Thursday, August 13, 2015
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence
Displacement and Humanitarian Response
Security Council Agenda Geographical Topic: 
Document PDF: 

Thirtieth progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in Liberia

Code: S/2015/620

Period of Time and Topic: This report provides an update on major developments since the previous report on 23 April 2015 (S/2015/275) and recommendations for changes to the mandate and mission.


The report discusses the scheduled 30 June 2016 UNMIL drawdown and complete transition of security responsibilities to the Government of Liberia. Consistent with the previous report (S/2015/275), this one offers a notable balance on the coverage of women’s participation and protection issues. However overall, these instances could have been made stronger by expanding the scope of investigation to gain a comprehensive picture of the post-conflict situation and related activities for consolidating peace in Liberia. Sex disaggregated data was utilised plainly in areas such as police and military breakdowns. And women’s issues were considered in most components of the mandate that were reported on. It should be noted that the support of sanctions regimes component of the mandate was not covered.

Military and Police

This section analyses the deployment of UNMIL’s personnel in support of the Government of Liberia security transition. The report provides sex disaggregated data on the women contingent of military, police, and civilian components of UNMIL. As of 1 August 2015 women comprised 144 of 3,753 troops, 239 of 1,389 police, and 22.8 per cent of 1,342 civilian personnel.[1] No such data was provided for corrections advisors or immigration advisors, for which future reports must include.

The report references six allegations of serious misconduct, pertaining to sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA), and “…continued to raise awareness…” to combat this issue.[2] Alarmingly, this reference offers little in useable information and is substantively ambiguous. The conduct and discipline of UN personnel is an important issue, and it is crucial that all personnel adhere to the Secretary-General’s zero tolerance policy on SEA. With this in mind, not only does UNMIL’s report fail to explicitly state who the perpetrators were, the report excludes what, if any, measures have been taken to remedy the situation. In order to promote accountability and transparency, future reports should include more information. 

Security Sector Reform (SSR)

This section analyses UNMIL’s mandate to assist and advise the Government of Liberia on reforming their security institutions. The Government of Liberia is to assume full security responsibilities by June 2016, and has organised a joint implementation group for the monitoring and implementation of the transition.[3] Notably, the report misses the opportunity to investigate the participation of women or civil society in this process. This was also the case with establishment of new county security councils, which will preside over important community level security.[4] This is a concern as it undermines the promotion of equal opportunity and women’s right to participate in the rebuilding of their country. Given UNMIL’s mandate to support SSR programs, future reporting should prioritise capacity building for security institutions to ensure they are women inclusive and responsive. Of the $20 million allocated for the transition, the report should have outlined the amount allocated to ensure the security architecture is gender responsive.[5]

Notably, the report includes sex disaggregated data for Liberian security institution personnel. At 1 August 2015, women comprised of 17.6 per cent of 4,886 national police officers, including 60 out of 376 officers chosen for managerial training.[6] Of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalisation personnel, 31.3 per cent of 2,097 were women.[7] And, the number of women in the Armed Forces of Liberia stands at 76 from 1,915 personnel.[8] The report referenced the fast tracking and reduced length of officer training to increase the strength of security personnel by the June 2016 transition date.[9] Now, considering the absence of any reference to gender training for security forces, and assuming that this training could have been compromised in an attempt to meet officer quotas, this would represent a severe lack of judgement and undermining of the WPS agenda. To provide clarity on this, UNMIL should have investigated the extent of the training alterations to ensure Liberian security personnel are responsive to gender issues. 

Humanitarian Support

This section analyses UNMIL’s mandate to facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance in collaboration with the Government of Liberia. The report noted the declaration of Liberia as an Ebola free state by the World Health Organisation on 9 May 2015. The previous report (S/2015/275) impressively notes the differentiated experiences women Ebola survivors faced in their communities, however such information was absent in this report. As a result, UNMIL missed an opportunity to provide consistency in their reporting, even though they made reference to public discontent over post-Ebola recovery measures.[10] In the future, UNMIL should collaborate more effectively with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights to ensure women and vulnerable groups avoid Ebola-related stigmatisation and marginalisation, and have access to the appropriate services.

In reporting on Ivorian refugee camps in Liberia, UNMIL failed to provide sex and age disaggregated data for the 38,480 refugees recorded at 1 August 2015.[11] As a minimum, this data should be provided throughout UNMIL mission reporting. From an UNMIL humanitarian mandate standpoint, the report should have investigated and recorded the provision of gender specific supplies and services within these camps.

