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UNMIL Draw-down: What are the Exit Strategies?

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The future of Liberia, as it relates to security following the draw-down of the United Nations Mission in Liberia or UNMIL, continues to be at the core of discussions across the country.


It  is not  only ordinary Liberians that are currently engaged in this debate, but a number of public officials and diplomats whose concerns for  the post-conflict growth and development of Liberia continue to remain the prime focus of their present relations with the country.

Such concern is against the backdrop of the preparedness of the current state security apparatus to assume control.

On May 12, 2015 in Kakata, Margibi County during a special meeting with community leaders in the office of the county superintendent following a closed-door meeting with the leadership of the county, including top security officers, the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations and head of its Mission in Liberia expressed similar concern.

SRSG Karin Langren said she was worried about who takes over from UNMIL for security in Liberia at the end of its mission, wondering as to how confidence can be created in the Liberian security to take over from UNMIL- something she described as a big challenge.

“Everyone recognizes that UNMIL is not going to be here forever; so how to create the confidence in the Liberian National Police, Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization and others, but then who is to take over from UNMIL- that’s another challenge,” the SRSG told community leaders and representatives of the security apparatus at the May 12 meeting in kakata, Margibi County.

She indicated that UNMIL was in Liberia to ‘support Liberia and Liberians’ and as long as it was in the country, it will identify means of giving out support, wondering whether Liberians were prepared to keep the country stable, safe, healthy, as well as to have more people involved in development to make it a richer and richer country.

In as much such concern has now become a national debate, especially when there’s a looming confidence crisis over our state security apparatus, it is also incumbent upon us- citizens of Liberia, to begin to exhibit the behaviors and attitudes necessary for the maintenance of our nation’s security as the first step of our preparedness for control as Liberians even after UNMIL shall have completely implemented its draw-down.

Such change of behaviors and attitudes must manifest itself in the RESPECT for the RULE of Law at all levels of the Liberian society. It is no secret that the lack of respect for the rule of law nowadays (mainly by us citizens) and complete disregard for the value system (not only what may be considered the behavior and attitudes of officers and personnel of our state security institutions) are major contributing factors to our unpreparedness to take over from UNMIL.

The changes must begin with us as a people and then, onto state security institutions, if and only if we are to ensure and maintain the  peace, stability, safety and progress of Liberia, following the departure of the United Nations Mission in Liberia.

We can only hope that, as SRSG Karin Langren has begun, the Government of Liberia and international partners are already determining the necessary exit strategies for effective implementation immediately following UNMIL’s end of mission in Liberia. Such strategies must not only include “restructuring/ revamping or strengthening” the police, immigration and other national security institutions, but adherence and compliance by citizens to law and order and respect for constituted authority.

No doubt, the combination of the two would ensure total peace, security, safety,  health and development of Liberia.

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