02 August 2003
Security Council Authorizes Multinational Force for Liberia
Negroponte: "U.S. will do its part to support
By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent
United Nations -- The Security Council August 1 authorized an
international peacekeeping force to pacify the situation in Liberia
and prepare for a U.N. mission later in the year.
As a vanguard force of 1,500 troops from the Economic Community
of West African States (ECOWAS) states prepared to arrive in Freetown
August 4, the Security Council adopted a resolution formally establishing
a multinational force to support a June cease-fire which has been
repeatedly broken. It also asked Secretary General Kofi Annan to
prepare a plan for a longer-term U.N. peacekeeping mission that
would take over from ECOWAS by October 1, 2003.
The resolution, sponsored by the United States, was adopted by
a vote of 12 to 0 with France, Germany, and Mexico abstaining.
The three countries, which said they support the peacekeeping operation,
abstained over a provision in the resolution that gives immunity
to peacekeepers from states not party to the International Criminal
Court (ICC) from prosecution by the ICC for war crimes.
U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said that the council's action "will
lend support to the effort to restore peace to Liberia -- respect
and enforcement of the cease-fire, and assist in alleviating the
very, very difficult humanitarian situation that prevails in that
It will also permit the secretariat to begin planning for the earliest
possible deployment of United Nations peacekeepers in the wake
of the multinational force," Negroponte said after the vote..
He noted that the resolution was important and timely "in the
light of the fact that the ECOWAS units ... are going to start
deploying early next week."
The multinational force "can now deploy, confident of the support
of the council and the knowledge that planning for a follow-on
U.N. peacekeeping force is underway," Negroponte said.
The ECOWAS peacekeepers, the U.S. ambassador said, "will safeguard
security in the wake of Charles Taylor's departure from the Liberian
presidency. I cannot emphasize how crucial it is for Taylor to
U.S. marines are also moving to positions off the coast of Liberia,
but Negroponte said that it will be up to President Bush as to
what role they will play in the peacekeeping effort.
In formal remarks to the council Negroponte said "the United States
will do its part to support this endeavor."
He added that the U.S. is pleased to provide support for the two
Nigerian battalions that are being deployed first.
Negroponte, the chief U.S. envoy to the U.N., said that U.S. sponsorship
of the resolution "reflects the importance that the United States
places on finding the right and effective means to bring peace
to Liberia. It is our conclusion that an effective response demands
intensive involvement by ECOWAS and the international community,
anchored by the United Nations."
Declaring that it was "deeply concerned over the conflict in Liberia
and its effects on the humanitarian situation," the council adopted
the resolution under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter which authorizes
the peacekeepers to use force to fulfill their mandate.
Also in the resolution the council declared its readiness to establish
a follow-on U.N. stabilization force to support a transitional
government and asked Secretary General Kofi Annan to submit his
recommendations on the size, structure, and mandate of the U.N.
force by August 15 so that it can be deployed no later than October
The council also gave Annan the authority to use funds and resources
from the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) to
provide logistical support for the Nigerian contingents of the
ECOWAS vanguard force for up to 30 days. It called on other U.N.
members to contribute personnel, equipment and other resources
to the multinational force.
The vanguard force of 1,500 will be made of troops from Nigeria,
Ghana, Senegal, and Mali. The first Nigerian battalion deployed
will be transferred from UNAMSIL.
The council also demanded that all nations in the region "refrain
from any action that might contribute to instability in Liberia
or on the borders between Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Cote
d'Ivoire." It stressed the need for all Liberian parties who are
signatories to the June 17 cease-fire agreement, particularly the
rebel groups LURD and MODEL to "immediately and scrupulously uphold
the cease-fire and refrain from any attempt to seize power by force."
Annan told journalists after the vote that he hopes the quick
action by the council "implies a new political will, a will that,
I think, has been absent among the international community."
"Now that this resolution is passed, I hope we will move ahead
with urgent and determined action to help the Liberian people," the
secretary general said. "I would hope that when the multinational
forces get there, it will bring some hope and relief to the Liberian
people as we prepare to deploy U.N. peacekeeping operations."
Annan noted that the U.N. has very little time to get nations to
commit to sending troops for the U.N. mission and then prepare
the troops and equipment for deployment by October 1.
"Historical data indicates that normally we need more time," he
said. "The council has put a 1 October deadline. We're going to
try and do our best, but we also have to be practical. I hope if
there is some delay, everyone will understand it. But we're going
to try and do our best."
Last month the secretary general appointed Jacques Klein, an American
with extensive U.N. peacekeeping experience in the Balkans, as
his special representative to lead and coordinate U.N. activities