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Security Council extends UN mission in Liberia, authorizes troop reduction

17 September 2012 – The Security Council today extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) for another year, reducing its military strength in three phases and authorizing the Secretary-General to implement the first phase of that reduction – 1,900 personnel – between October 2012 and September 2013.

In a unanimously adopted resolution, the 15-member body decided that UNMIL’s primary tasks are to continue to support the Government’s efforts to solidify peace and stability, and to protect civilians.

UNMIL will also support the Government in transitioning complete security responsibility to the Liberia National Police by strengthening the Police’s ability to manage personnel, improving training programmes to expedite their readiness and to coordinate those efforts with all partners.

In his recent report on UNMIL, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recommended that the Mission’s current military strength of seven infantry battalions should decrease by four battalions and related enablers, totalling about 4,200 personnel, in three phases between August 2012 and July 2015, subject to and consistent with conditions in the area of operations.

UNMIL’s military strength would be left at three infantry battalions and related enablers, totalling about 3,750 personnel, by July 2015.

In its resolution, the Council also decided to increase the number of UNMIL’s authorized formed police units by three units, totalling 420 personnel, from its current seven units, for a new authorized ceiling of 1,795 personnel. The additional units should be deployed to Liberia as soon as available, with the first deploying no later than January 2013.

“Future reconfigurations of UNMIL should be determined on the basis of the evolution of the situation on the ground and on the achievement of an improved capacity of the Government of Liberia to effectively protect the population through the establishment of sustainable and effective security forces with a view to progressively take over UNMIL’s security role,” the Council emphasized.

The UN has maintained a peacekeeping force in Liberia since 2003 to bolster a ceasefire agreement ending a decade of war that killed nearly 150,000 people, mostly civilians. UNMIL’s mandate includes helping to restore the rule of law and democratic processes as well as facilitating humanitarian assistance.

Last week the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of UNMIL, Karin Landgren, told the Council that Liberia has made remarkable progress in rebuilding its institutions, economic recovery and consolidating its democratic processes since the end of its civil war, but it needs to focus on remaining challenges such as strengthening the rule of law, security sector reform and national reconciliation.

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