22 October 1999
UNSC to Establish Peacekeeping Mission in Sierra Leone
(UNAMSIL mandate is for six months) (480) By William Kramer Washington File United Nations Correspondent United Nations -- The U.N. Security Council unanimously resolved October 22 to establish a United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) and approved a new mandate for regional efforts to implement a shaky peace agreement. Security Council Resolution 1270 will send a peacekeeping force to Sierra Leone for an initial period of six months. The peacekeepers will supplement the 105-member U.N. Observer Mission (UNOMSIL) already in the country. The U.N. forces will also assist the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) peacekeeping arm, ECOMOG (ECOWAS Monitoring Group) in its efforts to demobilize and disarm combatants, increase the delivery of humanitarian aid, and bring a lasting peace to Sierra Leone. In July 1999, the government and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) of Sierra Leone signed a peace agreement ending the nine-year conflict. Mandated by the U.N. in August and led by Nigeria, ECOMOG was designated to implement the terms of the agreement and bring peace and security to the country. U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N. Richard Holbrooke, speaking in support of the resolution, praised the efforts by Nigeria and ECOMOG as a model of regional peacekeeping. Holbrooke noted, however, that peace in Sierra Leone has been fragile and marked by skirmishes. Resolution 1270 condemned recent kidnappings of UNOMSIL and ECOMOG personnel. "Peace could be lost without prompt, strong international action right now," Holbrooke said. The U.N. peacekeeping force, to be composed of up to 6,000 international troops, will have robust rules of engagement to provide armed protection for its members, U.N. personnel, aid workers, and civilians within its areas of deployment. U.N. officials now need to work out the details of the force's composition and its deployment date. Holbrooke, speaking to the Council before the vote, emphasized U.S. efforts to help victims of a war in which the limbs of children and teenagers have been amputated as a conscious military strategy and half the population has been internally displaced. Holbrooke said the United States has provided $100 million in humanitarian aid over the last two years and has provided ECOMOG with $16 million in logistical aid. Holbrooke also said that he had recently consulted with members of the U.S. Congress and stressed that there must be no appearance of double standards between supporting peacekeeping missions in Africa and elsewhere in the world. Holbrooke said that none of the legislators he spoke with objected to raising the profile of international peacekeepers in Africa. In addition to endorsing the UNAMSIL mission, Holbrooke said the United States strongly supports efforts by the United Nations and ECOMOG to establish fact-finding groups and truth and reconciliation commissions in Sierra Leone. "By supporting this resolution and African peacekeeping," said Holbrooke, "we will be supporting this process of renewal."
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