- In its efforts to contain the post-war situation in Liberia, the United Nations has been beefing up the country's security forces. It is seen as an undisputable fact that most countries that could not effectively manage their post-war situations in the long run ended up at war.
The last Liberian civil war began in Nimba County, 240 kilometres northeast of the capital Monrovia on 24 December. It was led by Charles Taylor under the banner of National Patriotic Front. During the 14-year-old brutal war, thousands of people, including the former President, Samuel Doe, were killed.
But now that peace has returned to Liberia - a country that recently made history for electing Africa's first woman president - the international community, particularly the UN did not sit on their laurel and see lawlessness grapple in the country.
It is against this background that the UN Security Council established the UN mission in Liberia three years ago to support the peace process after warring factions ceased-fired and oversaw transition from civil war, culminating in the democratic election of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf a year ago.
There could not have been a better place to start addressing security problems than the border region of Nimba County where the UN recently has reconstructed a police station. During the coming months, the UN says it is to rehabilitate further police stations that have been destroyed by the war.
Already, its Liberia mission has renovated several prisons and magistrate courts in the country.
"We cannot allow violence to come back to this community, otherwise everything that we have worked for will be at risk," Alan Doss, a representative of UN Secretary-General declared at a handing over ceremony in the Liberian town of Ganta, close to borders with Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea.
The UN mission in Liberia bankrolled the project through its so-called Quick Impact Initiative, which among others, aims to restore rule of law in a country that was known as a failed state for around a decade.
According to the UN website, the mission has by now trained over 2,000 police officers in Liberia. It intends to deploy 3,500 trained police offices throughout the country by next year.
It is one thing to work for peace but it is another to maintain it, which is why Mr Doss asked communities of Nimba County to work closely with the UN and security officers to secure the hard-won peace. "We must protect Liberia from any cross-border trafficking of arms or recruitment of mercenaries," he vowed, adding that there could not be human rights and democracy in a situation where crime is dominant.
Following action to re-establish law and order, some 160 UN serving soldiers in the country have been awarded medals for their outstanding duties. The UN envoy says he sees them as "our eyes and eyes" because they provide regular assessments on security and public order, cross border movements, community disputes, weapons collection and illegal trafficking of timber and rubber.
The UN Liberia mission includes engineers, medical doctors, logistics experts, supply specialists, personnel managers, trainers and legal advisers.
Rape and sexual exploitation - as experienced among UN soldiers in Congo Kinshasa - was today described as "cancer". Mr Doss reminded the Liberian mission members of UN's zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse. "Liberians expect us to help them recover from the trauma and pain of conflict. We must not add to their suffering. This is why we must all scrupulously respect the Secretary-General's policy of zero tolerance of sexual exploitation and abuse."
The absence of war in Liberia signals an economic comeback of the resource-rich state, as trade flourishes and financial institutions also branch out them. However, Monrovia authorities are still pushing for a lifting of the UN embargo of exporting its main foreign currency earners; timber and diamonds.
The UN Security Council is to decide whether to lift the ban in December. The Council recently hailed Liberia for passing a legislation that ensures transparency, accountability and government controlled forestry sector within 90 days as set by a UN resolution. "This important forestry legislation will ensure that revenues from the timber industry will not again fuel conflict," a UN report said, urging the government to publicise the law as soon as possible.
There are indications that the UN now finally will lift the ban on Liberian timber, as the Security Council sees no basis for reinstating measures on timber as stipulated in resolution 1689. On Liberian diamonds, the council recently had been encouraged by steps taken by the government and acknowledged the interim findings of a panel of experts on the country's rough diamonds.
However, the West African country was urged to expedite its implementation of necessary reform measures, including stronger management and effective verification and accountability mechanisms so that the country could soon join the Kimberley process.
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