experience in Sierra Leone are lessons in how the Security Council and the United Nations can better manage and organize our efforts, be they peacekeeping, diplomatic or humanitarian, to support peace processes in conflict situations in which there is an existing commitment by the parties to resolve the conflict. These lessons are valuable to our work going forth.
My delegation takes away several such management lessons from the United Nations experience in Sierra Leone: first, the need for careful matching of the resources and mandate of peacekeeping missions with the risks involved in the operation; secondly, the importance of frequent consultations with troop-contributing countries on the rules of engagement for any peacekeeping mission; thirdly, the need to find a mechanism for donor group coordination and follow-up, and the need for the reintegration element of any disarmament, demobilization and resettlement programme to be undertaken as part of a peace process; fourthly, the requirement for better coordination of humanitarian assistance between peacekeeping operations, international aid agencies and humanitarian groups; and finally, a strong special representative of the Secretary-General is critical to the success of a peaceful operation to ensure good coordination among the peacekeeping, humanitarian and, if necessary, judicial elements of a mission.
Finally, I will make a brief comment on these lessons. Regarding peacekeeping missions, a key lesson is that we must give missions the appropriate rules of engagement, force size and mandate for the situation on the ground.
I should like to inform the Council that I am going to be quite firm on our five-minute time limits.
Madam President, Cameroon would like to join previous speakers in commending your Government’s timely initiative to convene this important and useful workshop. The Mano River Basin is, regrettably, one of the most unstable subregions on our continent. As Africans, we in Cameroon welcome and deeply appreciate the support and solidarity extended to the Governments and peoples of the Mano River Union countries towards the attainment and consolidation of sustainable peace and stability in the area.
Much progress has been achieved, at great cost, on the Sierra Leone front, but the job is far from being completed, as the unfortunate developments taking place next door, on the Liberian front, confirm. The three Mano River Union States are connected by more than geography alone. They share deep bonds of history, and culture and socio-economic interrelationships which make it difficult, if not impossible, to treat developments in one country as isolated or limited to that country alone.
That is why we fully support the approach taken by the present workshop to address the challenges facing the three Mano River Union countries from a subregional angle. That is the right way to go.
That is why Cameroon believes that, even as the international community rightfully rejoices over the successes registered in Sierra Leone, we should resist any temptation to become complacent. Not only does the overall situation inside that country remain fragile and volatile, the subregional neighbourhood is increasingly turbulent as a result of the worsening crisis in Liberia. We feel that the continued policy of containment against Liberia runs the risk of prolonging the suffering of the civilian population. How can the international community strike a fair balance between pressing the Liberian Government to comply with the Security Council’s demands under the sanctions and making Liberia a contributing factor to peace and stability in the entire Mano River Union subregion? Given the fact that the situations in Sierra Leone and Liberia are interconnected, peace consolidation efforts in Sierra Leone will not be sustained unless similar efforts are made to stabilize Liberia. That is an issue we need to address squarely.
As we collectively reflect on the way forward in the Mano River Union countries, Cameroon would like to put the following questions on the table. What is the fate of the Liberian soldiers and members of other armed groups who fled the fighting in Liberia and crossed over into Sierra Leone? Is there any risk of seeing them regroup into a vanguard force allied with disgruntled Sierra Leonean elements to destabilize Sierra Leone? What are the prospects for convening a follow-up to the Rabat summit of heads of State of the Mano River Union countries? How do we best harmonize the Rabat dialogue process and the peace efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)? What action has been taken so far by the ECOWAS committee of three on Liberia in implementing the Yamoussoukro peace plan on Liberia? How does ECOWAS intend to engage Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) and the Liberian Government to seek a peaceful settlement of the ongoing conflict? Should ECOWAS fail to deploy a peacekeeping force in Liberia, what role should the United Nations play in that regard? As both the African Union and ECOWAS have banned unconstitutional changes of Government, should the United Nations go on record as taking a similar stance with regard specifically to the current stand-off in Liberia? Should the Security Council emulate the Secretary-General’s example by condemning any attempt by any armed group in Liberia to take power by force? What role should key international actors, including members of the Security Council and bilateral and multilateral partners, be prepared to play to promote dialogue, national reconciliation and stability in Liberia? Could they envisage forming a forum for forging a coherent approach to the challenges facing the Mano River Union subregion, in particular Liberia?
I thank the representative of Cameroon for identifying those questions, to which I think we will return this afternoon.
The next speaker is the representative of Japan. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
Thank you, Madam President, for convening this public meeting of the Security Council.
