f_0022604_18596 - Liberia Progress Made and Challenges for...

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Spring 2011 The Ambassadors REVIEW 1 Liberia: Progress Made and Challenges for the Future Ellen Margrethe Løj Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) From War to Hope: 1989-2003 s Liberia reaches almost eight years of unbroken peace since the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) deployed in 2003, I had the opportunity in March 2011 to brief the Security Council on the remarkable progress the country is making, and highlighted Liberia’s need for continued support from the international community. Amid its numerous challenges, and as the country strives to consolidate peace, the support of the international community is paramount to consolidate the outstanding achievements of the Liberian people. When we think of Liberia, both great expectations and great responsibility come to mind. In terms of expectations, Liberia offers the United Nations an opportunity to show that peacekeeping can work if we get the approach and the ingredients right from the start, and if we remain engaged throughout the process. Liberia also represents a great responsibility for the United Nations, insofar as we cannot afford to fail. If we fail in Liberia—a small country with strong political will for reform—then what chance do we have in other post-conflict environments? It is important not only to think about where Liberia is today, but to ponder on where Liberia has come from since 1989. War in Liberia, between 1989 and 2003, not only stole the soul of a nation, but killed at least 250,000 people and uprooted an estimated two million more. The conflict also destroyed the economy and vital infrastructure, reducing Liberia’s GDP by 90 percent and pushing 75 percent of the population below the poverty line. People fled from the countryside to the cities, creating urban slums and social upheaval. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), reached in Accra, Ghana in August 2003, put a line in the sand between war and peace and has slowly enabled Liberia to begin again. Picking Up the Pieces: UNMIL from 2003 to 2006 When UNMIL deployed in October 2003 in the wake of 15 years of war, misman- agement and destruction, Liberia was a completely failed state. Though a peace agreement had been signed, the magnitude of what the country faced was overwhelming. In line with the CPA, and as mandated by Security Council resolution 1509 (2003), UNMIL helped to start the process of rebuilding by gradually securing the country’s territory, disarming the warring factions, assisting the return of refugees and the internally displaced, and preparing for democratic elections. UNMIL’s security umbrella ensured that economic, social and
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f_0022604_18596 - Liberia Progress Made and Challenges for...

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