Liberian security forces today took full control of their security for the first time since the civil war ended 13 years ago, marking a historic milestone for the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Liberia and a major benchmark in the country’s peace process.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon today paid tribute to the determination of the people and the Government of Liberia to work towards lasting peace after the end of the conflict that led to the deployment of the UN Mission, known by its acronym UNMIL, in October 2003.
“The continuing improvement in the security and stability of Liberia has enabled the United Nations to enter the final stage of its peacekeeping efforts in the country,” the Secretary-General said in a statement attributable to his spokesperson.
The achievement is also due to the important role played by partners, in particular the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU) and the Mano River Union, in supporting the consolidation of peace, security and stability in Liberia. Including during the Ebola outbreak, which remains a concern in the region.
In his statement, Mr. Ban also welcomed the contributions from troop and police-contributing countries, as well as bilateral partners and multilateral organizations, noting that they “facilitated the considerable achievements made by UNMIL.”
Since Liberia’s civil war ended in 2003, UNMIL has been supporting the West African nation to rebuild its institutions so it can maintain stability without its presence. In 2015, Liberian authorities launched an undertaking to assume full responsibility of the country’s security by the end of this June.
From this week forward, the UN peacekeeping forces – which will include 1,240 military and 606 police personnel – will have a supporting role only. The Government is taking responsibility for all aspects of Liberia’s security, including executive protection, unexploded ordnance disposal and marking of Government weapons, which were handed over in recent months. The details were agreed to by the Security Council in resolution 2239 (2015).
Despite the achievements, Mr. Ban called on all partners to stay engaged and to continue assisting the Government of Liberia to consolidate peace and build long-term stability.
He stressed that the UN will remain engaged in Liberia, supporting its people and Government.
The UN Security Council will decide on the future of the Mission by 15 December.
As UN pullout, mixed reactions continue to flip the minds of Liberians as to whether their local security will be able to uphold those security measures layouts by the UN Peacekeepers during its operations in Liberia that kept the country on the role of lasting peace.