Liberia (UNMIL)

Currently in Liberia

Troops

4,400

Military Observers

125

Police

1,409

Mission Mandate

The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) was launched in 2003 to address human rights and governance issues in Liberia, which had been devastated by two civil wars. UNMIL’s mandate is to support national reconciliation, rule of law reforms, and transition security responsibilities to the Liberian National Police. After 12 years of progress, despite a serious interruption by an Ebola outbreak in 2014, the UN voted to slowly decrease UNMIL’s presence and restore national control over security on June 30, 2016.

Background

A view of two Ukrainian support helicopters fly over-head while two UNMIL Ukrainian air-ops officers watch at the close of a Rapid Reaction Force exercise just outside Monrovia, Liberia, Friday 25 January 2013. UNMIL Photo/Staton Winter

Two brutal civil wars in Liberia left the country struggling with widespread violence, corruption, and extreme poverty. By 2003, the parties reached a ceasefire in the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement, thus launching the country’s transition period. Motivated by serious human rights violations and the need for a peaceful postwar transition, the UN Security Council voted to establish UNMIL in September of 2003. The first mandate deployed troops to help stabilize the nation, as well as to develop systems to address human rights abuses, disarmament and child protection, and to strengthen civil society, the justice sector, and national security forces.

“It will be an important milestone, a demonstration of confidence that the country has turned the corner from conflict, disorder and dependence to a future of sustained  peace, unity, and independence” – Ban Ki-Moon

Liberia conducted successful national elections in 2005 and 2011, both times electing Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as President. Her administration has strengthened national institutions while trying to tackle government corruption and reform the national security forces with UN and U.S. assistance.

Due to security gains and relative improvements in the humanitarian situation, the UN Security Council voted in March 2012 to authorize a gradual drawdown of UNMIL’s force levels. In early 2014, however, Liberia was hit with an unprecedented Ebola outbreak. While at its core a public health emergency, the Ebola outbreak had significant potential political, security, and economic implications for the country as well. Progress made in these areas threatened to reverse, and once the crisis was over in May 2015, UNMIL’s mission was extended until June 2016.

While recovering from the Ebola outbreak, the drawdown process has resumed. The “deconcentration process” is working to support local government services while UNMIL reduces its military ceiling, authorized by UN Security Council Resolution 2215.  The drawback process concluded on June 30, 2016, when the UN officially handed back security responsibility to the Liberian police, after 13 years in the country. While UNMIL will no longer perform a security role, it will maintain its presence in the country to advise and support the Liberian government.

How This Affects U.S. Interests