I would like to touch upon three points relating to post-conflict situations, which are especially salient with regard to Sierra Leone and to the Mano River Union. First, in order to ensure the stability of West Africa, every effort should be made to encourage confidence-building among the countries concerned. My delegation notes and welcomes the efforts that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Morocco and other countries are making toward that end.
Secondly, the smooth transition from a post-conflict situation to development is also essential for regional stability and will require the support of the international community. Japan has thus decided to extend, through the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security, assistance in the amount of $3 million to the project for the reintegration of ex-combatants in Sierra Leone that will be implemented by the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). This assistance will be used for capacity-building activities and the creation of employment opportunities in that country.
Thirdly, I would like to emphasize the importance of a system of justice in post-conflict situations, and I thus express my Government’s strong support for the activities of the Special Court in Sierra Leone. To that end, Japan has contributed $500,000. We welcome the recent progress towards establishing the Court.
I would like on this occasion to refer to Japan’s new strategy regarding Africa, which was recently announced by Prime Minister Koizumi. Under this strategy, entitled “Solidarity between Japan and Africa: concrete actions”, Japan over the next five years will extend to low-income countries more than $2 billion in assistance for education. In addition, in cooperation with UNDP, Japan is promoting the development and dissemination of Nerica rice — New Rice for Africa — which is the product of hybridization between African and Asian rice strains. This miracle rice is expected to help solve the problem of food shortages, especially in West Africa. These efforts are based on the concept of human-centred development, which Japan emphasizes in extending assistance. Finally, under this strategy Japan will provide support to reinforce the conflict-prevention and peace-building efforts of African countries themselves. We are confident that our efforts under this new strategy will make a genuine contribution to the stability and development of the region.
I would like to thank you very much, Madam President, for having organized this meeting. I shall heed your appeal to be a bit more interactive by making use of an inductive thinking process to offer some very specific ideas. I will not speak specifically about the Mano river region, but will instead attempt to draw lessons on the basis of the experience gained in that region.
First, there are a number of specific lessons in the political sphere. It is not possible to resolve a situation without taking a regional approach when a conflict clearly has such a dimension. The regional dimension not only can ease or resolve a conflict; at times it can also be an additional disrupting factor, either due to arms trafficking, refugee movements or cross-border activities of armed groups. A second lesson in the political area is the importance of having a leading country in the Security Council if this body is involved. Such a leading country must also have political influence in the region. This helps to mobilize financial resources and heightens awareness in the international community with regard to a given situation. The third lesson in the political area relates to the potential of subregional organizations. Such organizations offer opportunities, but have great limitations. The dilemma for the Security Council is what to do when there are political differences between the subregional viewpoint and the prevalent viewpoint in the Security Council. This is a reality in the case of Liberia and in other situations in Africa that we need to face.
The fourth political lesson has to do with relations with armed groups. The lesson is the need to understand the political agenda of those non-State actors and to open the appropriate political spaces for them. But in doing that, we must be cautious, we must not be naïve, and we must maintain firm positions vis- à-vis these actors. We must create sanctions if necessary. We must not compromise, and we must deny amnesty for atrocious crimes.
There are three concrete lessons in the humanitarian area that we want to highlight. The first has to do with the complex management of internally displaced persons and refugees as concomitant phenomena. The lesson there is that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees can and must play a pragmatic role in the area of meeting the needs of internally displaced persons, even if there is no specific mandate to do so. We believe that it has been proven that it is a valid focal point in this regard because it has strengths that other agencies of the United Nations system lack.
The second lesson that we still need to digest is what to do when sanctions are imposed on a country which are politically justified but which reduce the availability of resources for humanitarian activities. In other words, the challenge before the Security Council is ensuring that humanitarian assistance is not subject to or conditioned by political strategies or the imposition of sanctions.
Finally, concerning the role of women and children that Ms. McAskie has referred to, I think that we have learned that women and children are not merely victims of conflicts. They may also be basic actors in peace building, particularly at the grassroots community level.
I wish to conclude with an additional lesson about the participation of the international community. We have learned that international assistance in the humanitarian field and in the reconstruction process is unpredictable and volatile. That is something that we always have to take into account when the Security Council is making decisions. The appeal that Ms. McAskie made, and the appeal made with regard to the court, is a recurring one, not only with regard to the Mano River, but to other areas as well.
I think key themes are emerging from all our speakers.
The next speaker is Mr. Sylvain Ngung, the Deputy Permanent Observer of the African Union to the United Nations. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
I wish at the outset to thank you once again, Madam President, for your gracious invitation to the African Union to participate in this workshop devoted to the Mano River subregion. As you have requested, our statement will focus mainly on the experience of Sierra Leone, which, in our opinion, is an encouraging example in the framework of efforts that must be deployed to help the countries of the region.
