A report by the United Nations Security Council on Liberia has disclosed that the country faces risks posed by civil unrest and mob violence, which ignite quickly and could escalate beyond the response capability of national security institutions if there were simultaneous incidents.
The U.N. maintains that latent threats could exacerbate those risks, many of which led to the prolonged bloody civil war here, including ethnic and regional tensions, land disputes, economic inequality, and competition over natural resources, particularly in concession areas.
According to the report, violent crime, unregulated small arms and cross -border trafficking in drugs, persons and weapons also present risks to the country. It stressed that the assessment by the Liberia National Police (LNP) of a low-to-medium risk of election-related violence, several interlocutors expressed concern about the large population of unemployed and unskilled youth who have nothing to lose by displaying antisocial behavior and are vulnerable to manipulation by potential spoilers during the electoral period.
The U.N. Security Council also emphasized that all interlocutors identified resource constraints as the biggest challenge facing the national security services; as a consequence, there are insufficient personnel, logistics and transport for timely response to security incidents, particularly in remote areas.
It said that nearly 90 percent of allocations for the security agencies goes for salaries and recurrent costs, leaving little for operational and development-related expenditure or for reaching personnel targets.
The report quotes an adviser to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as saying; Liberian security agencies have achieved 70 percent operational effectiveness, leaving a gap of 30 percent being attributable to the need for logistics and continued training. It added that even though the security sector governance – based on civilian oversight and human security has improved.
It indicated that given the prevailing stability and the developing capacity of national security institutions to maintain stability, the closure of UNMIL and the establishment of a successor mission that would continue to support the Government of Liberia in consolidating peace would be possible, with the above-specified substantive mandate.
The report observed that military and police advisory capacity would be required for mentoring national counterparts and to serve as headquarters in the event of a temporary deployment of uniformed personnel from other peacekeeping missions.
The proposed authorized strength of the UNMIL force and police as at 31 March 2017 would be 21 and 100, respectively, the U.N. disclosed.
But it noted that the lack of sustained effort to instill a culture of accountability, respect for the rule of law, and human rights has had a negative impact on progress in a number of areas, including with respect to addressing systemic weaknesses in the security, justice and corrections sectors.
Accordingly, the report said that this has had an impact on the ability of national institutions to protect the population and maintain stability, which requires that the entire criminal justice chain operate effectively, in a coordinated manner and in accordance with international human rights standards. Triggers of public disorder include resentment linked to shortcomings in governance, including perceptions about pervasive corruption, while limited access to justice undermines gains by the security sector. Editing by Jonathan Browne