Human Rights, Women, Peace and Security, Children and Armed Conflict

This section analyses UNMIL’s mandate to promote, protect and monitor human rights in Liberia, with a focus on sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). In reinforcing the fundamental link between human rights and SGBV crimes, UNMIL’s report makes substantive references to the high incidences of, and strategies for combating these crimes, such as rape and female genital mutilation.[12] The report also made note of the UN supported, Government of Liberia initiative that organised community owned strategies for combating SGBV.[13] The report notes the progress the Government of Liberia and UNMIL have made in promoting human rights, such as the launching of a national human rights action plan, and gender training for human rights organisations.[14] While this is a positive and constructive step forward, UNMIL missed an opportunity to promote women’s concerns beyond protection, and should have investigated progress relating to women’s equal participation in the human rights process, including the development of a National Action Plan (NAP) on WPS.

Rule of Law (ROL)

This section analyses UNMIL’s mandate to advise the Government of Liberia on establishing ROL processes and institutions. Impressively, UNMIL reported on the Women of Liberia Constitutional Review Task Force’s advocacy framework and finalisation on 5 May 2015. There were also the discussions held in the House of Representative Committee on Gender Equity and Child Development on proposals concerning the advancement of gender equality in the legal system.[15] Additionally, the report also referenced the work of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection for its countrywide training on data collection and strengthened coordination of SGBV cases. This has led to an increase in indictments carried out by the Ministry of Justice relating to SGBV cases.[16] These are important inclusions and should be maintained in future reports. Additionally, reporting on ROL should also contain links to current NAP development, as the law is paramount in systemically addressing women’s rights.

Protection of Civilians and Support to State Institutions

While the report did not address the protection of civilians or support to state institutions in a specific subsection, it referenced these components of UNMIL’s mandate throughout the report. It should be noted however, that this formatting approach impacted on UNMIL’s capacity to report on issues concerning gender and civilian welfare in a systematic and comprehensive manner. Future reports should be structured to align more closely to the mandate in order to facilitate observation and analysis of UNMIL activities.

International Cooperation and Coordination

This section analyses UNMIL’s mandate to assist the Government of Liberia in coordinating support from all partners and donors. On 3 June 2015, the joint implementation group, which includes UNMIL, the Government of Liberia, and the donor community, held a meeting that highlighted a need for increased funding for the security transition.[17] The report makes no reference the link between gender and funding and international assistance. It should have provided the specific amounts allocated in funding for gender related programs as called for in resolutions 2122 (2013) and 2242 (2015), and the report of the Secretary-General on WPS. Given the prevalence of SGBV in Liberia, the report should have requested increased funding or support for data and reporting programs, women’s civil society, and services for survivors such as legal assistance, medical, and psychosocial services.

Ideal Asks for WPS Transformation

Overall, where the report referenced the WPS agenda, it provided an adequate balance between women’s protection and participation issues. However, these references alone were not comprehensive enough. The report should have incorporated a gender perspective across all themes in analysing the situation in Liberia and UNMIL’s activities. Specifically, reporting on women’s participation in the county security councils and the security transition joint implementation group was absent. Future reports should investigate and include measures taken to promote women’s equal and full participation in political processes, SSR, ROL reforms, and humanitarian support. They should also strengthen the use of sex and age disaggregated data by analysing its implications on the gender and context specific needs of women and marginalised groups. Of particular concern was the ambiguous report on UNMIL personnel code of conduct and discipline. This must improve to promote accountability and transparency in UN mission, and to align with the Secretary-General’s zero tolerance policy.


[1] S/2015/620 paras. 54, 59, 64

[2] S/2015/620 para. 66

[3] S/2015/620 para. 33

[4] S/2015/620 para. 37

[5] S/2015/620 para. 33

[6] S/2015/620 para. 38

[7] S/2015/620 para. 45

[8] S/2015/620 para. 52

[9] S/2015/620 para. 38, 45

[10] S/2015/620 para. 20

[11] S/2015/620 para. 24

[12] S/2015/620 para. 26, 78

[13] S/2015/620 para. 26

[14] S/2015/620 para. 27

[15] S/2015/620 para. 11

[16] S/2015.620 para. 49

[17] S/2015/620 para. 33