For more than a decade the West African region, particularly the Mano River subregion, has been the theatre of bloody conflict with war in Liberia and Sierra Leone. The situation of war in Liberia and Sierra Leone over the past dozen years has always been cause for serious concern for the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which sent its special envoy to the region to consult with the authorities of the countries of the subregion.
Speaking at the sixty-sixth regular session of the Council of Ministers of the Organization of African Unity, held earlier this month at Durban, South Africa, the OAU Secretary-General — today Acting President of the African Union Commission — said with regard to the situation in Sierra Leone:
“I am pleased to report that, since the last Council session held at Addis Ababa last March, there have been new developments in efforts to promote lasting peace in Sierra Leone.”
Indeed, completing the disarmament of ex-combatants in Sierra Leone has facilitated deployment of elements of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). That contributed greatly to improving the overall security situation, particularly along the borders between Sierra Leone and Guinea. As we know, on 28 March 2002, the Security Council adopted resolution 1400 (2002), extending the mandate of UNAMSIL for a further six-month period.
Arrangements were made during that period for the holding of the first presidential and legislative elections in Sierra Leone since the end of the civil war, which lasted some 12 years. The OAU has worked closely with international organizations, particularly the Economic Community of West African States, sending observers to monitor the elections and to ensure that they were free and fair. The presidential and legislative elections took place on 14 May 2002, and the various observer groups said afterwards that they had been held in a calm atmosphere and virtually without incident. The outgoing President, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, was re-elected with a large majority of 70.6 per cent of the vote, for a new five-year term.
It should be pointed out here that, following practices in other countries where there have been cases of acts of impunity and flagrant violations of human rights, a Special Court, proposed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and a Truth and Reconciliation Commission were set up in Sierra Leone. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission will begin its public hearings on 1 September 2002.
In the meantime, the Secretary-General of the United Nations has appointed the Prosecutor for the Special Court and will be appointing its judges. The Special Court will be trying persons responsible for war crimes committed in Sierra Leone since 30 November 1996.
The humanitarian situation in Sierra Leone is tragic. The country is emerging from a protracted war and is facing many challenges, including rebuilding infrastructure destroyed by the war. The other major challenge facing Sierra Leone is rehabilitation and reintegration of a large number of ex-combatants into society.
It is true that the international community has provided Sierra Leone financial assistance for the demobilization process. It is also true that the situation of refugees, displaced persons and repatriated persons remains critical in that country. The African Union appeals to the international community to provide more consistent support for the reintegration of ex-combatants into society and greater assistance for the rehabilitation of repatriated persons. The international community should also provide assistance to Sierra Leone in training the army and police, which will be ensuring security in the country in the future. It goes without saying that stability in Sierra Leone will depend on the situation in neighbouring countries, including Liberia, which is still a victim of war.
The African Union, for its part, welcomes the experience of Sierra Leone, which has followed democratic processes. The African Union will continue to cooperate with the Government of Sierra Leone, ECOWAS, the United Nations, the European Union and other organizations and entities to promote peace and security in Sierra Leone and hence throughout the subregion of West Africa.
I thank the representative of the African Union for his comments and in particular for identifying the role that the African Union will play.
I should like to thank the Secretary-General for his presence at the beginning of our discussion this morning. My thanks go also to Under-Secretary-General Jean-Marie Guéhenno, and to Ms. Carolyn McAskie, Deputy to the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, for their very complete and useful briefings. It is also a pleasure to see around the table the Foreign Ministers of Sierra Leone and of Guinea. I welcome in particular the presence of François Fall in his new capacity as Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guinea.
The very choice of the format for this discussion on the part of the British presidency of the Council, I think, attests to an approach that is becoming more and more necessary. Bulgaria welcomes this approach to various conflicts, particularly in Africa but also elsewhere: the regional approach. We are discussing today not only the crises in Sierra Leone and Liberia, but also the situation in the Mano river region as a whole. This approach is extremely sound, and we commend it. I must state that the situations in those countries are very intimately interconnected, almost like communicating vessels. The Council is right to address them simultaneously.
Before I make some further brief remarks, I would like to say that Bulgaria fully associates itself with the statement that will be made this afternoon by Denmark on behalf of the European Union. Bulgaria, as members know, is an associated country of the European Union.
One of the most important lessons of the success of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) is undoubtedly the fact that it was made possible by the resolute action of a country having historical links with the region. I am speaking of your country, Madam President, the United Kingdom. Bulgaria pays tribute to the role played by the United Kingdom in the resolution of the Sierra Leone tragedy, a resolution which would not have been possible without the resolve and engagement of the United Kingdom.
