Military

Liberia: Security Council meets on Annan's call for multi-national force

30 June The United Nations Security Council held closed-door consultations today to discuss Secretary-General Kofi Annan's call for the deployment of a multi-national force in Liberia to prevent the volatile situation in the war-torn West African country from deteriorating into a massive humanitarian catastrophe.

"We all shared the concern of the Secretary-General and shared the analysis of the secretariat of the situation in Liberia given during the briefing by the Secretariat," Council president for June, Sergey Lavrov of the Russian Federation said in a statement afterwards.

Mr. Lavrov said the 15-member body would continue discussing Mr. Annan's request, made to the Council in a letter on Saturday, after the return of a Council mission next Saturday from West Africa, where it is "at this moment discussing the issue on the ground."

The Secretary-General himself told reporters in Geneva, where he addressed the opening session of the UN Economic and Social Council, that he was hopeful the Council would approve his call and there were expectations that the United States might lead such a force.

"What we need now is the political will to act in face of this gross violation of human rights, this serious and tragic humanitarian situation, with innocent civilians caught in the middle," he said.

Mr. Annan added that just as the United Kingdom was working with the West African and UN peacekeeping operations to calm the situation in Sierra Leone and France led the multinational force in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, "there are lots of expectations that the US may be prepared to lead this [Liberia] force. Of course, that is a sovereign decision for them to take, but all eyes are on them."

In a letter to the Council on Saturday, Mr. Annan noted that earlier this month the 15-member body had endorsed a UN role to implement a ceasefire in Liberia, adding: "The time has now come for the Security Council to take action to give practical effect to that commitment, in the light of the most recent grave deterioration in the situation."

He said that to prevent a major tragedy the intervention should be led by a Member State and authorized under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which permits the use of force.

"The consequences of allowing the situation to spiral out of control are too terrible to contemplate," he stated, calling attention to the danger posed not only to Liberia, but also other West African States, particularly neighbouring Sierra Leone and Côte d'Ivoire.

He also called on the Liberian parties to immediately and unconditionally respect the ceasefire they signed in Accra on 17 June, allow for the immediate resumption of international humanitarian assistance, and resume comprehensive peace talks.



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