Global Policy Forum

Security Council Delegation Heads for Sierra Leone

UN News
October 6, 2000

Eleven members of the Security Council will head to West Africa tomorrow for a mission aimed at reviewing United Nations operations in Sierra Leone and exploring ways to promote stability in the region.

The team, led by the Ambassador of the United Kingdom, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, will visit Guinea, Sierra Leone, Mali, Nigeria and Liberia for meetings with top officials and other activities. It is being dispatched as the Council considers the next stage of peacekeeping operations in Sierra Leone, including a possible expansion of the 13,000-strong UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). The Council is also considering the terms of reference of a special court to try war criminals responsible for atrocities during Sierra Leone's conflict. All this comes amid rising concern over a series of cross-border incursions which are exacerbating the already dire plight of refugees in the region.

The delegation will begin its work in Conakry, Guinea, where it will meet representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to discuss recent armed clashes along Guinea's borders and their impact on the humanitarian situation.

During three days of activities in Sierra Leone, Council members will visit UNAMSIL contingents, sites where former soldiers are being disarmed and demobilized, as well as a camp of child combatants. Meetings are also planned with a wide range of political and military representatives, government officials and UN mission personnel, as well as civil society representatives.

In Bamako, Mali, the delegation will meet with President Alpha Oumar Konare, who is the current Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Council members will then go to Abuja, Nigeria to meet with President Olusegun Obasanjo, before moving on to Monrovia for meetings with Liberian President Charles Taylor.

"We want to find ways with all the leaders that we're seeing in the region of getting out of the pit that's being dug by this conflict and to discuss with them how to end illegitimate activity and meet legitimate requirements of all the Governments that we talk to," Ambassador Greenstock told a news conference at UN Headquarters today on the eve of the mission's departure.

Asked if the delegation would meet with representatives of the rebel Revolutionary United Front, Ambassador Greenstock said no contacts were planned. "We and the Government of Sierra Leone are both very conscious that in order to motivate the RUF to take account of their need to come back into the political arena, we also have to show that we are not going to tolerate their continued holding of arms and attacks."

Ambassador Greenstock sought to put the symbolic and practical value of the mission into perspective, saying, "I'm not exaggerating the impact of this mission in terms of a huge change in Sierra Leone, but there are important political and presentational aspects in 11 of us going to show our support to the people of Sierra Leone and the region."

In addition to the United Kingdom, the delegation will be comprised of Bangladesh, Canada, China, France, Jamaica, Mali, the Netherlands, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the United States. It is expected to return to New York on 15 October.

More Information on Sierra Leone


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