Of course, the other Members of the United Nations, and of the Security Council in particular, made possible a remarkable harmony of approach to this crisis, which was so difficult in humanitarian terms. That harmony and unity of approach was reflected in the mandate that was given UNAMSIL once the shortcomings of the mandate and the weakness of the United Nations presence in Sierra Leone had been identified. Jean-Marie Guéhenno spoke of this eloquently. I fully concur with his appraisal. One thing is certain: while we cannot make the integrated mission of the United Nations a rigid principle in conflicts all over the world, it is important to understand that that integrated approach can very often ensure greater effectiveness, particularly in the humanitarian sphere. I was glad to hear this impression confirmed by Ms. McAskie. This has been the case for Sierra Leone. It is the case for Afghanistan. It is increasingly the case elsewhere. The fear of humanitarian workers of seeing their room for manoeuvre and independence somewhat limited by politicians and the military is, I believe, offset by their ability to have a genuine impact on the political and military decision-making process. I think that this is extremely valuable.
Much has already been said about the clarity of the mandate and the fact that the investment was thoughtfully made commensurate with the risks of the Mission.
With respect to other conflicts in Africa, we must also bear in mind another dimension: the scale of Sierra Leone and of Liberia, which are relatively small countries, which makes it possible perhaps to take the same approach in these situations. But the resources required in other situations are clearly greater. I am especially thinking, of course, of the Great Lakes region, which, I believe, should particularly benefit from this debate, given that we are far from stabilizing the situation in that region of Africa.
The role of sanctions is an aspect that we will never be able to discuss enough. Ambassador Aguilar Zinser has spoken about this, and I agree with him. Sanctions will work in the case of Sierra Leone. That is true because, while in other situations the lifeblood of war is money, in this case the lifeblood of war is diamonds. When we speak of diamonds we are speaking of interests that go well beyond the subregion.
On that note, I would like to conclude by saying that the lessons of Sierra Leone may not be of universal application, but they are relevant to a large number of crises, in particular in Africa, where natural resources are among the causes of the misfortune of the people afflicted by the situation.
We welcome your presence in the Chair, Madam President, and we thank the delegation of the United Kingdom for convening this important meeting. Allow me also to welcome Mr. Momodu Koroma, Foreign Minister of Sierra Leone, and my friend and colleague François Fall, Foreign Minister of Guinea. The Foreign Ministers of Sierra Leone and Guinea; the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Guéhenno; the Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ms. McAskie; and the representatives who spoke before me in fact covered all the important lessons to be learned from the experience in Sierra Leone.
Nevertheless, I would like to put forward the following points. The 14 May 2002 elections in Sierra Leone were a major landmark on the road to peace in that country. The people of Sierra Leone and the elected Government under the presidency of Mr. Kabbah, deserve our congratulations on the success of those elections. The United Nations, particularly the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), deserve appreciation and thanks for the essential contribution. We believe that the important role played by the United Nations is in itself a lesson to be learned and built upon in other African regions suffering similar conflicts.
UNAMSIL’s completion of the disarmament and demobilization of some 50,000 combatants and the achievement of peace and security in Sierra Leone constitute a success story. They prove that the international community’s determination to bring about peace and security can be realized with the requisite political will, with clear resolutions adopted by the Security Council and with a clear mandate and adequate resources for a United Nations force. We have to preserve such a situation and build upon it. But completion requires reintegrating ex-combatants and confronting the problem of financial shortfalls.
We believe that failure in this regard can represent a serious threat to the stability that has been realized so far. This in itself is another lesson to be learned. The success of the elections, the completion of the disarmament of ex-combatants and the progress achieved regarding the return and reintegration of many refugees and internally displaced persons mark the end of the current stage of the peace process and the beginning of a new stage. In that stage, the elected Government must strengthen the bases of stability and peace by moving towards national recovery. The country continues to require assistance from the international community. This leads us to comment briefly on the regional dimensions of the crises in the Mano river region, where refugees are among the most important factors. We look forward to our discussion of that issue this afternoon. The waves of refugees who are intermittently fleeing the fighting in Liberia are the best example of this, as stated by the Foreign Minister of Guinea in reply to your question, Madam President.
Finding regional solutions to the problems of the region and reversing the destructive fighting in Liberia, in particular, are the key to maintaining and building on the success achieved in Sierra Leone, and the key to many chronic and thorny crises, such as those related to refugees.
Finally, we believe that this successful experience can be repeated with political will on our part with respect to other regions in Africa, such as Somalia.
