UN Security Council to Visit West Africa

UN Security Council members will be traveling to West Africa over the weekend, where they will be visiting Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone. Members of the 15 nation security body will be meeting political leaders to discuss the United Nations ongoing role in the region as well as recent security and humanitarian progress.

In Liberia, Council members will discuss the future of the UN’s peacekeeping mission with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who has been in office since the end of the country’s 2002 civil war. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon announced last week Liberia no longer needer a large peacekeeper presence due to the much improved security situation. Last month, the International Criminal Court found former Liberian President Charles Taylor guilty of war crimes during Liberia’s conflict.  Taylor is expected to be sentenced at the Hague in the coming weeks.

In Cote d’Ivoire, diplomats will be meeting with President Alassane Ouattara, who assumed power last year with the help of UN peacekeepers after longtime President Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede defeat in the country’s election. The security and human right situation in Cote d’Ivoire remains fragile. Opposing parties have yet to fully engage in a national reconciliation process and high inflation rates have impacted efforts to address humanitarian problems, including a refugee crisis. Gbagbo is also currently at the Hague awaiting trial for crimes committed during last year’s post-election crisis.

Council members will then end their West Africa trip in Sierra Leone, where they will meet President Ernest Bai Koroma. Sierra Leone is still recovering from a decade long civil war involving various armed groups and neighboring countries. While the peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone completed its mandate in 2005, the UN has continued its efforts to help the country consolidate peace, including the establishment a special court system to try those responsible for crimes committed during the war.

The delegation will return to New York on Thursday, May 24th.

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