Our sponsors at the Better World Campaign, which is a sister organization to the United Nations Foundation, just launched a new website that provides quick summaries of all current UN peacekeeping missions. United in Peacekeeping is meant to educate an American audience on the value of UN Peacekeeping. It gives a brief history of each current UN peacekeeping, the current challenges it faces, and a quick explanation of how the mission serves American interests. Consider it a crib sheet for quick facts and talking points about each mission.
To give you a flavor, here’s the entry on the United Nations Mission in Liberia:
LiberiaIn 2003, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1509, establishing the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
The Mission’s mandate includes:
• Monitoring the ceasefire;
• Disengaging armed forces;
• Protecting civilians;
• Promoting human rights; and
• Supporting reform of the military and police.
Liberia was founded in 1821 by freed American slaves with the help of the U.S. government. Read more || Hide text
In 1989, rebel leader Charles Taylor invaded Liberia from the neighboring Cote d’Ivoire, initiating a civil war that claimed more than 150,000 lives and displaced close to a million refugees. After the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), with the support of the UN, brokered a peace agreement in 1993, the Security Council established the United Nations Observer Mission in Liberia (UNOMIL), whose primary task was to implement this peace agreement. After many delays, elections were held in 1997 that brought Taylor to power. UNOMIL withdrew after completing its mandate to support the election process. However, shortly thereafter, fighting reignited.
By 2003, rebel groups controlled roughly two-thirds of the country and the international community increased pressure for Taylor to resign. As a result he resigned in August and fled to Nigeria. He is now being tried for war crimes by a UN-backed criminal court at the Hague.
In September 2003, the Security Council authorized UNMIL to stabilize and secure Liberia. By 2005, Liberia had held free and fair elections, in which Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf became the first democratically elected female president in Africa. Since her inauguration in 2006, foreign investment has increased as her administration has tackled government corruption, strengthened national institutions, and reformed the national security forces with UN and U.S. assistance.
How This Affects American Interests
* LiberiaDisarms and reintegrates ex-combatants. UNMIL is working with the United States to demilitarize armed forces and disarm over 100,000 ex-combatants. UNMIL, with funding from the United States works to reintegrate and rehabilitate ex-combatants with vocational and educational training, and employment opportunities. The United States has also taken the lead in vetting, reforming and training the national army, which has resulted in 2,000 capable and well-trained Liberian troops.
* Reforms the police force. UNMIL is reforming and training the Liberian National Police (LNP) to provide stability and security in Liberia. Since 2004, UNMIL has helped train more than 3,700 police officers in emergency response, protection of women and children, traffic control, criminal investigation, and management. UNMIL recruited and trained female officers, which comprise 14 percent of the LNP force. The United States has contributed 100 UN police advisors to assist in developing Liberia’s strategic plan for the police force.
* Promotes the status of women. UNMIL’s mandate includes promoting and supporting women in Liberia by working with partners to advance women’s roles in government and in civil society. The UN is supporting the legislature to increase women’s political representation to 30 percent and helping the LNP to increase female representation in the police force to 20 percent. UNMIL is also raising awareness of gender-based violence in primary schools.
* LiberiaSupport to the police force. Despite many successes, the Liberian National Police needs further improvement. The LNP has inefficient management, inadequate equipment, and a lack of community support. It continues to need the international community to fund communications equipment, transportation, and headquarters facilities. The government must also strengthen the relationship and build trust between police officers and the civilian community.
* Prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence. Liberia is on the path to national recovery after 14 years of a civil war that left 40 percent of all Liberian women as survivors of gender-based violence (GBV). However, rates of GBV, in particular domestic violence and rape, remain high. During the civil war, rape was prevalent and mostly perpetrated by armed forces. Rape still remains the number-one crime reported to the Liberian National Police, with most of the survivors between the ages of 10 and 19. The President, the Ministry of Gender, and the United Nations are committed to eliminating GBV and are working together within the 2006 National Plan of Action (POA), a policy to minimize high rates of GBV. In 2009, the Liberian government and the United Nations formed a joint plan that aims to reduce GBV by 30 percent by 2011.
* Protection of children. During the course of the 14 years of conflict in Liberia, multiple armed groups recruited an estimated 20,000 child soldiers, of which a majority were between the ages of 8 and 15. Even after the end of the conflict, neighboring countries continued to recruit Liberian children to join their armed factions. UNICEF, working with various partners, is providing rehabilitation programs, psychological support, and education and vocational training, yet the problem of how to deal with and help former child soldiers remains a challenge.