In conclusion, I would like to pose the following question. When the crisis in Sierra Leone was at its worst, the United Nations dispatched one of its largest missions, and its success was one of the most important lessons to be learned, as has been mentioned by everyone here, and as I mentioned at the beginning of my statement. What does the Security Council expect with regard to the crisis in Liberia? Are we going to wait until that crisis escalates further before addressing it, as we did in Sierra Leone? That question has implications for the lessons learned.
I believe that the success of UNAMSIL is a good lesson for us, a lesson that we ought to draw on in Liberia. Otherwise, we believe that the intensity of the crisis could spread again to Sierra Leone, which would not lead to peace and security in the Mano River Union region.
I thank all of our speakers this morning, in particular for their discipline in relation to time. I would now like to return to Foreign Minister Koroma and Foreign Minister Fall, and just ask if they have any very brief comments they would like to make in response to what they have heard this morning. I call on the Foreign Minister of Sierra Leone, Mr. Koroma.
I would like to say here that important lessons come from the engagement in Sierra Leone of the United Nations Mission (UNAMSIL), and that those lessons can be applied in the subregional context. It is important to note that the job of UNAMSIL, as a lesson, is not yet complete in Sierra Leone. There are a few things that need to be further addressed. They have been addressed very well, but they need to be addressed adequately to ensure that we do not slide back internally. They include issues of reintegration of ex-combatants, issues of getting a more comprehensive mandate for UNAMSIL to cover recovery and issues of governance which must equally be addressed to ensure that the country does not slide back.
I want to add that the lessons learned by UNAMSIL in Sierra Leone can help us not only to extend the UNAMSIL mandate, but to expand it to include the subregional context. I believe we should find a way of integrating what the Mano River Union is doing, what ECOWAS is doing, and what UNAMSIL can also do to improve the situation. It is important that we do this because UNAMSIL is already mobilized in the subregion; it is already there. There will be a lot of cost-saving if UNAMSIL, as it is in Sierra Leone, can review its mandate to include the subregional situation.
I will be brief. I have a couple of comments on Sierra Leone. We will look at the question of the Mano river basin region this afternoon. Almost all members of the Council recognize that the mandate given to the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) was a clear and precise mandate which facilitated the success of the operation. I note the key role played by the United Kingdom in the past, and today, in stabilizing the situation in Sierra Leone. Let me repeat: UNAMSIL’s role is not over. It must continue to support ongoing activities until there is lasting peace in Sierra Leone. The international community must also continue its work, helping to stabilize the situation in Sierra Leone, which can bolster the efforts made to date.
What has been done in Sierra Leone is something innovative, something that can also serve as a model for other parts of Africa. The success of the operation in Sierra Leone, if we look at it squarely, contains some elements we must take into account. Here, we are also thinking of Liberia, and other countries in Africa. We believe this example should be considered and analysed by the Council, so that all the lessons of the successful Sierra Leone experience are learned and so that the Council can make progress elsewhere in Africa.
I would say, as the Foreign Minister of Sierra Leone just said, that the challenge now is to move from a peacekeeping situation to a peace-building situation, to transform what is indeed a real success into a sustainable success. That is where, now, the international community must stay the course. Peacekeeping is funded through assessed contributions; development will require voluntary contributions. I think the future of the peace process in Sierra Leone very much depends now on the sustained efforts of the international community in partnership with the Government and the people of Sierra Leone to consolidate the results so far achieved.
Certainly I support what my colleague has just said, and would also add that it is terribly important for us to keep a very close eye on the humanitarian and political situation in the surrounding countries, not only because of the impact on those countries themselves, but also because of the need to address these issues in terms of maintaining the stability of the peace process in Sierra Leone. It would be unfortunate if events in those countries were to derail the gains that have been made so far.
I would like to sum up by identifying the key themes which I think emerged out of our very good discussion this morning. We identified the need for early international action, including by the Security Council; the need for a regional strategy from the beginning; the need for properly coordinated intervention, both within United Nations agencies and between the United Nations and regional players; the need for rapid agreement to an appropriate and robust mandate for any United Nations peacekeeping force, backed up with adequate resources and with the unity of Security Council members; and the critical role of humanitarian and economic action, both short-term to alleviate the suffering and longer-term to sustain post-conflict recovery. In post-conflict support, security-sector and justice reform was identified as being absolutely critical. We also touched on the value of having a lead nation to give focus to international action and to Security Council action in conflict areas. And finally, the importance of flexibility to respond to changing circumstances was highlighted. I think it came across very strongly that it was important that we not get locked into strategies which clearly are not working.
I look forward to this afternoon’s discussion. I hope to have a prompt start at 3 p.m.
With the concurrence of the Council members, I shall now suspend the meeting until 3 p.m.