Security Council underlines need to develop police

The UN Security Council underlined on Thursday the need for further reforms to Sierra Leone's security sector, particularly through the development of its police force.

The president of the council, Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock, said in a statement that its 15 members had agreed these would be key benchmarks in planning for the gradual downsizing of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL).

Greenstock added that the members looked forward to discussing the matter further after UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan reported on UNAMSIL later this year.

Noting the current shortfall in funding for Sierra Leone, he said the members appealed to donors not to underestimate the country's continuing requirements for peace-building support. Up until last week humanitarian agencies, for example, had not received 69.3 percent of the $88.6 million they needed to assist Sierra Leone this year.

He issued the statement after the Council heard a briefing by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guehenno, and discussed Annan's latest report on UNAMSIL. Ambassador Adolfo Aguilar Zinser of Mexico also briefed the members on his recent visit to West Africa as chairman of the Sierra Leone sanctions committee.

Greenstock noted that Council members agreed on the importance of a regional perspective. "The fighting in Liberia could threaten the stability of Sierra Leone still. They encouraged the efforts of ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] and others towards finding a solution to the Liberian conflict," he said.

Greenstock said the members would attend a workshop on the Mano River Union on 18 July, to be chaired by Baroness Valerie Amos.